365 Days of Blood, Tears and Pain

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RingTrue

with Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 07013940521 (text only)

Last Thursday night was one of the most traumatic for me. I was about to retire to bed when it suddenly re-occurred to me that the Muhammadu Buhari administration would be a year old tomorrow. As I sat down on the edge of my bed to reflect on one year of the administration, I suddenly started shedding tears; tears for a country where the truth has taken an indefinite flight; tears for my beloved country, badly raped and brutalised by cold-blooded politicians. Tears for a country in desperate need of political, social and economic direction; a country so rich, yet, fantastically poor; a country where deceit has been elevated to a way of life. It is a shame that we are at a level where the average Nigerian now struggles for a meal a day while those who ought to call the government of the day to order look the other way. I eventually dozed off at about midnight and woke up with my pillow soaked with tears.

The last 12 months have indeed been most traumatic in the 55 years history of this country. There is too much human blood on our land; blood of the innocent. Human blood is sacred. A nation that overlooks the shedding of blood will never make progress. Rampaging herdsmen and Boko Haram terrorists have spent the last 12 months killing Nigerians. The Boko Haram guys have been with us for some time. However, it was never this bad. Under Buhari’s watch, these bloodthirsty terrorists slaughtered almost 3000 Nigerians. Many will not forget in a hurry the massacre at the Dalori IDP camp which claimed 86 lives; the 50 people killed in Sabon Gari Market in Damboa; the 30 people killed in Yakshari and Kachifa villages in Damboa; the 27 people killed in Molai-Umarari Village and the 60 people killed in Maiduguri and Madagali last December. In all, almost 3000 people were killed by Boko Haram in the last 12 months.
Just on Tuesday, the terrorists attacked five villages in Jere Local Government, just 10 kilometres from Maiduguri, killing 11 people.
The cruel rampaging herdsmen have also killed hundreds of Nigerians from Enugu to Benue; from Nasarawa to Ekiti and beyond. In Benue State alone, hundreds of people have been killed in the last 12 months. The destruction of human lives and farmlands by these herdsmen is unprecedented in the history of this country. They operate with so much impunity. It also depressing that it took Buhari almost a year to respond to the menace of these herdsmen. Even at that, the response was feeble while the killings continued.

A distrusted Professor Wole Soyinka remarked: “When I read a short while ago, the Presidential assurance to this nation that the current homicidal escalation between the cattle prowlers and farming communities would soon be over, I felt mortified. It is not merely arbitrary violence that reigns across the nation but total, undisputed impunity. Impunity evolves and becomes integrated in conduct when crime occurs and no legal, logical and moral response is offered. I have yet to hear this government articulate a firm policy of non-tolerance for the serial massacres have become the nation’s identification stamp. I have not heard an order given that any cattle herders caught with sophisticated firearms be instantly disarmed, arrested, placed on trial, and his cattle confiscated. Let me repeat, and of course I only ask to be corrected if wrong: I have yet to encounter a terse, rigorous, soldierly and uncompromising language from this leadership, one that threatens a response to this unconscionable blood-letting that would make even Boko Haram repudiate its founding clerics.”
Clearly, nomadic cattle rearing have no place in modern societies. This anomaly must end with the first year of our president. The Buhari administration must take steps to restrict these vicious herdsmen to ranches in their states. State governments must also legally ban nomadic cattle rearing.

Our economy is another major victim of Buhari’s one year. It has been in a mess in the last 12 months. Buhari’s policies and actions are not yielding the desired results. To put it fittingly, Buhari and his team are completely clueless about how to turn around our economy. It is even more painful that after 12 months, this administration still cannot produce any blueprint on the problematic sectors of our economy. Virtually all economic indices are now on the negative side. Instead of tackling this, attention is being diverted to the lopsided war against corruption. Buhari’s war against corruption has not translated into better life for the people in the last 12 months. Badly battered Nigerians are being told stories of billions of Naira being recovered without any impact on their lives.

The muttering of gloominess is growing louder in our homes. Prices of basic food items are skyrocketing. Factories are closing down and sacking workers for lack of supplies. Managers of those still existing spend much of their time battling epileptic power supply, fuel and forex crisis. Official statistics confirm the mass sack across our nation. According to the NBS, the unemployment rate climbed to 12.1 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to 10.4 per cent in Q4 of 2015 and 9.9 per cent in Q3 of 2015. The number of unemployed in the labour force increased by about 1.449 million persons between Q4 of 2015 and Q1 of 2016. The situation in the real sector is most precarious. This is why our GDP growth rate declined to an unprecedented -0.36 per cent in the first quarter of this year. Our economy requires one more negative growth rate in the next quarter to technically enter into recession.

So many homes have been destabilised by this raging inflation, depreciating Naira and sliding economy. Then came the months of agony Nigerians spent at fuel stations queuing for petrol. This was followed by the frustrating petrol price increase without corresponding increase in salaries. The impression Buhari gave the nation while campaigning was that the fuel subsidy regime was a scam and that there would be no need to increase fuel price once he assumes office. It is a shame that after 12 months of Buhari, not even one of our four refineries is working optimally. We still depend almost entirely on importation for fuel. With the petrol price increase approved by Buhari to N145 per litre, a family that uses just 20 litres of petrol daily (for car and generator) will need about N90, 000 monthly to sustain this. Poor man’s main source of energy for cooking (kerosene) is also currently selling for between N170 and N200 per litre. The next battle ground for the stressed masses will be in the area of house rent and school fees. Some landlords have given notices of increase in rents. Fees will definitely go up when schools resume for a new session in September.

Power supply has remained epileptic in the last 10 months. The improvement in supply in June and July 2015 was just a flash in the pan. The generation capacity of about 5500MW inherited from his predecessor has since dropped to under 1500MW. Darkness has since enveloped our nation, with homes and industries spending fortunes to power generators.
When it comes to other sectors like health, education, housing and roads, the story has remained unimpressive in the last 12 months.
I knew that there would be trouble when Buhari could not hit the ground running after being sworn in. It took him six months to constitute his cabinet. When it was eventually constituted, it was dominated by tired legs and corrupt politicians. Our president subsequently spent almost the entire one year blaming his predecessor for the country’s woes. I recommend to Buhari the advice of Epichetus (AD 55-135), the Greek speaking stoic philosopher who said: “Blaming others for ones misfortunes is a sign of ignorance; Blaming oneself is the beginning of wisdom; Blaming neither others nor oneself is a sign of perfect wisdom.” These words of wisdom are courtesy of my very good friend and financial analysts, Olufemi Awoyemi.

Those who have been defending this administration and blaming the suffering across the nation on dwindling revenue should note that when Olusegun Obasanjo assumed office in 1999, he inherited $3.7 billion in reserve, while Buhari met $30 billion, almost 10 times of what Obasanjo met then. They should also be reminded that the price of crude oil was a mere $9 per barrel when Obasanjo assumed duties. Instead of complaining, Obasanjo simply went to work.
It is pertinent to remind Buhari’s fanatical supporters that crude oil never went below $28 per barrel in the last 12 months. As at yesterday, it was selling for $50 per barrel. Those blaming crude oil prices for our woes should look for another story to tell us. Our dear president also got about N2.5 trillion as federal government’s share of the monthly revenue from the Federation Account in the last 12 months. Nigerians are desperate for a genuine change in the next 12 months. The suffering in our land is becoming excruciating. Even the N5000 promised unemployed Nigerians have been discarded. Buhari is condemned to live up to the expectations of Nigerians. May Allah help him.

A Word for Akinwunmi Ambode
My dear Governor Ambode, I have read so many stories about your brilliant performances in the last one year. I hope you realise that those around you will only tell you stories about things you want to hear. I am sure that nobody told you that you have failed to impact on lives in some parts of the state in the last one year. The tattered state of blighted communities in Ikorodu West LCDA and Ikorodu North LCDA testifies to this. These two LCDAs are like war zones with very little government presence. You need to give these LCDAs special attention during your second year and urgently tackle road challenges, amongst others here. Please, visit these areas unaccompanied. Come in through Isawo Road. Link Efunlaruja Street through Ori-Okuta Road and come out through Ojokoro Road and you will understand the magnitude of the crisis in these areas.

In the entire Ikorodu West LCDA, there are only three roads with asphalt. Over 500 other inner roads are tattered. Many in these areas have relocated and abandoned their buildings.It is pertinent for you to swiftly tackle these challenges, so that it won’t blight your achievements. Equal emphasis must be placed on arterial and inner roads. This will motivate development and enhance the value of property in these shattered communities.
Again, public water supply across the state has been epileptic in the last 12 months. The trauma in Surulere typifies this. Ambode, you need to rejig the state’s water corporation. You also need to tackle the infrastructural challenges in public schools and health institutions across the state. Yes, many schools have been renovated but others are equally still begging for attention. Classes are still overcrowded with dilapidated structures. Please, pay a surprise visit to schools like Isawo Primary School, Ipakodo Junior School and Farm Settlement Primary School, Odogiyan, all in Ikorodu to appreciate the magnitude of the problem. Of course, such dilapidated schools are also in other parts of the state.

EFCC’s Prickly Remand Warrant for Fani-Kayode
The warrant obtained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to keep Femi Fani-Kayode in its custody for another three weeks is highly contentious. The agency had earlier obtained a 14-day remand warrant at an Abuja court. When it expired, the agency knew that it would be difficult to obtain an extension from the same court. So, it whisked Fani-Kayode to Lagos and obtained another warrant from an Ikeja Magistrate court to keep him for another 21 days. Fani-Kayode’s lawyers had earlier served the EFCC notices from a Federal High Court in Abuja on May 20 for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights. But the EFCC ignored this. He has also met all his bail conditions, yet, they refused to release him. This is a gross abuse of court processes and a denial of his fundamental human rights. This former minister was invited by the EFCC and he promptly honoured the invitation. He has no history of attempting to evade arrest. I don’t know what our anti-graft agency stands to gain by this indecent tactics. I hope the EFCC is not confirming insinuations that they have been directed to keep Fani out of circulation. He should not have been invited in the first place if the agency had not established a prima facie case against him. This idea of detaining people while continuing investigation has no place in a democracy. I am shocked that our human rights lawyers are not speaking up against this impunity. This morning, I urge the EFCC to charge Fani-Kayode to court if they have a case against him or release him immediately. The EFCC must please place a premium on propriety and professionalism in its conduct.