“In the first quarter of 2017, the nation’s GDP contracted by 0.52 per cent (year-on-year) in real terms, representing the fifth consecutive quarter of contraction since Q1 2016.”
National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, May 23, 2017.
The report of the NBS could not have been more wrongly timed from the standpoint of the Buhari administration. Monday, May 29, 2017 will mark the second year of the government. And, it must have dawned on government officials that Nigerians are no longer in a mood to listen to the Buhari government blaming Jonathan for everything. Two years constitute sufficient time to start showing some positive results. So, perhaps aware of this report in advance, the Federal Government mounted heavy propaganda – led by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. According to Mr Godwin Emefiele, Nigeria will move out of recession in June 2017. That was before the first quarter result was published. It was most unprofessional and deliberately deceitful. One month’s positive result does not move a nation out of recession after five quarters of negative growth.
Quite expectedly, Mr Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and others have latched on to the CBN Governor’s contentious statement to confuse the public. They can stop talking now because the report that counts is in and it shows that out of twenty-four months of the Buhari administration, the nation has been in recession for fifteen months – or 63 per cent of the time. That is a fact which no amount of propaganda can erase. And, we got here because the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its leader, Buhari, had no economic development plan when they came in on May 29, 2015. They started late addressing the problem of imminent recession which was already predicted since 2014 by economists and financial experts.
Fortunately, all is not lost. As we start the third year of this government, there are signs of progress in certain Ministries and Agencies. Last week, the CBN was singled out for honourable mention, despite the Governor’s unfortunate diversion into predicting the future GDP growth – which is not his business. This week we turn to a quiet, too quiet, achiever – and one of the few so far. The best as far as I am concerned.
“An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882. VANGUARD BOO OF QUOTES, VBQ, p 105.
Over all, one Ministry and some of its parastatals appear to be leading the pack for positive results. The Ministry of Transportation, headed by Mr Rotimi Amaechi, comprises of several units including the Ministry of Aviation, the Nigerian Ports Authority, the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, NIMASA, the Nigerian Railways, as well as others. Positive changes are taking place in virtually all the units and it is impossible to attribute the results so far recorded to anything but excellent leadership. The Ministry of Transportation is one of those institutions we seldom think about unless things go wrong or there is a scandal to report. The Ministry of Aviation, which is now under it, is often ignored until there is a plane crash and NIMASA was unknown to most Nigerians until the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, mistakenly or maliciously dragged the former Director General to court. Yet, the Ministry achieved one outstanding result this year which should be celebrated.
When Amaechi announced the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, for six weeks in order to repair the run-way and other facilities, there was no dearth of criticisms – not only from professional critics like Fayose and Fani-Kayode, but others as well. Major disasters were predicted. Some members of the House of Representatives announced that the project would not be completed on time. When the airport re-opened two days ahead of schedule, there was silence – not applause. Yet, it was a landmark achievement in project management in Nigeria since 1960. All the projects that had been promised and delivered on time in fifty-six years can be counted on the fingers of the two hands with a few fingers to spare.
To be sure, it was collective effort and Amaechi would be the last to claim sole credit for the result. Even Fayose and Fani-Kayode were silenced for once. In which other Ministry or Agency of Government can we find a similar example to celebrate? The sad answer is: none. Had the two years of Buhari been spent providing such positive changes inn several places, we would not, today May 29, 2017, be lamenting that we have very little to show for twenty four months of a new government – except cheap and ineffective propaganda masquerading as information. When the result is good nobody needs lies – least of all the Federal Government.
Next week: Still on Ministry of Transportation.