Will You Miss Buhari?

By Casmir Igbokwe

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, is like the proverbial tortoise that fell inside a latrine. On the verge of being rescued, the reptile shouted, “Please be fast, the smell of this excrement is killing me.” Less than one year to the end of his eight-year tenure, our dear President has suddenly realized that the job we elected him to do since 2015 is tough. “I am eager to go. I can tell you it has been tough. I am grateful to God that people appreciate the personal sacrifices we have been making,” Buhari told the All Progressives Congress governors who paid him a sallah visit in his home town of Daura in Katsina State, last Monday. But, how many people actually appreciate Buhari’s “personal sacrifices”? How many Nigerians will miss him if he goes?

Very negligible number! Here is a man who contested for president for three consecutive times. He was so frustrated after losing each of those elections that he vowed never to contest again. Luckily for him, providence smiled on him as he contested again in 2015 and won. You will assume that someone who desperately wanted to occupy this position has a lot of programmes to salvage the country. But it has become obvious that his high ambition was not built around any serious vision.

That is why Nigeria is not working at the moment. In almost all indices of life, the country has failed. On assumption of office in 2015, President Buhari promised to tackle corruption, insecurity and fix the economy.  Over seven years after, he has failed to deliver on any of these promises.

In the area of security, the country is worse off; forget the claims to the contrary. Nothing typifies the state of our insecurity more than the events of penultimate Tuesday, July 5, 2022. While some terrorists ambushed and attacked an advance convoy of President Buhari in his home state of Katsina, some other group of terrorists attacked the Kuje medium security prison in Abuja. Earlier before the attack on the convoy, these criminals had killed an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Aminu Umar, and another police officer in Dutsinma, Katsina State. Recently, some daredevil terrorists ambushed and killed about 34 soldiers, eight policemen and some locals in Shiroro, Niger State. Statistics from the Nigeria Security Tracker indicate that in the first quarter of this year alone, no fewer than 2,968 people have been killed and 1,484 abducted.

After all this, all our President could tell us was that he was disappointed with our intelligence system. Should we clap for him? What efforts has he made to overhaul the intelligence system if he is disappointed? Was he elected to lament or to solve the problems of our country?

In the area of the economy, it is the same story. Under the current administration, the economy has fallen into recession twice: 2016 and 2020.  The rate of everything has risen astronomically. From inflation to unemployment, from poverty to debt profile and many others, it is one bad story or the other. Before 2015, Nigeria’s inflation rates remained at a single digit – hovering between 7 and 9 per cent. Since this administration took over, it has been a double-digit affair. In 2016, it was about 15.68 per cent. As of May this year, the rate of inflation had climbed to 17.71 per cent. Food inflation is the worst. The prices of essential commodities have more than doubled between 2015 when this government took over and now.

Many youths roam the street after graduation without jobs. On assumption of office in 2015, the unemployment rate was about 8.2 per cent. Today, the rate is about 33.3 per cent, the second highest in the world.

In 2018, the World Poverty Clock rated Nigeria as the poverty capital of the world. Today, the situation has worsened. The country has also continued to drop in Global Human Development Index. The Naira exchanged for about N197 to a dollar in November 2015. Today, it goes for about N600 and above in the black market. As of June 2015, Nigeria’s debt profile was N12.12 trillion. Today, it has climbed to N41.6 trillion.

Do we talk about corruption? The current regime has failed woefully on this score as well. Buhari came into office as a no-nonsense and disciplined man. More than seven years after, we now know better. The country has continued to slip in the annual corruption perception index by Transparency International. All you need to have your sins of corruption forgiven is to join the ruling APC.

Let’s not deceive ourselves. Nigeria has money. What it doesn’t have are transparent leaders who have the skills to manage the economy well and deploy resources where they are needed. For over five months now, our children have been idling away at home. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) started another round of strike since February 14 to press home their various demands. Rather than meet ASUU’s demands which will turn around the fortunes of our universities, Buhari threatened “enough is enough.”

In a sane country, this President would have resigned a long time ago. Recently, British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, tendered his resignation to his people. The reasons for his resignation pale into insignificance when compared to the rot called leadership in Nigeria. Recently in Sri Lanka, there was a mass revolt over the country’s economic collapse. This has forced the President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to flee abroad and resign.

Hitherto, Nigerian masses have been docile. They complain a lot but take no action to change their situation. Today, Nigerian youths are gradually waking up from slumber. They desire to take back their country from old politicians who employ different strategies like ethnicity and religion to divide them in order to achieve their selfish interests.

This is one of the reasons the Labour Party presidential candidate in the 2023 election, Mr. Peter Obi, is attracting enormous attention in the country. Like a stubborn sore that has refused to heal, the word ‘Obi-dient’ has spread and stuck in the lexicon of many Nigerians. Today, everywhere you go, Obi is the talk of the town. Some people say he has no structure and cannot win the election. But have you wondered why opponents are losing sleep over this man without structure? Have you wondered why that word ‘Obi-dient’, as Peter Obi supporters are known, has become very popular?

The reasons are not far-fetched. As governor of Anambra State, he so dealt with kidnappers and sundry criminals that all of them ran away from Anambra, making the state the safest at that time. This is what the youths of today want to see replicated in the entire country. They see in Obi a messiah who will rescue them from the hands of these old politicians who have reached the twilight of their life and whose only claim to the presidency is that it is their turn, their life ambition!

Among the other major candidates, Peter Obi has shown practical examples of how to curb corruption and deploy resources to the areas they are needed. When he was governor, he stopped profligacy in government. This was how he was able to do all he did and still saved over N75 billion for his successor. The youths have not forgotten this and they are ready to take back their country.

Obi is a man who knows how to turn things around. He has promised to change Nigeria from consumption to a production economy. Very exciting is his choice of Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed as his running mate. The man, like Obi, is a consummate economist and wealth creator. Obi/Datti combination is what Nigeria needs this time.

I am praying seriously that the clock should go faster so that 2023 will soon be here. I can’t wait to see President Buhari retire to his home base in Daura. I will not miss him. Surely, the majority of the long-suffering masses will not miss him either. Or will you?

 

Re: Unity schools: Nigeria’s symbol of double standard

Casmir, trying to draw an analogy between a government-owned federal unity schools and political parties that are run/owned by politicians won’t add up. Why? 1, the ownership structures differ. 2, the objectives for setting up the two institutions differ and 3, their ‘modus operandi’ also differs! Government, as the owner of these unity schools, is ‘at liberty’ to run the schools in accordance with its policy of merit/demerit system otherwise referred to as ‘advantaged and disadvantaged states’. To do otherwise is to face the consequence – ‘If the north can’t sleep, because of its low educational status, the south too won’t sleep’ as we are currently witnessing. As it is now, we are ‘yoked together in destiny’! In politics, South-East people are where they are because of the ‘choices that they made in the past and are currently making’. Simply put, they have not been strategic enough!

-Mike, Mushin, Lagos, +2348161114572

 

Unity Schools, it appears, were deliberately established for the sake of incorporating the dullards even at the crying expense of the brilliant. I deeply share your sentiment and frustration and cry aloud because we are all involved. And indeed, as John Pepper Clark would say, ”We are all casualties”. On the political lane, I also agree with you that we have since been living with the age-long gang-up against the South-East geo-political bloc. But the South-East themselves, have they helped matters or encouraged those who sympathize or support their cause in actualising the presidency? Truth: at the presidential primary of the two leading political parties, the South-East abandoned their own for greener pasture. A position of weakness naturally invites aggression. They must first nominate one of their own as a candidate in order to take a direct shot at the presidency.

-Edet Essien, 08037952470

 

Mr. Igbokwe, I’ve been following your weekly columns, and all what you’ve been enumerating are tell-tale signs that the Nigerian state is gradually and surely approaching the “doom’s day”, as predicted earlier.

-Barry in Ogoniland, +2348034356380

 

Dear Casy, ‘Double Standard’, in the scheme of things at Federal Government level, is a misnomer, in fact, a pseudo-name for its real name which is INJUSTICE! Painfully, this whirlwind assumed unenviable dimensions under the current dispensation where appointments into key positions, among other issues, threw deadly punches at the Federal Character principle in favour of the ‘self-anointed’ section of the country and to the detriment of the ‘unanointed’ sections. Hence, the seething discontent which finds expression in  agitations with their attendant seismic effects wherein  the ‘self-anointed’, taking advantage of their unfettered access to ‘agents of coercion’, referred to as security agencies, deploy at will against the agitators. However, just like the famous Martin Luther, I had a dream…that someday, the God that salvaged the Israelites from the cruelty of the biblical Egyptians, shall replicate same in our country and return Nigeria to what Prof Chinua Achebe, in his book, titled, ‘There was a country’.

-Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731.

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, July 18, 2022.

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