DEMOCRACY is savoured because it confers on individuals several liberties. Nigerians particularly cherish freedom of opinion and expression which democracy amplifies.
This freedom is often expressed as criticisms. A Nigerian recently published an article with this caption “Change” Must Start From Buhari!” The author of the piece apparently, but fruitlessly attempted to parody President Muhammadu Buhari’s grandeur appeal to Nigerians for change of conduct through the national reorientation campaign, with the slogan “Change Begins With You”.
Agreed, there is hunger in the land and a Nigerian proverb says, “a hungry man is an angry man.” But allowing hunger to blur your vision and sense of appreciation is the problem at this point.
Deriding Buhari’s patriotic plea to Nigerians for attitudinal change from infamy to noble virtues, the writer laughably asked, “How can “change” begin with us?” instead of Buhari?
In his estimation, since Buhari and his APC team promised Nigerians change, the burden is on their shoulders to discharge this responsibility of change. “Were we the ones that promised “change”?
By his wisdom, Nigerians disloyal and unpatriotic about their country and those who pull the negative strings against the tide of progress need not to be cautioned. Those who steal public patrimony, the saboteurs and those who devote their productive time to the commission of heinous crimes, instead of work (probably like him) but expect to be paid at the end of the month, should not have their consciences pricked towards a new moral code simply because Buhari promised “change?”
Unfortunately, the desperation to discredit the Buhari administration has shockingly pushed the writer to laud the scandalous government of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He argued that the removal of oil subsidy by Buhari is the reason for the current hardship in the land, but conveniently forgot that there is no correlation between removal of oil subsidy and the austere times faced by Nigerians. Nigeria’s history has shown that oil subsidy is a conduit pipe for a few wealthy politicians and businessmen who used it over the years to divert public funds.
Buhari’s removal of the subsidy is what has been re-channeled into poverty alleviation and job creation for all Nigerians as reflected in the 2016 budget with N500 billion package for the poor.
The country is in this economic stress because Nigeria’s mono-economy is bound to face this recession hence prices of crude oil in the international market have continued to crash. Today, the country earns a paltry $500 million monthly from oil revenue and no magic can change the game until other sources of revenue come on board. But to expect it in 16 months of Buhari’s regime is more of voodoo, than reality.
The Jonathan regime recklessly squandered almost all Nigeria’s foreign reserves. Even monies in Excess Crude Accounts (ECA) were deflated for the prosecution of political or partisan projects. Now the writer wants Nigerians to believe the PDP government of Jonathan never saved a kobo for the rainy day when the country experienced unprecedented boom in oil prices ($140 per barrel) because the opposition which is now in power opposed it. Is this real? This is the height of simplicity and senselessness.
This Nigerian asserted halfheartedly that “the economy was in competent hands during the Obasanjo, Umar Yar’ Adua and Jonathan years.” It does not generate interest to discuss the Obasanjo and Yar’Adua days .To mouth a sound Nigerian economy under Jonathan infuriates infinitely.
If the economy was healthy under Jonathan, how would he explain that administration’s failure to pay even salaries of its own federal workers? Why contractors’ as revealed recently by Buhari were owed monies in trillions of naira, which the APC government is gradually depleting. Are these the signs of competent managers or a healthy economy? Yet, the concocted propaganda of Nigeria becoming the largest economy in Africa was bandied and as he rightly observed, “ very little of it was reflected in the lives of the lowest (sic) classes,” or ordinary Nigerians.
And supposedly x-raying critical issues as the writer wants his readers to believe, he stoops to the level of street mentality by describing attires reflecting different tribes worn by Buhari during the 2015 campaigns. A president is at liberty to wear any dress or attend any religious function outside of his original sect. How this has become the headache of the writer is amusing.
And it is precisely the disposition of characters like him that Buhari feels some Nigerians need moral reorientation, which he is obstinately refusing to digest.
President Buhari never promised during his 2015 campaigns to create three million jobs as the writer has insinuated. But he promised five million jobs by 2019 and barely 16 months in office, these complaints cannot be justified on the platform of failure. Nigerians are aware that the Buhari administration has taken steps in this direction already.
That Boko Haram is decimated is no longer news, as even America has applauded Buhari and the Nigerian military for this feat. The anti-corruption war is at its record high and embezzled monies are being recovered, while many are standing trial in various courts in the land. The ongoing disbursements of Agric loans to farmers across the country is just one of the several initiatives designed to diversify the economy.
These issues are in the public space and sounding horse for the sake of it will not impress anybody.
It is good to hold Buhari accountable for his promises. But the problem is the haste some Nigerians want it accomplished. If Fulani herdsmen are killing people and occupying their lands, it is bad enough. But the herdsmen and anybody for that matter ought to respect the sanctity of human lives. That Nigerians brazenly murder their fraternal brothers question the sanity of the mind. It explains why the campaign for the change of attitude as launched by Buhari is imperative.
What federal jobs are more “juicy and strategic” defiles definition. He can as well inform Nigerians, which jobs are least necessary for the development of Nigeria. When Buhari gives an appointment to any other part of the country, these armchair critics deliberately downplay it, but prefer to unnecessarily trumpet about federal jobs to Buhari’s “kinsmen and close acolytes.” But are his kinsmen and associates not Nigerians qualified for such jobs?
This is too pedestrian and those who harbour such thoughts need a retreat in “Change Begins With You” train to reshape their focus and perception of Nigeria.
In a depressed economy, job losses are normal and the trend reverses itself when things stabilise. Accusing the Buhari administration of barren of ideas to tackle the prevailing economic problems is in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps, the writer is not aware that Buhari will soon place before the National Assembly, upon resumption from recess a bill for emergency powers to pump money into the economy. President Barack Obama pumped $450 billion into the American economy in 2008, when the country faced recession like Nigeria’s present experience. What else can be more profound?
To say there is display of opulence in Aso Villa “ by the First Family and its other tenants,” under Buhari amounts to pettiness. But much more, it is a display of unpardonable ignorance. But of course, Nigeria’s state house should not be operated like a house in the writer’s village.
It is the symbol of Nigeria’s sovereignty and an insignia that flaunts the country’s identity to the outside world.
When federal budgets are padded, it adds to nothing or reduces nothing. But one is still thinking whether some Nigerians want President Buhari to preside over the National Assembly and perform its functions. Failure to understand how the system operates, but rushing to publicise criticisms negates the core human value of reasonableness. And it explains why Buhari is convinced that some Nigerians, like the writer, deserve a change of attitude and like earlier stated, he would do himself and posterity a great favour by enlisting in the “Change Begins With You” bus offered by the federal government.
No fares are charged. It is free!
*Balogun sent in this piece.