You don’t need to be a politician to hate or love President Muhammadu Buhari. If there is one time and season where the saying: “The rich also cry”, applies, it is now! It is so because there is no special place or market for the rich and the poor. Everybody faces the same situation across board. What differs is the capacity to accommodate the harsh vagaries thrown at us. While the poor are simply withering, the rich and not-so-rich are sweating. Everybody is crying. The difference is that those close to President Buhari are merely groaning and grumbling in silence, while those far from him, and many are they, are just wailing and screaming. The times are rough and tough! Thomas Hobbes may have had the Nigeria of today in mind when he wrote about life being nasty, brutish and short. And those who are curious enough are asking how we got here.
There appears to be a conspiracy of seen and unseen elements to maximally frustrate Nigerians, chief of which being the ever-rising inflationary figures.
The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), earlier this week, announced a minor drop in the inflationary figures from 18.17% last month to 17.93% this month. Perhaps the difference is too slim to reflect in the price of things in the market. Suddenly, the cost of living has spiraled upward so much that people are no longer able to afford even two measly meals in a day. They are almost now eating from the dustbin, as Umaru Dikko would prefer.
And many who cannot understand the interplay of macro-economic forces simply lament: this Buhari government na die. They really do not need to understand macro-economics. Life should just be bearable and liveable. But the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) does not seem to care a hoot. The Naira is on a steady and sure fall. It is weakening almost everyday against the stronger currencies of the world like the United States Dollars, the UK British Pounds, the Euro etc. The Naira is literally on a free fall. With Naira exchanging for about N500/$, what can any average home do in an economy that is heavily hinged on importation? Nigerians can hardly see what the managers of the economy are doing. With no Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), no new companies, no financial security or easy access to capital (without a crushing interest rate), the economy is bound to flounder and flap in a tottering state.
It is true that the hungry man is an angry man. President Buhari must realize that hunger is at the base of most of the anger and disquiet in the land. The advent of the Corona Virus pandemic which fatally hit most businesses last year, still has its effects on the economy. Jobs were lost. Companies were shot down. Businesses shrank , if not choked to death. The World Bank recently released a report saying that over 7 million Nigerians have been thrown into poverty by the Buhari administration, even as President Buhari claims that his administration has lifted ten million people out of poverty. Strange! We hardly can feel the latter.
Even the 774,000 persons employed by the FG have had problem receiving their N20,000 monthly stipend.
Life and living has simply become tougher. If people can’t build houses (with cement selling for N4000 per bag) can’t they even eat at home?
President Buhari does not need to be an Economist to know that Nigerians are gnashing their teeth in his administration. They now pay more for petrol, diesel, kerosene, pay more for electricity, pay more for food items, ditto every other thing, yet income is either static or even unsure, so why won’t there be frustration? Why won’t there be crime? And every month, the CBN merely reels out jaded statistics in annoying banking jargons that neither sooth our nerves nor offer hope of a better tomorrow.
The second most troubling concern to many Nigerians is the issue of insecurity. That the state of insecurity in the country is parlous is simply an understatement. First, it was just the Northeast that was under siege, being the operational base of Boko Haram terrorist gang. Then it spread to north Central, with Plateau and Benue states bearing the brunt of herders and farmers’ clashes. Then Banditry came over the northwest, spread to the South west, South south and even South east. There were isolated cases here and there at the beginning. Not anymore. Just everywhere appears under siege now. People are being killed and hacked to death right in their farms and on the highways. Many persons suddenly go missing, sometimes forever. A young man, Anifowose Opeyemi Ebenezar left his Abeokuta home for Lagos last month, and suddenly got missing before getting to Lagos. Till date, there is no trace of him anywhere. There are many such cases across board.
Farmers can’t go to their farms anymore. Either they are killed or they are kidnapped, after their wives have been raped or kidnapped or even killed. Little wonder cost of food items have gone really high. In all cases, the suspects are “unknown gunmen”, a running epithet that has come to describe Fulani herdsmen. The Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom has literally shouted himself hoarse, over the reckless killing of his people by Fulani herdsmen. But nobody seems to be listening. Two of his fellow governors, Bala Mohammed (Bauchi) and Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna) even believe Ortom is just making noise.
Everywhere, kings and plebeians are being kidnapped. There is no sacred mark on any forehead. In the north, especially Kaduna, Zamfara and Niger States, school children have become endangered species, as they get kidnapped every now and then. Right now, some Islammiya pupils, some as young as four years, have been in custody of their abductors in Niger State for over two weeks now. The other day, parents of abducted Greenfield University students raised N180 million as ransom before their children were released by their abductors.
Five of the students were shot dead by the abductors. What state of insecurity can be worse than that? We hardly remember the remaining Chibok girls or even Leah Sharibu, except on their abduction anniversaries. Cry beloved Nation, Cry!
What Boko Haram and ISWAP and bandits are not able to do in the South east, IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) and ESN (Eastern Security Network) are very well filling in the gap. The amount of killings and destruction of government and private infrastructure in the South east along with the rounds of fatal attacks is astounding.
In all of these, Mr President is either seeming aloof, or indifferent or even non-committal. He hardly speaks on the issue. He’s completely ignored the call for a security summit. His rather frequent meetings with his security chiefs have led us no where in the true sense of it.
He’s given orders that those carrying AK 47 rifles should be shot on sight. But is it not a wonder that all along, no herdsman or bandit wielding these high caliber weapons has been shot? Is it that the soldiers and the policemen are not seeing these AK 47-weilding brigands? Or is it that they feel that the body language of Mr President does not accord with his utterance? Otherwise, what explains the continuous killings everyday across the land?
Poor Electricity Supply
Yes, this problem predates the Buhari administration. But truth is that we have not made any significant progress in six years. Apart form increased payment for electricity service, there is also increased hours of darkness. There are many neighbourhoods that have no electricity supply for days and weeks unend. Yet they pay even more. The so-called unbundling of the PHCN has led us nowhere in terms of improved services. Nigerians cannot understand why it appears a jinxed project for us to have steady power supply, in spite of all the huge monies poured into the project by every succeeding government. What is in the technology that is actually beyond Nigeria? The pall of darkness is choking and frustrating Nigerians. Those who live in Government Houses may not feel the pinch. But the fact is that the darkness is killing Nigerians instalmentally.
One thing that seems to rile many Nigerians is what comes across as government’s insensitivity. It is bad enough that a child experiences what makes him/her to cry, but it is doubly bad to forbid that child from crying when so provoked.
Some of the actions and utterances of government are indicative of not allowing the child to cry even when beaten.
The ban on twitter as well as the move towards monitoring Internet Content are seen as being insensitive by government. Yes, some of the social media operators are reckless and mischievous, attempting to place a seal on all social media platforms as the Information Minister, Mr Lai Mohammed is attempting to do, will be tantamount to throwing away the baby with the bath water.
The other day, Mr Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, had drawn a parallel between a ban on Open grazing by Southern governors with the sale of Spare parts in the North. Such a warped and dwarfed intellectual manifestation!
The pronouncement of Mr President during the ARISE TV interview, on grazing routes smacks of great insensitivity. Here is a case of Fulani herdsmen encroaching in people’s farms, destroying their crops and even killing them, rather than speak to such barbaric and despicable act, the President talks about looking for first republic grazing routes in the 21stcentury. This is coming at a time when there is much talk about cattle ranching, but our President is still tethered to grazing routes of 1961. That is quite insensitive!. The talk about teaching the Biafra boys some lessons and talking to them in the language they will understand, also smacks of insensitivity. Yes, nobody supports the wanton destruction of lives and public property in the east, yet, threatening them with sulphur and brimstone hardly solves the problem. Indeed, many argue that if Mr President has capacity to speak in the language brigands will understand, he should speak same to Boko Haram terrorists or the so-called bandits raining terror on Nigerians.
He further challenges governors to work out their own security arrangements and not run to him every now and then. Does he not realize that they run to him because he is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces? Do the governors control any lever of law enforcement bodies?
Yes, the governors, with their huge security votes should be seen to be doing more, yet, they would need the support of the federal government to rein in the mindless criminals in their various states. Meeting with traditional rulers, youths and other stake holders in the state can only produce a template of operation. Without the support of Mr President and the armed forces, such a template will remain what it is: template!
Those who do not sufficiently understand the President and his style are wont to accuse him of being selfish.
How does he not care of what Nigerians think of his government and the political party that brought him to power? Nigerians, largely, are not only angry with President Buhari, they are also angry, if not angrier, with the All Progressives Congress (APC) for deceiving them into thinking that the CHANGE they promised was a positive one. They have not quite seen any positive change. The indices of a defective change are all over the place. So what is Mr President doing to shore up the image o the party for the 2023 elections?
More than a year after sacking the Oshiomhole-led APC, the interim body has not been able to organize a congress for a new executive. Presently, there appears some confusion as to which zone will produce what. Mr President, in his characteristic way, remains quiet about the raging storm. Is Mr President concerned about the future of democracy in general and his party (APC) in particular?
The above and a few other matters are those causing the anger against the sitting government. Perhaps, the presidency can commission a rating agency to assess its acceptability , if nothing else, to reset its perception and recalibrate its operations and policies. It still has about two years to redeem itself. No politician worth itself can afford to ignore the grumblings of those who voted him/her to power.