Lopsided Bargain



When Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari finally became President on a wave of popular appeal in his fourth attempt in contesting the presidential election in Nigeria in May 2015, many citizens expressed relief that at last they had a good bargain and there would be true dividends of democracy and positive development from a determined leader who refused to give up on his ambition since his first aspiration in 2003. The feeling in 2015 after the election was that a man who was hungry enough to contest for the same seat four times surely has a point to prove.

Now 16 months later, many of those optimistic citizens are not so sure of what to expect from the leadership anymore, and there are several tell-tale signs to buttress this prevailing sombre mood; from the unfulfilled promises made during the heat of electoral campaigns to massive losses of jobs across several sectors; from record lows in crude oil revenues to record highs in costs of living; from inflation, hunger and hardship being suffered by millions of citizens to a widening gap in wealth distribution in a country that consumes more than it produces.

PMB’s emergence would have been an ideal bargain if the only yardsticks to measure good governance in Nigeria were fighting corruption and suppressing insurgency. But the ever-expanding inequality gap between the rich and the poor even in times of recession, the increasingly-feeble excuses by the ruling administration on delay in delivery of dividends of democracy, and the seeming disconnect between the rulers and the ruled, have cast a pall over an otherwise popular request for change in governance. Some citizens even prefer to go back to pre-May 2015 days of ‘acceptable’ corruption. It is that bad…

– Abimbola Akosile