By PETE HOEKSTRA
Pete Hoekstra, a Senior Fellow of The Investigative Project on Terrorism in Washington has lashed out at the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari over his proffered three changes that will re position Nigeria for inclusive growth.
Hoekstra, in his 6-paragraph article published in the same medium used by Buhari to promote his three changes – The Wall Street Journal, labelled Buhari as Nigeria’s problem and not its solution. He also stated that Buhari’s administration is not flexible, lacks vision and is reactive.
Nigerian President Muhummadu Buhari writes of building an economic bridge to Nigeria’s future. It’s hard to see how his administration’s inflexibility, lack of vision and reactive approach will achieve this
Buhari’s fight against corruption has repeatedly been described as targeted against top members of the opposition, especially those that served in the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. The arrests and indictments of corruption made by Nigeria’s anti-graft agency so far, have arguably validated these concerns of selective corruption fight. The only popular victim of the current war against corruption in Buhari’s ruling party is Bukola Saraki. Saraki is the Senate President and he emerged president of the senate against the directives and plans of his party. Though Saraki is currently undergoing trial for the false declaration of his assets while he was the governor of Kwara State, many Nigerians have attributed the reason why he was singled out for the corruption trial to his perceived romance with the opposition party that helped him reach his Senate position. In fact, another section of Nigerians think the antic of the ruling party is to weaken the major opposition, such that it will be devoid of capacity and required will to challenge the ruling party during the country’s General Elections in 2019.
The US Senior Fellow noted that though the Nigerian president said he wants to build trust before his people, but members of his cabinet, accused of large-scale corruption, still walk free. Hoekstra also talked about how much of the country’s treasury is being spent on salaries and benefits of government officials. Below are the concerns raised by Pete Hoekstra in his response to Buhari’s proffered three changes.
Buhari’s anticorruption drive is selective and targeted
“Mr. Buhari notes that building trust is a priority for Nigeria. But an anticorruption drive that is selective and focused on senior members of the opposition party creates deep political divisions. Meanwhile, members of Mr. Buhari’s own cabinet, accused of large-scale corruption, walk free.”
Seventy percent of Nigeria’s treasury benefits government officials alone
“Seventy percent of the national treasury is spent on the salaries and benefits of government officials, who make upwards of $2 million a year.”
Unfavourable monetary policy
“As for Mr. Buhari’s ideas to rebalance the economy and regenerate growth, his damaging and outdated monetary policy has been crippling. The manufacturing sector, essential to Nigeria’s diversification, has been hardest hit, exacerbating an already fast-growing employment crisis. Foreign investors have started to flee en masse.”
Little attention paid to structural issues that spurred insurgency in North-East Nigeria
“Mr. Buhari makes only brief mention of the country’s deteriorating security situation. But security and stability are precursors to economic growth and development. Boko Haram has been pushed back for now, but little attention is paid to the structural issues that have spurred its rise.”
Military approach to resolve militancy in the Niger Delta
“…the Nigerian government has diverted much-needed military resources to the Niger Delta, where rising militancy has reduced Nigeria’s oil production to less than half the country’s capacity, and half the amount required to service the national budget. Much of these tensions arise from Mr. Buhari’s decision to cut amnesty payments to militants and an excessively hard-line approach in a socially and politically sensitive environment.”
Growing ethnic tensions in Southern Nigeria
“Other ethnic tensions are also growing. In the country’s south, protests have been met by a bloody response from the Nigerian military, stoking the fire and galvanizing support for an independent state of Biafra. Rising tensions could again pose one of the greatest threats to Nigeria’s stability and future.”
Pete Hoekstra was the former chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee from 2004 to 2007.