“Against stupidity the gods themselves struggle in vain.”
Frederick Von Schiller, 1759-1805. VANGUARD BOOK p 235.
Only God knows how President Buhari and Vice-President Osinbajo ended up in the midst of the professional propagandists who now speak or communicate with the public on their behalf. But, with every new publication on their two years in office by faceless people, millions of Nigerians, this writer included, who once believed in them are regretting the absolute trust reposed in them.
On Friday, June 16, 2015, in another national newspaper, another faceless individual or group published an advertorial on page 27 titled “SPECIAL REPORT: Buhari’s two years of changing the Nigerian story.” It was full of the same set of half-truths and absolute falsehood rendered in the first two advertisements published on June 6, 2017 and June 12, 2017 by the same individuals who lacked the courage to identify themselves – but who were definitely working for a government which has little to show for the two years in office.
Like the other two adverts, this one ignored several aspects of the economy or governance in the last two years. You will look in vain for any mention of GDP, interest and exchange rates, power supply, health, education, housing, works, employment, debt burden, environment, communications, tourism, and sports – among others. The 2016 budget promised GDP growth rate of 4.37%, but the nation ended with a recession and -2.24% growth for instance. The reason is simple. All those indices represent areas in which the result has been a total failure. Power and debt burden can proxy for the rest. It is fact that the power supply in May 2017 was not an improvement on what Buhari met when he became President on May 29, 2015. Meanwhile, this “borrow and squander” government has lifted the nation’s debt ceiling by close to 70 per cent in just two years and is still now taking on more loans like a drunken sailor on shore leave without thinking of how to repay.
Since the “crown jewel” of the government’s achievements in the last two years is the Social Investment Programme, SIP, this column will focus on it to illustrate why the APC government cannot be trusted anymore. Nigeria will be irretrievably ruined with them in charge.
To begin with, the name of the programme, or scam, keeps changing with each publication; the June 16 advert called it National Social Investment Programme, NSIP. It was called “social intervention programmes” on May 29, 2015. Along the way, it became known as the Social Welfare Programme, SWP, Social Protection Programme, SPP. Like a suspect hiding its real identity behind many aliases it had been operating under several cloaks of secrecy. Domiciling it in the Vice President’s office was the first step taken to ensure maximum secrecy – safe from the prying eyes of the National Assembly and investigators – like yours truly. Till today, nobody has a full detail of how the funds allocated to NSIP, SIP, SWP, or whatever its name, were spent. All we have received from the VP’s office are unsubstantiated reports from Mr Akande – Osinbajo’s Senior Personal Assistant.
Meanwhile, there is substantive Senior Special Assistant, appointed specifically for the programme. She is Mrs Uwais – wife of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria. Mrs Uwais, who shall reveal later on this page, is the perfect definition of a figure head. She seldom speaks on a programme which she is supposed to manage. Akande does all the talking – mostly drivel. The suspicion here is that he and another propagandist are behind the unsigned adverts on behalf of the Federal Government. Buhari and Osibajo should distance themselves from the adverts and fire those responsible. Here are the reasons.
Taking the advertisers strictly on their own terms, the following discrepancies are noticeable from the chart below:
HOME GROWN SCHOOL FEEDING
June 6 Advert June 12 Advert June 16 Advert
States 7 9 7
Cooks 11,000 — 14,492
Kids Fed 1,051,000 1,287,270 1,274,620
Schools — — 9,212
The three adverts gave different figure for the number of kids fed; they differed on number of states as well as number of cooks employed and only one provided the number of schools involved. Meanwhile, we were given the number of kids fed in some states. They ran as follows: Abia, 61,316; Delta, 90,523 and Zamfara, 268,573. It is doubtful if all the primary school kids in Zamfara add up to 200,000. Buhari’s government has probably created another kind of ghosts – ghost primary school kids in Zamfara!
All the efforts to get Mr Akande to provide the names of schools in each state have proved abortive. Perhaps the Professor Osinbajo can prevail on his Senior Special Assistant to provide the information required to verify these claims – or be regarded as an accomplice to the cover-up.
That however is not the end of the story on SIP, NSIP or whatever. On May 29, 2015, Buhari promised to feed 5.5 million children. Two years after, there is doubt regarding how many have been fed. But, even if we accept the highest figure of government’s spokesmen, it still comes to one quarter of the promised number at mid-term. When will the remaining three quarters be brought into the programme? This important question was deliberately ignored – for obvious reasons. The promise to feed so many kids, give free N5,000 per month to 5 million Nigerians was made without anybody counting the costs or planning how to raise the funds to redeem the promises. It was deceitful…
OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA – WHOEVER HE IS. 3
Also left unmentioned was Buhari’s promise to provide job opportunities for 500,000 teachers. Were they engaged and why was that “achievement” omitted from the advertisements. The reason is clear. It was a bunch of lies. Follow me to recent history.
From January to December last year, Osinbajo’s office kept on repeating the promises made to the electorate on the give-away programme called many names. Please read what happened in December last year to this charade from portions of an article published in VANGUARD.