Ademola Babalola in Ibadan
A former Governor of Oyo State and national leader of Accord Party, (AP), Senator Rashidi Ladoja, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari and state governors across the country not to task the patience of Nigerians in view of the citizens’ endurance of the current economic hardship.
Ladoja, who spoke while fielding questions from journalists in Ibadan after the Eid-el-Kabir prayer, said Nigerians were generally good people who reposed confidence in God and showed understanding with the leadership, despite the hardship they are going through.
“We should continue to pray we don’t fall into the same situation as countries that experienced the Arab Spring. Anybody who saw Syria before and now will know that something has happened. Egypt before the Arab Spring and Egypt of today are not the same. The same thing goes for Libya and Iraq. And these are areas where civilisation was already advanced.
“We should continue praying that the type of revolution people talk about does not happen in Nigeria. Generally, Nigerians are very good people who believe in God. In Nigeria, someone who has not eaten for a long time will tell you that God will do it. We should not task their patience,” he said.
On the ‘change-begins-with-me’ slogan meant to drive an attitudinal change among the citizenry and launched by President Buhari recently, Ladoja said the change should begin with the president, his cabinet since he rode to power on the change sloganeering.
He said a man who earns N18,000 as minimum wage would not be receptive to any change campaign as long as he continues to live on the margins of existence and his take home pay cannot take him anywhere.
“The leadership is too far from the people they are leading. Nigerians don’t need more than the basic things to live. How do we explain a situation where workers have not got salaries for months and governments expect them to be coming to work and if they fail to come, they will be threatened with sack?
“Maybe the workers, particularly those in Yorubaland, are coping because of our Yoruba-ness which makes us our brother’s keeper. If someone has plenty garri, he will share it with others. Perhaps this is why workers still go to work without salary,” he added.
The Osi Olubadan of Ibadanland and industrial farmer-cum-engineer described the diversification programme of government at all levels, particularly on agriculture, as mere lip service, saying nobody has actually sat down to count the cost and put in place a coherent policy to that effect.
“The government is talking about agriculture and diversification of the economy from crude oil. But we have not moved away from the artisanal method of agriculture to industrial and commercial one. In some places, 300 hectares of land can be cultivated by three or four people.
“Nowadays, where do people even get the money to procure the equipment because they can’t go and borrow money with the level of interest as high as 22 per cent? I don’t know how many farmers have borrowed money at a single digit interest rate being talked about by the government. I have talked to farmers and they said they have not got it.
“How many of our young people, particularly in Ibadan or Oyo State in general are interested in agriculture? Those into real farming, especially in the state are people from Benue State, Togo, Benin Republic.
“Things are going to be tougher than government has told us because the psyche of our people needs to be reoriented. I only hope that we will be able to survive this hardship that we are all going through.
“I am affected too. I have not been buying vegetables from the market. I have been farming it myself,” he said.