The Muhammadu Buhari administration got into office on a promise of change. They told Nigerians that the country was in bad situation, hence there was hunger, deprivations and dislocation of all kinds. They seized on it and told Nigerians that the situation was the outcome of poor governance. Trust politicians to always take advantage. The Buhari team claimed the situation was reversible and if only Nigerians would entrust them with power. They said that within a short time Nigerians would see positive changes in the manner of administration and in the welfare of the people.
Four years on the saddle, Nigerians have seen anything but progress and improved welfare. Under the period of this administration, there have been changes this time in the negative direction; more than at any other time Nigeria has never been as divided as it is under the administration of change. The government has run the most nepotistic administration to the point that the social bonds holding the people of the country together have taken terrible beatings. Mistrust is so high and hatred has been elevated even to the point of state policy, such that bonafide citizens are garrisoned in their private homes for fear of being killed by gun wielding miscreants suspected to be tribal militias. Economic activities have been stalled, forcing hunger on millions of citizens and taking the country nearer to the precipice of food insecurity.
The herdsmen challenge has become the biggest threat and a government that runs on change and has security as one of its cardinal programmes seems to have thrown its hands up in surrender and leaving the citizens more vulnerable than they have ever been since the country gained independence in 1960. The Nigerian super story in this period includes daily reports of criminal attacks against innocent communities and the massive destruction of lives and properties. It is not like nations are totally immune to acts of deviancy but the difference is that where qualitative governments are in place the response makes a whole lot of difference. We haven’t seen that in the case of Nigeria, rather it has been a case of silence that looks like a conspiratorial disposition.
When Nigerians voted the Buhari team into power, they had many expectations in their minds. One of it was that from Buhari they would get discipline and patriotism in the management of the country’s affairs, and from the western front of his alliance, the country would reap a harvest of both liberal democracy and particularly infusion of very progressive ideals. There was a thinking that the government would be human centred and under this administration, the improvement of the living standard of the people would be the focal point. But on ascending to power, the ideological focus of the administration appeared vague, and that was for the simple reason that the northern components led by Buhari, in place of being liberal chose to be ultra-conservative, far more than most citizens had thought their predecessor was. Salt was added to injury when the western flank of the Buhari team was totally sidelined. The dissonance arising from the above has no doubt created big complications and the country and her people are the worse for it.
The Buhari team did not tell Nigerians it would increase the cost of petroleum products, it promised to quickly rehabilitate old refineries and to build more, and by so doing give Nigerians not only steady supply of the products but at a very low cost. Few months into the administration and around the Christmas/New Year festivities, in fact at a time most Nigerians were holidaying at their country-homes, the government found the period very auspicious to announce increases in the prices of petroleum products and the increases was by over 75 per cent. The decision came like a thunderbolt, no consultations and no appeal; as far as the leadership were concerned they knew what was best for the citizens. This was at a time they also told the country that they had done away with subsidy.
The resultant effect of that policy has left millions of Nigerians impoverished and many more sent to their untimely death. For the first time in Nigeria suicide became commonplace, such that it is now of national concern. Many industries abruptly closed as a result of this, just as there was huge hike in transportation fares, and yet such facilities like the rail and maritime systems that would have provided a cushion have remained undeveloped. There has been news of much funds allocated to the sector and yet no significant progress has been seen. Inflation is high while the exchange value has continued to maintain a steady climb and leaving in its wake huge dislocations and destructions. An average Nigerian is finding it very difficult to sustain daily living, electricity bill have as well become outrageous, and this is against the background that for most Nigerians they have to pay huge sums for services rendered epileptically or never at all. The country has destroyed public schools and essentially privatized education. Today, only few can pay to train their children. It is believed that over 100 million Nigerians do not have jobs at all, and that out of this, about 70 million are within the youthful age; so apart from hunger, insecurity has become a very big threat to national survival.
A top government official spoke the other day and said the government was laying a sound foundation for the economy of this country, and when asked to expatiate, he said the Federal government was making more money through Value Added Tax (VAT), taxes, custom duties, and through Joint Admission and Matriculation Examination (JAMB) registration fees. Nothing proves the hardship imposed on the citizens than the above statement. All mentioned in the above could be legal but given peculiar situations within the context of management, some of these prescriptions could receive far lesser emphasis or no attention at all. Increasing VAT in an economy that harbours millions of jobless citizens, that is a punishment. It amounts to increasing the misery index. In an educationally disadvantaged society, to extort and exploit vulnerable adolescences is both foolish and criminal. Even high custom duty in a non-productive economy is indicative that a section of the population is being punished unduly and in this case the Igbo. Bola Tinubu, a frontline member of the ruling party knows this to be true and recently said so. This is what citizens are going through and the government is giving further indications it wants to undertake another round of petroleum price increase. The question is, ‘Next Level, is it about higher suffering?’