MEMO TO MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT, C-in-C. 2   Your Excellency, I am praying that as you have finally assumed office as the 4th Democratically elected President in this 4th Republic.........

 Your Excellency, I am praying that as you have finally assumed office as the 4th Democratically elected President in this 4th Republic, that you will do well, much better than the already very high expectations. That's why I made the three simple recommendations to you last week that you choose the best lieutenants to support the implementation of your vision for Nigeria. After you have determined what you want to achieve for Nigeria or where you want to take Nigeria to in your four years, I believe that you know that your next most critical assignment is to find the men and women to whom you will commit the implementation of your vision. This is always the most critical function of a Chief Executive Officer( CEO), which you have become as the CEO of the enterprise called Nigeria Inc. If you get this wrong, sir, you may have to carry more burden than is necessary and your vision may be under achieved. I know that you came to power on the platform of a political party and you will  be 'sharing' offices and requesting governors and other party leaders to nominate those who will work with you and for you in the executive branch of government. I know there is something called Zoning and Federal character. I really do not have much problem with that in our type of federation and given the level of our development as a Nation. My only suggestion is that only the BEST from any zone or state or Local Government Area should be appointed to any given position, whether they are professional Politicians or Technocrats. I believe that there are excellent People everywhere, but many may not want to or indeed may not know how to lobby. So I wish that you do a talent hunt for key assignments and please interview your appointees, especially those that will report to you directly. My further humble plea is that if you need to hire somebody to build a skyscraper for our Country, we need to know the height of the building he has built in the past. Learning on the Job is not bad if we had the time to wait or the resources to waste in the trial and error that happens with learning on the job.The work that Nigerians expect you to do is so important, urgent and Herculean that you can neither take chances or outsource your key responsibility.
  My second issue of 'Political will' should not be much problem. You are famed for having that in sufficient quantity and I pray that you never run short. There are many countervailing forces that will try to undermine you and test your resolve. If you do not want anything personally for yourself and you have determined to make all the sacrifice for Nigeria, then the WILL,  will remain intact. On my third matter of the fear of God, I will remain praying and trust that many other Nigerians will be praying that you enthrone righteousness in governance. My Holy book tells me that 'when the righteous are in power, the people rejoice, but when the wicked bear rule, the people mourn'. I pray that Nigerians will not mourn during your tenure.
  Your Excellency permit me to turn to a few other critical matters in this my memo especially as it touches on our Economy. As a patriotic Nigerian( kindly permit the boast) and one who has spent a reasonable part of my adult life in advocacy for good governance and accelerated economic development of our Nation, I believe that your success is our collective success and therefore any one who has ideas ( hopefully good) can present them and you may accept or reject  depending on how such ideas support or detract from your vision. You may therefore wish to consider the following suggestions( which are in no way novel ) as you mount the saddle.
  1. Full Deregulation of the Down stream Petroleum Sector
 I join those who have suggested this should be included in your inaugural address. But whether it is or not, I believe this should be one of your first actions. Luckily or fortuitously I may say, the Nation has been fully prepared for this to happen. In the last three weeks or so, Nigerians across the Country have confronted the worst consequences of lack of a fully deregulated down stream petroleum sector. The suffering we have gone through even to buy 'subsidized 'fuel at up to Four hundred Naira per liter has prepared us to accept full deregulation, where there will be full availability and yet the price will be lower than two hundred naira per liter . The savings from the subsidy can be applied to infrastructure or other critical social services that will benefit all Nigerians. And if we believe, that the subsidy scheme is frought with corruption,fully deregulating refined petroleum prices, should be seen as a critical fight against corruption. Please sir, you will need to do this now and remove this burden from our backs. President Goodluck Jonathan tried to do it in 2012 but it looked as if Nigerians were not quite ready and so was only partially successful.I believe they are ready now, more so that no political party seems to be in any position to take advantage as was the case in 2012. If we do not do it now, it may become much more difficult, if the price of crude recovers further  in the international market. Please recollect that we spent close to 2 trillion Naira in subsidy payments  in 2011 and nearly I trillion yearly ever since then. Our economy can no longer afford this burden and the drop in the international oil price presents us with the Best opportunity to end this economic travesty.
  2. Resist the Temptation to Reverse or Halt the Deregulation of the Electric Power Sector
It is true that many Nigerians have expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of significant improvement with the power situation since the GENCOS & DISCOS were sold to private investors. Many have questioned the benefit to Nigeria and I have heard comments suggesting that it is not rocket science to provide electricity. It will hurt our ability to attract foreign investment, should we do any thing that may suggest a reversal. For many years the Nation invested so much in the power sector and the out put has not been commensurate to investment. Having sold the assets, we are at least no longer required to take money from our National purse to run NEPA. Again every attempt to deregulate and privatize publicly run businesses is in my opinion a good effort to fight official corruption from its root. What is advisable is to complete the un completed power projects like that in the Mambila and then privatize them. Thereafter, we incentivize the private sector to take over building new plants, including the Transmission Company of Nigeria(TCN). Given dwindling government revenue, we must be sure that we spend the scarce resources only in areas exclusive for government, like Security, law and order or where the Private sector finds un attractive. Your excellency, I am aware that you made a lot of promises during the elections, but you can not fulfil all of them through public sector spending. You will need to effectively court the Private sector to help you in several areas.
   3. Please Go ahead and reduce the size and cost of Governance
It has been pleasing to hear that you intend to reduce the number of ministers. That will be good but how will you deal with the constitutional requirement of at least one minister from a state?I support scrapping the minister of State position if feasible. But even if this is difficult, there is so much that can be done to reduce Recurrent expenditure which is 'eating up' our national budget and getting worse year after year. First, please do not let  the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU), the Non-Academic staff union of universities(NASU) and the Nigeria Medical Association(NMA) and such other "selfish" trade unions and professional organizations run circles over you. They are among the unions that drag every government down the path of extra budgetary spending through strikes, blackmail and arm-twisting. Second As I had indicated in the first part of my memo to you last week, kindly resist the urge to proliferate, committees and commissions. And in doing this, you will need to carry along the National Assembly that seems to attach an administrative machinery to every law, creating new public bodies with virtually every new legislation. Please go ahead and merge many of the existing agencies. If an existing agency is not delivering its mandate, then sack its leadership or restructure or reform such agency, rather than setting new ones. This is where your surfeit of political will comes into play .
  4. Please Do Not allow abandoned Projects
 One of the good things that the Outgone government tried to do in my view was that they pursued projects from previous administrations. I know we have a different party in government. But it is still the same Country and the same people. Money already invested in these projects belong to the People. If you wish to probe any such unfinished projects, please do so speedily and punish any malfeasance, but minimize loss of momentum. President Umaru Yardua( of blessed memory) halted several of President Obasanjo's projects( especially in the Power sector),some in concert with the National Assembly and after nearly two years of enquiry and rigmarole, nothing was achieved, rather we lost momentum and the Nation suffered for that. I believe a critical essence of handover notes is to show status of ongoing projects. Thereafter, it will not be difficult to prioritize them and pursue their early completion for the benefit of our People.
  5. Kindly Resolve the Stagnation/Decline in the Petroleum Upstream Sector
I do not quite understand why the National Assembly has failed to pass the Petroleum Industry bill after over Seven years. The 6th assembly failed to enact the law. The seventh has finished and yet failed to enact the bill. Is it political intrigue or crass lack of understanding of the criticality of that sector to the National economy? I feel pain in my heart, each time I hear that the Oil sector majors are divesting and selling their assets. I feel a sense of loss, when I read that Angola, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea and many smaller African Countries have become more attractive for oil sector investors than my beloved Nation. I have often wondered if no one really cared that we were imperiling the economic future of our Country? So sir, kindly make this a priority to see this bill through within the first sixty days of your administration. Or am I tasking you too much? Okay Sir, I will stop here this week and complete my memo next week.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR


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