•Lament economic hardship, poverty, unemployment
By FRED ITUA, Nguamo Aka, Martha Orubo, Amaka Agu and Fortune Eloagu
In developed and developing countries, governments’ performances are assessed periodically by citizens. From the United States of America (USA) to the United Kingdom, Kenya Ghana, Iran and Russia, the practice is the same. For Nigerians as well, it is the time of the year to assess the Performances of different strata of governments.
President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn-in on May 29, 2015. Since Buhari assumed office, there have been divergent opinions on whether he has performed or under-performed. While across the northern part of the country, a sizeable number of Nigerians continue to support the president, his political fortunes may however been dwindling in the South.
As part of plans to mark the President’s one year anniversary, Abuja Metro went to town to feel the pulses of residents. Like always, their responses were divergent. But for a large number of residents, the President has not done well. For a small fraction, he is on track.
The respondents focused predominantly on cost of living, availability and affordability of food, housing, transportation, education, health care, etc. Below are the reactions:
Ikechukwu Oji, a resident of Kado Estate: “Since Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015, there have been series of problems. In terms of favouritism among the allocation of funds to various states in the country, we can see that states that are favoured are those that were in support of his regime during the last election.
“I’ll sets out for be total eradication of corruption. Since he assumed office, there have been various disagreements between his government and the citizens in major areas. In terms of the appointments and also the removal of the same officials that is not working according to his pattern of administration.”
“I think the promises came in a negative way. We are told that corruption will be fought and the Chibok girls would come back, and also good governance, but up till now, we are still facing series of economic challenges which are the increment in fuel price thereby leading to the increase in cost of goods and services. This is because every product needs transportation, thereby making sellers to increase the price just to cope with life.
“Then you talk on the cost of living in this present government, the first issue we should put into consideration is transportation. Then, the increment of prices of goods and services, when you talk about these in term practical form.
“So, you can see that an average man cannot live up to present standard because the inflation rate is rising. We can see that our present government is not seeing things from the way those who elected them.
“When we talk about the comparison between past and present governments, I say that the past administration is better. In the past government, the price of fuel was a little better.
Isaac Baba Umuaru: “To me, change is a process, and it requires a great deal of normal ways of doing things. I may not be happy with what is going on, but if it is the price for change, and if it would bring about the needed change, we need by all means let it go on. I would rather suffer for change than live in abuse of power.
“Like I said earlier, I would rather suffer for good things than live with a bad one. First we must accept that change is not going to be easy or a smooth sailing. There are bound to be setbacks, but with perseverance and determination, we would get there. So, yes, I am seeing some change in the fight against corruption because it hinders administration of resources.”
Opara Emeka who resides along Airport Road: “Nigeria is heading to a new dimension. People find it difficult to adapt to change, even when they know is change. Nigeria is going through hard times, but I think we will all enjoy it at last. Nigeria is passing through a hard time and with lots of problems. A lot of crises, I think this entire thing is happening because we are not united.
“This is the only Nigerian president that is disciplined and has the will to push things around, but lacks the capacity to carry out different tasks at the same time. There was a change in the cost of living. Almost all the commodities increased in price. People lost their jobs with this new government, and there was no job in any part of this country. People are suffering a lot. I do not think there is a difference between now and then, but this time is worse. We made a choice then, because we didn’t know it will be like this.”
Adetunji Ogunbiyi, a resident of Kado Estate: “ It has been a long time, so far so good. It has had nothing to really show for it, but I am still hopeful. Like they say, hope and pray and I also believe in the man to some extent. He has three years to go. I believe that things would be better before his tenure ends.
“The cost of living is super high. I now buy a plate of tomatoes that I bought for N200, is now N2,000. It is massively high. I am planning on relocate to Tanzania where life is easy where I could spend N100,000 in a year there. In this country, I cannot spend N100,000 in a week anymore because food and transportation costs have increased.
“I think I prefer this administration to the previous one. I am seeing the changes in positive ways. Buhari is trying. Catching those thieves and putting them behind bars. He should create more jobs. We need empowerment in the country.”
Williams Ekezie: “Economic side of things have been worse. Prices of goods skyrocketed. Lack of forex has led to the collapse of industries, middle class completely wiped off and now the increase in price of petroleum products without a corresponding increase in the wages of civil servants. But there is a plus for the Buhari administration. The anti-corruption war is great, but people want to see his corrupt party men brought to book too.Electricity has been poor compared to when he took over last May.
Olaedo Gospel, a student: “It is clear that the cost of living is high, the prices of some goods and services increased by 100%. I used to pay N50 from my street to the bus stop, but as the fuel price increased, keke (tricycle) price increased to N100 which is 100% increment. Electronic components have also increased.
“On our campus, a plate of food has also increased by 50%. Some things increased by 200%. I went to buy clothes for the new semester today, and wears are costly. Tomatoes that would cost about N700, mummy bought a small basket for N7,000. A friend who is a medical student pays N10, 000 for a check-up instead of N3,500. In as much as Buhari is fighting corruption, let him do that in a way we will not suffer. That is what I want him to do. Electricity supply is worse.
Kelechi Onyeukwu, a resident of Jabi: “His government is on the right part. I am being sincere, but he needs to do more to prove it. The cost of living is on the high side now. The cost of fuel is also on the increase and the minimum wage is very low. I want him to first make INEC and EFCC independent, then build more refineries and maintain the old ones so the standard of living would increase. Also he should increase minimum wage. Life is worse now, because of what the past administration did, he should create employment in all the sectors of government.”
Ebuka Okoro, a resident of Gwarimpa: “Actually my experience, if it is to be compared to the previous administration, I think I have had a tougher experience. The cost of living has really gone up. For instance, the hike in electricity bill increased by over 80%. We pay double of what we paid before to get electricity. The cost of living has really increased. I think it is more difficult now; things are more difficult now in this administration.
“Unemployment issues are still prevalent. Everyday, universities keep graduating students and they stay unemployed, even the youth corps members are still unemployed. All these job opportunities that he promised us, none has come through. I have not seen any government action since he came into power. I think he really needs to look into his government and on how to structure it.
“I am very disappointed in his administration. I think Mr. President should look for solutions and stop blaming the past goverment for everything that happens. After all these issues, the whole Nigerian problem did not just start from Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s time.
He should look for the solutions. Those promises they made to us to serve as one. In democracy, government is for the minorities, there should not be government if the welfare of people is not protected.”
Dorathy Aba, a resident of Garki: “It has been so wonderful. Another name I will give our president is disciplinarian. The President and his team are doing their best to make sure that they provide the best that is possible for the masses. So, all we have to do is to be patient and give him more time and he will do more than expected. So, as for me I will say I am very okay with what is going on. People should understand that it is more difficult to reshape in a way that seems that most people as suffering is discipline to me. As people are trying to cut their coat according to their sizes and reduce reckless spending, the experience is just wonderful. Everybody is learning.
“I will say that the cost of living is very high. This is because the limit to which money was flowing has drastically reduced and a situation where money is not in circulation, life becomes tough, and with the increase in fuel price, everything has increased. Transportation cost is on the high side. Food items and the cost of living is not just easy, but we just have to bear it since it is going to end someday. We believe that with the increase in fuel price which has made everything to be expensive there will be a raise in salaries too. So, with time, we will smile.
“I cannot say I prefer this government or the other, but the only thing I can say is what I like about the present administration is that, Buhari is a kind of person that wants to fight corruption to the core. If only the people working with him cooperate, things would have been different.
“Buhari’s effort is to develop the country is in all sectors. But no meaningful development could take place without unity and cohesion. It is important for Nigerians to rededicate their lives in a manner that will always promote unity. This administration has passion for the development of this country, but it will be important if everyone supports the president for development. My advice to develop the country is promoting unity.”