By Oludayo Tade
From Sai Baba (when Nigerians invested their energies with the hope of experiencing positive change promised by the then presidential candidate, Mohammadu Buhari) to kai Buhari; (a response generated to capture their disappointment of the seeming lacklustre performance of the president), Nigerians are now counting the number of days remaining for this administration to wind down. By voting President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) the second time, Nigerians thought that giving the Daura General a second opportunity would improve their life chances. However, they encounter daily surprises arising from unleashed ‘next level’ of poorly managed economy. Today, Nigeria leads the pack of poor countries where residents endure low standards of living. Nigerians have scary and fearful existential realities emanating from poor governance. Jubilant in 2015 when PMB assumed leadership of the country but today, Nigerians are disappointed.
Among the Yoruba, good, bad, success, failure and achievement are epochal and explained in relation to the person who was in the saddle. This is because; the socio-economic and political ecosystem has direct and indirect effects on livelihoods. In a reflective engagement of their past, Nigerians now do comparative analysis between their socio-economic profiles under former President Goodluck Jonathan and now, under President Muhammadu Buhari. They came to the conclusion that they were better then, than now.
The laboratory of sociologists is the human society where experiences are shared during conversations. And because the sociologist does not leave outside the Buhari’s ecosystem but also affected by action and inaction of the administration, he/she can be both a beneficiary of sound policies or victim of unsound policies. After six years of promised change and forceful dragging of Nigerians into next-level, things have not been better in comparative terms. How do Nigerians relate with this?
Participant observation is one of the methods of data collection in which the researcher co-create reality and is able to understand perspectives from the world views of his respondents. I have adopted this technique to put together this piece. ‘Dr Peter’ is a friend who holds doctoral degree in criminology and also practices law. He called to ask why I did not attend a certain association academic conference which held in Benin and I told him “I had no funds to mobilise myself to the conference and get accommodated”. I had even forgotten that I had a friend to reach out to. Outside our association conference, Dr Peter told me how he had to ask his lawyer friends to handle cases which could have brought him to Oyo State due to insecurity. He shared the pathetic experiences of how two of his lawyer friends landed in the hands of kidnappers and one of which escaped while being matched into the bush by highway kidnappers who have converted Nigerian highways to stage their “who wants to be a millionaire show” in the land being governed by a General. He told me, ‘Doc, I would have loved to visit you people in Ibadan, it is scarier now to travel. Kidnapping takes place every day and only the victims know what they suffer’.
In the market place, my experience was not different. I had gone to purchase car battery only to be told batteries of Korea origin which is rated highest cost between N25, 000 and N30, 000. When I priced it as N17, 000 the reply I got was “that was during Jonathan. We are in Buhari era now. Everything is expensive”. This has to do with bad economy and Naira’s sickness in exchange rate to dollar because we have not improved exportation. At best, we export raw materials and import finished products bought at cut-throat prices. As the national economy fumbles, individual economies bleed and survival of the fittest creates more insecurity for the nation. To get food to eat now is difficult as the few commodities in the market are sold at exorbitant prices beyond the reach of the minimum wage of N30, 000 not fully paid in many states. A Bag of rice now sells between N25, 000 and N30, 000. Under the watchful eyes of President Muhammadu Buhari, bean has been promoted into elite price division with a ‘kongo’ being sold as high as N1, 700. The National Bureau of Statistics present the scary inflation figures of food Price watch for October 2021. Bread sold for N300 early in the year is now N500. Price of Vegetable Oil has increased by 36.90percent while cooking gas price skyrocket to around N10, 000 to fill 12.5kg is already forcing people to buy half with implication that many households will become malnourished and may look for solutions to their predicament; a major reason the Buhari government is not winning the war against corruption. In actual fact, there is no war; what exists is a friendly game with corruption. Perhaps this is why Nigeria’s Corruption Perception Index conducted by Transparency International continues to drop from 136 inherited from Jonathan government in 2014 to 149 in 2020 under President Buhari.
In the textile market we have not improved under this administration. Indeed, my respondent, a trader who imports clothing materials from Korea lamented when I entered his shop on a sunny afternoon. Chinedu lamented; “Doc, things are not getting better. I tell you it is getting scarier and we cannot talk. Before I clear my goods with N800,000 but last month, I cleared same quantity with N1,700,000!”
Although PMB promised to make Bokoharam a thing of the past within six-months of ascendancy into Aso rock, the best he has done is technical defeat while Bokoharam is emboldened by political-economy of ‘enemies within’ who have not allowed capable army to end the war. Bokoharam insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, criminal herders and armed robbers have all shared the country as their enclaves. The NBS statistics showed that the government that inherited unemployment from the Jonathan government at around 21percent has taken it to next level of 33.3percent. Indeed Youth unemployment is now 42.5percent and we are wondering why there is increased insecurity and cybercrimes? According to 2020 National Bureau of Statistics data, Nigeria had a large young population with 54percent of males and 51percent of females younger than 20 years of age.
Basic Infrastructures like good roads, quality hospital and highly motivated staff have become a thing of the past. As good as our hospitals are, Mr President does not find it worthy for his family to have a taste of it. Their children are celebrated as graduating from UK and the US while Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has put the nation on notice of an impending strike because of the failure of the Federal Government to fulfil the agreements it willingly reached with the Union. These are the experiences that Nigerians are faced with; they are scary and they wish this cup will pass quickly so that the nation may be set on a path to glory. Street pulse analysis is handy in appreciating how lives of Nigerians have gone south under the administration that came in with so many promises but with little delivered and compounding problems. We need to invest in people and not only building infrastructures that will eventually be destroyed by those left unattended to. The country is hard and many are stressed. PMB can still use the remaining days to right the wrongs and set Nigeria on the path to unity, peace and progress by addressing many injustices in the land.
Dr. Tade, a sociologist writes via [email protected]