Open Letter To President Buhari, By Amiru Halilu
Well meaning Nigerians were gladdened to see that you had stood for over an hour before the national assembly and presented the 2018 budget proposal. This ought to have been a confirmation that you are now hale and hearty. May the Almighty God give you more strength, wisdom and energy to surmount the enormous challenges besetting the nation.
Immediately upon spending one year in office, your apologists hastily remind us that it was too early to judge your government; they argued that the messy situation we found ourselves was created by your predecessors decades ago. All the same, we have heard a container of these analogous and suchlike in the past. The most inferior, lowest and the worst administration in the history of this nation symmetrically said that to us. Now, you have spent two and a half years in office, and that is significant in the life of any meaningful and serious administration.
It will stimulate euphoria in many Nigerians to be all ears that you evaluate yourself by raising questions like: Am I performing? Am I different from my predecessors in the way I manage the affairs of this nation? Are the enormous hopes and expectations vested in me by millions of people across the country being realized? Are my policies marching my campaign promises? Is the journey I embarked on different from the same road Nigeria was already on? As a seemingly elixir perhaps political Messier, should you ask yourself these questions, it will certainly help you to ascertain your lacklustre performance and fine-tune in near future.
Sir, whoever not evens a political heavyweight or luminary wills objectively asses your government base on its own parameters; you can hardly obtain a pass mark. Security was the first item on the list of your campaign promises. I will like to know out of intellectual curiosity, what type of security have you successfully provided? Physical security, financial security or emotional security? Honestly none of the above. Although, your effort to provide security particularly in the North East is commendable. But you have not obtained a fifty percent (50%) mark.
It is of course commonsensical at this juncture to remind you of your disparaging remarks against Boko Haram insurgents. Could you remember that a reporter once asked of your view about the dangers and powers of Boko Haram terrorists before you were elected president? You ferociously and disparagingly replied, “What is Boko Haram?” Such disparaging remarks raised so many questions. The big questions are: Is it the same Boko Haram you belittled in the past that you are now unable to defeat?
Is it a new brand Boko Haram that is more powerful than the one you disparaged? Have they now metamorphosed into more organized terrorist group than the purported mishmash group? Are they still invincible as they were under your predecessor? Is Nigerian army still under fund and under equipped? Or are you proven to Nigerians that it is easier said than done? The spate of killings by Boko Haram, armed robbers, unknown gunmen, kidnappers, cultists, still persist and it morphed an average Nigerian into an ogre.
Sir, are you still aware of the shortcomings you vowed to address if elected president? Will I be at fault to say that you have not convincingly distinguished yourself from your predecessors in the way you are managing the affairs of this country. It appears we are still on the same road we were already on. After all, we discharged our civic responsibility out of burning desire to better out lots and that of our future generation.
Let me digress a little and take you back to Chatham house where you address the Nigerian community in Landon on Friday February 26, 2015. Insecurity, corruption, infrastructural decay, plugs wastages in the budgetary process and inequality were the epidemic you pledged to address squarely. What is unfolding guarantees neither. You will agree with me that social justice must be the hallmark, if not the guiding principle of any government that mean to tackle insecurity. Basic social amenities, financial security are essential part of security of lives and property.
Chenua Achebe said, “One of the truest tests of integrity is blunt refusal to be compromised.” Your actions and doings are not consonance with your campaign promises. You promised to end medical tourism but you reneged. You gladly opted to seek for sound medical treatment in UK while leaving our hospitals with broken windows, outdated vehicles and ambulances. Without a standby generators, blood bank and well equipped pharmacies. Most of the hospitals in the country are overcrowded; some patients received treatment in hallways due to non availability of space. Doctors come to work the time they like and do their job as they deem fit and go. I never find it astonishing when in retrospect, you denied the existence of subsidy (who is subsidizing who) but I often wonder when you removed the same subsidy. Mr President, these impugn your integrity.
It is truism to say that under your leadership, the gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider. Daily trust newspaper edition of Wednesday November 16, 2016 (P.3) reported that 558 Staff of Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) gulf 4.5 billion as salaries and allowances annually. Sometimes last year, your attention was drawn to the clandestine and unjust recruitment done by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) respectively. Only the children of highly influential men were recruited into these lucrative places, and no action has been taking to redress such monumental injustice.
In less than six months in office, you approved the negotiation of new salary increment of NNPC staff which is reviewed after every three years. The salary of staff working in ministries and some parastatals – a reservoir for less privilege with a take home pay that can’t afford to put a decent meal on one’s table is yet to see the light of the day after five years. This deliberate unequal distribution of wealth, plunge many Nigerians into desperate situation. When people feel insecure as a result of deliberate inequality which deprived them from meeting their financial and social obligation, they may become frustrated, aggressive and hostile. Most of those who resorted to criminal behaviour, find themselves in such desperate situation.
Sir, it has not comes to anyone’s knowledge not even your worst enemy that corruption will be conspicuously present in your government. Your chief of staff, some of your ministers, state house permanent secretary, former NIA’s DG and former SGF were accused of all sort of corruption. You initially treated these corruption cases with a kid glove; then you succumbed to a gravitational pressure bearing down on you; followed a suspension and finally sacked the NIA’s DG and the SGF as well but they are yet to be prosecuted. While you turned a blind eyes to the rest. Isn’t this a contradiction of your popular quote, “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.”
In all honesty, your budget of “change,” (2016), budget of “economic recovery and growth,” (2017) and budget of “consolidation,” (2018) are synonymous with that of the previous regimes in terms of wastages. There are absolutely no any discrepancies. “It breaks my heart that at a time when many Nigerians can’t eat we are budgeting (in 2017) 40 million naira to feed wild life animals in Aso Rock presidential villa.” Said a senator.
Sir, when you were declared the winner of 2015 election many thought that who you know syndrome, inequality, selective justice and other menaces would become a thing of the past. Unfortunately the situation persists.
Amiru Halilu is a public affairs commentator and an opinion writer; he can be reached through email@example.com or follow me @Amiruhalilu