Buhari: Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Backwards, by Umar Sa’ad Hassan

byUmar Sa’ad Hassan

‘History remembers most what you did last’ – Mike Wallace

Umar Saad
Umar Saad

President Buhari’s first 100 days in office were the most impressive in recent memory.Power generation hit an all-time high and he managed to salvage us from a scorching fuel and salary crisis. The much touted messiah had finally arrived and we seemed headed for the promise land. The previous President had once come out to say no leader could solve our problems in 4 years and not a few people stuck their tongues out to him and his gang of wailers.

Fast forward to March 2016.There are long queues at filling stations and power supply is once again nothing to write home about. The naira is now 310 to a dollar (at the time of writing this) and that is a tremendous leap from the all time low of N400 to a dollar just a few weeks ago. The exact opposite of what the President promised during his campaign, of appreciating the naira to the dollar.

Two South African companies-Clover; the makers of Tropika fruit juice and Truworths, a fashion retailing company, have left Nigeria because of the harsh economic climate.

The fallen naira aside, the basic truth remains no economic transformation would occur if certain things aren’t already in place-security, power and an abundant supply of petroleum products.The President himself emphasized on power during his maiden media chat.

It was always going to take a man of immense sagacity to change the status quo and the president had a lot of people’s support because he had performed creditably well with the bad hand he was dealt by the Jonathan administration.But it appears we overrated Buhari’s ability.

Some of his actions/inactions have totally negated every right he has to cling onto the ‘Jonathan hangover’ presumption of innocence. When Lai Mohammed promised that the fuel scarcity would be over in 3 weeks back in November last year, we swallowed his every word.No one would ordinarily take the words of a man who transited to minister from the job of selling his party too seriously but he was speaking for PMB; the messiah who had earned our patience. The scarcity has only gotten worse since then with no visible end in sight and quite astonishingly, the Buhari administration hasn’t come out to state categorically, the reason for this problem.All we keep getting are whispers of assurances.

For a man who has chosen to have 4 media aides despite the current financial state of the nation, he deserves more than they are giving him.Nigerians deserve to know not only the cause of the problem but also plans the  government has of tackling it and preventing a reoccurrence.It is called transparency; a word that featured prominently during his campaign. The crisis is biting really hard with fuel being sold for as much as N150 a litre in Lagos to people who have to give filling station attendants a N200 bribe after queuing up for the whole day. The depots are practically dry at the moment with the few private ones in service selling above the N77 depot price. These are dire times and our President has remained mute and insensitive to the plight of the people while embarking on one trip to another, forgetting that we need to stay alive to reap any fruit his globe-trotting yields.

The NLC is already threatening to issue a sit-at-home order if the scarcity persists as workers find it hard to resume at their work places in good time. Not to mention the high cost of transportation.Things need to ‘Change’.

Like most nigerians, I have never based my assessment of power supply on the figures published as megawatts generated or utilized but rather on the actual hours the average Nigerian has power made available to him a day. Interacting with friends from all over the country through phone calls, social media chats and e-mails is the best way to arrive at a healthy conclusion. After our best run ever following the inauguration of President Buhari, we are back where he met us. Power supply is at best; unstable with the sharp decline being attributed to vandalism of power installations. I choose to hold the President responsible for this predicament and my reason is quite simple-he hasn’t taken adequate steps at ensuring their security.

Apart from the monumental corruption and incompetence of previous leaders, there are a plethora of other reasons why we are in the bad state we are in today. Prominent among them, vandalism of oil and power installations. It would be taking two steps forward and three backwards to enhance supply without safeguarding installations.In other words, nothing would ‘change’.

The president being a distinguished ex-military officer who is not a novice in security matters, is expected to have taken measures at keeping our most vital assets safe after he was sworn-in if not for anything but for the threats by Asari Dokubo and his likes to wage war if Jonathan wasn’t re-elected.

With the Ibos only restricted to ‘unavoidable’ constitutional appointments, Kanu’s movement is bound to gain more sympathizers who wouldn’t kill their fellow Ibo brothers. They could go to extreme lengths at sabotaging the efforts of his government in delivering the dividends of democracy.We needed them guarded from the very day Buhari became President even if we considered guarding to ensure growth too routine a measure.

We would be at the mercy of these vandals no matter how much progress the government makes if nothing is done urgently.If vandalized pipelines don’t hinder gas supply to power stations, then vandalized power equipment are there to constitute a problem for us. The President has crossed the line and no amount of excuses on the bad hand he was dealt would absolve him of blame on certain issues. Yes, he started well but its not a sprint, its a marathon.

Umar Sa’ad Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano.

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