01 Apr

The week ahead – The President should come home and work

Nigeria continues to grapple with a debilitating energy crisis. The queues for petrol are long and the product scarce, while electricity is not improving. Yesterday, for three hours, the country’s power generation stood at nothing. The Minister of Power has blamed absence of electricity on a shut down of some turbines, officials blame yesterday’s system collapse on vandalism, while the Minister of State Petroleum says the petrol scarcity will end a week from now.

Meanwhile, following passage of the 2016 Budget by the National Assembly, President Buhari has said that he will scrutinise the budget “ministry by ministry” before he can give his assent. He argued that the scrutiny is necessary in order to ascertain whether it was the original budget he had submitted to the legislature. He blamed bureaucrats for padding of the budget, an event which has generated a crisis.

Earlier this week, President Buhari departed for the United States to participate in the fourth Nuclear Security Summit. The US is hosting the summit in the face of rising fears that global terrorism may lay their hands on nuclear materials, potentially making a dirty bomb. The President seeks to explain to the world that Nigeria wants to make use of nuclear technology for civil purposes.

Last week, a Colonel of the Nigerian Army, Samaila Inusa, was kidnapped in Kaduna state. The abductors intercepted Col. Inusa along the Kaduna-Abuja highway, setting free his wife and making away with the army officer. At the beginning of this week, Col. Inusa was found dead. Following that tragedy, three clergymen were kidnapped in Kaduna. Two were found alive while one lost his life in the process.

The Islamic Movement In Nigeria has raised an alarm over an attempt to intimidate the group and link them with the kidnap and murder of Colonel Inusa. They have absolved themselves of any blame and argued that they have no hand in the kidnap and death of the army officer.

The Office of the National Security Adviser, currently investigating hundreds of companies that handled security contracts, has released a report and indicted many companies of taking billions of naira in contracts, and failing to execute same or ending up inflating the jobs.

Counsel

  • There has to a comprehensive policy framework to guide reforms in the energy sector especially petroleum and power. Nigerians are tired of the crises, and the FG must tackle these problems. We are no longer interested in the reasons for failure, we simply want to have petrol, and power.
  • We have, in the past, had cause to express no hope in the current National Assembly. Their passage of 2016 Budget, especially in the light of their proclamation that the budget details will undergo further review, and then the President’s affirmation of another ministerial review, is shameful. It is sad what the APC dominated government has turned a budget session into.
  • The frequency of travel by President Buhari suggests a man who does not want to sit down at home to solve domestic issues bothering citizens. It is very unfortunate the President is not showing any sense of urgency in tackling economic issues at home, and this was in stark contrast to the British Prime Minister, who hastened home when a event that threatens 40,000 British jobs occurred. Nuclear power for civil purposes is not what Nigeria needs at this time, especially given our security situation. We believe that the Nuclear Energy Commission should be scrapped.
  • That a Colonel of the Nigerian Army could be abducted and brutally murdered suggests the parlous state of Nigeria’s internal security. We call for a thorough investigation to unmask the reason behind kidnap and death of Colonel Inusa.
  • We also call for the resolution of tension between the IMN and the military, especially in view of the recent development over the murder of the Army Colonel. There is no need for finger pointing when an investigation has clearly not yet been carried out.
  • The probe of security votes is a new, and welcome development. We look forward to seeing the completion of process, and we call for the democratisation of the security vote which is a conduit for misappropriation of funds by public officials.