From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja The decision to retain health maintenance organisations (HMOs) as part of the country’s health insurance programme caused a major disagreement between the House of Representatives Committee on Health Services and the executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Yusuf Usman. Usman, at the just concluded two-day investigative hearing…
Two years ago (by May 29), it swept into power in a blaze of glory, hailed as the party that would lead the people to Eldorado, the land filled with milk and honey. Two years after, the percentage of those who still believe the APC is the party to heal the land of its grave wounds, inflicted by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has, no doubt, shrunk.
The percentage you give to the ‘confidence-loss’ would depend on where you stand: APC and the government would argue vehemently that only a few disgruntled members of the society, still wailing over the sad loss at the polls, would fail to see ‘the positive, steady strides of the government.’ But, there are others who would swear that the government has lost its appeal with Nigerians. Make your choice!
However, to this columnist, you can debate the correctness or otherwise of the positions held by pro- and anti-Buhari groups, but what you can’t but agree with is that things are certainly different from what it was when the present administration assumed the leadership of this country, in terms of its perception by the citizenry.
Then (when it knocked out Jonathan’s government), the romance was hot. Many averred that ‘magic’ would be performed. Prices of petroleum products would crash; economy would boom; naira would square with the dollar. Even if it won’t overrun the green back, it would not be beaten silly by the bully. That, there would be jobs for the army of idle hands, roaming aimlessly in our cities for non-existent placements.
Of course, many lapped it up with child-like euphoria. In 16 years of sheer prodigality of the then ruling party, things had actually gone from bad to worse, to critical. The state of the nation was akin to a patient in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) of a hospital, with drips, injections and mask fixed for its resuscitation. However, while the patient grunted and breathed unevenly, gasping for life, the ‘doctors’, leaders of the country then, were partying noisily outside the theatre.
So, the new guys came with tonnes of promises, declaring that in no time, the patient would be fully healed and free to walk again. Yes, his condition was critical, but nothing to worry about. ‘Dr. fix-it’ would fix the problems pronto. To the many issues that stared the people in the face, that dazed the people crazy, the new party, seeking for control of national affairs, said no sweat. It would raise the ‘dying’ and ‘the dead’ when it got the mandate and the power.
Almost two years down the line, the patient hasn’t recovered. Instead, the ailment seems to have gotten his better part, worsening, getting more critical. This wasn’t the expectation. This wasn’t what the new doctors promised.
“Yeah, we came, we saw. We underestimated the severity of the ailment; the disease had eaten too deep into the intestines and marrow of the patient. Patience, Nigerians. We are doing the best we can to resuscitate the patient. A little more time,” they declare.
Patience is a wonderful, but very difficult virtue for many, because it is largely immeasurable. How do you preach patience to a graduate who has been unemployed for almost a decade, when he was led to believing that jobs would be literally ‘conjured’ when a new government comes to power? How do you preach patience to the hungry, frustrated youths, who had been told that their future starts the moment the new government takes over? Or the businessman, whose company has collapsed, because of the acrobatic dancing naira? Who will listen to explanations that oil revenue has dwindled; money isn’t flowing like before; that looted treasury are the reasons their expectations haven’t been met? When a man is hungry, nothing else makes sense. Hunger does not understand English or any native Nigerian language.
The honest truth is that no one told the people, often noted for their not too high patience quotient, that change would take longer than they expected. The truth again is that, while campaigns are done in poetry and grandiloquence, governance must be carried out in understandable and digestible prose. The language understood by the electorate after elections are over, are: Affordable food, housing, education, roads and other verifiable dividends of democracy! Anything less is like engaging the deaf and dumb in conversation.
To be sure, the Buhari administration can’t be held solely responsible for the parlous state of affairs in the country: Things had virtually collapsed, but cracks were papered over, given the erroneous impression of prosperity when we were, in fact, at the nadir.
But then, it didn’t seize the momentum; it has, in the opinion of many, spent too much time planning and blaming the past administration. Nigerians just want action. Let the pace be quickened.
What happened on February 6 in major cities of Lagos and Abuja by way of protests, was the people’s way of passing the message, that the government needs to move more swiftly in meeting their expectations. The protesters, I am sure, were not really against Buhari as a person, but angry with an administration that promised so much but hasn’t, in their estimation, delivered in equal measure.
Government should see the Lagos/Abuja protests as a veritable wakeup call. No hard feelings.
Between the Buhari administration and the people, is it a case of over-expectation or over-promise? I believe it is more of the latter. When Nigerian politicians campaign, they always promise the fantastic and pure fantasy. When they win is when the reality sets in; then, they face the heat, and begin to run helter-skelter, to moderate their earlier pledges, to interpret what they said against what they wanted to say; what they actually meant the day they promised to build bridges in the sky.
But the government has a duty to continue to preach hope amidst the hopelessness in the land; that the darkest part of the night is usually before dawn. However, if things will get better, a realistic roadmap should be presented to the people, in clear terms. Nothing hidden, nothing held back. Our people are largely understanding, after all said and done!