Babatunde Lonimi Oluwaseun
It has never been, is not and will never be the intention of this writer to unnecessarily antagonize the APC/PMB government. The primary concern of the writer is the pursuit of a Nigeria where the system works for everyone irrespective of tribe, religion, or socio-political leaning. Propaganda, they say, can win you an election, but cannot govern for you. The current government of president Buhari used, among other things, propaganda in the build up to the 2015 general elections.Propaganda to paint the previous government in unpleasant colors and another to paint the current president in beautiful colors and sell his candidacy to Nigerians. The brightest color in the later was that of ‘’integrity’’. However, in the over three years that the government has been in charge of the country’s affairs, it has continued to deploy propaganda like it was still in the opposition, instead of fulfilling its campaign promises. And each time anyone points out obvious ills in the government, the president’s aides and supporters begin their song of ‘’integrity’’ even when events say otherwise like in the case of Maina and others. Of the many functions of government which include security of lives and properties, management and distribution of resources etc, there is none in which the PMB government has positively affected the wellbeing of the country, though it won’t admit it. Lately though, some flashes of positives were seen, one is the ‘’naira/yen’’ swap deal between Nigeria and China, which if well executed should boost foreign direct investment in our economy, especially from the Asians. Another positive is the ‘’NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN BILL’’ recently signed into law by the president, which reduced the stipulated age from which eligible Nigerians could run for public office in elections, thereby encouraging the younger generation to get more involved in politics than just being spectators.
If the PMB government did things differently since it got to Abuja, maybe there would be less Nigerians calling for its exit come 2019. From unnecessary loss of human lives, which was aggravated by the indifferent, if not supportive, disposition of the government to the atrocities of the perpetrators of the wicked shedding of blood, to intolerance of dissenting voices in the polity(an example of which is the government’s crackdown on the secessionist IPOB group of eastern Nigeria and their leader Nnamdi Kanu whose wellbeing and where-about remains unknown since the infamous invasion of his home by the military in an operation code-named python dance, several months ago). Petrol subsidy is one thing that further discredits the claimed, but non-existent integrity of the president. The president and members of his government were the main opposition to the removal of petrol subsidy during the tenure of the immediate past president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, when they claimed that there was nothing like subsidy, yet when they got to Abuja they suddenly realized that there was indeed something called subsidy and they removed it, at least so we were told when they increased the pump price of petrol from #87 to #145, a decision which expectedly shot up the prices of goods and services in the country, thereby reducing the purchasing power of consumers. Surprisingly the same subsidy the government claims to have removed, has been reported to still be costing the country in excess of #2 billion daily. This alone is enough to stop any right thinking person from continuing to sing the ‘’integrity song’’ that president Buhari and his supporters are known for.
Nigerians were still in the euphoria of the Super Eagles victory in their world cup match against Iceland when on Sunday, the 24th June, 2018 the servants of evil struck again in Plateau state, leaving over 80 people dead and several others injured. It is beyond comprehension how president Buhari and his aides find sleep in the midst of this butchery. This is not the first tenure to witness such tragedy, but it is the worst that the country has experienced since the civil war years. The greatest of this episode is the irresponsible manner in which the government has handled the crisis, blaming the victims and taking sides with the perpetrators, little wonder why the perpetrators are so bold that they have come out to several times to acknowledge committing the crimes and also giving conditions for ceasefire, a condition which literally gives the victims’ land/territory to these evil men. Some have argued that it is an ethnic cleansing, some have said it is commercially motivated and some have even said it is about religion. Now there is another assumption which has not really been discussed, depopulation. Nigeria is said to have a population of about 180 million. Could this herdsmen/farmers crisis be an attempt to depopulate the country? Successive governments have obviously seemed to be overwhelmed by the growing population in the country and there has so far been no policy attempt by government to halt this uncontrolled population growth. The special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, has also been reported saying that the Fulani herdsmen/farmers crisis is motivated by politicians who do not support president Buhari’s government.Let us assume that Garba Shehu was right, the question to ask now include ‘’how many of such politicians has the government identified? what has the government done to arrest and prosecute such politicians? Are the politicians members of the opposition parties or members of the ruling party, APC? Etc’’.You do not solve a problem by always shifting blames to others or by denial of the existence of the problem.
Now another area in which the APC government has been unusually disappointing is the budgeting process. This perhaps is the first government to always fail to have a budget until the middle of each year. The budget for the current year, 2018, was just signed last week. That is over two weeks into June, that is the year was already midway before the country got a budget. Since the signing of the budget however, Nigerians have had to watch the shameful back and forth between the executive and legislative arms of government, with the president saying that the budget may not be successfully executed because the legislators negatively tampered with the provisions presented to them by the executive, reducing funds for key projects and increasing their own (legislators) part of the budget. The legislature also stated that projects and votes in the 2018 budget were rejigged to correct the alleged imbalance in president Buhari’s version of the bill. It is the worst of executive-legislative relationships we have seen in the over 50 years of independent Nigeria, it is even more saddening that the same ruling party, APC, also has the majority in the legislature. You then wonder why there has never been peace since the year 2015 when the government was sworn in. This further calls forquestioning of the leadership qualities of the president. It is so bad that even members of the executive have been seen disagreeing publicly on issues bothering on responsibility, transparency, corruption and insubordination. The Minister Kachikwu/NNPC GMD Baru case of $25b expended without following the required due process and the Minister Adewole/NHIS boss Yusuf case are an example of what mess government can be as defined by president Buhari and the APC.
The elections of 2019 are fast approaching and every move counts. It is no longer news that president Buhari has lost a large percentage of the support base, and rightly so. A recent survey published by the Punch newspaper showed people’s response to the question of a second term for the president, 58% said NO, 38% said YES and 4% were indifferent/undecided. This is a clear signal of what the 2019 elections could be, though the president’s supporters are naïve and still believe that incumbency would win the election for them, it would however benefit them to learn some lessons from the previous government. It is not clear if the president can turn this around in the short time remaining before the next elections, because he is no longer trusted by a lot of people and his recent seemingly positive moves have been met with suspicion by Nigerians. An example is the famous June 12 1993 saga that the president tried to bring to a close by officially recognizing the election and awarding national honour to the major players of that famous election, with the winner of the election, chief MKO Abiolaawarded the title of ‘’grand commander of the federal republic, GCFR’’ as any other president/head of state in the country. His then running mate in the 1993 election, Ambassador Kingibe, and late human rights activist, chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, were both awarded the GCON. This move by the president generated both applause and suspicion, with the later group saying 2019 is the reason for doing it. Whether that is true or not, it is a commendable decision by the president as it brings some rest to the June 12 issue, especially as the president also declared that hence forth the ‘’democracy day’’ will be marked on June 12, instead of the previous May 29.
All that Nigerians demand for is a responsible and humane government, one that secures and improves the lives of the citizens, not one that makes their lives more difficult, not one that wrongly takes sides in a crisis. Ordinary Nigerians do not want the failure of president Buhari’s government as they would be the ultimate victims of it, but the president and his men should not expect Nigerians to rub their back and applaud them for literally messing up the country and inflicting unnecessary pain on the people.
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