Aisha W. Ibrahim argues that the administration did not print money aimlessly as being touted

The propaganda aimed at taunting the erstwhile Muhammadu Buhari administration and

exonerating the Tinubu administration of its missteps in governance has been unending. By

attributing the current economic drought to the policies of the past administration, the

current economic managers and their media contractors have displayed utmost lack of

substance, sincerity and intelligence. Of course, where the aim is to mislead the masses, as

it is in this case, such venture into mischief is understandable. One such glaring claim that

deserves to be addressed is Mr. Wale Edun’s assertion that President Buhari’s handling of

financial and monetary policies is responsible for the current high rate of inflation.

In an appearance before the Senate Committee on Finance chaired by Senator Sani Musa,

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, claimed that the Buhari administration “aimlessly printed” trillions of naira without corresponding productivity. Edun’s “aimlessly” connotes that trillions of naira were printed

for no purpose, or were misappropriated, or were stolen outright. These, no doubt, is a

severe accusation. While blame-shifting is not uncommon in political discourse, such

posits often oversimplify complex economic issues and fail to consider the nuances and

contextual factors at play.

Despite his experience and position as Minister of Finance, it is worrisome that Mr. Edun

would make such sweeping statements. With his firsthand knowledge of economics and the

nation’s economic struggles, the reasonable and truthful path of engagement would have

been for him to properly contextualize the actions taken by the Buhari administration in response to the prevailing economic challenges of the time. His claim grossly fails to acknowledge the circumstances that necessitated the measures implemented, the potential

outcomes they aimed to achieve, and the numerous positives that were bequeathed to the

Tinubu administration. The backdrop behind Edun’s stance is not far-fetched. Wale Edun’s position, along with the echoes of other proponents of this agenda to blackmail the Buhari administration, may not

be entirely disconnected from personal disappointments or grievances against the Buhari administration. It is worth noting that Mr. Wale Edun was nominated twice to be the Minister of Finance during Buhari’s tenure but was rejected on both occasions. Such

experiences could potentially influence one’s perspective and objectivity. He and several

others paddling the boat of propaganda still seem to be smarting from being snubbed in terms of appointments by the Buhari administration.

Moreover, if we are to scrutinize the printing of money as a cause for concern, it would be equally necessary to extend the same level of scrutiny to the current administration of

President Bola Tinubu. If the printing of money under the category of Ways and Means is

deemed wasteful under the Buhari regime, as Edun suggests, then it is only fair to examine

whether similar actions by the Tinubu administration can also be termed wasteful. Mr. Wale

Edun, as the Minister of Finance in the current administration, should tell Nigerians how

much this administration has printed in 10 months and to what end.

While dismissing the misleading claims of Mr. Wale Edun, it is also necessary to address the

question: “Did the Buhari administration actually print money aimlessly?” The Buhari

administration sure had its imperfections and shortcomings, but it is no gainsaying that the

administration made numerous recognizable and worthy strides. Like every other past leader, Buhari came into power to grapple with a lot of challenges. Nigeria faced significant challenges when Buhari took over in 2015, battered by low oil prices, insurgency in the

North, and depleting foreign reserves. His administration had to grapple with funding

shortfalls for infrastructure, security operations and social services. Exceeding the recommended limit of the Ways and Means financing from the CBN was an emergency measure that kept the government running when revenue fell critically short, and in a period of unprecedented emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession

and the EndSARS riots.

In September 2014, the then Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, told Nigerians that

with the dwindling oil revenue, the federal government may soon be unable to pay workers’ salaries, except something drastic was done. Nothing was done, and the Jonathan administration with Okonjo-Iweala as Finance minister resorted to borrowing to pay salaries. In 2014, government borrowed to pay workers’ salaries. In 2015, the Jonathan administration borrowed to fund the budget and to pay federal government workers’

salaries. FG borrowing was already at about a trillion naira for the 2015 budget when the Buhari administration came on board. In spite of the borrowings that had already been

done, most state governments could not pay salaries. Nigerians across the country needed Buhari to bail out their states so that they could take care of themselves and their families.

Was that what Wale Edun meant by “printing money aimlessly”? Hence, it is quite dishonest to dismiss this context and make such a claim, especially when

every administration has always concerned itself with bringing policies to life to address these issues, but these have, in one way or another, had a compounding effect on the Nigerian economy. While criticisms and blame-shifting are commonplace in political

discourse, it is essential to look beyond rhetoric and examine the tangible achievements

and challenges of each administration. In the case of the Buhari administration, we cannot overlook the vast difference in the Nigerian economy between Buhari’s tenure and the ones that preceded it.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, global recession, the

Russian-Ukraine war, and the EndSARS situations, which none of the previous governments had to contend with, the Buhari administration managed to maintain areasonable exchange rate, leaving the exchange rate at N460: $1. He also did not remove the

fuel subsidy despite enormous pressure to do so and still prevented an over-explosion of

fuel prices by leaving it at N187. His tenure also recorded positive outlooks from global

actors like the IMF and World Bank, who attested to Nigeria’s commendable strength in maintaining a stable economy.

Many commentators follow Wale Edun to run away from the truth. But the truth must be

told. Buhari’s accomplishments in developing infrastructure is unprecedented in the

history of Nigeria, surpassing the combined efforts of the three previous administrations – Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua, and Goodluck Jonathan. In the railway sector, he moved the 25-year plan envisaged by Obasanjo beyond rhetoric and endless delays. He

completed the 156km Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail within four years (2017 to 2021), extended the line to the Lagos Port Complex, and completed the 186km Abuja-Kaduna Standard Gauge Rail Line.

Another notable and commendable accomplishment was the completion of the 327km

Itakpe-Warri Standard Gauge Rail, opened in 2020, 33 years after construction began. As part of this project, there was the full rehabilitation of the Railway Village, Agbor, as well as the construction of a Railway Ancillary Facilities Yard, also in Agbor, among others. Having stalled for over three decades and being a crucial plank of the steel development strategy,

history will remember Buhari favourably for these.

Unlike his predecessors, except former President Jonathan in this case, Buhari moved to

extend the railway complex. On roads, the regime constructed 9,290.34km of roads from

2015 to May 2023. Among the projects commissioned virtually were the legacy Second

Niger Bridge, which previous governments all variously promised but failed to complete; the Kano-Kaduna Expressway, the Loko-Oweto Bridge (Benue and Nasarawa), and the Ikom Bridge (Cross River).

The Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund invested over N1 trillion on those roads,

while Buhari’s Executive Order No.7 2019 on the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme mobilized about N3 trillion by private companies for projects across the six geopolitical zones in exchange for tax breaks.

Nigeria’s is a massive country in terms of landmass and population, and her infrastructure

needs are huge. Definitely, Buhari could only a solved a significant fraction of the problem, like any administration in the world. What was achieved by the administration was a sign of success; what was not achieved is work left for the next administration and that should

be Wale Edun’s headache, not casting aspersion on those who laid a good foundation for the

house and passed on the baton for him to make his contribution. Buhari achieved more

than his predecessors, albeit with a heavy debt burden. Given the enormity of the deficit he inherited, his efforts, though highly commendable, were not sufficient to radically transform Nigeria’s infrastructure landscape by the time he left office. But a lot of what was

largely paid have been completed, and other are nearing completion, like the refineries. Are

these the evidence of “printing money aimlessly”? Nigeria’s Finance Minister sure knows

much better than he has communicated.

Ultimately, Wale Edun and his fellow travellers will do well to abandon the

counterproductive blame game and instead focus their efforts on constructive engagement, transparency, and a genuine commitment to advancing Nigeria’s economy from where they met it. Finger-pointing and deflection may provide temporary reprieve, but they do little to

advance the nation’s long-term economic interests or restore the confidence of the Nigerian

people. President Tinubu will also do well by calling some of his straying men to order so

they do not derail his laudable vision of renewed hope.

 Ibrahim is with the Buhari Truth Collective and can be reached via:

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