[Analyses]–As we set our eyes on the rising morning sun before retiring at gloaming, observing the sweet scenery of nature in resplendence as it soothe our souls, it is trite that the economy of Nigeria is experiencing a drastic downturn and it has decline in the commodity prices which has triggered an economic recession. Things get progressively worse, I daresay.
But before I stray in my bone of contention, I will do well to remind us that — Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficaciously serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact scope if he fails in his duty. And it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth about the president. So it will also be unpatriotic of me if I fail to tell the truth about president or any other public official.
In the election year of 2015, PMB uttered many impressive things which made him even more popular than the political party he bore its flag. “The major killer of our economy is corruption, and if nothing else it is waste.” PMB proclaimed. An applaudable utterance from a whilom dictator, I would say. He came back to contest after 30 years (a period well enough for the most amazing changes to occur in a man) since he left power in 1985. He said if we elect him into power, he will block the all these wastes and appropriately channel them into our national revenue. We pricked our ears to these utterances. We were all endeared to him. Even if anyone bothers to inquire us, that was why we troope out en masses defying the scorching heat of the sun and the torrential downpours to cast out our votes to emerge him. We sincerely thought he would act along in military dispatch. Now, it is evident that none of these has been actualized thus far. Should we regard him ‘incapacitated’?
Now that the seat of PMB’s presidency has spanned for over 2 years, while we still have handful of citizens, myself inclusive who believe 2 years isn’t sufficient to effect a CHANGE. However, while we are still wallowing in our naiveness, we must also recall that the incumbent president of Tanzania, John Magufuli was also elected in this same 2015. Does he has two heads? PMB popularly referred to as ‘Baba Buhari’ assumed office on May 29, 2015 while Magufuli popularly referred to as ‘The Bulldozer’ assumed office on November 5, 2015, which is barely five months after PMB’s ascension to power. And let me say Magufuli’s achievements is nonpareil to that of any other African president. You asked me why?
Eight months after Magufuli won the hotly and keenly contested Tanzanian Presidential Election, he earned himself a reputation as a no-nonsense leader. He has a passion and zeal to end government wasteful spending and curb corruption head-on. Which I fervidly believe they are the problem plaguing many African nations today.
In his course of combating extravagance, the very first thing he did that very year he was emerged was to cancel the 2015 Independence Celebrations and mobilize his people to do a general clean-up and environmental sanitation. He, himself participated in the cause and went out on that day to clean the trash around the State House. This even exhorted thousands of Tanzanians to come out and join as well, because if their president could do it, who are they not to? “It is so shameful that we are spending huge amounts of money to celebrate our 54 years of independence when our people are dying of cholera,” Magufuli said.
Down to our very own Nigeria, where various massacre happens, pervasive terrorism, conflicts and violence which has posed serious threats to our lives and properties. Has any official ceremony or party been cancelled? Not to talk of an independence celebration.
Meanwhile, the Tanzanian government had budgeted 4 Billion Tanzanian Shillings (N560 million) for the 2015 independence celebrations. Magufuli diverted the money to effect repairs on a dilapidated 4.3-kilometre section of a major highway. To further curb wasteful expenditure, he stopped public officials from foreign travels at government expense except with his permission. He also stopped Diplomatic and Ministerial delegations from travelling abroad, in their place he ordered High Commissioners and Ambassadors to represent the nation at international conferences. Even when he had to attend a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), Magufuli cut Tanzania’s delegation from 50 to just 4, saving over N80 million in the process! Insisting that government officials have no right to live in luxury at public expense, in the same realm stating that public funds are meant for the people. He limited government officials to using of saloon cars or ‘pick-up’ vehicles, banning the sort of expensive V8 Jeeps and SUVs widely used in Nigeria. Magufuli also restricted the flight tickets of those who must fly at government expense from first class to an economy class. To further reduce this waste, he banned government Workshops and Conferences from holding in private venues, ordering them to be held in Ministry Board Rooms or Conference Halls at no expense to the government. In moderating the lifestyle of government officials, he reduced their perks by banning all sitting allowances, He condemned it as an immoral act to collect sitting allowances for a job which already pays salary! This is highly incredible.
In December 2014, PMB went on the record to say he would abolish the office of the First Lady if he was elected as the President, saying that it was unconstitutional. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which endorsed PMB for the 2015 general elections, commended and applauded him for his plans when elected as the President, to scrap the so-called “Office of the First Lady”. MEND went on to say that the office of the first lady is obviously an irrelevant, fraudulent and unconstitutional office, whose only purpose is to further plunder the resources of the country. To me, apart from being unconstitutional, it is a waste! Since PMB assumed the presidency on 29 May 2015, he has yet to officially abolish the office of the First Lady. Aisha Buhari still operates from the office. This is one of things he promised to do to fight the rising waves of corruption.
The Tanzania’s Magufuli is well known for paying surprise visits to various government institutions that come to his mind and always wanted to see the real state of things in his country. One day, he paid his usual visit to a federal hospital unannounced and made sure to visit all the wards. He was so delirious about the sorry state of the wards, the non-functional medical equipment and patients lying on mattresses placed on the floor. He sacked the Hospital Chief Medical Director and the Board Members. He instantly appointed a new director and ordered him to repair all the non-functional medical equipment, giving him an ultimatum of two weeks or else he would be ‘fired’ too. Lo and behold, my brethren! The repair was done in three days!
On 10 December 2015, more than a month, I mean just a month after taking office, President Magufuli finally announced his cabinet, composed of 19 ministries. It had 11 fewer ministries than the previous government; some ministries were merged to save money. In Nigeria, PMB spent couple of months without a cabinet that comprise of ministers. He spent six months before he appointed the members of his cabinet. And of course, we patiently waited for him, thinking he is spending an ample time to think and appoint ‘angels’ as ministers. We described him as a man of integrity and proclivity for due process and faith in merit. We believed him and totally fell in love with his plans for the betterment of Nigeria. Even as a patriotic young citizen of Nigeria, I love him. Even some youths around me had to banter at some point, seriously infuriated by the long wait of his release of the members of your cabinet, they called him “Baba go slow”, but I didn’t. I was so filled with hope about him. Hah! I was utterly disappointed after I read the names and the portfolios of his cabinet. It is the names of the people we have been hearing for so long and have already grown weary of hearing them. They were all familiar faces, even some with questionable past to have qualified them for such ministerial appointment. Even some without much experience of governance. That aside, some of these ministries perform nearly the same function.
“Why did it take Baba PMB so long then?” I mumbled to myself. I was really pained because I believe in the school of thought that “no matter the good plans of a leader, if he fails to appoint the right set of officials in his cabinet/team, his vision will perish, he will perish and the nation as whole will perish.” Magufuli spent just only one month to appoint his ministers and had to scrap 11 ministries and merge them to those that perform similar functions. What an exquisite African leader!
There was also a matter of a State Banquet budgeted to cost approximately N42 million. Magulfuli slashed the amount to N3.5 million and used the balance to supply beds to the hospitals in the country. 300 hospital beds together with mattresses and 600 bedspreads were purchased with the N38.5 million savings from what the top government officials wanted to spend just to eat dinner.
To further save money, Magufuli reduced both the Presidential convoy, and the size of delegations that travel with him. Rather than fly, he drove 600 kilometres for the opening of parliament, saying the nation couldn’t afford to operate its Presidential jets.
In the January of this year, Magufuli’s government stopped the live broadcast of parliamentary proceedings stating they could no longer afford it. He has also since banned political rallies until 2020. Just because of Magufuli’s giant strides, many Tanzanians has applied his values and standards to check their individual lives and forcefully constrained themselves to frugality. Many of them now emulate their president by spending wisely and planning their daily activities well. What a leader so worthy of emulation!
Many opposed him; Opposition members have criticized his moves; Human rights activists accuse his government of censorship. They called him a mere populist. At this juncture, can we regard Magufuli as a dictator? No, we can’t. His style of leadership has greatly influenced the entirety of the citizens and has reawoken patriotism in the country. It is a good style of leadership worthy of emulation by all African leaders. According to anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, Tanzania is ranked 117 out of 168 in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index. Where is Nigeria today? — sitting comfortably at the rock bottom on the list of the least-corrupt countries in the world. Even if my memory serves me right, I can remember one Britain’s former Prime Minister, David Cameron whom Nigeria was scrupulously described as “fantastically corrupt” by him.
My very own dear PMB, I love you. And it is my forthright pleasure to welcome you back to your ancestral land, the greenland and the land where milk and honey thrives, Nigeria after your long medical vacation of 105 days in the United Kingdom, having fully avouched by your physicians to be medically fit to return to your duty. As a young man of selfless patriotism to a fault, I wish you a speedy and restful recovery. Now that you are back sir, I hope you will do the needful to revitalize this nation and lead her to the socio-economic prosperity we all so desire.
PMB, this is my personal recommendation for you: Please, take a cue from Dr. John Magufuli, the president of Tanzania and his loathsomeness to extravagance. Then patiently await and be on a look-out for the miracle and the turn-around that will manifest in your administration.
Agbaje is a budding, avid and freelance writer and he is very passionate about oratory and journalism. He loves to write about anything on national politics.Please Follow Us @ThePageNg