BY late August 2015, the word was out from President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesmen that the president does not believe in the hollow rituals of 100 days in office. The administration was at the threshold of that milestone set for early September of last year. The 100 days in office came and passed and there was no whimper from the rest of us. If there was any it was so feeble that it was not noticed. When some ‘misguided elements’ tried to remind the administration of documented promises it made during the 2015 campaigns including the 100 things the then opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) party promised to deliver in its first 100 days if voted into office at the centre, the people were branded as Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) sympathizers. Furthermore the presidency disclaimed the document and vehemently denied ever making such a promise. The president was perfectly in order in dismissing that document as a forgery. In 2015 when that document was issued on the letter-headed paper of the APC there was no need to disclaim it since it furthered the ends of Buhari’s quest for power. The naysayers or the wailing wailers as they have now been christened by wordsmith and presidential adviser Femi Adesina were hushed up and silenced. The strong wine of the Buhari phenomenon was still coursing through our collective blood stream.
And part of the reason why many, perhaps a majority of Nigerians kept quiet was probably because we believed that we had elected a messiah-president who could do no wrong. We had on our hand, as we would say from my neck of the wood, eze onye agwalam (Igbo for all-knowing king or monarch). Normally in any Christian church marriage those in attendance are usually asked if they have any reason why the man and the woman should not be joined together as husband and wife. And if nobody raised any objections the presiding priest would demand that they, the audience, should forever keep quiet in making adverse comments about the marriage and the couple. And l will ‘declare and decree’ that all of us, Nigerians, and especially those who have kept mum from the onset have forfeited the right to ask any questions as we head towards the one year anniversary of this regime.
If the president and the APC have thus far failed to deliver on their many promises, on the basis of which Nigerians installed them in office about one year ago [though I do not accept that they have failed anyway], we should be sympathetic given the extenuating circumstances of their assumption of power. They told us from the beginning that the PDP, which had been in power the preceding 16 years had wrecked, raped and ravaged the economy and the treasury. Indeed the president had once wondered during one of his many trips abroad why he has the misfortune of being elected at a time the country was on its knees. When American president Barak Obama was elected in 2008, the world including the United States was in the throes of a global economic meltdown, the type that had not been seen in decades. I do not recall Obama ever regretting his election at that time. We do not intend to compare the possibilities of America with those of Nigeria as that could amount to comparing apples with oranges. When Olusegun Obasanjo was elected president of Nigeria on the platform of the PDP in 1999 the price of a barrel of crude oil was less than $10USD. He did not bemoan the situation.
But in spite of the anxiety reportedly expressed by Buhari in the timing of his second coming I still insist that the president has acquitted himself very well in the last 12 months given the daunting challenges he has had to confront. I will attempt to take the issues Nigeria has had to face in the last one year and then challenge anybody who would have done anything differently from the way our president has ably handled them to step forward.
Public power supply: I admit that the public power supply situation nationwide has gone from bad to worse and it is tethering towards a nightmare. The Minister of Power, Babatunde Fashola who is also in charge of the ministries of housing, and works has said that this government inherited power turbines that are non-functional. Only very inconsiderate Nigerians would expect the APC government to make the turbines work in just one year. Making power turbines to work within one year has never, I repeat never, happened anywhere in the world. Anybody who has contrary evidence should produce it. But no matter how overwhelming the evidence might be I will still not believe it. Why should we then expect Buhari to perform magic? In addition we should not forget that the cabal in the power sector has become more daring. The cabal only last March ensured that the nation achieved a world record zero megawatt generation of electricity for some hours. What could the president have done in that situation? In fact I learnt that in the four weeks between March and April there were four system collapses in the national electricity grid. By the way, let us not forget that the disgraced but desperate PDP and their sympathizers who were ousted from office last year will do anything and everything to frustrate and derail the much beloved change agenda of the APC government.
Petrol supply: Even the blind will see that saboteurs are responsible for what is turning out to be a perennial scarcity of petrol all over the country. On many occasions the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had informed us about the relay by ships in discharging millions of metric tons of petrol and the ceaseless movements of petrol tankers to wet the nation with the product. Is it not instructive that the more the ships discharged petrol, the more acute the scarcity became. It can only be the work of saboteurs and another cabal by people who have since been denied the bazaar called payment of subsidies by this no-nonsense regime. Some of us knew the problem and had been sympathetic with the government even before the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Ibe Kachikwu “revealed” that our petrol was being diverted to Cameroon, Chad and other neighbouring countries. So the government was helpless in the face of this sheer wickedness.
Buhari is not expected to be president and at the same time be respectively the comptrollers-general of Nigeria Immigration Services, and the Nigerian Customs Services. Petrol tankers are not minute objects that can be hidden in sacks and taken across our borders unnoticed. I am not unmindful of the fact that it has been repeatedly said over the years that our borders are porous (which again was caused by the PDP administrations) but we have border posts manned by immigration and customs personnel, among others, who are paid and maintained from the public till. And to think that the customs boss is a retired Army officer like Buhari. How will change come if people manning sensitive positions have refused to buy in? Or could it be that because the Customs is being assessed almost solely by how much revenue it generates for the government, it has lost focus of its primary purpose?
• To be continued