For Buhari, the jury is in…
By Bola Bolawole
[email protected] 0807 552 5533
And “the die is cast” (Alea iacta est) as the character, Suetonius, said unto Julius Caesar, in English writer William Shakespeare’s drama of the same title, “Julius Caesar”.
Nigerian leaders have scanty regard for the opinion of their own people but tremble before foreign leaders and peoples, especially if they are English or American. Nigerian journalists fare no better. Nigerian leaders snub Nigerian journalists but travel abroad to address foreign media and announce policy decisions.
Nigerian leaders harry citizens who criticize or advise them but dare not try such with foreigners. Always, mum’s the word when foreigners take our government and its leaders to the cleaner. At best, they genuflect and mutter inaudibly in their own defence but with Nigerians, be they Rev. Matthew Kukah or Pastor Tunde Bakare or anyone else, presidential spin doctors waste no time and spare no effort to haul hail and brimstones and rain expletives.
Three recent events suggest the chicken may have come home to roost for President Muhammadu Buhari and his co-travellers. First was when the British envoy to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, decried the country’s insecurity situation. Candidate Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the APC, had promised to end the Boko Haram insurgency within three months of assuming office.
It is now close to six years and rather than abate, the Boko Haram insurgency has assumed more urgency. Fulani herdsmen-cum-terrorists and bandits have also joined the fray. Niger Delta militants have signalled their intention to resume hostilities while IPOB and the Eastern Security Network are making the South-east ungovernable.
Fulani herdsmen have exported their terrorist activities into the South-west, thus dragging the once peaceful region into the dragnet of insecurity. The storms are gathering in that region. The sky is ominous. The Buhari presidency’s penchant to defend and advance Fulani interests against those of other ethnic groups promises to set the South-west on fire sooner than later.
Running after Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho, the Nemesis of the Fulani terrorists, while allowing and encouraging the terrorists to roam free in the South-west and elsewhere is a sure recipe for disaster. So also dealing “ruthlessly” with IPOB while romancing Miyetti Allah and pacifying bandits with public funds. No part of the country is safe and or secure as we speak, not even Abuja, the Federal capital itself, where kidnappers run riot, just as they do all over the country.
This is the unsavoury situation that made the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, to express worry at what she described as the deteriorating security situation in the country. “We are extremely concerned about the deteriorating security situation. I mean, Nigeria is facing a lot of problems everywhere – in the Northeast, terrorism; in the Northwest, banditry, kidnapping; in the Middle Belt, the farmers-herders conflict; in the South, the Niger Delta conflict everywhere and the secession movements in the Southeast. So, Nigeria is really struggling”
The envoy, who spoke with journalists on the sidelines of a reception held to welcome home the 2019/2020 UK Chevening Scholarship beneficiaries, failed to give adequate attention to the security threats in the South-west. May be because the storms are still gathering and the danger signals are yet to catch her attention. They will soon do! What with the brazen nepotism of the Buhari administration that shields criminals but runs after victims doing all they can to defend themselves in the face of government’s irresponsible abdication of its duties coupled with its duplicity and complicity!
Some government officials have argued that Nigeria and Nigerians are more secured today than they were under the PDP/Jonathan administration. Right-thinking Nigerians think otherwise, though. Now, if those in government do not believe the report of Nigerians, they should believe that of the British. On security, the Buhari/APC administration has performed worse than the government they replaced in office. Their campaign promises on security have not only gone unfulfilled, they have also piled more misery on Nigerians.
On corruption, the United States released its “2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” last week in which it confirmed what many Nigerians have always known of the APC/Buhari administration. It said: “Massive, widespread, and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government, including the judiciary and security services. There were numerous allegations of government corruption during the year” (that is, 2020).
Massive corruption in government means resources that should go into the provision of infrastructure end up in private pockets. Many States and local governments cannot pay the N30,000 minimum wage; massive retrenchment has been the order of the day; epileptic power supply has led to the flight of industries to Ghana and other places, further worsening the dire unemployment situation.
Strikes! Strikes! Strikes everywhere! ASUU strike! ASUP strike! Resident doctors strike! Judiciary workers strike! Even Shoprite workers are on strike! Funds that should have “settled” the lecturers are being embezzled right, left and centre. The universities are decrepit. Visit the students’ hostels or lecture theatres and cry! As doctors embarked on another round of strike, Mr. President also embarked on another leg of unending medical tourism! Here is the same Buhari who had railed against medical tourism while he was “outside” the corridors of power. But now that he is “inside”, he has made a volte-face! So much for so-called integrity!
Corruption in the security services is why the humongous amount spent on security has yielded more insecurity. Corruption in the judiciary is the reason why a man who was not on the ballot in an election became Governor and another who came fourth got wangled into the Governor’s seat. With the temple of justice thus profaned, where is the touted “last hope of the common man”?
The fight against corruption is the second of the three planks on which the APC/Buhari rested their justification for office. The British say they failed on security. The Americans say they failed on corruption. The third plank is the economy, which they said the PDP/Jonathan ruined, and which they promised to revamp. But the “Financial Times” of this week says the “unemployment rate has more than quadrupled since Buhari took office” in 2015.
Listen to the “Financial Times”: “The unemployment rate has more than quadrupled since President Muhammadu Buhari took office in 2015, to 33.3 per cent. The more than 60 per cent of the workforce that is under 34 years old has it even worse: more than half (53.4 per cent) of people aged 15-24 and 37.2 per cent of people aged 25-34 were unemployed in the fourth quarter, according to government figures.
“Nigeria pumps out hundreds of thousands of fresh university graduates each year, and millions more young people lacking degrees enter an economy that cannot produce enough jobs to absorb them. About 19m Nigerians entered the labour force in the past five years — or 300,000 every month — according to World Bank estimates, but just 3.5m jobs were created during the period, meaning 80 per cent of new workers ended up unemployed.
“Going forward, nearly 30 million new jobs would be needed by 2030 just to keep the current employment rate constant, according to the bank’s Nigeria economic update. When Buhari first took office, Nigeria was entering its first recession in decades. The country, which relies on crude for about half of government revenues, had barely recovered from the 2015 oil price crash when coronavirus sunk its main commodity again last year.
“Critics have long argued that the Buhari administration’s policies — including maintaining multiple exchange rates, which it is only now taking steps to unify — prolonged the recession” Let me add that the double exchange rates regime had deliberately been institutionalized to fuel corruption and cronyism. Presidency cabals, their families, friends, and business partners exploited the multiple exchange rates window to become emergency billionaires while ruining the economy and pauperising Nigeria and Nigerians to the bargain.
The Financial Times continues: “Along with rampant joblessness, Nigerians must also contend with 20 per cent inflation, with food inflation at a 12-year high; and economic growth that lags far behind one of the highest population growth rates in the world… Young people across the country complain that the few jobs that are offered are usually reserved for the friends and family of government officials or businessmen. The rest are often only available to those who are willing to pay extortionate bribes… The economic crisis has helped to fuel a nationwide banditry epidemic where roving gangs of armed young men kill and kidnap for ransom…”
So, it is a vicious cycle. Insecurity hampers development. Farmers are driven off the farm, leading to food shortages and high food prices. Unable to work and contribute to the GDP, farmers and Nigeria alike are further pauperised in a country with the unenviable status of the poverty capital of the world. Funds that should go into development is poured into the war effort. Humongous corruption under Buhari diverts these funds into private pockets and the country suffers double jeopardy: Funds budgeted for security is lost to other areas of crying needs; yet, neither is such funds invested in making the country and its people safe and secure!
On the three fronts at which Nigerians rejected PDP/Jonathan in 2015, the APC/Buhari have fared worse. Only Buhari and his co-travellers still contest that. We do know, though, that what many of them parrot in public differs from the truth they admit in their closets.
Published in the New Telegraph newspaper of Wednesday, March 7, 2021 on the back page.