Dear Sir, on this year’s Democracy Day and after a year in office, where does the future lies for Nigerians?
I have been constrained to write you through the media because I do not have an alternative way of reaching you and making my opinion known on this topic, which I think is equally shared by many Nigerians of my generation and conscientious elders, irrespective of ethnic, political or religious differences.
Sir, let me use this medium to officially congratulate you on your generally chorused victory given to you by Nigerians like myself in the last General Election 2015. The nationwide spontaneous jubilations that welcomed your announcement clearly showed the faith, the hope and the belief that Nigerians like myself have in your leadership prowess. Sir, I must as a matter of honesty, confess that the image that stuck in me about Buhari – having read about you from Nigeria’s political history and heard in the same vein from elders who are old enough to assess the then 1983-1985 Buhari/Idiagbon military regime – was that of no-nonsense character, straight I-mean-it talker, who meant yes and vice versa; and the hope that the God-sent deliverer has finally come. This impression, I believe, was equally shared by many other Nigerians. And truly, you came with the tone and promises of a Deliverer, to rescue the largest Black nation from its relegated and lost glory, to put hope and smile on Nigerians’ faces, and joyful new song on the lips of the ever-expectant common man. Your electioneering promises testified to this. You promised to: Reduce petrol pump price from N87 to N45, create 3 million jobs per year, equate $1 to N1, give N5,000 stipend to unemployed youths, provide one meal daily to pupils nationwide, fix all our transportation networks, curb corruption and excesses in the management of our government, among others. Little did Nigerians like myself know that these were only lies, under the emblem of propaganda, so far.
Sir, permit me to use the analogy of football world in evaluating your administration so far. You are the coach of the Team Nigeria. You have four matches to play. You have played one. I must be fair and honest enough to say you have lost your first match. Sir, your first match is to give hope and summary of what to expect in the remaining three matches. Sir, to me, all we have under the released analysis and lists of your one year achievements are only match statistics: in form of possession, dribbling skills, long and short pass analysis, off-sides, among others. You failed to score a goal in the match and give hope to the fans: Nigerians. This is what the fans are better interested in and not the ball possession points. Sir, I’m a strong believer in the philosophy that “criticisms against your work for you to do better are better than praises for what has already been achieved.” And this is the true definition of Democracy and Opposition in democracy. It is on this note I took my pen to pour out my heart and opinion about your administration’s performance so far.
Fuel Subsidy Removal
I chose this firstly because this is what Nigerians generally share in common. While the idea and reasons for the removal is hearable, the time and under the conditions (infrastructures) in which it was removed is inhumane. This is the highest increment in fuel pump price by any Nigerian government, with a N59 increment. This is inflicted on the struggling masses when most states are still owing far above five months of salaries, and N18,000 is still the minimum wage. Moreover, as far as I know – as a conscious youth who has always been following Nigeria’s political and economic state, and the world at large – removal of subsidy is a step-by-step process; properly educate and orientate the public, proper palliatives must have been put in place to cushion its effects; pass an Act of the National Assembly to deregulate the downstream, among others, instead of imposing unforeseen hardships on the masses.
On The Nation’s Economy
On Friday May 20, 2016, Dr Yemi Kale, the Statistician-General of the Federation and Head of the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, revealed that Nigeria’s economy had not grown in the first quarter of the year but had rather shrunk to 0.36 per cent, the worst contraction in 25 years! The announcement was followed by various reactions, with pundits pointing at this or the other as being the cause of this setback. Sir, to me, this is caused by the inability of your player on Finance wing to manage the economy properly and, you as the coach too, to woo investors into the country, as most ones on ground before are already packing with gross retrenchment of their workers. I watched and heard how you talked about corruption that is on its ravaging velocity in most of the World Summit for World leaders while investors are there sitting and watching. What do we expect? Other world leaders are busy talking about the positive side of their country, while we are good in describing how corrupt our people are and always blaming the past administration. The president should focus on marketing his plans and policies when he travels abroad.
The Fulani Herdsmen
Mr President, your response to the killings by herdsmen in the Middle-Belt and the recent Ekiti killings has been nothing to write home about. That is because there has been nothing to write by way of response from you. The herdsmen, according to a report, were said to be the world’s 4th deadliest terrorist group in the world. But your government, and you in particular, appears to pretend like they are not doing all the killings they are doing. Agatu is only the latest in the bloodshed. Something needs to get done and you need to communicate more on such killings. This is what governments that value human life do.
Sir, the power sector, among others, is being abated daily with most part of the country being unable to boast of six hours of electricity daily. The ever-sufficient potholes on our roads are still there on most of the federal roads, with most of our roads still an express way to death. Drinkable water is still a problem in many parts of the country, as most Nigerians do not have access to drinkable water.
On Corruption Fight
Sir, while I must commend your administration for the real fight against corruption so far, and the recent imprisonment of Raymond Omatseye, ex-NIMASA boss, who bagged five years, I must still say you need to be more trustworthy in the fight by making it not to look selective as it wants to seem. There are also prolific looters in your team with chains of looted funds dangling around their neck.
On Our Democracy
I will like to enjoin Mr President to improve on his ability to tolerate opposition and bear criticisms. This is what makes true democracy. Sir, against the reality you succeeded, some things have changed but the bottom line remains the same; Nigerians are still lamenting and groaning under the weight of fuel scarcity. This seems like a permanent feature these days, power supply has arguably gotten worse or, at least, stayed the same. We can talk about the great things your administration has put in place since May 29, 2015 but, ultimately, if those things haven’t changed the reality of life of the average Nigerian or look like they are about to change that reality, Nigerians like myself have a reason to question the change, if it is not a chain. We have heard enough of the atrocities carried out under the last administration. Dear President, by all means, you must never forget the faces of those Nigerians you met on your campaign trail. If you fail them, they would have lost faith, not just in you but in their belief and hope that Nigeria can indeed be better. The reason is because you were expected to be the foundation of a much better Nigeria. Mr President, wherever they are, you must call the best of our country to help deliver this change. Do not forget to weed out those who led us to where we are. As this are the attributes of a good coach. Thinking in a democratic setting that you alone can make the change happen, is to not understanding the fact that democracy requires all the parts of the machine to be working to move forward.
Sir, in conclusion, lest I bore you with the abundance of my heartfelt grief and grievances, let me say there is no time. This is not a tone or note of impatience. It is another reminder of the tickling clock that says: “What you have to do, do quick”. Sir, you still have three matches more to change the game as a good coach, which I revered you to be. Give the fans, the Nigerians, goals and tangible points and a reason to smile and see hope in the country. Mr President, I look forward to write in a satisfactory tone when next I put up my opinion in a write-up like this to you. Let NIGERIANS see the future with you.
Mr President, Happy Democracy Day 2016.
God Bless The Federal Republic of Nigeria.
*Bamidele Williams, a student of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State, sent this piece for publication on May 29.