Saturday, May 28, 2016

Nigeria: One Year Of Disillusionment

By Robert Obioha
President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) will, on Sunday, mark his one year in office. Expectedly, the occasion will give the president an opportunity to reflect on how he has governed Nigerians in the past one year. These are some of the questions that Buhari should address his mind to: Are Nigerians now better off than they were before the inception of the change government? Is the economy now better managed than previously?
Has power supply improved more than before? Are Nigerians more secure now than before? Are Nigerians more united than before? Has one naira exchanged to one US dollar as promised. Has the government paid its promised N5000 stipend to unemployed Nigerians?
*President Buhari 
Has the government created the jobs it promised in its one year in office? Has the government defeated the Boko Haram sect and rescued the Chibok girls as boasted? Has the government fought corruption to a standstill? I think that most Nigerians will not answer these questions in the affirmative.
Under the change regime, the economy is on its knees begging to be resuscitated. The naira has been badly battered and bruised that it recently exchanged for N360 to the dollar at parallel market. The Tiger Head brand of battery I used to buy at N50 a pair before change came has climbed to N60, N70, N80, N100 and N120 in the one year of change administration.
This analogy will give you an idea of what has happened to the price of rice, yam, garri, beans, meat and tomato in the past one year. Pure water that sells for N5 a sachet before, now sells for N10. We are indeed in a period of economic recession. The inflation rate has hit all time high at 13.7%. Unemployment is also at its peak of 12.1% yet the government is foot-dragging on recruitment of 500,000 teachers and 10,000 policemen it promised Nigerians. The worst of change to Nigerians is the unofficial removal of petrol subsidy and hiking of fuel pump price to N145 from N86.5 without providing palliatives.
Yet, many Nigerians are buying the commodity at between N150 and N165 in Lagos. It is sold higher prices in other parts of the country outside Lagos and Abuja. This is what APC government called deregulation of the petroleum sector yet the commodity is still scarce.
Upon all the pains inflicted on Nigerians by the change government, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, rubbed additional salt to the injury when he said that the government hiked the fuel price simply because Nigeria is broke.
The minister should better tell that to the marines for Nigerians are not dumb to swallow that disingenuous piece of propaganda line, hook and sinker. The minister should understand that Nigerians are wiser now than before. The cheap propaganda dished to Nigerians prior to the 2015 general polls is a hard sale now.
Nigerians now take his Nigeria is broke” slip with a pinch of salt. What the economic scenario has shown is that Buhari has no handle on the economy. His economic team, if any, is sleeping and snoring while the economy is fumbling and wobbling and would soon grind to a disastrous halt if nothing urgently is done to salvage it.
Tying the naira to Chinese Yuan cannot save it. It is like jumping from frying pan to fire. No foreigner, whether European or Asian, will develop this country for us. The earlier this government realizes it the better for it and Nigerians. The government should think out of the box.

The government’s anti-corruption war is not working as it ought to have been. It is the only thing this government has made an impact. However, like previous ones, it is political and selective. Hunting the PDP members over Jonathan’s campaign fund disbursement without doing so to those that funded Buhari’s campaign is contradictory and amounts to double standard.
That is the point the Sunday Mail of London rubbed in recently over the non-prosecution of alleged corrupt people in APC. The media trial of corruption suspects and the despicable manner of arrest and detention without bail do not serve the course of justice well.
The government’s refusal to obey court orders on Nnamdi Kanu and Sambo Dasuki’s matters paints it in bad light. It simply illustrates that the government is lawless. The trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki is seemingly political. The entire drama has more to do with his assumption of headship of the Senate, against the will of his party, the APC, than the alleged infidelity with assets declaration form. It is public knowledge that almost all Nigerian politicians don’t give accurate data on their assets declaration form before assumption of office. If those trying Saraki are honest enough, no offender of that assets issue should be left out of the dock. Singling Saraki out for trial mocks the avowed anti-corruption war of this administration.
On security, this government is not better than previous regime.
Though it has largely halted the march of the sect, but it has neither crushed Boko Haram nor rescued the Chibok girls. Besides, the Fulani herdsmen have joined the murderous campaign of bloodletting all over the North-Central, South-West and South-South and South-East of the country with Buhari seemingly doing nothing.
Under the change government, Nigerians are now more divided than ever before. We now think and act along ethnic and religious lines. The body language of those in power shows that the government is for certain groups and this scenario does not engender national unity and cohesion. That can explain the rise in IPOB, Avengers and Egbesu Boys eruptions. Nigerians are now more disillusioned than ever before.
The education and health sectors are in coma. Education and medical tourism are on the rise and apparently being promoted more by those in the corridors of power. If this change government wants to make impact, it must rejig its cabinet. Some of the ministers should just go while some should be redeployed for effective delivery of dividends of democracy. The government should have a separate Ministry of Power and appoint an expert to handle it. In the same vein, the Works Ministry should be separate from the Housing Ministry. Merging the three ministries together is not working and will not work.
Government should think of state police in view of rising criminality in the country. More importantly, it should consider implementing some of the far-reaching decisions of the last national confab as a way of restructuring the lopsided Nigerian federation and dousing the tension in the polity.
Government should diversify the economy away from oil. Its focus should be on agriculture, education, science and technology, as well as solid minerals. The APC-led federal government has not lived up to Nigerians’ expectations in its one year in office. But it has three years to amend the situation or be kissed goodbye.
*Robert Obioha, a newspaper columnist, could be reached with robobioha@yahoo.com

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