Buharists: The Taunt is Over By Ayantunji Benjamin Gbenro
The last general election has been the most divisive ever in the history of Nigeria. Division along ethnic, religion and regional lines. The social media is not speared of the divisive bug, especially Nigeria Twitter and Facebook. You are either a Jonathanian (also refer to as Jonahadeen or PDPian), which metamorphose to Wailing Wailers after the election, or you are a Buharist or APC apologists.
These two groups have distinct characteristics. The Jonathanian are tenacious in their conviction even when it has been proven over and over to be an illusion, they appear to carry the hangover of the campaign season. They silently pray that Buhari should fail so that they can poke the Buharist. The Buharist on the other hand believe the last government was the worst thing to ever happen to Nigeria. Unlike the Jonathanians that tolerate anything about their principal even if they disagree in the closest, Buharists are unforgiving and impatient with their principal. The reason for the impatient can only be conjectured. It is either they are genuinely interested in the progress of the country and want to put their principal on his toes, or they are angry with their principal for not making the national cake to go round as was the case with the previous government or they are desperate to retain their followership on various media platform and will go for any popular opinion. The reason for the Buharists impatient can only be properly explained by the Buharists.
When you compare the thread on some of the Buharist wall today to what they said about a year ago, you sometimes think they’ve been hacked. I will not bug you with names but anybody that is conversant with Nigeria Twitter and Facebook page will know what I am saying. The dilemma about these change in conviction or apparent impatient is that most of this people have the ear of the President or the ear of someone who has the ear of the President. My advice to the Buharists is they should tone down their expectations a little. They were instrumental in swaying public opinion, especially the undecided voters to the President side before the election. These undecided voters are still undecided. If you build up an army of antagonist against the President then he will use the next four years managing public perception rather than doing the job he was voted to do. This will amount to building a house and pulling it down; that’s an exercise in futility.
Let’s examine the President’s performance one after based on his campaign promises. The President campaign was basically on three areas: Security, Fight against Corruption, Economy/Job Creation. The President during his campaign believed that this three are interwoven. When youths are jobless then it create an army for insecurity but also there cannot be Job creation in an insecure environment. Corruption feeds unemployment and insecurity. None of these three can be tackled in isolation. So, how has the President fared in this regard?
The last major Boko Haram’s major attack on a community or bomb blast was in January 2016. Any attack today is a major news unlike a year ago when it’s a norm. Between January and today, major roads hitherto abandon due to insurgency in the northeast have been reopened. Markets and motor parks under lock and key for over three years are back in business. The northeastern part of the country is becoming secure. One or two, depending on which report you believe, Chibok girls have been rescued in addition to thousands of other abductees. These are evidences that the President is winning the war against insecurity. It’s not yet Uhuru, but there is significant progress. There have been other incidents of insecurity here and there like the attacks by herdsmen on the Agatus and Nimbo community in Enugu State, the crisis in Lagos, the attack on oil pipelines in Niger Delta, the Kidnapping of school girls in Lagos etc. most of these incidents are one off and the security agents have been able to nip it in the bud. The President should be given the credit for these efforts if he gets the stick for failure. I don’t expect the criminals among us to vanish into the air overnight but I expect my government to show the will power to deal with criminals. This government is showing the political will to deal with insecurity and I expect the Buharists to amplify it. This is what you convince people to vote for and your principal is delivering on the promise.
On fight against corruption, the minister of finance last informed the nation that over N3 trillion have been recovered in TSA account. This money would have gone into private accounts. Kudos to the President for having the political will to implement the policy and for the recovery. We were also informed that over thirty five thousand ghost workers have been detected and removed from Federal government payroll as at last count. This is also funds that would have gone into private pockets. Recently, Over two trillion naira was announced as money recovered and frozen in various accounts. Many prominent individuals have been charged to court on corruption charges. As at last count there are about three APC Senators are facing various corruption charges and this controvert the notion of selective prosecution bandied around. Civil servants have been charged. A deputy governor of Central Bank was suspended. Civil servants have been redeployed based on the padded budget saga and who knows what will be the final fate of those civil servants. If there is no single conviction till date then the judiciary should answer for that. I don’t expect Nigerians to changed their attitude overnight and the President cannot be everywhere to monitor everybody but one thing that is sure is that there is now a consequence for actions or inactions. To this end the President is winning the anti-corruption war and I expect the Buharists to drum it to the world. This you promised us will happen and it is happening.
“The economy is battered and the government is doing nothing about it”. This is the narration the Buharists allowed the Jonathanians to peddle and are sometimes consciously or unconsciously supporting. The facts is the inflation is at all time high, but is there anything that can be done to prevent that looking at global economy and where we are coming from? I doubt that. The government have been doing alot about the economy since it took over. We may not all agree on methodology but that doesn’t translate to aloofness on the part of the government.
The economy of this country solely depend on oil. This government took over when the oil price has crashed in the international market. Let’s assume that the previous government sold oil at an average of $100/barrel and we sell two million barrel/day, it means we earn $200 million/day. Now if this government sells at an average of $35/barrel and we maintained the same level of production, we will earn $70 million/day. That’s a deficit of $130million/day or (65% deficit). However, there has been a drop in production of about 40% to 50% due to militancy in the Niger Delta. This will increase the deficit by about another $30million/day. The population of the country has not changed nor the infrastructural deficit. It should be obvious from this simple mathematics to any objective mind that there is a massive problem. But that’s why we voted the previous government out and voted the current government in. What then has the government done to address this problem?
The first thing that was done was to block the leakages. This made the Jonathanians to go to town with the narration of “there is no money” and the Buharists also amplify it. When the Jonathanians said “there is no money” it simply means wastages has been blocked. Buharists should celebrate this as an achievement because this is what you promised us. The government also bailed out about twenty eight states that couldn’t pay salary and subsidy indebtedness.
The country has been dependent on importation of petroleum products for over sixteen years, paying humongous amount to individuals as subsidy payment without any attempt to develop local refining capacity. When this government took over, it decided to reverse the trend by opting for direct oil swap while doing everything to improve local refining capacity. Predictably there was fight back in terms of sabotage from people that benefit from the old order. The saboteurs cut across private and public sector. Every attempt to restructure the NNPC is opposed and this lead to intermittent fuel scarcity. These coupled with forex scarcity has forced the government to finally do away with the controversial fuel subsidy. Though this has led to increase in pump price but the queues have disappear and competition is forcing the price belowN145/litre in some locations across the country. For having the courage to tackle this menace rather than throwing money at it as is always the case, this government should be applauded and the Buharists ought to celebrate this achievement.
The government has kicked off it social investment program. Five hundred thousand volunteer teachers to be employed, one hundred skilled and unskilled job is also to be created and school feeding for over twenty million school children. This unprecedented in the annals of the history of the country. There is also loan for over 1million market women across the country and various other program for farmers to accelerate the diversification of the economy. The police is employing ten thousand personnel’s and five thousand naira will be paid monthly from this month to the poorest of the poor through conditional cash transfer. Two hundred and eighty billion naira has been released for capital project and infrastructural development out the three hundred and fifty billion naira planned to injected into the economy. This amount is higher than all the amount released for infrastructural development in the past four years. Major contractors are back to site across the country and massive infrastructural development has commenced. More people will go back to work in the construction sector. The spiral effect on the other sector of the economy will soon be evident.
The Buharists should wear garlands and celebrate to high heavens. You convince us on the need for change. You told us we cannot continue on the same part. The last one year has been tedious. Some of you are losing hope. You been taunted about the change you promised. Things are now taken shape for your government and the only trajectory for now is up. This is your government and it need your support. You convince us to embrace change and we did. Your unguarded criticism will convince the rest of us that you deceived us. I am not sure this is the image you will want to develop for yourself and your principal.
Ayantunji Benjamin Gbenro (PhD)