In Nigeria’s recent political history, President Mohammadu Buhari probably enjoyed the greatest goodwill by Nigerians from both within and outside the country at the inception of the present administration. Something close to that was the immediate past president, Goodluck Jonathan at the onset of his five- year stay in power. Many Nigerians fell in love with Jonathan because of his temperament juxtaposed with the culture of militarized democracy foisted on the citizenry by the Olusegun Obasanjo’s government for eight years. Nigerians saw a good leader in Jonathan who did not deserve the kind of treatment meted out to him by the kitchen cabinet of his ailing boss, Sheu Yar’Adua led by the late president’s wife, Turai.
Nigerians in unison craved for his immediate takeover of power when it dawned on them that Yar’Adua was no more. Whether he exploited the goodwill to the advantage of the greater number of Nigerians or caved in to the afflictions of the Reuben Abati’s new discovery of the evil spirit in Aso Rock culminating in his disgraceful defeat in the 2015 presidential election, is now a good research topic for students of political history around the world. Jonathan empowered some people in and outside his government who invariably caused him the second term bid as a result of their excesses encapsulated in the massive plundering of the nation’s treasury.
Buhari however, came on board with a new hope. He was and is still believed to be honest and has zero tolerance for corruption. Nigerians saw a great leader in him who was best positioned to clean up the mess created by the past government. Nigerians voted massively for Buhari because they believed with him in power, all would soon be well with Nigeria again. They believed there would be food on the table. Their children would not be forced to abandon school because they couldn’t pay the necessary fees. Nigerians were promised so much during the campaign to force Jonathan out of office at all cost that they saw in Buhari the messiah that would liberate them from misery and penury. It was based on these expectations that Nigerians decided to add to their age-long sacrifice for a better tomorrow by supporting an unprecedented almost 100 percent fuel price increase without a protest.
Almost two years into his four-year tenure, Nigerians are beginning to wish things done undone. The misery and want in the land have increased in great proportions. Lagos- Abuja road remains a death trap. Lagos-Port Harcourt road continues to be travellers’ nemesis. Abuja-Kaduna- Kano road has become a viable route for kidnappers. The last time I travelled to Minna, Niger State capital city from Abuja, I sat on hedge on my car seat throughout the trip due to the bad state of the road.
Economy has gone beyond recession to depression with the attendant impoverishment of the citizenry due to continued dilapidation of economic infrastructure. There is no clear-cut road map to economic recovery as governance has been reduced to trial and error. Finance minister would have a policy direction in mind on making funds accessible to business owners through low interest rates, while Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria would do exactly opposite the next day as if they had never met to exchange ideas as key drivers of the Buhari’s economic policy.
Things have never been this difficult for Nigerians. Many families can no longer afford two meals a day let alone the popular three square meals. Nigeria recorded the highest number of hunger-related suicide incidences in the last 18 months compared to the 16 years of PDP administrations. There was a man that left a suicide note accusing Buhari of being the reason why he had to take his own life because this government made it difficult for him to be a responsible father to his children and family. A seven year-old boy was lynched in Lagos for stealing Gari because he was hungry. It’s now a common sight to see ladies, in most cases, well dressed, with their children hooped on the back begging for money on the streets of our major cities. Many young men who can’t beg for food take to crime. Kidnapping appears to be the most lucrative business in Nigeria today after politics. Armed robbery gangs are getting daring by the day. Many people have asked me if this is the kind of CHANGE APC sold to Nigerians when Buhari was campaigning to be president.
The economic disaster in the country has forced many young girls into prostitution. Worse still, the number of married women in prostitution, weirdly, with the consent of their husbands, has increased disturbingly. Things are really bad in the country today and it would amount to self-deceit for any aide of Mr. President to believe that the masses of the country are still solidly behind him as they were pre-May 29, 2015.
Unemployment rate is racing towards the north. Inflation has made most essential commodities unaffordable for the average Nigerian. Only three out of 36 States of the federation can pay salaries regularly. Many states owe workers between four and eight months salary arrears. These are workers that earn N18, OOO a month. But the House of Representatives could afford a N10m car for each of its 360 members during this period of recession. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State was even alleged to have said that ‘’A o ti ri owo alaye san, awon oku eeya naa n sore’’. Meaning: ‘’we are yet to pay those who are still working, pensioners are also complaining’’
The president does not have to be an economist to successfully run the nation’s economy with the help of experts that are not in short supply in the country. But is the president making use of the availability of the rich human capital in the country and outside to take the country out of recession? Is the president running an inclusive government or he deliberately alienated the experts who do not know someone that knows someone in the old CPC or Daura? Kemi Adeosun is doing her best in the Finance Ministry. There is no gain saying the fact that she would have performed better if finance experts in the private sector had been incorporated into the economic team of the government.
The wife of the president has said it all. She had warned that if things continued to remain as they are today, he would not accompany her husband on any political campaign for a second term in 2019. ‘’If things remain as they are in the country today, I don’t think I will be ready to go on any political campaign for a second term for my husband in 2019. How will I tell those women out there?
Buhari has the constitutional right to run for a second term in office as president. But is it right to be talking about second term in office for the president at a time many Nigerians are yet to feel the impact of the government? Contemplating another four years beyond 2019 for Buhari without convincing Nigerians that the president deserves another term is tantamount to insulting the collective sensibilities of Nigerians. As a matter of fact, it amounts to playing God, putting in the front burner a mundane topic of second term at a time it appears the government has lost direction of how to make a success of the opportunity it has in hand.
Buhari and his aides should please face governance and forget about second term for now. The president should bring back smiles to the faces of Nigerians through people oriented policies that will make life more meaningful for both young and old. Intensify the fight against corruption and make it devoid of partisan politics. Whistle blowers like Abdumuminin Jibril should not be made an orphan to placate the suspects. Stop the ‘school boy’ fights in the ruling party, APC that have contributed in no small measure to the distractions in government. Be fair to all in key political appointments, irrespective of political affiliation of each region/zone. Make rule of law a mantra of this government as the war against corruption. Stop the blame game. Jonathan has done his beat and posterity will judge him. Moreover, if he had done well, Nigerians wouldn’t have given Buhari the nod after four attempts at the presidency. Then wait for Nigerians if they will not beg you to come back even if you complain of old age in 2019. It even sounds funny. Has God revealed to anyone those He will keep beyond 2019 among those in or outside this government that we now pontificate things we have no power over? Let God decide please!
Sayo Akintola is a Lagos-based media practitioner and Bobatolu of Ara, Ijero Ekiti