Buhari And ‘The 24 Disciples’

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We are doubtless caught in an agonising web of untold hardship, ruthlessness, frustration, totalitarianism, violence, and bloodshed – a period that could be characterised as anything but horrors orchestrated by a fascist Nazi front.

On May 29, 2015, a government was sworn in in Africa’s most populous nation headed by a dictator cum born-again  ‘democrat’ at the Eagle Square, Abuja, Nigeria. The cloud reeking of blood and violence that ominously hung over Nigeria dispersed; with the  apostles of  violence and not  propagators of  ideas but crusaders  of lies and deceit  now in charge.

Nigerians with a slim margin of two million votes or thereabouts  we were told opted and voted for a change which spoke volumes for the historic gathering at Eagle Square where power eventually changed hands.  And how well has this change actually impacted on their lives? The firebrand Septuagenarian  amid a sense of impatience and repulsion in some quarters  like a cow with a mouthful of cud held a nation patiently and  anxiously for over half a year before his cabinet of ”efficient ministers’ was unveiled as the ministries were pruned down to 25 headed by recycled politicians.

Curiosity, upon my soul ,  hung in the air,  in fact , it  got  the better of everyone! In the event of power outage  prior to his inauguration,  we had enough fuel  to run our engines, electricity generators inclusive, that, of course, kept Nigerians in business. With the stride recorded  in the agricultural sector , Nigeria was something near a food exporting nation. This , in no small measure , encouraged Nigerians in the Diaspora to start girding up their loins probably for a hejira to their homeland.

Today Nigerians are neck deep in a ding-dong battle for survival under a power acquired through violence and intimidation as it is being misused to thwart the rule of law and this today has triggered off a very sad situation  via  a resurgence in crime particularly violent ones, economic collapse, brutality by security agents, lawlessness , terrorism and anarchy have taken deep roots as Nigerians now live at the mercy of  nomadic herdsmen across the country.

Only yesterday reports emerged that  nomadic herdsmen numbering 10 led an armed invasion of Dr Olu Falae’s farm had the guard abducted who days later was found lifeless in a pool of water while Ugwuleshi and Agatu communities in Benue and Enugu States have also been attacked by these same band of invading marauders!

Nigeria like other nations under the sun   was supposedly  created for an economic welfare of its people and improvement in human resource development and not for the  welfare of an elite cadre or group that it has degenerated to. There is no gainsaying the fact that moral bankruptcy has  plagued our paid civil cum uniformed bureaucracy, judiciary, law enforcement and elected executive under the self-styled Mr. Integrity in fallacious pursuit of a credible system of accountability, prosecution, and punishment.

What do we have on the ground today? A total destruction and erosion of the ‘Jonathanian’ legacy via an ineffectual change mantra that has  only succeeded in reducing us to the crawling stage while other nations in the subregion gallop ahead in the race to explore new frontiers. The lingering  fuel crisis and the resultant hardship staring Nigerians ominously in the face are more than enough reasons for Buhari who is the Minister of Petroleum Resources to throw in the trowel.  A litre of petrol, reports say, sells for as much as N250 on the black market where available  and this, I dare say , is tantamount to daylight robbery.

In the power sector, I had thought the appointment of ‘Disciple’  Fashola  will redound to an improved power supply in  Africa’s largest economy and biggest democracy  but sad to say  that Mr. Babatunde Fashola has failed woefully as the nation is engulfed in darkness following the breakdown of the megawatt gas-fired power stations in Niger  and Delta  States. This has driven many people out of business and closed down many factories so much so that many companies are left with no option but to flee the plague of power outage ravaging the land  to neighbouring West African states thereby swelling Nigeria’s unemployment queue.

In the health sector, doctors have threatened to down tools nation-wide and Buhari is seen cap in hand  in pleas. All we hear from the Abuja regime are  pleas in rapid succession for patience. This calls so many things to mind about the APC-controlled Federal Government particularly the underlying problem of  governance more so  a failure of governance   which does not border solely on implementation issue but more on the issue of paradigm, governing approaches and the orientation of governance system which is deeply ingrained in the Anglo-American model.

One year into the tenure of this administration there is nothing substantial that has been done except the  blame game when he did not inherit a government saddled with any burden. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo came to power in 1999 with only $3.7 billion in our foreign reserves, a period  when oil sold for less than $20 per barrel  but with a good economic team, he delved into work, turned the economy around, offset Nigeria’s debts and left a sizeable amount of money in the treasury up to the tune of $40 billion for his successor.

Nigeria Foreign Reserves reportedly stood at  $32 billion as of the time President Buhari took over from Dr. Jonathan in May last year. I do not recall when Nigerians have to stay overnight at service stations  for fuel that was not available when Jonathan was in power. With a competent team, Nigeria rose from behind to become Africa’s largest economy. With the privatization of the power sector Nigeria had a near stable power supply under Dr. Jonathan – a vital  ingredient of economic development which earned  us our new status as  Africa’s largest economy  after a rebasing calculation of our GDP in 2014.

Time was, in Dr. Jonathan’s  tenure, crude  oil sold for about $12 per barrel. The economy did not stagnate, Nigerians had fuel aplenty  to buy, prices of foodstuffs were stable, there was sufficient liquidity in general circulation. In Nigeria today under Buhari, many homes reportedly  survive on a starvation diet. O what a heart-rending , piteous spectacle!

All that we hear from President Buhari and the ”24 Disciples”, namely Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Dr. Ibe Kachiku and others  are pleas for  patience while blaming their incompetence and cluelessness on ”the prodigal years of PDP misrule” particularly the immediate past  tenure under former President Jonathan.

Nigerians are doubtless  up against hard times and  biting difficulties under the  present administration, thus,  the inconvenience of living under a corrupt  PDP-controlled  government appears much better than the plague of  hardship ravaging the nooks and crannies of Nigeria under the present visionless, draconian regime.

That  Nigeria today has been reduced to a shadow of its former self as a result of poor governance, corruption, poor economic policy choices, and denial of human rights is not in dispute.There is a poverty trap in the land, with local and national economies too poor to make the needed investments.

You know as well as I know that economic development stalls when governments do not uphold the rule of law as is the case in Nigeria today, pursue sound economic policy, make appropriate public investments, manage a public administration where and when necessary to protect basic human rights, and support civil-society organizations in national decision making.

The rule of law,  an essentially  missing link in this government  involves  safety from violence and physical abuse, honesty, and transparency in government functions, and predictability of government behaviour according to law. Too many countries fail to achieve these basic standards, sometimes due to authoritarian rulers who use violence to ride  and  hold on to power – ‘the dogs and the baboons will be soaked in blood”

APC elitist policy in Lagos  State, for instance, under ‘Disciple’ Fashola barred the poor from  having  a meaningful say in the decisions that affect their lives. In many places, access to public goods and services was restricted for certain groups while the poor  suffer discrimination at the hands of more powerful groups.

Buhari’s blame game must stop in fact there is a compelling need to read him the Riot Act! He must concentrate more on the business of governance for which he was  duly ”elected” by Nigerians. It is high time sound economic policies were introduced and put in place for a rational balance of responsibilities between the public and the private sector to usher in a sustained and widespread economic progress, here the services of competent policy makers and  economic managers become invaluable and indispensable.

The private sector as the engine room of growth in production must be accorded its due attention in the grand scheme of things while the public sector which establishes  the framework and an enabling environment for growth via macroeconomic policies must also be accorded its rightful place  to reposition Nigeria on the path of progress, development  and economic prosperity.

Iyoha John Darlington, a social activist, scholar, political analyst and public commentator on national and global issues writes from Turin, Italy.

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