To say the last couple of weeks have been stressful for the average Nigerian would frankly be a gross understatement. The poor masses have found themselves spending more time on fuel queues and vehicular traffic induced by fuel queues than in any productive business. To make matters worse, power supply has been virtually non-existent in the last couple weeks. It is tantamount to going from one bout of untold hardship to another, as there had just been a bit of respite from the alarming downward spiral of the naira, when the recurring demon of scarcity of premium motor spirit reared its ugly head once again.
When the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officially announced that General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress had won the presidential elections on the Ist of April, 2015, it was not an April’s Fool’s Day prank. It was the actualization of the hope of millions of Nigerians and specifically, 15,424,921 individuals who braved unfavourable weather conditions, physical challenges and card reader hitches to cast their vote for the septuagenarian who represented (arguably) the most realistic chance of a departure from the status quo.
Like millions of other Nigerians I was excited at the prospect of a new administration. And not just any administration, but one who had campaigned on the backdrop of a change from the existing conditions at the time. A positive change. I even wrote an article here in my optimism of a brighter future. The thought of finally getting a President who appeared resolute in his resolve to ensure that long suffering citizens of this great country who have been saddled with the unsavoury burden of successive inept leaders would finally heave a sigh of relief had me all hopeful and confident that we were at least going to catch a glimpse of El dorado as a nation. Suffice to say, this has not been the case.
As if the persisting fuel situation and comatose power sector are not enough to grapple with, Nigerians have also had to attempt to wrap their heads around the rationale behind a constantly jet-setting President. The Boko Haram situation appears to have abated, but in similar fashion to passing the baton in a relay race, the onslaught of Fulani herdsmen in Agatu has taken over. Every other day there are gory sights of entire families and communities being wiped off the face of the earth! Yet, the authorities appear to be huffing and puffing over the incident as usual rather than take concrete steps to arrest this growing menace. Does the government need to be reminded of how insurgency in the North East and Niger Delta began and grew into the hydra-headed monster that we have today?
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Ibe Kacikwu’s promise of the disappearance of fuel queues by Monday has remained a mirage as fuel queues still dot the land. Dr Kachikwu has also just revealed that even if all four refineries were working at a 100 percent capacity (which they are nowhere near at the moment), they would still only be able to refine 20 million litres of petrol, which amounts to about 50 percent of our present consumption as a country, and therefore have to resort to importation to make up the shortfall. In other words, there is no hope that Nigeria will stop fuel importation in the near future. This invariably means that the Buhari administration cannot fulfil its promise of stopping the importation of fuel. Another promise bites the dust.
It is also sad to know that one of Buhari’s Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige believes that the people complaining of suffering and hardship are members or loyalists of the opposition party, PDP. How one who should be able to empathize with the downtrodden given his portfolio would utter such a statement is beyond me. The payment of N5,000 stipend to the unemployed and feeding of school children which was one of the core campaign promises of the Buhari administration during the electioneering are yet to materialize, even though there have been talks about not jettisoning the free meal scheme. And this is supposed to be the much chanted “change?” Only last weekend I stumbled on a tweet by a lady who was distraught about losing her little niece to the cold hand’s of death simply because a federal hospital was allegedly without oxygen in its emergency ward. How does one even begin to imagine that in this day and age? In saner climes, someone would have at least been fired for such negligence. But this is Nigeria…
It was easy for the APC to criticize the Goodluck Jonathan administration. They were quick to brandish the unfulfilled promises of constant supply of electricity, creation of 1.5 million jobs in two years, rescue of the abducted Chibok girls, creation of industries in the Niger Delta and the reviving of the Ajaokuta Steel complex among others. And hinged their campaign on being different. Yet, they appear to have chosen to toe the exact same path – promising heaven on earth during electioneering only to make a U-turn when it is time to deliver. Power supply has been worse than ever, yet, the Minister of Power seems to be more concerned about increasing tariffs rather than providing good service first. The Minister of Information tells us the present government will invest in infrastructure mostly and focus on the non-oil sector, especially agriculture and solid minerals mining, but the 2016 budget reveals the contrary.
This is deja vu all over again. Every day it looks more and more as if we have been scammed yet again. While it is true that the financial recklessness and sheer impunity of past governments have played a huge part in the economic challenges Nigeria is currently battling and it is commendable that the present government is doing all it can to recover stolen monies as well as bring the villains in the plot to book, this should not be pursued to the detriment of national development as is presently being done. Every other day, President Buhari reiterates his commitment to fighting corruption, one can only wish he would pursue practical solutions to the many problems bedeviling the country with the same vigor. It was always the reservation with voting Buhari. The no-nonsense General who would be more interested in the fighting corruption to a halt than implementing any meaningful infrastructural development.
Yes, It is still only ten months into the reign of the new government, but by now there should at least be flashes of positive strides to come. So far, the change that Nigerians have been hoping to see is nowhere near coming to fruition. This is not the change a majority of the voting populace voted for. Mr President needs to know this and swing into action sooner than later.
P.S: Djembe Communications, the pioneering Pan-African communications consultancy will host a webinar with the theme, “Africa’s Womenpreneurs: What’s Next?” for women entrepreneurs, innovators and key influencers across the African continent on Tuesday, 22nd March, 2016. The webinar is one of the several initiatives by Djembe Communications geared towards celebrating the International Women’s Day throughout the month of March.