Buhari’s last minute census

I am yet to fathom the rationale be- hind President Muhammadu Buhari’s ostentatious bazaar planned for the last week leading to the end of his eight-year tenure: First, $800m to be shared among fifty million so-called poor Nigerians, another free money of N24bn for so-called internet at the air- ports and higher institutions, and yet another N320bn to be shared among tertiary institutions through TET- FUND…..CONTINUE READING

Can it be that President Buhari is thinking of finishing strong by these corruption-lookalike approvals would assess him as having finished strong? Just consider a whooping N24bn bazaar for public Internet provision, knowing the severity of the other problems like poverty facing a good number of Nigerians, and the recent upgrade of the airports by the bogus amount reportedly spent on fire fighting vehicles; 10 in number.

Hadi Sirika just wan clean out!!. Na wah for Naija oo. In a country that has entered into the league of perennial borrowing, spending N24bn for some useless internet service at the airports is a huge waste; no one is talking about its running costs yet.

Most people move around with internet connectivity already; how such a reckless proposal was able to pass through the Federal Executive Council is another kettle of fish. As if that is not enough, the National Population Commission is shaping up to spend another N850bn for a 2023 census at a time when the anger over the 2023 election is yet to simmer. Is it that our government and managers do not understand the timing of projects or management of same?

There is no justification for the conduct of a census by an outgoing government in its 12th hour. It is like piling up problems to line the way to Aso Rock for a successor.

The subsidy boobytrap is still there waiting to explode. Finishing strong is a recognition, that would leave lasting legacies in the minds of the people. But, wasting hard earned and scarce resources on frivolities in the twilight of their time by an administration, is equivalent to finishing weak!! President Buhari has gotten himself into that labyrinth of symptomatic quotable quotes “the more you look, the less you see”.

If anybody is telling him that a census exercise is required at this time, it is just about creating an avenue to steal some money, by those who are promoting it. The timing is wrong and the tempers in the land will likely frustrate the field workers of the National Population Commission should the plan proceed. Census exercises are required in any nation to ascertain the total number of people and their various demographics; and are usually used to plan for the country.

Also the data gathered would provide sources for research and analyses in developmental projects and experiments. These are desired of course, but the timing has to be right, as well as the psyche of the citizenry. Presently, there is no media jingle about the census being planned for May 2023.

Ask any average Nigerian on the street about it, and they would tell you they don’t believe there would be census. Some of the people interviewed simply told me the NPC wants to just “chop” our money. They lament the prevailing silence across the country and wondered if truly a census exercise was going to hold as scheduled.

The public relations department of the NPC has been slumbering away its time, either deliberately or otherwise to create an impression that the exercise wasn’t worth any effort. Or at best, they are just confused about the whole exercise, and unsure of its mechanism.

If a census is to hold in the first week of May 2023, by now, the airwaves, streets, and other public places should be agog with media blitz educating people on the matter. To remain silent is to be unsure of the exercise. Under this atmosphere of haste, corruption usually dominates the whole gamut of the exercise , and will surely lead to an abysmal cul-de-sac. Albeit President Buhari seems to be hellbent on the conduct of the exercise, at a time that so many election activities have made the people forlorn and apathetic towards the government, I sincerely hope he knows that census at this time is very likely to stir the hornet’s nest about the direction the president is leading us.

I am yet to recover from the N24bn Internet miracle at airports and tertiary schools, and the $800bn that was meant to cushion the effect of the proposed subsidy removal in June. President Buhari has been in the saddle of leadership for almost eight years, and he didn’t think in all that time, that it was auspicious and a due season for him to remove subsidy, knowing full well that it has for long been a subject matter that has elicited so much emotions across Nigerian.

Also, he didn’t think earlier that it was high time he planned a census. Now that his personal effects are being moved out of the Villa, he suddenly remembers the proposed removal of subsidy as part of his mandate and plans to leave it for his successor.

It is indeed a trap; but I trust Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. He will surely navigate through it with astuteness. By the time one interrogates all of these issues, and situates this census matter within its confines, it becomes clear without much ado that they are actually working from question to answer. It will not lead anywhere, and taxpayers money would be wasted with perfunctory consideration.

There are too many avenues for corruption under this government. Despite its repeated claim of being an anti-corruption government and the notion of vapour that President Buhari is a man of integrity, our rating as a country by Transparency Inter- national has been appalling.

President Buhari may pride himself as an anti- corruption crusader, but the systemic failures of his administration and the character of those who surround him leave a whole lot to be desired. The planned May 2023 Census, is for all intents and purposes, an exercise that is programmed to fail. But the budget for the exercise will not fail to make its way to the pockets of the promoters/operators.

As a country, we must set our priority right. The essence of prioritising challenges and solutions takes into account the scarcity of resources, and the projected returns/effect in terms of value and time before appropriating same to resolve and or mitigate the challenges.

The current mood of our nation is not right for this seeming white elephant project. After the series of elections in the last two months and their fall-outs, tempers are still very high in many quarters. A season of anomie is almost setting in: some kind of apathy by a citizenry that thinks this present system has failed woefully; and then you want to add insult to injury by saying you want to count the same people, in their current state.

Their instant response will be non-cooperative. Some of the questions people are asking now include, what have they done with the data they have collected previously? What gains have we recorded since then? They collected bio- metrics, why are crimes and criminalities still rife and ubiquitous? They collected BVN, why are frauds in banks still prevalent? They collected NIN, why do they hardly trace any offender to track him down? They did TSA, why are monies still missing? They centralized the payment system, how come the former Accountant General soiled his hands with corruption? This time, I feel sure that the census will end up throwing up new challenges because of the pervading anger in the polity, and because the Buhari presidency hasn’t been able to deliver impactfully on his mandates.

The citizenry do not boast of much benefit from this government. Just to allow a peek into my mind, the planned Census May 2023 exercise should be postponed: First, because of the shoddy preparations, then for lack of awareness, for the bogus budget that is set out for the exercise in a season of poor national revenue that has war- ranted so much borrowing, and for the fact that so many other more pressing issues are contending for attention at this time; chief of which are the fall- outs of the last elections among many others. Let the election litigations be concluded, and a new government come on stream to set a new mood for the country, then we can start planning a census; if it found it to be so compelling.

The present rush to conduct the census would suggest that there is some- thing up the sleeves of the promoters and the government. As I mentioned before, President Buhari had all the time since 2015 to conduct a census that would have set the tone for his government, but he didn’t. Trying to make ef- fort for the exercise in the 12th hour of his administration, is to deliberately lead a project to its failure. I must say, that the kinds of approvals that the government has been giving in the last two weeks stun me. The bogus expenditures have been mind-boggling.

Look at the billions spent on the fire-fighting vehicles at the airports? Ruminate on that. Then the N24bn being proposed/approved to provide Internet at the airports; as if that is our biggest problem, at a time when we have people in homelessness and in Internally Displaced Persons’ camps all over the country. If this is not wickedness, I don’t know what it is!! Please let this government act reasonably and responsibly…..CONTINUE READING