By Musa Simon Reef
Nigeria is still battling forces of Boko Haram that has killed no fewer than 10,000, apart from declaring a caliphate and taking control of over half of Borno State in 2015. In the same state, no fewer than 600 teachers have been slaughtered by the militant sect, with many schools turned into Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps. No less than one million children face hunger, and nearly five million displaced in the North-east.
Angels of death called suspected herdsmen have murdered thousands in the states of Kaduna, Taraba, Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue, Kogi and Niger. Attacks by these herdsmen, previously restricted to the North, have extended to Enugu and Ondo state, sparking outrage over cavernous plots by government to implement a contentious grazing reserve scheme in the country. With smokes of insurgency and gruesome killings still raging in the North, Niger Delta militants, whose fiery disposition had their edge taken off by the administrations of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and former President Goodluck Jonathan, are back to the trenches and incinerating oil pipelines and putting the country’s economy on death throes. Biafran secessionists, defeated over 46 years ago, have resurfaced, sending scary signals that the ghost of disunity is yet to be exorcised.
In some parts of Nigeria, mostly in the North, apprehension rules the day, while at night people go to sleep with an eye open and one hand holding onto something to confront the dangers of darkness. Daily challenges of living have turned Nigerians into doubters of their nation’s greatness and potentials. The ethnic and religious divide has widened, with many calling for the restructuring of the country. The president may have done much in tackling the menace of Boko Haram, but his seemingly lack-lustre disposition in tackling the bloodshed perpetrated by suspected herdsmen has become an issue of concern. Critics of the government are quick to point at the launching of a military operation in Zamfara State to combat cattle rustling, while ignoring calls to set up similar military outfits in Southern Kaduna, Benue State and other states where thousands have been murdered.
On the economy, the government is yet to achieve any breakthrough, as there seems to be no clear economic policy for the government. While critics of government are saying that the recession has been caused by fear of uncertainties and lack of a good economic policy, the government kept blaming the recession on falling prices of crude in the global market and renewed militancy in the Niger Delta that has cut down revenue by nearly 50 per cent. The economy is still gasping for survival and with foreign investors fleeing the country; the depression may not leave us for a long time to come. Mass unemployment among youths looms and remains a time bomb. The power sector has resumed its dismal performance, having realised that the more things change in the country, the more they remain unchanged.
Inflation is now on a daily flight; with exchange rates of the naira with other international currencies assuming an unprecedented flight. Informed analysts predict that the dollar may be sold for N1, 000 in December.
A minister was recently quoted as saying that a bag of rice may soon be sold for N40, 000. Closure of businesses is now part of the change mantra, just as no fewer than 4.8 million Nigerians have so far lost their jobs in 2016, and still counting.
Nigeria now stands on the bank of the Red Sea, where the afflictions suffered in the hands of Egyptians (Peoples Democratic Party) now seem lighter. Buhari has succeeded in dislodging the old system, but creating a new system for the promised change has become a mirage.
It is either the cabinet is too afraid to tell our president the truth or the General has refused to shed off his toga of “uncompromising disposition.” With floods of frustration and hopelessness sweeping across the land, the man, who returned to the corridors of power after 30 years, is fast losing the tremendous goodwill he once enjoyed.
If the promised change must be realised, Buhari must part the Red Sea for Nigerians to walk through into a prosperous future. Leadership is best seen in times of challenges. Late Nelson Mandela once declared: “It is in times of crisis that the leader is seen.” Our Moses who defeated an incumbent government must walk his talk and deal with issues, not from a sectional perspective, but from a nationalist point.
Presently, Nigeria seems more divided and is floating on a conflict-ridden sea of fear-provoking uncertainties. In these times that try the patience of Nigerians, our president should be seen embracing all sections of the country, no matter the religion or ethnic group. Since assuming the reins of power, it is on record that Buhari has not paid a state visit to any of the oil-rich states. The president should be seen to be carrying everyone along and not give an impression that his government is against any section. As for terror attacks from Boko Haram and other forms of militancy, it is too early for the government to sing the victory song. The best weapon against terror attacks is eternal vigilance by all and putting security agencies on red alert at all times. Negotiation for the release of Chibok girls should continue to ensure their safe return.
The economy is still far from resuscitation and its managers are lost in the wilderness of confusion. Experts should be brought in to assist and find lasting solutions. Not all programmes of the PDP are flawed. Government should continue with programmes of the past that were designed for development. Nearly two years into his term, our president should effect a change in his team and seek for help from whatever quarters to resuscitate the economy. If the past is anything to go by, Buhari should be wary of calls for sale of national assets to fund the budget. We are witnesses to privatisation of national assets in the past, and we are now wiser for it. No reasonable father sells his properties in hard times and hopes to build enduring prosperity for his children.
Amidst the dark peril of uncertainties that stares the ordinary citizens; Buhari must rise to the occasion and stem the tide. He was elected to take us to the Promised Land. President Buhari must stop agonizing over the past and chart the way forward in order to take us out of our tight spot. He must unite the various factions in the All Progressives Congress (APC) into a formidable force and not allow the politics of 2019 derail him. Our president should know that having good intentions is not good enough.
Shakespeare in ‘King Lear’ says, “We are not the first who with the best of intentions have incurred the worst.” To avoid the worst for the country, our former military leader now a repentant democrat should unlearn his past and embrace the art of compromise through rallying relevant political and economic forces to salvage the country from the present furnace of affliction it finds itself. Anything short of this cannot be good enough.
Reef, a media professional writes from Abuja