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Home Opinion Opinion: AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI -By Umar Abdullahi TATA
Opinion: AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI -By Umar Abdullahi TATA

Opinion: AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI -By Umar Abdullahi TATA

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This may sound a wicked joke to you Sir but it is true! The gumption to write this letter to you is derived from no other source than your sickness. This may sound weird but nothing, and I mean nothing, has ever convinced me that you are a human being than this sickness. I am a victim of your ‘divinity’ which was rightly or wrongly poised on you by your followers, like it was done to Jesus Christ, the only difference is you never admonished them to the right realisation because doing that will mortalise you and mortals don’t win elections, at least in 2015.

Since as mortal, something that this sickness exposed, you can make mistakes, I write this short message to inform you of a mistake that you have made which nobody, to the best of my knowledge, is willing to bring to your attention. This I am doing now as your true lover and a fellow kinsman from Katsina state. They say only your true friend tells you that your mouth smells! I will continue doing this jihad so long you keep making mistakes and for as long as the conspiracy of silence continues! I want you to do better!

Your decision to excise Budget Office of the Federation from Ministry of Finance to National Planning Commission is a gargantuan and grosteque mistake! They are two different entities that may look similar in sound to a lay man but critically different in responsibilities! Whoever gave you this advice did not help you nor the financial system! Even the Harmonisation Committee you formed under the Head of Service does not know how to handle this issue and they cannot tell you the truth because you have clearly told them theirs is to strictly implement what you did not upset it.

The responsibility of the Budget Office is not as abstract as you may think. It is just not about working out budgets alone but managing the expenditure portfolio of the country. Every kobo accruing to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, CFR is captured in the vote books of the Budget Office and only the Minister of Finance has the Constitutional authority to approve any release therefrom! This is by the provision of both the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Financial Regulations, administrative circulars and extant gazettes. No where was such power ever contemplated for the Minister for National Planning! If you take away budget planning, writing and presentation, which is a minuscule part of what that office does to National Planning what about the authority to approve expenditure releases? Can you equally take that away from Minister of Finance without creating constitutional and administrative crisis within the system? Why would you want to create unnecessary crisis where you can as well do without it? Minister for National Planning is not a signatory to CRF, the Accountant General of the Federation will not honour any approval coming from him, even if you say so, CBN will not pay, Auditor General for the Federation will query it and the National Assembly will blame you! This is not a wise decision and should be revisited! The best you can do is to merge Finance and National Planning, that is more seamless and sensible but insisting on this line of thinking is akin to rocking the boat of the country’s financial administration and, even if you have the strength for that, I don’t think it is sensible and needful amidst all the crises the country is currently facing!

Mr President, Nigeria until your coming to power had the largest economy in Africa even if it was on paper. The world economic institutions at least accepted that! Now if you look at the chart you will have to use glasses to locate Nigeria down the ladder! Insignificant countries like Eritrea and Cote d’Ivoire are way above us, why? Because Economics is a vast and serious profession that involves KNOWLEDGE! You cannot hand over a complex economy of a complex country at this complex period to a lawyer and expect results! What does he know about economics? You don’t learn it on the job you have to go to school! Somebody who cannot have a voice at Davos should not be managing our economy. Nowhere was this made more graphic than in the Budget Office of the Federation. Sir in the 16 years of PDP we had only two Director Generals for the Budget Office, Bode Augusto and Bright Okogu, in your one year in office we have three today! If this did not tell you something is wrong then we are in trouble! Stability is key to everything and name doesn’t create it but knowledge, tact, foresight and the good sense to take the right decision. This decision is therefore wrong and it should be revisited please.

People close to you say you don’t listen to advice, I didn’t believe them until the day I saw in one of our national dailies that you took time to chat with your ministers after FEC meeting. It was clear from the report that the Ministers felt honoured by that gesture. Since then I knew something is wrong! Either you are to hard to have face for advice or they are so scared to tell you the right thing even if you don’t want to hear it! Either way, as the person on whose table the buck stops, you are the loser not them and we will do our part of telling you the truth even if you will look the other way. God knows I have done my part!

I pray Allah will lend you the health to have more productive years ahead, I hope this message will be shared by whoever reads it until it reaches you!

Thank you!

UMAR ABDULLAHI TSAURI TATA.

10/06/2016

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