BreakingNews 14/9/16 - How PDP Yar`Adua Tackled The Recession, Terrorism And The Legacy He Left Nigeria

[ Masterweb Reports: Dr. Peregrino Brimah reports ] - I seek indulgement to type this piece in defense of late President Umaru Yar'Adua who has been inadvertently included in a list of PDP Presidents who "left Nigeria no legacy," according to a public statement attributed to the current President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

While President Yar'Adua is obviously not here to defend himself, providence demands some of us stand in his stead. I do not believe that President Muhammadu Buhari intended to include Yar'Adua in the list of PDP Presidents who failed Nigeria over the 16 years, however being that Yar'Adua's name was included in headlines across the dailies, it is important to attempt to properly present his legacy.

 

Yar'Adua ranks among Nigeria's top two Presidents of all time. By most metrics, two Presidents who had truncated terms were the best by far: late Yar'Adua and late Murtala Muhammad are these two. While President Muhammadu Buhari's first term also ranked high, perhaps the third best, his current term is filled with mixed results and cannot yet be judged to be in the top category according to my humble opinion. The bottom of the list is occupied by the likes of Obasanjo, Jonathan, Abacha and Babangida, noted for looting the nation's treasury silly and enjoying immunity and even being defended of "having never stolen" by eminent persons. 

 

I will attempt to do summarily justice to this topic in several sections. I will utilize swaths from my February 2014 article on the great legacy of late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua as I compare to what we have currently:

 

Yar'Adua: the Only President To Openly Fully Declare His Assets

 

Late Yar'Adua was the first democratic President to fully and publicly declare his assets and remains the only Nigerian President to do so till date. While President Muhammadu Buhari published a summary three sentence brief of his assets, a full public declaration of these is yet to be made. The effect of Yar'Adua's public asset declaration on trust, transparency and good governance to Nigeria is a legacy he left of untold value that is yet to be rivaled.

 

Late Yar'Adua's Legacy on Terror: Boko Haram And MEND

 

President Yar’Adua had been handed two catastrophic problems by the predecessor Obasanjo government. Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND was wrecking havoc in the Southern creeks and Boko Haram had similarly evolved in the north east. Under the Obasanjo regime, Nigeria’s national security boss, NSA Aliyu Gusau, a Babangida autocratic-regime henchman and the man behind most of Nigeria’s sad history of military coups and continuous insecurity as recurrent security chief, had failed to abate the problems in the north and south. According to reports, Gusau had actually told president Obasanjo when he asked about Boko Haram, then called, ‘Nigerian Taliban,’ that ‘no such group existed,’ despite attacks by the group.

 

-MEND

 

Faced with these unique, entrenched challenges, Yar’Adua selected a National Security Adviser, Major Gen. Sarki Mukhtar – remembered for opposing Abacha on coup plotter treatment in the 90s– who had the commitment and wherewithal to intelligently and appropriately combat the two terror problems.

 

The Yar’Adua administration with NSA Mukhtar immediately approached the MEND crises with an understanding of the pressing situation.

 

Through a combination of force and payoffs, President Yar'Adua persuaded all major militant leaders in October of 2010 to renounce violence and surrender their arms in exchange for amnesty, government subsidies, training opportunities, and promises of more money and development of the region. [Ref: Cables]

 

The Amnesty placated the agitating youth who had reduced Nigeria’s oil output by almost half, more than the current loses by the Niger Delta Avengers and related groups today, and Nigeria invested billions in training and rehabilitating these youth. Peace that eluded Obasanjo was fully restored to the creeks.

 

-Boko Haram

 

Faced with a different terror uprising in the north, Yar’Adua with his apt NSA Mukhtar swung into action, again properly considering the dynamics of the northern question. Poverty is predominant in Nigeria’s north, however poverty and/or misguided fanaticism is no excuse for terrorism and murder of innocent civilians and security officers. The nation’s security men were sent to sack the Boko Haram camps in a swift and efficient operation. In one of the few times in recent global history, the terror mastermind, Mohammed Yusuf himself was caught and killed as ‘he attempted to escape.’ Over 700 mostly Boko Haram terrorists were massacred in the operation of July 2009. But Yar'Adua did not stop there. He drew-up a comprehensive deradicalization plan that promised to monitor and prevent radical groups from resurging across Nigeria's north and also to address the complex societal dynamics that breed terror.

 

Having established calm and restored security to Nigeria, late Yar’Adua continued with managing other pressing crises he had inherited from the previous administration.

 

What Obasanjo Left

 

Yar'Adua's predecessor, President Olusegun Obasanjo, OBJ rode the oil price waves. OBJ’s regime was not particularly economically unique. It more accurately put, was lucky to be in favorable times and the economic growth was concordant with catapulting global oil prices. Oil prices were $16 in 1999 at the start of his tenure and rose rapidly to double that, $35 in September 2000. By August 2005, oil sold at $65 and by October 2007, oil prices were $90/barrel. Obasanjo rode these prices in an ‘oil cruise.’

 

See figure: Oil Price and Nigerian Growth

 

An important hallmark of the predecessor administration was tits corrupt privatization agenda. Obasanjo built Nigeria's corruption infrastructure. Obasanjo raised his friends and sponsors of his party (PDP) to gods, handing them chunks of the country across all economic sectors, including things as little as the ".ng" domain which at $100/year is the most costly in the world today. The likes of Dangote and Otedola were handed chunks of Nigeria in a privatization frenzy. Transcorp was formed to further facilitate the complete hand-over of Nigeria’s assets to private cronies of the PDP. As Obasanjo failed to secure his third term bid, he quickly auctioned off Nigeria’s oil refineries to the same cabal.

 

Other not so favorable aspects of the OBJ years, including the ‘skewed’ use of the EFCC, the billions allocated for repairing power plants, the ‘missing’ recovered Abacha loot and the like have been thrashed suitably in the media.

 

While terror got embedded in the country, the rich got stupendously richer during Obasanjo and the poor got poorer. The gap between the rich and poor have since in the fourth republic widened to levels never before seen. This is the Nigeria Yar'Adua would inherit.

 

Tackling the Recession

 

President Musa Yar’Adua had an uphill task. He was coming in when oil prices were dropping during the global recession and Nigeria’s economy faced testing. The Yar’Adua government had to stabilize the economy against dropping oil prices and decreased production as a result of Niger-Delta terror which had reduced oil exports by more than half. This was the heyday of MEND.

 

Oil prices dropped to a low value of $35 a barrel during his tenure. This was definitely a tough time as repeats today. But a steady hand and refusal to adopt wrong policies protected the economy.



Late Yar'Adua inherited an external reserve of $45 billion, which grew to $63 billion in September, 2008. Due to the twin blows of reduced income from MEND terror and tanked global oil costs, Yar"Adua 

 
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