Times is hard, and things are changing, I pray to God,
That we can remain the same………… John Legend
Change is preceded by a desire; a desire that in the case of Nigeria heralded the All Peoples Congress (APC) into power a year ago. Before we go further let us together ponder on the following questions-to whom belongs the recent change movement witnessed in Nigeria during the general elections of 2015? The political party whose machinery brings into realization the actualisation of change or the masses whose desire will and wish it is to see a change in their lifestyle? How can we know truly if there is a change within a political space if there is no change in the actors and players in that political space?
The recent removal of fuel subsidy (or was it a price hike?) was the veil lifting moment for many, bringing about clarity in the true nature of politicians-especially for the ordinary Nigerians in search of hope? It showed the true intent and character of politicians generally and the All People Congress (APC) specie in particular. But to a few, (realist) a right direction (of government decisions so far) of anticipated outcome (masses disillusionment with governance). The political-leadership class have always been out of sync with the masses (an unfortunate but true character of the political class across Africa). A disconnect in the colouration of greed and insatiable lust for power.
So far it has been 365 days since President Buhari took over the mantle of power however not minding the Shehu Garba’s version of the so called achievements in those 365 days, Nigerians from Azare to Badagary, from Ikom to Potiskum continue to groan under the ever increasing yolk of hardship in the form of poverty, unemployment and inflation. At this point please kindly do away with that stupid axiom making the rounds that ‘it’s when things are about to get better that they get very bad’ or like President Buhari himself put it “the first 365 days are those of sacrifice, planning…” (I wonder if the Nigerians masses have ever had it otherwise) a very wicked axiom indeed that over the ages feudalist and capitalist have used to hold into servitude the common man. Things in this nation are getting worst everyday with no light at the end of the tunnel.
The economy is in total mess, inflation keep skyrocketing, more than half of the states in the federation can’t pay salaries (even in Oyo my State of self exile the government is planning to sell off (or is privatise) public schools!) to further compound the nightmare the current political class doesn’t empathise with the masses, because till this moment of writing I failed to understand why Asiwaju Jagaban Bola Ahmed Tinubu whose response to recent fuel price hike is to say it’s better for Nigerians to endure inflation than recession, again a manifest disconnect between a political party that once begged Nigerians to vote her into power. If truly this government understand the economic situation in Nigeria, (and is truly pro masses as it once claimed to be) Tinubu will understand the implication of those words attributed to him.
Indeed if the Government for that matter actually know what is doing and it’s not a trial and error government it should have been more proactive in her policies. We all understand the need for a change in the fuel subsidy regime which everyone know is not sustainable, however before taking such a pivotal step the government should have-
- Communicate more with the citizens of this country on action about to be taken
- Indicate what are the likely impact of such action on the economy and lifestyle of already impoverished people.
- Indicate the steps the government will take to counter such negative trends.
- Create alternatives.
Instead Nigerians had to wait till the president travelled abroad on one of his many wanderings in fact the government had to wait till the organised labour went on strike to know what her next line of action to take. Which for me is one of the greatest flaws of this government, we are still operating within the old system and old ways of doing things? We allow situation to dictate our next line of action, government should be proactive and be able to troubleshoot and envisage what reaction might come with her every action.
If truly nations are built by exemplary men and women and sustained by institutions that promotes good governance and have welfare of citizenry at heart then President Buhari, Prof and Asiwaju and other APC bigwigs I would have appreciate better the situation of things if Hajia Aisha Buhari, aunti Dolapo Oshinbajo and Senator Remi Tinubu like my wife buy food items by themselves from mama Lasisi in Bodija Market or buy tomatoes from Garba in Wuse Market. They would have understood that Nigerians have sacrificed already more than they have to, unfortunately these people are living the luxurious life in the Aso Villa- who cares if a congo of garri goes for N250 or if 5 pieces of tomatoes is N400.
Government is not expected to have one almighty formula to solve all the problems facing the nation, governance is more about ownership and what citizens expects is a will to act when necessary. Even when the expected result are not forth coming the fact that government understand the situation and empathise with the people will reassure them and boost their faith in the government.
At this very moment an average Nigerian does not have to consult BudgetIT or Buharimeter to pass a verdict about the last 365 days of this administration. According to NBS Inflation is at 13.70% as at May 2016, an increase from 9.20% when President Buhari took over in May 2015. This is the worst rate of inflation in over 5 years not only that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate is down to -0.36% from 3.96% in 2015 not to talk about the increase in electricity tariff without any visible improvement in supply. All these without bias portray a group of people who accidentally found themselves in government. I wonder how they sleep at night in those mansions and luxury (convinced they are actually serving us) when every night when millions of Nigerians have nothing to eat. In fact APC e-rats and armchair critics have no moral justification to criticise my home State hippie Governor Fayose when he innovatively share ten cups of rice to citizens of my State. In Ibadan where I sojourn (in self exile) you see people walking in trance-like state a sign of hardship and hard times. How do you feel comfortable as a Senator collecting those huge allowances, buy those exotic cars, and while in your constituency thousands of children are hungry?
Re-playing President Buhari’s Democracy day speech, one cannot but easily see the link in the thought of the speech writer and the action of the APC hierarchy. The speech is that of a politician selling himself to an audience. The continuous urge to reinforce into the psyche of Nigerians, how PDP/Goodluck bled the nation dry and put us in this precarious position and by extension absolving themselve. However President Buhari and APC have forgotten too quickly that Nigerians knew the state of affairs as regards the economy, even in those dark days that heralded the end of Jonathan administration and 16 years of PDP misrule. Who among Nigerians isn’t aware that foreign currency was used expressly during the campaign for the 2015 general elections and stories of how foreign currency were given to leading politicians and monarchs all over the country to support the second term agenda of the former President abounds, even a blind man must have heard how soldiers were deserting due to lack of arms and ammunition to combat terrorism in the North East, while Dasuki and the government went to no length to tell anybody listening how they have bought weapons (on paper). Nor can we forget too quick the Oritsajafor private plane/arms deal saga in South Africa. The truth is that we know all these; we suffered then as we suffer now and that’s why we voted Buhari and APC to power having assured us they can solve those problems.
Instead of reinforcing those failures of 16 years PDP misrule into our subconscious why can’t APC give us a semblance of what have been promised and stop being petty? However it’s not as if they did not know those campaign promises are not feasible given the global economic trend as at that period , but the need to grab power at any cost far outweigh the need to be truthful or accountable to electorate- of course there is no place for truth in politics.
Here we are 365 days and not better off, the economy is in turmoil, human right abuse soars, inflation continue to rise, in fact if Bo Yang the Chinese poet and essayist once wrote in his work “With each dynasty and each new reign through the Chinese history, the throne has never changed, only the ass that sit on it” this perfectly capture the Nigerian leadership class since 1960. So where is the change we have been talking about since like…forever? The Yoruba in their wisdom will say ‘aaro lati n mo oju to ma ba ni kale’.
None among the political office holders understand what it takes to be an ordinary Nigerian (or maybe they have forgotten), because if they do, we won’t be where we are after 365 days of APC in office. Truth is APC politicians like the pre independent /independent era politicians thrives on being in charge but are not ready to take on the responsibility that is associated with power. Yes we didn’t elect a magician as a leader, we do not expect President Buhari to conjure out of nothing, but this administration needs to have a rethink and restrategise about how to tackle all the ills facing the nation.
The voice of John Legend continue to play in my head and all I can do is to continue to pray for the millions Nigerians who tonight will go to bed hungry, to the millions of young people hopelessly desperate seeking for a way(anyway) out.
Alabi Tolulope Fatai a graduate student writes from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.