Today, two years ago, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, came into existence. It held high expectations for many Nigerians. It was as if the new helmsman and his team held the magic wand to wipe away the hopelessness that had become the hallmark of the Jonathanian era.
Two years after, are Nigerians singing the same song of euphoria that heralded the administration’s coming to power? Are Nigerians happier than they were two years ago? To put it pointedly, are you happier than you were two years ago? Yes? No?
Two years ago, when news filtered in that Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari of the All Peoples Congress, APC, had knocked out his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) opponent, then, President Goodluck Jonathan, many Nigerians, especially the ordinary Nigerian, were over the moon.
I was one of those Nigerians. And I captured the moment in my column in a piece entitled: Nigeria: A new beginning, published April 13, 2015.
“Surely, with the turn of events (defeat of Jonathan),” I wrote, “our nation has the opportunity of a new beginning. We have to admit that we have not maximised the potentials of our nation. We are far from where we should be. For example, how can we be the 6th largest oil- producing nation on earth, yet long fuel queues litter our country? How come we import refined petroleum products because our refineries have been long dead and buried? How come we are a nation of few billionaires and millions of paupers, living on less than a dollar a day?
“How come we have over 40 per cent of our youth population, including graduates, roaming aimlessly without jobs? How come we are always potentially developing, never developed? Mrs Hillary Clinton, former American first lady and Secretary of State, once described us as a nation ‘too rich to be poor and too poor to be rich.’ Meaning: We have enough material resources in our country that ought to ensure that we have no business whatsoever with poverty. But sadly, we have created a colony of extremely poor citizens in our clime that makes it impossible for us to be grouped amongst rich nations. An extreme paradox, you may say.
“The obvious interpretation of that prognosis which we all know is that, we have been sucked dry and stolen blind by our successive leadership. Swooping on our natural resources, especially oil, these guys have simply made it a criminal habit to live large to the detriment of the vast majority.
“Now, Nigeria has a new beginning (with the election of Buhari): To stop the oil thieves, and their collaborators; to deploy the resources of Nigeria for the vast majority of Nigerians. To create enduring jobs for the restless youth population. In the words of the president-elect, Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari, to ‘create a culture of efficiency’ in all facets of our national life.
“The task before the incoming president is pretty cut out for him: Stop stealing, corruption or whatever it is called. Make our nation safe again, from Boko Haram, robbers and any kind of insecurity. Give us light. And clean up our nation from many, if not all, its ills: Hypocrisy, tribalism, nepotism, cronyism and corruption.
A tall order? Not quite, if the new administration will have the will to do what is right. And many Nigerians believe it will. Never has an incoming administration in our recent history so enthusiastically received as what we have now. It’s a new dawn for our nation. It’s a new beginning. A new beginning which offers our nation a fresh opportunity to do new things, while jettisoning old, jaded ways. So, help us God!”
Two years after, how would you rate the government on the criteria above? Yes, it has degraded Boko Haram; it has put oil thieves ‘technically’ at bay, while those who took active part in bleeding our nation are telling the law what they know. Never mind there are allegations and cries of selective prosecution of corrupt persons. At least, something is going on.
But, with the anti-graft fight, Boko Haram shellacking and the commendable release of the abducted Chibok girls, can Nigerians say they are happier than they were two years ago? What about unemployment? Do you see the hungry, angry faces on the streets? Is the economic crisis not a frightening reality? Has corruption in government being dealt a deadly blow? Have we waved goodbye to ethnicity, cronyism and nepotism in government?
If something is being done, not much has happened to put smiles on the faces of many. If two years is too short to tackle the economic quagmire Nigeria has become enmeshed, let’s hope the government would wake up and provide jobs for teeming number of the unemployed, and if it can’t, provide enabling environment for entrepreneurs to tackle the scourge. Power has remained epileptic in many parts of Nigeria, even as the politics of megawatts occupy national discourse!
Truth be told, this government inherited a messed up country; the economy had been paralysed by reckless spending and stealing by the government it took over from. But two years after, Nigerians don’t want excuses for bread or jobs. The government must work harder and move faster in the last lap of the next two years to restore the confidence of its army of supporters, many of whom may not be as euphoric as they were two years ago!
But it is not too late to mend the cracks, to correct the lapses. Let the government put more bite in its economic programme or agenda, to tackle the excruciating unemployment in the land. It has done a lot in agriculture, but the prices of food stuffs haven’t crashed. Whatever the reasons, it should look into it.
As the administration marks its second year in power, this is no time for chest-thumping or tackling real or perceived ‘adversaries or enemies of government.’ This is time to be introspective, look inwards, see what it has not done well and make a remedy, and improve on areas it has performed well.
As servants of the people, the officials of this government must not be seen to be talking down at the people who gave them the mandate. The electorate are the masters; who have the right to kick government officials, call them names and demand more efficiency from those who serve them. That’s the reason we pay them to serve us. That’s the majesty of democracy.
To President Buhari, a speedy recovery. The next two years is critical for our nation. The man with our mandate till 2019, we pray, should be alive, strong and healthy to give his best. After that, Nigerians can then decide to elongate his tenure or otherwise. May God bless our country!