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Last week, we examined some sectors of this administration that indicate that we are not yet where we ought to be, even on the short-term time line. A lot has happened, and still happening, that seeks to interrogate whether or not President Muhammadu Buhari is the messiah or the forerunner to the messiah. Given the decrepit past, many, including this reporter, had had a great expectation for a restoration government, which was what the Buhari administration seemed to have set out as its prime task. But nearly two years down the line, which is almost 50 per cent of the tenure, not much has happened to buoy the hope of the masses that indeed, a new sheriff is in town.
The truth must be told that the past administrations (not only Jonathan’s) may not have helped matters by way of really moving the country beyond these teething stages of our development. Yet the lethargy and go-slow syndrome of this administration has helped to worsen the woes of Nigerians. The experiences of the masses, seem to be dropping from bad to worse. Life is getting shorter, more brutish and even nastier. To believe otherwise is to suffer grand delusion. Everybody is feeling the pinch, including even those whose bills and burdens are borne by government
Perhaps, what seems even more disturbing is that the administration does not seem to have a clue on how our captivity can be turned around. There is no where this is more evident than in the following areas:
Economy: Volumes of books could be written on the strange Buharinomics which is spinning Nigeria out of control. Many have shouted themselves hoax about the administration not having an economic team. I do not think it is so much the lack of such a team. It is more of the incompetence of those running the economy. The economic policies they have continued to apply are quite hurting. I may not be an economist, but I know that running a government at the inflationary rate of 18.55 per cent (as at beginning of January) clearly shows something is very wrong. Recent statistics show that inflow from Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) dropped by $4,5 Billion last year, one of the reasons we slipped into recession.
Right now, Nigerians are choking. From the housewife to the mini-business woman by the road side up to construction contractors, businessmen etc…, they are all groaning. The price of things seems to be climbing higher and higher as the hours go by. No quotation is ever reasonable as the market prices are ever changing.
How healthy can an import-dependent economy be when one United States dollar is exchanging for N500??? This is coming at a time that the price of crude oil in the international market is not only climbing higher, but also getting a little more stable. Our foreign earnings should therefore be increasing.
The fiscal and monetary policies are in discord and so cannot even guarantee that the slide of the Naira will not continue. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in voting to retain the same hurting MPR and interest rate is to literally snuff life out of the economy. This explains why fuel importers are fainting under the yoke of huge unpaid loans made worse by the “ungodly” interest rates from banks. And the CBN does not seem to know how we can get out of the woods.
Manufacturers are shutting down their factories. With the increasing supply of darkness and diesel selling for N260 or more per litre, how can manufacturers remain in business? Workers are being laid off. The unemployment population is rising. And the corollary of it: crime rate, is rising too. Little wonder the menace of kidnapping has picked up again. These are signs that all is not well with our economy.
The promised palliatives are slow in coming. I don’t know whether the promised jobs are already being offered. The school feeding scheme is to run in some select states. What happens to the other states? When will it be their turn? How were the benefiting states selected? Same questions go for the N5,000 stipend for the very poor members of society.
With the economy in such anaemic state, we have all become miserable. Some call it the democratisation of poverty.
The managers of the economy are still reading and applying the old economic books. They do not seem to be thinking out of the box. Yes, there is no such easy way out, but we cannot be so hapless and helpless as it seems now.
A Growing Disenchantment
If the government in Abuja had been so impervious and disconnected with the groaning of the people, the fact that otherwise campaign partners of this administration, led by Tu Face Idibia, a popular musician, has offered to lead a protest match against the hardship in the land, should send a clear signal that this government is fast losing its mass appeal. The hungry are angry. And this has no party line. Hunger does not know APC or PDP or APGA. If the same musicians who played during the campaigns that heralded this administration are now going to file out to protest the hardship and suffering in the land, then the government should know that the tolerance belt has snapped. Far less suffering experiences have triggered massive protests in other climes.
Herdsmen as New Terror Agents
The volume and content of conversation that goes on among the masses, oftentimes, is indicative of the people’s perception of any government. Some of the things I have heard among the people are as unimaginable as they are unpatriotic. Surprisingly, even among the elite, these ill sentiments and commentaries are strong. Little wonder the social media has been an active vehicle in driving down the plethora of misinformation dominating the public space.
Matters have however not been helped by the I-don’t-care attitude or criminal silence, if not indifference, of the government, especially as it concerns the menace of the killer squad called Fulani herdsmen.
Suddenly, Fulani herdsmen have become a frightening terror stock, killing and maiming innocent people across the land.
Fulani herdsmen are not new to Nigerians. They used to be migrant herdsmen moving from place to place with their cattle in search of pasture for their flock. Such pasture was just green grasses, not crops being nursed on farmlands. Those days, their only weapons were a short stick with which they flog erring cows into line. They also had bow and arrow and catapult, possibly to attack wild animals which threaten their flocks. And they co-existed peacefully with indigenes and farmers. Not anymore. Today, they use their cattle to destroy farmlands and forbid the owners from saying anything, since they have become sophisticated warriors, armed with all kinds of weaponry including AK 47 rifles, daggers, charms, pump action riffles, etc.
And they kill and destroy with reckless confidence, as if to say, “If the president be for us, who can be against us?”
President Buhari is a Fulani man. Is that why Fulani men will become the new terror agents of the land? The criminal silence from the seat of power over the many cases of attacks on communities have left many wondering if indeed the killers have state backing. It took a lot of huge public outcry for the presidency to issue a statement condemning the sweeping attack on Agatu community, which left hundreds of people killed and houses burnt down in Benue State, last year. After that, the same menace had spread unchecked to Enugu, Anambra, Delta States, etc. leaving in their trail blood, death and destruction. It is bad enough that none of the killer herdsmen has been arrested or prosecuted for all the killings, yet it is worse that government is intensifying efforts at pushing a grazing Bill in the parliament so the herdsmen will be allocated grazing lands across the country. It is a move that is considered as adding salt to injury.
Perhaps the more recent and very devastating rounds of attack by Fulani herdsmen is the mindless killings in Southern Kaduna in Kaduna State, an area largely populated by Christians. And despite the loud outcry by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the presidency has been rather quiet or seeming to be speaking with tongue-in-cheek. And that explains why both southerners and Christians suspect that the Fulani herdsmen have an ulterior motive in the attacks. Already, there are campaigns against the consumption of beef in the south, as a way of seeing what the herdsmen will do with their cattle which they seem to value more than human lives.
Yes, the Kaduna State government may have held some peace-seeking meetings, many believe that it is lacking in sincerity given the past utterances, actions and body language of the Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El Rufai. Clearly, all these do not show that the beautiful ones are yet there.
The DSS :
One other public institution that seems to be chipping off the goodwill of this administration is the Department of State Services (DSS). More and more, it is becoming more controversial than professional. And this is dangerous. The DSS cannot be seen as being an instrument of harassment and terror to the Nigerian citizenry. If the accusation of partisanship had been in doubt in the past, the attempted arrest (at 2 a.m.) and later invitation to Apostle Johnson Suleiman, the General Overseer of Omega Ministries over alleged inciting comments, cleared such a doubt. Apostle Suleiman was said to have told his congregants at a crusade in Ekiti State that any herdsman seen around his church should be killed, having heard that the herdsmen were planning to kill him. The operatives of the DSS were to storm his hotel room at such an ungodly hour of 2 a.m. to arrest him. But for the intervention of the state governor, Ayodele Fayose, Suleiman would have been arrested that night. This foiled attempt was followed by a formal invitation to the DSS headquarters last Monday. Nigerians waited to see what the DSS would do to Suleiman. Messages had circulated earlier calling out Christians to march out in solidarity with Apostle Suleiman. As it turned out, the invitation ended up as dialogue and not detention, apparently seeing the mood/tension in the nation.
The question has been running: why is the DSS worried about a threat to kill and not bothered by the rounds of actual killing itself? Which one is more dangerous? How many herdsmen have the DSS arrested or invited for questioning? Or is it also because the DG of DSS, (Mr Lawal Daura)—from the same town with Mr President is a Fulani man? Those who believe the DSS is slipping into being an attack dog against anti-government voice describe it as Department of Selective Suppression (DSS).
What has Happened to Farouk Lawan?
One expectation that many had with the coming of the Buhari administration was that with his advent, all the low-hanging fruits in Nigeria will be dealt with and Nigeria will begin to have a breather. But almost two years, many of such low-hanging fruits are yet dragging down the weight of the tree. One such example is the Farouk Lawan case. Here was a lawmaker who demanded and received bribe from Mr Femi Otedola, so he (Lawan) could give Otedola’s company, Forte Oil, a favourable report in a major probe of oil marketing companies. Otedola had blown the whistle. In this case, the giver agreed, the receiver agreed. Yet, no prosecution. Or is receiving bribe no longer a crime? Why is Farouk Lawan not being prosecuted despite the avalanche of evidence (including recorded telephone conversations) against him? Yes, this happened under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, but is government not a continuum? Would the Buhari administration allow the police to kill the case just like that? Didn’t the Federal Government just announce a policy on whistle-blowing with reward? Or does the Buhari administration also lack prosecutorial capacity?
What happened to the Budget Padding Case?
The suspicion that the Buhari administration chooses who to do battle with was reinforced with the silence that followed the budget-padding saga where Abdulmumin Jibrin, a suspended member of the House alleged that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, along with some other leaders of the Lower House had padded the 2016 budget to the tune of over N200million. Jibrin had given several instances and examples of the alleged fraud. But he seemed to be the lone voice in the desert. Not even a probe was instituted to investigate the matter, so Dogara and co could be said to have been cleared by the probe panel. It was a complete case of inertia. Jibrin was sent on one year suspension and ever since then, nothing has happened.
Yes, there is no perfect government in the world, but as the people would say, the morning tells the day.
The beautiful ones are not yet there!