President Muhammadu Buhari addressed his ministers at a recent ministerial retreat. Part of his charge to them was this: “I have to charge all of you to defend the government vigorously and not allow irresponsible and politically motivated activists to keep spreading patent falsehood about this government. Go on the offensive. We are proud of our achievements and we should blow our own trumpet”. I suppose this charge was also extended to the president’s media team and the myriad of pseudonyms that seek to trumpet the achievements of the Buhari/All Progressives Congress (APC) government because soon after that command, the media came alive with narratives on how the government, led by Buhari, has transformed Nigeria through massive and unprecedented infrastructural development including approving the construction of a railway line to Maradi in Niger Republic from Kano through Katsina.
Get me right! It is the right and prerogative of every government to trumpet its achievements, real and imagined. However, irrespective of how loud and noisy the trumpet is, the reality will always speak for itself. Whatever a government believes are its achievements, they will ultimately be measured against the living standard and conditions of the people. In other words, such achievements must be measured against the country’s rating on the human development index. No doubt, the APC government is building railway lines, roads and bridges but it must be stated that those alone do not make any government a success. If we look across the world, we will easily remember that even Mobutu Sese-Sekou built and equipped an international airport in his village. But memories of his rule are better forgotten. Libya’s Muamar Gaddafi built some of the best highways and hospitals in Africa. There are a lot of similar narratives even from our own country. So, simply put, the worst of dictators also built roads and bridges. In conclusion therefore, the good governance indicator is not only about building roads and railways.
As it is, when foreign investors look at Nigeria, they don’t come asking if government has built roads and bridges. They look at some other indicators that tell the Nigerian story. These include the poverty index, the infant mortality index, the literacy index, the security index and the productivity index. Some may bother about the corruption index too. China won’t. These give a better clue on how a country is faring on the global scene. These indicators are negative for Nigeria at the moment. At a glance, Nigeria leads on the world poverty index despite huge financial resources allocated, and spent, as palliatives through conditional cash transfers to those listed as poorest of the poor, and other such schemes of the government including tradermoni and the volunteer N-Power job scheme. It also leads on the infant mortality index, an indication that the country cares less about its healthcare system. Nigeria is listed as third on the terrorism index. This is made worse by the attacks on the convoy of Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno state which rubbishes any claims to technical defeat of terrorism in Nigeria.
So, what trumpet are the ministers and aides supposed to be blowing? That poverty now ravages families and households and turning majority of Nigerians, including civil servants, into corporate beggars? That insecurity has imprisoned a lot of Nigerians in Abuja and also made life in parts of the country ‘brutish and short’? That mothers and fathers are forced by circumstances to bury their kids before they are six years old? That our leaders jet out of the country at the slightest indication of bodily pain? Isn’t that a self-indicting indication that healthcare has failed? Or that many states of the federation can no longer sustain themselves because of the effects of insecurity which has driven IGR southwards? Or that hunger is now ravaging many households across the states because farmers have abandoned their farms to terrorists and bandits and the unrestrained killing of farmers and destruction of their farms by herders? Aren’t these indicators of state failure? Do our leaders suggest that they are insulated from these realities?
Government may roll out the drums, blow its own trumpet and beat its chest to whatever it considers to be the priorities but it ought to understand, and accept, that vox populi, vox dei (voice of the people is the voice of God). And the voice that speaks from the people’s side is that the government has failed to secure them, make life more meaningful for them through provision of basic amenities that improve on the human development index such as healthcare, education, security, food security, value for money, availability of electricity among many others. The absence of these has devalued human life in Nigeria. And they speak contrary to the vision and mission of the party.
To remind, APC said on its website that its vision was “to chart a new course for a better future; to be bound in honour in the resolute search for a new brand of politics that is ideas driven and firmly anchored on the enduring principles of truth, honesty, service, justice, love of country and more importantly the pursuit of true democratic values; and, to be committed to the primary purpose of good governance which is the welfare of Nigerians and shall strive to eliminate poverty and create job opportunities for all.”
The party also stated that: “Our mission is to construct and institute a progressive state anchored on social democracy, where the welfare and security of the citizenry is paramount.” It further stated that “as progressives, we believe that Nigeria is greater than any individual or the sum of her federating units, therefore the country can only succeed when all of us have equal rights, where no one is above the law, where the culture of impunity is abolished and where there is level playing field.
“Those compatriots, who have lost faith in our dear country because of insufficient and corrupt leadership, count on us for we represent an agent of change for committed, transparent and focused leadership. As a change Agent, APC intend to cleanse our closet to halt the dangerous drift of Nigeria to a failed state; with a conscious plan for post-oil-economy in Nigeria. To achieve this laudable programme APC government shall restructure the country, devolve power to the units, with the best practices of federalism and eliminate unintended paralysis of the center.”
Against the above, and the expressed leadership of the party over Nigeria since 2015, is the judgment of the people which sings failure. This judgment stems from the fact that the same party forced an increase in electricity tariff on the people when less than 20 percent of households in Nigeria know exactly how much energy they consume monthly because their electricity consumption is not metered. It also stems from fact that the party introduced several measures to tax Nigerians more while reducing interest on saving deposits. In other words, poverty alleviation schemes of the government, in practice, takes more from the people than it gives them. That way, many more people fall below the poverty line. They can neither feed nor fund personal healthcare. The consequences are now obvious.
Like I stated earlier, the voice of the people is the voice of God. Those voices hold the APC government accountable to its vision and mission, which interestingly have been vigorously pursued in effortless breach. The nauseating stench of mindless corruption, abuse of the rule of law, the enthronement of discriminatory enforcement of the law, the muscling of the people’s right to peaceful protest, poor economic policies and experimentations, very poor leadership mindset, discriminatory infrastructure development agenda among others stand as verdicts against the government. Those are also hurdles the government must scale in its bid to vuvuzela its failures into wins. But wait a minute; it is still a long road to 2023!