With just about a week to the end of his eight-year tenure as Nigeria’s leader, President Muhammadu Buhari appears to be in a hurry to leave so many projects behind him.
The rate at which the President is going about and everywhere commissioning projects, most of which are not even ready for use, is quite worrisome. It is really interesting that he now seems so interested in leaving so many projects to his name, not minding whether such projects are beneficial to the people or not.
On Friday, May 19, President Buhari, who just returned from a medical trip abroad, commissioned the N21 billion presidential wing of the State House Medical Centre in Abuja. Cutting the tape to declare the facility open, Buhari, who was accompanied by his wife, Aisha, was apparently full of excitement. The Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, had earlier described the project as one of the “Legacy Projects” as it was completed within just a year.
Displaying an uncommon excitement at the commissioning, Buhari’s wife, Aisha, explained that the 2,485 square-metre facility, fitted with state-of-the-art medical technology and several specialised departments, would eliminate the need for the President and his family to travel overseas for medical care even.
Aisha became unconsciously emotional as she regaled guests at the ceremony with tales of how she conceived the idea of the VIP wing six years ago after her husband’s protracted stay abroad for medical treatment.
Sadly, the same Aso Villa medical centre has never, for once, been attractive to President Buhari and his family throughout his tenure in office. He was almost on permanent medical consultation in London as Aisha found solace in Dubai for treatment that could be provided in Nigeria.
We consider spending a whopping N21 billion, just within a year, on a facility that may not be patronised by those it was meant for, a waste of the nation’s scarce resources, especially now that the country’s health sector is crying for urgent attention with resident doctors in the country currently on strike.
While the Aso Villa medical centre has gulped a whopping N6.4 billion from the federal budget in six years, with little or no patronage from the President and his family, Buhari is reported to have been away for more than 225 days on medical trips abroad during his tenure, staying away for a record 104 days in one of the trips. There is no indication that the incoming president, Bola Tinubu, who is currently away in Paris, France, won’t continue with the trend.
We therefore condemn the current huge allocations to the so-called ”Legacy Projects” which offer little or no value to the average Nigerian. While Buhari appears to be so keen on leaving so many legacies, as if he is in a competition with his predecessors, it is sad that his administration will not be forgotten for leaving a legacy of impunity, ethnic bigotry, incompetence, wasteful spending and leaving Nigeria with a heavy debt burden.
We are shocked, just like most Nigerians, at the recent revelation that a whopping N200 billion had been spent on ”logistics” for the postponed National Population Census that was already headed for failure. The postponed head count is just another wasteful project of the Muhammadu Buhari Administration as it was glaring that a country struggling to seek credibility and acceptance for a bungled general election could not have embarked on a successful population census so soon.
What Nigerians don’t really understand is the rationale for Buhari’s penchant for commissioning projects that are mostly yet to be completed. As if competing with himself, the President had gone ahead to commission, with fanfare, the Second Niger Bridge and the Lagos Light Rail project when those projects were, in fact, not yet ready to be put into use.
Buhari is again set to commission, on Monday, May 22, the state-of-the-art Dangote Refinery in Lekki, Lagos State which experts believe may not really be ready for production activities until after six months.
It is really unfortunate that while the Buhari Administration is struggling to claim credit for almost every project, the same is ongoing in the states where outgoing governors, who are noted for monumental failure, are busy blowing their trumpets that are full of sound and fury but signifying nothing. Prof. Ben Ayade, who has been in the saddle as governor of Cross River State for the past eight years, as well as Yaya Bello in Kogi State, among others, fall into this category.
We therefore call on the President-elect, Tinubu, to place priority on performance and competence as the bedrock of his administration upon his inauguration on May 29 as Nigerians are already tired of an administration based on propaganda rather than real performance.