President Muhammadu Buhari’s 59th Independence Anniversary speech, Tuesday, elicited kudos and knocks in the polity.
While some said the president addressed burning issues in the country, others disagreed and said he shied away from key issues.
Aside the president’s claim on boosting the economy, and how he is tackling insecurity, one of the issues that elicited strong response was his perceived diminishing of the powers of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo by moving the special intervention programmes to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development. Buhari said he took the decision in order to institutionalize the programmes.
Among those, who dissected the speech were the Afenifere, Ohanaeze, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Prince Tony Momoh, Dr Junaid Mohammed, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, and Chief Chekwas Okorie, among others.
It’s an insult to Nigerians, mockery of democracy – PDP
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, described the President Buhari’s Independence Day broadcast as “an insult on the psyche of Nigerians and a mockery of our national integrity as an independent state.’’
The party said the speech was “completely unpresidential, lacking in patriotic stance and replete with manifest inconsistencies, contradictions, paradoxes and false performance claims, which further confirm that our dear fatherland is in wrong hands.’’
It said: “President Buhari, in his recorded address, failed to forcefully address the key issues of freedom, social justice, constitutional order, separation of powers, rule of law, human rights, credible elections, national cohesion, accountability and transparency in government; the very fundamentals of an independent state, because his administration had violated them all.
“President Buhari had no forceful reassurances on the challenge of escalated insecurity under his watch; he had no clear-cut and operable blueprint to revamp our economy, which his administration wrecked in a period of four years, resulting in so much hardship and despondency that Nigerians now resort to suicide and slavery abroad as options.
“This address further exposes that the Buhari Presidency is not interested in nation building; that it is completely disconnected from the people and remains insensitive to the plights of Nigerians. If anything, Mr. President only succeeded in further demonstrating that his administration is, indeed, in no position to deliver a credible, acceptable and satisfactory independence address.
“This is so because under the Buhari Presidency, our nation has experienced the worst form of division, deprivation, human right abuse, constitutional violations, disregard to rule of law, electoral malpractices, disobedience to court order, disrespect for separation of powers and curtailing of press freedom.’’
Speech didn’t grapple with challenges of nationhood — Afenifere
Reacting to the President’s defence for moving agencies under Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, wondered whether they were “whimsically being run by the President.”
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin said: “The speech was very long on the initiatives of the government in the last four years but it did not address deliveries to the people.
“We are the poorest people on the earth today with untold sufferings and hardships facing the people. These were not acknowledged.
“But more importantly is that a speech to mark our Independence Day failed to grapple with the challenges of nationhood and how to begin to get noun for our verb.
“If anybody thinks that N-power, Tradermoni and all that is what would save a disappearing nation, there isn’t much idea about what confronts us.
“The reason he gave for moving the agencies under Osinbajo to a new ministry is to institutionalise them. Are we to take that they were being run whimsically and capriciously by him?”
Buhari hasn’t diminished Osinbajo’s powers — Tony Momoh
Elder statesman and pioneer National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Prince Tony Momoh, hailed the decision of President Buhari to move some programmes from the office of the Vice President to the newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.
Momoh, who is a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, said the president needed to excise the programmes from the vice president’s office in order to ensure maximum coordination and delivery of services.
“There is a debate on this Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs as to whether such a thing is necessary, but to me, it is necessary. There are so many things loaded in the vice president’s office. You need an agency that can coordinate activities where you have technocrats who are trained, like directors and who are assigned to various departments.
”You have a structure and hierarchy of coordination. In the vice president’s office, you cannot have such a ministry and the vice president is not a minister and coordination will be difficult. People are making a lot of allegations which cannot be thoroughly investigated and which the vice president is unduly criticized for. When you look at such things, then we said let us have a ministry to coordinate and monitor such programmes.
“So, I support that we have a ministry to coordinate such policies. Some are saying the vice president’s powers have been reduced. That is not true because his office is a creation of the constitution. So, there is no question of him even waiving his immunity because that immunity is not for Osinbajo but for the office of the vice president. The only way he can waive his immunity is for him to resign and I will not support that. So, anyone who has made allegations against him should go and prove them.”
Right move for effective management
To Johnson Chukwu, Managing Director/CEO, Cowry Asset Management, the decision to transfer social welfare scheme to the newly created ministry is a move in the right direction.
He opined that the move would make the programme more enduring and ensure that appropriate structures are put in place for its effective management.
“I believe that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs was created for the purpose of managing the social investment scheme and all similar initiatives of the government. By transferring this scheme to a purpose created ministry, the government has taken the appropriate step to institutionalize the scheme and ensure that it outlives the current administration,” Chukwu said.
Not bad, but misplaced priority
Also, Mr. Ejike Nwuba, Founder & CEO, The Renaissanceafrica Company, a human capital development and management consulting firm, lauded the government over the development, but queried the funding allocation for the programme, when education and health sectors are under-funded.
Nwuba, who also queried the impact of the existing social welfare programmes, said: “Creating a ministry for social welfare in itself is not bad or unheard of. But my concern is what is the impact of the existing ‘social welfare programs? I think there is a misplacement of priority. Why is N500 billion earmarked for the school feeding programme, N- power and Tradermoni when we have dilapidated, unkempt public schools, very poor healthcare and an ailing economy?
“Why is N500 billion earmarked for these welfare programmes when only N47 billion is budgeted for education, and only N50 billion is budgeted for health? Why should we spend more on these palliatives than on the Ministry of Works with only a budget of N400 billion?
“In summary, the establishment of a Ministry for social welfare is not out of place. But the impact of the existing palliatives is not far reaching enough to warrant the budget for it or the establishment of the new ministry at the moment.”
It won’t achieve much — Okezie
Chairman, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, PSAN, Mr. Boniface Okezie said: “I don’t see any new thing the establishment of the Ministry of Humanitarian and Disaster Management will achieve.
“This will not solve our problems rather the government should try to create industries that will help get jobs to the youths and able-bodied Nigerians instead of the so called ministry that is not necessary at this point in time. They are only trying to waste our scarce resources. By the way, how much will the Ministry be generating in terms of revenue to be able to contribute to the growth of the economy and pay salaries to its workers?
“The Ministry will end up doing nothing at the end of the day; think about the budgetary allocation to the Ministry and over head cost to Minister, Permanent Secretary, etc. We don’t need too many ministries. This government must try to curtail overhead expenses. It is high time we stopped all these rhetorical ideas that are not moving us forward as a nation.”
The ministry can stimulate economy if — Igbrude
However, Moses Igbrude, the Spokesperson of the Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, ISAN, said: “The Ministry can help to start stimulating the economy, if it’s properly and efficiently carried out as intended, which I doubt.
“Nigeria as a country don’t lack good and laudable policies or programmes like this, it is the will to implement them for the good of all without siphoning the money before getting to those who needed it most that is the problem. I appeal to Mr President to personally monitor this social scheme programme if he wants it to succeed as the masses will appreciate him for it.”
Buhari should have changed the narrative — Ohanaeze
Also speaking on the speech, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze said Nigeria should be a grand nation at 59.
National Deputy Publicity Secretary of the group, Chuks Ibegbu said: “We should go beyond rhetoric and independence ritual speeches and tackle objectively the challenges facing us. Why do we run away from the truth facing us? Why do we run away from truth and reality? Why do we leave substance and pursue shadows? A man of 59 years is a grandfather. Nigeria should be a grand nation by now but the ruling class and her elites have often failed her.
“Buhari should go beyond the usual Independence Day speeches and change the narratives. We’re happy he’s now admitting Abacha loots which he treated cavalierly before. Let the ruling elites reduce their penchant for stealing public funds and pocketing greater percent of our national income. Let them cut their jumbo pay and allowances.
“How can corruption end when Buhari treated the Gandujegate, Mainagate and even NHIS scandal with kid gloves? Were corrupt elements not made ministers recently? This ‘do as I say and not as I do’ associated with our rulers must stop.”
Buhari addressed core issues affecting Nigeria – Junaid Mohammed
However, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, Second Republic House of Representatives member, said: “From what I read so far, I believe he (Buhari) addressed core issues a leader that knows the challenge of his nation should. On security, you will agree with me that there is need to work as a united people to address it.”
President Buhari raises hope for a promising future – Okorie
National Chairman of the United Progressive Party, UPP, Chief Chekwas Okorie, commended President Buhari for reassuring Nigerians on his clear path to growth and called on Nigerians to join hands with government to promote unity.
His words: “The Independence Day broadcast by President Buhari is reassuring and raises hope for a future that is on a clear path of growth and steady development. “His economic recovery trajectory resonates with well meaning Nigerians who have not forgotten the scary challenges of recession and abysmally poor revenue profile of the country a few years ago.’’
Okorie stressed that the government’s single mindedness in fighting corruption with enabling policies and legal framework was not only yielding appreciable results but also beginning to influence people’s attitudes towards public funds.