These are desperate times in Nigeria! Times that demand tough decisions in public interest and exemplary leadership on the part of leaders. It is tough not to acknowledge the difficult economic and security situation of the nation today.
From endless insurgency, uncertain political climate and later successful general elections and handover, the country has gradually descended into deep economic gloom arising from falling oil prices and mindless mismanagement of available resources at home.
It has become stale news that our foreign reserves and excess crude account were victims of inept management, while state governments needed N714 billion bailout from the Federal Government to settle backlog of salaries in a country claiming the official title of largest economy in Africa and indeed, Giant of Africa.
Things must change, if we must regain our sanity as right thinking members of the human race and little sense of credibility within the comity of nations. It is in this light therefore that President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo deserve our collective commendation for the courageous step of reducing their official salaries by 50 per cent.
It is clearly a sign of leading from the frontlines! Over the years, we’ve heard funny stories of how our senators and House of Reps members in Abuja earn salaries that rank more than the take-home pay of President Barack Obama of the United States, the richest and largest economy on earth.
True or false, these stories of easy money in Abuja achieves two dynamic results: One, it emboldens existing and prospective federal legislators to sit tight to reap their bountiful harvests without baiting at the media reports and encourages would-be legislators to use allmeans necessary to become members of the National Assembly for a slice of their own national cake.
The second result of course, is the disdain that members of the public have for the legislators. Again, we’ve also heard statistics that says as much as 80 per cent of the national budget of Nigeria is consumed as recurrent expenditure as against pursuant of capital projects for developmental purposes.
And before we could fully digest the stories and statistics, odious words filtered out of how a government establishment called the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was selling Nigerian oil and gas and not remitting the full proceeds to the Federation Account.
As a friend noted recently during a heated conversation on State of the Nation; ‘there is no type of story you cannot hear in this land called Naija.’ I can say with certain level of confidence that even the Number One enemy of Nigeria will concede that what this nation needs today is prudence and more prudence.
To such an enemy, Nigeria must be bold to declare: Goodbye to the days of profligacy and misappropriation and welcome to prudence! Indeed, Buhari and Osinbajo deserve our praise for showing a worthy way for right-thinking others to follow.
I believe strongly that their decision was a product of leadership and sacrifice, rather than political propaganda as has been canvassed by the opposition section of the public.
For the nation to develop sustainably, the current high level of recurrent expenditure in the public sector, from the federal government to states must be brought down reasonably.
This would conserve and release badly needed funds for national development, especially in the critical area of infrastructure, healthcare and education. Nigerians must rise to support the good initiative by Buhari and Osinbajo, regardless of party affiliation for a better and richer Nigeria, especially at this period of dwindling oil revenue and high cost of insurgency.
Any genuine effort to reduce high cost of governance in the country deserves our commendation. With the depletion of the foreign reserves and excess crude account, it is important for the Buhari administration to make prudence one of its core values in the overall interest of the nation.