It will soon hit the one-year anniversary of the new “change” Buhari government. And while there is plenty to rejoice over and much to thank God for escaping from; it appears that as Nigeria takes two steps forwards it also takes two steps backwards. This is quite commendable, don’t get it wrong. Zero advancement is a good deal better than where the nation is coming from. Nigeria used to be in reverse. (-). The nation was even speeding in reverse. So zero acceleration calls for celebration.
It is also important to mention that considering the challenges inherited due to where we were and the state of the global economy, zero is further commendable. But the question is: can we every do better and actually solve our problems faster than they are created to advance beyond this status?
Corruption And Padding Tins
As Nigeria addressed corruption, arresting tons of suspects from the old gang, so also did the nation face one of the largest scandals in budgeting history. Borrowing the President’s words, “all my life I have never heard of budget padding before.” Nigeria’s budget was ridiculously padded. Government officials hid largesses that were not only humongous but also wicked. The Presidency’s offices got larger allocations than the entire collective schools of the country; it’s clinic got larger lots than all public hospitals combined. Ministers put projects like a single borehole at the cost of building a thousand. It was corruption at its finest.
Over a month later, no one has been arrested for this corruption, a few were simply moved to other departments, one or two were fired and implicated ministers and other officials are still in office. Unlike neighboring Ghana where corrupt Ministers are immediately sacked, Nigeria embraced its continued corruption. In fact, the new budget that just got passed still had most of the padding in it. The Senate reportedly just allowed it pass in the desperate need to move the nation forward at the risk of contractors of the government officials helping them swallow millions of dollars hidden in the padded allocations. The borehole is still to be built by the Minister of Works and Housing at $750,000. A world record!
President Buhari admitted today that he had failed as far as politics goes. He confessed that he failed with the Kogi polls, the Bayelsa polls and the Rivers polls. That’s all the polls there have been since he entered office. The Kogi polls had the ruling party fielding a dying candidate simply to grab the spot. It also witnessed a never before-heard-of gymnastics of replacing a governorship candidate mid-race with another person all together. I am sure the Tribunal is going to knock that one out; but so far it has been a sham. Kogi State lacks a deputy governor and you cannot blame Faleke for that.
In do or die politics, Bayelsa State witnessed the APC embracing the same corrupt men from the PDP; fighting an impossible battle and refusing to accept that they can never win the State, most especially when all they offer the people is the same’ol corruption as alternative with no thought of giving the people a chance with someone of decency.
Rivers was one of the most shameful political episodes in recent global politics. Dozens died including serving Youth corpers and soldiers. What a shame. For unexplainable reasons, the results are yet to be released. So one way or the other, these people died in perfect vain!
Soldiers were sent to Rivers, but what their orders were is in question. This is because there is a pristine video that shows an alleged above-the-law APC candidate brazenly storm an INEC office and openly demand a refund of the bribe money he paid. While the candidate vandalized the office, the police and soldiers stationed simply watched! What orders Buratai gave them is in question. Was it the type of orders given to officers who took part in EkitiGate? If these officers were dispatched to uphold justice and maintain peace, then they would have immediately arrested the alleged APC candidate who was terrorizing the center. What happened to Chief of Army Staff Buratai staing that he and his men are the trigger-eager defenders of Nigeria’s democracy? As Buhari said, it is a failure.
Nigerias’s economy is in shambles. The government is moving staccato. It is making and reversing policies. While it strives to create jobs, millions of jobs are being lost due to brutal foreign exchange policies that limit small businesses while only protecting the same old big corporations of dem Dangote and the like.
Small businesses are the largest employers on Nigeria, employing more than 75% of the work force. Millions of businesses are folding, leaving more youth unemployed. Recently Kano state complained that millions in the pure-water sachet line were losing their jobs because of raw-material costs. The same trend is being witnessed across the nation with so many small businesses in massive debt and closing their offices.
While the Buhari government creates jobs here and there, jobs that were before are gone. When will the creating rate catch-up with what has been lost before we move from point zero? I do not know. I am not an economist, but I do know that where people are unemployed and cannot put food on their tables, patience quickly wears thin.
What is so hard in importing refined fuel? president Buhari promised that he was going to incorporate the thousands of local refineries into the fuel chain. i am not sure this was more that just a promise like the one they made to the Civilian-JTF to incorporate them into paid national defense formations, which is no where near materializing as these 30,000+ boys left fallow promise to be an issue to our redevelopment. But not to divert from the topic. What’s really up with Nigeria giving its people the fuel they pay refined cost plus profit for? It’s not like the citizens pump fuel into their vehicles for free is it? They pay cost price plus profit for what they use, so why is it impossible to satisfy the national demand till some months to come as promised? If it was Jonathan I would have said he was clueless and surrounded by fellow inebriated scavengers who had no ideas and were only preoccupied with filling their bellies. But it is Buhari and it is only about a year. So I ask, what’s up?
Do we need go there? Is there a quick fix to power? I would say there might be one; but is there is, this government is not finding it. Nigeria’s power generation has hit all time lows in recent days. Everything has been blamed from vandals to strike-actions. Would it not be wise the Ministry of power opens the sector up completely for all big and small businesses and individuals to venture into power generation, distribution and selling? In the United States, if you generate more power for your home than you consume, your meter runs in reverse and you are paid by the electric companies for the power you have sold to them. I am not sure this obtains in Nigeria. In any case, elitist Fashola is at the helm of it, dishing extra charges for services not yet provided. The senate called it ultra-wicked, and rightly so. We had predicted it. Fashola is a cabal person. If and when Nigeria gets power, Fashola’s cabal friends will have been set-up to rake in a killing from Nigerians for eternity in unjustified levies. As is with Nigeria’s mobile networks and cement oligopoly, you can bet your betweens that Nigeria finally has power the country will pay the highest rate in the world for it.
Unrest And Terror
On terror, while Nigeria has apparently been quite successful in dealing with Boko Haram, the nation has been wiling and desperately attempting to create the very same terror, just as Boko Haram was created by the Obasanjo and predecessor Jonathan governments of the past.
Nigeria is provoking people and oppressing them to the point of riot and rebellion. We must be grateful for the patience and peaceful nature of the Islamic movement of Nigeria; because we all know that had it been any other group in Nigeria that had been so brutalized and continued to be so oppressed, they would have resorted to some form of civil or uncivil disobedience by now. But the provocation and desperation to evolve new terrorists does not just end with the Zaria massacre. Nigeria is refusing to receive and review the genuine agitations of the East. We cannot deny the millions protesting for self-determination. Denying this reality is to our peril. Nigeria is remaining unwise not to look into the practical approaches to addressing the agitation, be it by referendum or other means. The kettle is boiling.
The Agatu people are also being provoked to disobedience. They have watched the government condone terror against them. They have watched the government refuse to arrest murderers and terrorists who killed them and burned down their homes. While the Agatu people may not be the ones that directly approach resolution and the pursuit of justice via violent means, it may be some other sympathizers who may do so on their behalf. I do not believe this government can risk continuing to play with its goodwill.
Similar acts of what may be regarded as insolence and oppression have been conducted by the new government as we try to move forward. A High court judge just called the Nigerian military and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, bullies and terrorists who believed they were in the military dictatorship era for detaining people illegally for prolonged periods without trial.
A nation cannot move forward as long as institutionalized disenfranchisement is promoted and people feel neglected and oppressed. This was the cause of terror in the past and we hope we are not again planting the seeds of terror for the future; because then what will be the use of the advancement we may have made? The universal laws of entropy state that while it takes high energy and time to build, breakdown is a rapid, favored process that even lets off energy. It didn’t take long to destroy advanced Libya and Syria, did it?
We hope and we pray.
God bless Nigeria.
Dr. Peregrino Brimah, @EveryNigerian