10 Ways Buhari’s 61st Independence Day Speech Fails To Address Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria

Last Updated on November 23, 2021 by Ope Quadri

Summary: Every October 1 is a day set aside to celebrate Nigeria’s independence from its British colonial masters. As usual, the president came on national television to address Nigerians. Thankfully, no Nigerian is talking about whether it was pre-recorded, Nigerians are asking: Does the celebration worth it? In this analysis, we’re dissecting the 61st Independence Day speech by President Muhammadu Buhari in relation to ease of doing business.

In 2021, Buhari came on the TV to speak about some national issues and what his team has been doing to commemorate Nigeria’s 61st Independence Day anniversary.

Technical Analysis:

Since Buhari, a former military ruler, assumed office as the democratically elected president on May 29, 2015, his 2021 independence day speech was the most brilliant.

With 101 paragraphs, which took the president 37-minute, the speech touches on critical problems confronting his government and the Nigerian people at large.

Whoever wrote the speech has done a perfect job, some parts sounded Femi Adeshina, his “Chief Image maker” while some sections sounded Ibrahim Gambari, his brilliant Chief of Staff.

Impact Analysis: Does The Speech Proffer Realistic Solutions?

For me, the answer is NO!

The speech is lengthy, elaborate enough for every interest group or sector of the economy to pick a specific area and access the APC-led government of Buhari based on practical solutions rather than the handouts handed to the presidency by the ministers on the non-existent things some of them claimed to have done.

The speech doesn’t proffer practical solutions facing businesses in Nigeria in terms of ease of doing business. Nigeria is ranked 131 in 2019 against 146 in 2018 among 190 economies in the World Bank annual ratings

Economies that fall between 1 to 20 have friendlier regulations and policies in place and Nigeria doesn’t have any indexes that make it convenient for businesses to survive.

The difficulty faced by business boils down to the issue of insecurity which has worsened since 2016, a year after assuming office.

Below are the 10 critical ways Buhari’s administration has failed to solve the problems facing private sectors, who are cardinal to Gross Domestic Product (GDP):

1) In paragraph 16 and 17, the president talks about food security. How do you achieve food security when farmers can’t access their farmlands due to activities of Boko Haram elements?

Boko Haram and their breakaway faction mildly called bandits have taken over farmlands in some parts of Kaduna, Sokoto, Borno State, Niger, Zamfara, Yobe among other states.

They’re more bold that they collect taxes from farmers as a requisite to harvest agricultural produce. This means more farmers are sliding into poverty because their sources of livelihood have been eroded by the activities of criminal elements.

2) In paragraphs 14 and 15 he talks about support for developing locally made drugs to combat the resurgence of viruses or any forms of diseases.

“Already, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority is raising a $200 million fund for this initiative that will complement the Central Bank of Nigeria’s ongoing N85 billion Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme to support local researchers in the development of vaccines and drugs to combat communicable and non-communicable diseases, including COVID-19.”

How does this statement align with the failure of his government to find a lasting solution to the lingering strike and crisis in the health sector?

Government hospitals are in total disrepair,  National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) are on strike because of the failure of the government to implement the agreement. Who exactly is going to carry out the research Buhari is talking about, a ghost? Or foreign doctors in UK hospital?

At the time of publication, Nigeria has the third highest foreign doctors working in the United Kingdom, according to June 9, 2021 report by The Punch.

The environment isn’t conducive for medical practitioners to operate, particularly in government hospitals.

3) In paragraph 22 where the president talks about recruiting more personnel to boost the manpower of the security force, his speech writer fails to tell Nigerians if such a decision is producing result or how it would make Nigerians safer.

It’s inarguable security has worsened under his administration.

He said, “To support our surge approach to fighting banditry, the Nigerian Armed Forces have recruited over 17,000 personnel across all ranks. Furthermore, I have also approved for the Nigerian Police Force to recruit 10,000 police officers annually over the next six years.”

Have the new recruits been given top-notch weapons to perform optimally? Business can’t strife in an environment where security men are even target of the criminal elements.

4) Again, paragraph 33 of the 61st Independence speech corroborated his critics’ position that he is nepotistic.

He made special reference to the arrest of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu (South-East) and Sunday Adeyemo aka Igboho (South-West), both are secessionists, there is no other word to describe them. Both men were beating drums of war before they were arrested.

However, President Buhari was unable to link any name to Boko Haram and their sponsors.

“…and the ongoing investigations being conducted have revealed certain high-profile financiers behind these individuals. We are vigorously pursuing these financiers including one identified as a serving member of the national assembly.”

What happens to the sponsors of Boko Haram his government claimed to have been arrested some months ago? Are the Boko Haram sponsors in Nigeria untouchable?

Some weeks back, a court in far away United Arab Emirate made public names of sponsors of Boko Haram.

That singular act by the UAE is enough to build confidence in foreign investors how transparent a government is. In recent times, we’ve seen how countries like Ghana and South Africa are attracting Foreign Direct Investors. Some businesses even close shops in Nigeria to relocate to Ghana or South Africa.

5) While killings of notable businessmen, academics and security men go on in the some parts of the country, Buhari in paragraphs 41 to 43 mentions the giant stride his government has made in local refining of petroleum products in Imo, Lagos, Edo, and Akwa Ibom.

“Nigeria’s Roadmap on Local Refining is on track with the Commissioning of a Modular refinery in Imo State.”

It’s a commendable idea. But how can operation go on smoothly in some of the states he mentioned (Imo, Edo, Akwa Ibom) when there is insecurity. The ease of doing business in some of these states is volatile.

6) Till the time of publication, I found it difficult to understand how Mr President transfers the blame of food inflation on the middlemen. How? That kind of sabotaging practice occur when the government fails to come up with practicable policies and follow up to the point of implementation.

Apart from that, Nigeria is beginning to experience the effect of insecurity in the North, a region known for farming. When farmers can no longer farm, there will be scarcity, demand will be more than supply which could possibly force prices of goods and service to go up. It’s simple.

7) It’s commendable that Mr President alluded to the fact that the problematic gridlocks and inefficiencies at Lagos ports have negative impact on international trade.

The administration has talked about resolving port clearance over and over again since 2015 till date.

“…the implementation of the Electronic Call-Up System as well as the conversion of the Lillypond Container Terminal to a Vehicle Transit Area will further enhance the ease of cargo evacuation.”

Just a few weeks ago, a Nigerian man based in Canada revealed how difficult it is to clear goods at the port for exports. It took three months for his products to arrive Canada. Hundreds of Nigerians who are in the export and international trade face similar problems, this has negatively affected their income and deter FDI.

8) Another important area that caught my attention in the president’s 61st Independence day speech is the mention of conditional lifting of Twitter ban.

Twitter was a platform small businesses and private sectors have used before the June 5 (2021) ban to increase sales, where influencers made money from promoting businesses and products.

Since the ban, small- and medium-sized Nigerian businesses have been particularly affected, Nigeria’s e-commerce sector has lost over 2 billion naira ($4.86 million), according to Brookings in its research on the implications of Twitter NG ban

The 73rd paragraph of his speech, “Following the extensive engagements, the issues are being addressed and I have directed that the suspension be lifted but only if the conditions are met to allow our citizens continue the use of the platform for business and positive engagements” lacks the flavour and actionable aroma Nigerians expected from the former dictator.

For me, I was expecting Buhari to have said, “As I speak, Twitter ban has been lifted as we look forward to Twitter to implement its side of the resolution”

How do you claim to promote ease of doing business when the platform they used for the promotion of businesses are banned?

9) Another sad aspect of the president’s speech is the claim that production is doing well. How? Does he mean when local manufacturing are contributing less than 10% to the GDP?

Nigeria imports more than exports, that is trade imbalance in international trade and have great impact on Nigeria’s foreign exchange market.

10) In the 70s, one US dollar was N.71k, in 2015 at the time Buhari assumed office $1 was below N200, but the trade imbalance and poor forex policies by the CBN has made the Nigerian currency to lose more value than ever. At the time of publication, $1 was N413 at the official market while it’s N580/$1 at the black market rate on Thursday, September 30, 2021.

Above all the economic mistakes by the APC-led government is asking the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to mint more currencies in order to finance debt. This is an inflationary economic policies that affect prices of goods and services.

As of August 18, 2021, Nigeria’s government total borrowing from its apex bank was N15.51 trillion, the borrowing was taken from the CBN through what they called Ways and Means Advances. It’s on record that Buhiar’s regime is responsible for N14.86trillion of such borrowing.

It’s a poor economic policies to keep borrowing from the CBN to service debt, it means the Buhari-led government has been running a deficit economy.

Despite the claim by the government that Nigeria now generates more megawatts, unfortunately, I had to power my device with alternative power to get this analysis published.

Wrapping up

In terms of youth empowerment in relation to N-Power and other programmes, the government has instituted a lot in this regard, but it’s a drop of water in the ocean. It isn’t being felt, rather more people fall into poverty.

Graduates from the N-power programme who established their businesses are unable to survive the harsh economic policies.

The government needs as a matter of urgency fix the issue of insecurity and purge itself of nepotism.

To fix the forex crisis, the CBN needs to come up with policies that increase the value of the naira rather than individual hunting of an entity.

It’s the policy and its full implementation that will determine the way investment is headed. Any government that doesn’t build confidence in its citizens is a joker. Charity begins at home.

Buhari needs to do more!

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