- Nigerians have been experiencing hardship as a result of epileptic power supply and non-availability of premium motor spirit since the beginning of this year, thus forcing many people to ask: Is this the change they voted for? In this piece, DOZIE EMMANUEL looks at Buhari’s promises vis-à-vis the reality on ground.
It is regrettable and at the same time disappointing that many things are going wrong under the All Progressives Congress, APC-led government. Worse still, there seems to be no clue on how to address these burning national issues making life and the real essence of living unbearable.
It has never been this bad in the history of Nigeria that all power stations were shutdown in one fell swoop. The Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, has explained that the collapse was caused by the tripping of Osogbo/Ihovbor and Ihovbor/Benin 330kV transmission lines, thus resulting in the loss of 201mw generation from Ihovbor power station.
The country was thrown into darkness on March 31when the nationwide power crisis worsened with a total system collapse at exactly 12.58pm. With the system collapse, the nation got to ground zero, with all the discos receiving zero allocation from the system operator. The nation had experienced drastic reduction in power supply through the national grid with generation standing at 2,243.20mw.
No doubt, change is a gradual thing and Nigerians do not expect an overnight turn around. What they are asking for is an inkling of the change they voted for just as the saying goes: if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve or change it.
Unarguably, Buhari’s administration is almost a year, but there is nothing to show that there is a government in place. In fact, many have come to the conclusion that his government has no policy direction. The economy is in auto pilot.
A good number of analysts, economists and even social critics have openly expressed disappointment on the direction that the economy is heading to. While they argued that the economy is in auto pilot, they noted that what is needed at the moment is a radical surgical operation and robust policy direction.
Prof. Pat Utomi, a renowned political economist, is of the view that there is no government in place. He insisted that Nigeria today is more divided than it was two years ago.
According to him, “I think Nigeria today is actually more divided than it was two years ago. The spirit of Nigeria is much challenged today. That is simply failure of leadership.
“Well it is not a matter of blaming people. People cannot give what they don’t have. If people under¬stood leadership, understood their responsibilities they will behave differently. For example, the great leaders of this world when the moment of history comes, they know yesterday, but they forget about yesterday and focus on tomorrow. They know who their enemy was in the last fight. But what matters now is not who insulted you yesterday or who your best friend is. What matters is our country, where it must go. So you bring friend, enemy, everybody who can move in one direction. I don’t think the skills were available to those who took power in Nigeria”.
The lull in business activities occasioned by the stifling operating environment is already taking its toll on businesses with millions of jobs threatened across sectors.
Perhaps, this was the reason why leaders of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association, FOBTOB, raised alarm that the nation may lose three million jobs in the sector if government does not urgently review its foreign exchange (forex) policy. While the union hinted that leading companies in the sector have invited labour for discussion on possible retrenchment of workers, they called on government to intervene to save the industry and millions of jobs.
It is becoming clear to every Tom, Dick and Harry that the so-called change agenda of the APC was not only a propaganda, but also a hoax, maliciously and mischievously fabricated to the detriment of Nigerians.
Former governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada, captured it succinctly when he said that the so-called ‘change’ was nothing but a propaganda effectively used by the APC to deceive Nigerians.
“Many factors, which had been addressed adequately, caused PDP to lose the 2015 election. Everybody should know now why we lost the election. There was the cry for change. APC propaganda was that they were the change Nigeria needed. I think people now know better.
“The reality was that PDP had been in power for 16 years and people were suffering its fatigue. There were issues within the PDP causing people to create dichotomy and confusion. All these impacted on the level of votes. Also, the reality was that a name ‘Buhari’ was even more of value than APC as a party. He was the force that drove things that happened during that election. To my mind, there was little PDP could do. In fact, I commend the party for having 12 million votes. PDP did well, with the Buhari ‘tsunami’ that was going on.
“We were in power in most of the states, but you remember five governors left the party with mass following and it was done in a very acrimonious way. After 16 years, you have to be super human for people to look at you with value no matter what you do. Change is part of life. People always cry for something different. It is happening in the American election now. Who would have thought Donald Trump with his aggressiveness and rash way of doing things could make impacts? But now, he is a leading candidate.
“That is how politics is. Just one thing triggered, Buhari and APC made PDP look bad. And APC had a major propaganda machine which they put to play during the election but PDP didn’t have a response to that propaganda,” Wada noted.
It is quite unfortunate that many who voted for Buhari and the APC, hoping to see drastic turn around not only in the economy, but also in other spheres of life, are now sighing in disappointment. They are counting their losses by the day as the economy bits harder, thus forcing them to ask: Is this the change we voted for?
A government that cannot fulfil even the least of his campaign promises almost one year into his four-year term cannot be trusted. Buhari and indeed other party leaders told Nigerians and the entire world that if they win the presidential election, they will quickly rescue the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls abducted by the Boko Haram sect on April 14, 2014. That promise has not been fulfilled; government has no idea on how these poor innocent girls could be rescued.
Expectedly, this has prompted the BringBackOurGirls, BBOG, coalition to demand that Buhari immediately rescue the missing schoolgirls instead of giving ‘excuses and rhetoric’.
In a statement recently, the group called on the president and other stakeholders to do more towards rescuing the abducted girls, saying it expected more from the government.
“The BBOG family in Nigeria has engaged on a continuous basis various stakeholders including governors; the previous chief of defense staff and national security adviser; various UN agencies; ambassadors of our neighbouring countries and met twice with President Muhammadu Buhari on this matter.
“Sincerely, we had expected more and will continue to demand more from government than the rhetoric of lack of intelligence and other excuses. April 14, will mark exactly two years of the abduction of the girls, we have not ceased to advocate for their rescue since they were taken away by insurgents.”
I guess many unemployed graduates, who came out en-masse to cast their votes for Buhari will be singing a different song by now because it has dawned on them that this government has no clear-cut policy on job creation and wealth generation.
The main thrust of his campaign was the elimination of corruption. How has he fared since he came to power? In a nutshell, his campaign war is far from being holistic. Those who thought that even if the president fails in everything, he will never fail in fighting corruption are more or less disappointed in the manner his perceived political enemies are being hunted and hounded.
It is on record that Buhari is the first president of Nigeria under a democracy to have seriously desired the job and struggled for it for over 12 years. One thought that as soon as he was declared winner, he would have come up with clear cut policies and hit the ground running after his swearing-in, but that is not to be as he has preferred to go slow and steady.
As the Minister of Petroleum, what are his policies towards addressing the lingering fuel scarcity? Experts have suggested that it is high time the oil sector is deregulated to curb unnecessary wastages and abuses. All the refineries in the country should be made to work optimally.
Again, there is also need to urgently review the country’s foreign exchange (forex) policy in view of the current economic realities. It must be stated unequivocally that Buhari and his team of ministers have a huge task ahead of them. Nigerians are watching to see how soon the president will sign the budget and how well it will be implemented. Ordinarily, with all its rich human resources, Nigeria should be export dependent.