Although Buhari said he was unafraid and would not bend, the
President’s concern, and fear on the part of many is that if a
corrupt leader takes over in 2019, it will be happy days all over
again for former Oil Minister Diezani Allison-Maduekwe who has
so far forfeited USD 153 million, N23.4 billion, and USD 4m and
USD 5m in separate accounts. “Change the Change” would mean
she will get the money back. So would the former Managing
Director of the maritime agency, NIMASA get back GBP 578,080
seized from him and the Ikoyi apartment owners have back their
USD43.4m; N23m and GBP 27,800.
The hidden owner of the Lagos cash shop may then step forward
to reclaim their N449.6 million; the ex-Naval Chiefs will have
returned to them the already forfeited N1.8 billion; the Governors
Forum paid back their N1.4 billion and the major oil marketers,
from whom the EFCC has so far seized N328.9 billion will smile
their ways to the bank.
The banks themselves will equally join the party, happily getting
back N27.7 billion they “ate” from taxes they failed to remit; the
scion of the Akinjides, Jumoke will have N650 million awarded to
her while those scammers in INEC who coughed out N1 billion will
equally get money back and charges standing against them in
court may be dropped.
But the happiest of them all will be Mrs. Jonathan, who will get the
first priority when the refunds start coming for obvious reasons.
The former First Lady would not anymore need lawyers to keep
her mountain of gifts, counted in huge millions of dollars, billions
of Naira, hotels and buildings.
The list of people who oppose the Buhari government and yearning
to ‘‘change the change’’ include a number of parliamentarians,
policemen, customs officials, immigration officials, civil servants
now rooting for other political parties, not leaving out those
various businesses and platforms owned by these political parties
directly or indirectly.
The Buhari win in 2015, and the possibility of four more years have
crumbled their dreams of endlessly looting the state and the
growing list of achievements of the administration is not doing any
good for them.
“Change the change” means also that the biggest tax revolution
since independence, the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration
Scheme (VAIDS) now being implemented, and about which many
of our rich citizens are unhappy may be scrapped. A recent report
shows that there are four million new taxpayers, including
companies and individuals, resulting in N700 billion increase in tax
revenue in 2017.
The early casualties of ‘‘changing the change’’ may include
initiatives like the Whistle Blower policy by which the government
is able to recover stolen or concealed assets through information
provided by citizens. This has changed the ethical and moral tone
of the business transaction space in the country. The whistle
blower is entitled to between 2.5%-5.0% of amount recovered.
We have put in place a very successful whistle-blower programme
that is delivering results. The response has been so fabulous that
in just four months, it yielded N17bn, as revealed by the Acting
Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.
Another formidable group unhappy with the change and wish it
reversed are the importers of diesel and generators. Nigeria ranks
as the second biggest importer of generators all over the world.
Buhari is bad business for them because he has raised electric
power availability from 2,600 MW in 2015 to 7,000 MW and is
targeting 10,000 megawatts by the year’s end. Increased power
availability means less purchase of generators and less
consumption of diesel. Noticeably, they are rooting for parties that
are bent on changing the change. Rooters of ‘‘Changing the
Change’’ campaign also include the beneficiaries of the malaria
economy which costs Nigeria N132 billion and 300,000 lives
annually, an economy now threatened by the administration’s
National Malaria Elimination Programme, NMEP, by which tens of
millions of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (ITN) are being
freely distributed. A part of this order is now made in Aba, Nigeria.
The government’s moves on ease of doing business which has
attracted international attention and investment and significantly
improved the ranking of Nigeria as a place of doing business, in
fact achieving a place in the World Bank’s top 10 reforming
economies would suffer a hit from those bent on proving that on-
going change is not working. But this is how the World Bank saw
Nigeria: “Overall, the 10 top improvers implemented the most
regulatory reforms in the area of getting credit, starting a business,
dealing with construction permits and paying taxes,” the report
It’s really hard for the beneficiaries of the old order to see and
appreciate what the Buhari government is doing considering that
they ran an economy based purely on oil, the price of which was
as high as US$140 per barrel. They reticulated oil revenue through
personal spending and corruption, wasteful expenses and salaries.
Nigeria did not record a single major infrastructural project in the
10 years before the Buhari administration. The money was
mismanaged. No savings were made. To compound the problem,
they borrowed heavily and owed contractors, and international oil
Increase in government spending in infrastructure which is
beginning to show results with sectors like employment, and
returning growth to the recessed economy may equally suffer.
Under the 2017 appropriation budget which is about to lapse,
government’s capital spending is expected to hit N1.5 trillion. In
the PDP years, the highest this got to was N450 billion or 21 per
cent of the capital allocation in 2014. Doing more with less.
The Railways, on which the common man travels, is being
changed for the better. The 3,500 monorail that had existed has
been leased to the American company, General Electric. They are
to refurbish it and are bringing new locomotives and hundreds of
coaches. All trains and coaches are being modernized. New
standard railway tracks are being laid linking Ibadan and Lagos.
Kaduna-Abuja, partly completed when President Buhari took over
is now in use and contracts for the entire stretch, Lagos to Kano
have been awarded. Lagos-Port Harcourt will follow and by the
Presidential directive, all state capitals are to be linked by the new,
standard gauge railway.
“Changing the Change” means that we will go back to the old ways
of doing things. A strong and diversified economy has been on top
of President Buhari’s achievements. Key drivers of the economy
such as agriculture and solid minerals have been progressing with
over 7% growth rate, an indication of positive signs for the future.
Is everyone happy with this? No. We cannot say this of the
importers of rice who have seen their import business go down
following the tremendous success of the home-grown rice
schemes. Over two billion USD have been saved as a
Then, you must also count those who got USD 200 million every
year from the Central Bank and ended up bringing in low standard
fertilizers. They lapped a government subsidy of N60,000 annually
and sold a bag each for between N10,000-N13,000. Now, a
government-approved price, by the common consent of local
producers is N5,500 per bag. Those who fed fat on the perennial
shortages and the subsidy regime would desire nothing but
“Changing the Change.”