Let’s return to Venezuela once again where thousands of citizens heeded the call of the opposition last Thursday to stage a massive protest in Caracas against Nicolas Maduro’s government and to demonstrate against the deepening economic crisis in that country.
I had written about the crisis in this South American country three months ago when hundreds of thousands of citizens began to spend days on very long queues for subsidized items, including rice, baby milk, bread, flour, cooking oil, nappies and toilet rolls. The Venezuelan problem, I pointed out then, was precipitated by the slump in crude oil price. Venezuela has the world’s largest crude oil reserve.
Nigeria has so much in common with Venezuela. Just as being experienced in that country, the oil revenue has also plummeted here. Governments and businesses cannot pay workers’ salaries regularly. Prices of commodities have shot up. Companies are laying off workers and shutting down. Naira has hit its worst low.
What the ousted party here, the Peoples Democratic Party, has not done yet is to call the citizens out in protest against the All Progressives Congress government, but it has demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari quits office.
But the citizens know that the difference between the PDP and APC is only in alphabets. They know that in the last dispensation, some of those calling the shots at the highest level of governance now were on the other side. Therefore, it’s doubtful if the PDP would muster the strength to call citizens out against Buhari who contends that the former’s recklessness led the country to its present situation.
While Nigerians may not be staging a public protest over the economic crisis, and I pray it doesn’t get to that extent, many people have been exhibiting behaviours, which unarguably are precipitated by socio-economic pressures.
A 50-year-old man reportedly committed suicide in Mbiabong Itam community in Akwa Ibom State and left a suicide note, blaming President Muhammadu Buhari. The father of two was said to have complained of economic hardship few days before his action.
Another man was reportedly rescued after jumping into Mile 2 River in Lagos in an apparent attempt to terminate his life last Monday evening.
Apart from those opting for the cowardly suicide act, there is also anger, desperation and despondency in the land with many resorting to anti-social and criminal behaviours. Spousal abuse is on the rise. Local courts are hearing more divorce cases now. Parents and guardians are maltreating children at the slightest provocation.
One needs no soothsayer to predict that the rise in cost of living and the hard times are to blame.
Expectedly, President Buhari has been appealing to Nigerians to bear with him, assuring that the pains caused by the economic recession would soon be over.
“We are quite aware of the pains and inconveniences that have been the lot of the citizenry in the past one year as we strive to faithfully implement our programmes in fulfillment of our Change Agenda. We are, however, comforted by the real change and progress we have made in fighting corruption and restoring integrity to government; providing security for lives and property; and positioning the government for effectiveness and especially deregulating the oil sector,” the president said in Osogbo last Thursday.
“We promised Nigerian people positive and progressive change during our campaign. We are not and shall not be deterred from that noble undertaking.
“But as we have learnt from history, change has never been attained by any nation on a bed of roses, but rather, through patience, perseverance and steadfastness,” he said.
Any unbiased observer will notice that Buhari and his cabinet members aren’t just sleeping in their offices. They are really struggling to satisfy the yearnings of the citizens. From revenue realised in spite of the plunge in oil prices and the sabotage of oil facilities by Niger Delta militants, capital projects, notably road construction are being re-commissioned in several parts of the country, electricity and railway projects are also being stepped up, just as efforts are being made to chart the economy away from oil to solid minerals and agriculture.
The Buhari government would reel out facts and figures of projects and programmes accomplished from now till the end of its tenure, but they will still fall far below expectations of Nigerians. This is because the government is only implementing what it believes will bring the nation out of its economic problems, which may not necessarily be what will assuage the pains Nigerians are suffering .
Previous administrations right from General Yakubu Gowon tried to make the nation’s economy work, but failed. Shehu Shagari was found not to have soiled his fingers, but was his government rated as successful? I recall that at a point during his years in power, General Ibrahim Babangida lamented that he was surprised the nation’s economy had not totally collapsed.
He said they tried many policies and programmes to no avail.
By the time General Sani Abacha died, Nigerians were not only grumbling about his usurpation of the right to choose their leader, the economy under his regime was also a subject of controversy.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was still being criticised for poor performance by the time he left after eight years in the saddle. Only Obasanjo gave himself pass mark. Nigerians did not hail him in spite of successes achieved.
The performance of Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan also did not match the expectations of Nigerians despite ruling during a boom period.
But it wasn’t that he spent the entire six years in Aso Rock drinking tea. Books were written about Jonathan’s achievements, but they were just his, not by Nigerians’ standard. There is something we aren’t getting right. I believe if Nigeria were to be a company, it cannot be run profitably the way it is structured.
Buhari’s economic team is experimenting with different economic polices now in a manner that reminds me of the IBB years and his lamentation after all his experiments had failed.
But Buhari says we should be patient and trust him. Let no one commit suicide again. Even with skyrocketing prices of goods and services, grounding of companies including airlines and sacking of workers in thousands, let’s just pray to survive this experiment, Buhari’s change experiment.
Re: Olympics gold doesn’t come cheap
Since we failed to plan early for Rio Brazil 2016, failure was the result in the just concluded Olympic games. Now that the games are over without the desired results, let the Ministry of Sports go back to the drawing board and start early preparation for the Tokyo Japan 2020 Olympics to avoid another disastrous outing. There is no shortcut to success. It seems that our minister for sports doesn’t know much about sports. He should resign over the controversial issues in Nigeria’s camp in Brazil. A sports summit should be organised to fine-tune how to move our sports forward. We are tired of embarrassing outings.
–Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia.
Weep not for Nigeria for she is ‘God’s own impossible experiment’ (apologies to Ray Ekpu). Politicians have killed the civil service, killed the economy, killed sports that should have engaged and empower the youths. What did we hear in 2012 ‘preparation for next Olympics will begin immediately’; but did we? Never! Is it this time of old brigade that sports will be revived? Tell me another story. We have lost it all. Your sermon is for the deaf.
–Tony Enyinta, Isuikwuato.
Abdulfatah, even reading your piece on Nigeria’s disgraceful outing during Rio 2016 alone, nothing better than what Nigeria got could have been a senseless dream. Watching the Minister of Sports on television stating some unimaginable problems the team was going through at the games, one could not have imagined any encouraging result at last. It was obvious to discerning minds that the assignment was too challenging for the minister to handle. Since political appointments are not based on competence or experience in concerned responsibility but tribal sentiments, one could not have expected positive outcome from such official. Privatisation of sports for global competition, is not in practice world wide since the athletes are representing their countries at such games. Getting a square peg in square in charge is the best option. On a lighter but potent note, the aura of Buhari’s government could not have secured any better result than the team made since everything has gone upside down. With a President who subjects people, who pinpoint lapses in his government’s modus operandi to assist him, to probes, one could glean his priority. In an enlightened clime, there is synergy between Presidency and the Sports Ministry, on international competitions from preparatory stages to execution. That certainly was not the case during our Rio Olympics experience.
Your article has succinctly provided potent solutions, in all areas, which need to be fine-tuned, to secure better results in such a competition in future. And that is the only option as media’s required contribution, professionally.
The choice of adopting such proactive pieces of advice is domiciled with government.
Without prejudice, takieria cannot re-orientate the citizenry. As long as things remain the same, so will UN’s rating of Nigeria nose-dive.God save Nigeria.
Greetings Abdulfatah. Nigeria’s outing at the just concluded Rio Olympic games was a disaster. And except we want to deceive ourselves, we need not pretend that we did not expect the result we came back with. If we have not always been in the habit of expecting excellent results with little or no planning or serious effort, we should not have bothered ourselves hopping into the airplane for Rio.
We should have been realistic enough to realize that we stood no chance at the games. The whole drama resulted from our haphazard approach to serious issues. In this case, the athletes and their coaches should be absolved of blame but should rather be pitied for the humiliation they suffered all through the games due to lack of funds. The Federal Government and the sports federation should take the blame. But the most shameless aspect is that the Nigerian Football Federation was expecting Siasia and his boys to surrender the dollars a Japanese businessman gave them in appreciation of their resilience in the face an overwhelmingly daunting situation. How mean can a people be? Remember what the same association did to the late Keshi after GEJ received him and Mike Adenuga gave him car gifts after his 2013 AFCON exploits. Leadership remains our most serious challenge in Nigeria. Thanks.
Ministry of Sport should be overhauled for effective performance in future competitive outings after of our disgraceful performance in Rio, Brazil.
–Mrs. Ijeoma N.
Re: The Shi’ites under Buhari’s watch
Abdulfatah, I commend you highly for your bravery on that article entitled “ The Shi’ites under Buhari’s watch”, published on page 50 of Sunday Sun of 14/08/16. The truth must be told, no matter how bitter. Two wrongs can never make a right. Let justice be done. Bravo my dear!