By Ayo Oyoze Baje
“No nation can be great without leaders with vision, focus, conscience, integrity, empathy, and common sense. Any leader without the six points will easily plunge a nation into backwardness, poverty, insecurity, destruction of lives, and property.”
– Bamigboye Olurotimi (Writer and technologist)
Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the beacon-bearer of Nigeria, nay Africa’s peaceful coexistence and the flag-flying patriot certainly deserves sincere apologies, eight years after he graciously and peacefully left the corridors of political power, at Aso Rock, Abuja, FCT. And the apologies should in fact, come from the All Progressives Congress (APC) political party with its ‘Change’ mantra, which the millions of overtly naïve and gullible supporters swallowed line, hook and sinker. That played itself out of course, during its well- oiled, puerile propaganda-fuelled presidential campaigns back in the 2014/2015 season.
Nigerians should be wiser now, after the eight years of Buhari’s wasted years which some concerned analysts describe as that of the season of ‘Sorrows, Tears and Blood’ (STB), apologies to the late Afrobeat icon and irrepressible activist, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Lest we belittle it, the key element in driving every relationship forward is Trust. Right from the family unit, through that of our educational and religious institutions to the work place and political governance, it holds true. Once that significant factor is violated, it leads to crisis, chaos and if not reined in it could snowball into a regrettable state of anarchy! Unfortunately, this has been the rule rather than the exception over the past fear-fuelled years of the outgoing administration of Buhari. If in doubt, kindly consider the comparisons of the quality of life of the average Nigerian, back in May, 2015 and as at this day. For instance, it is on record that the inflation rate rose from 8.06% to 24.06%, from 2014 to 2023. We recall that petrol or Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) that sold for N97 per litre back in 2014/15 has jumped up to N263 per litre. A 50 kg bag of rice that cost N10,000 has gone up to N31,000 and above, depending on which part of Nigeria one lives or plies his trade. While a 50kg of beans sold for N16,000 back then has since galloped to N60,000. Similarly, a tuber of yam that went for N250 then has escalated to N700 and a bag of pure water that used to sell for N50 has since jerked up to N200. The naira exchange rate that was N170 to a dollar has put on a new garb of between N459 to N745. That depends of course, on whether you are dealing with the official rate or with the so called ‘Black Market’. If you ever get lost, ask the Aboki Bureau de Change. He will gladly put you through.
But going into the specifics of the sensitive issue of security, which is the protection of the sanctity of precious human life, as aptly enshrined in Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 constitution (as amended), about 63, 111 defenceless fellow citizens were brutally killed and sent to their early graves in Buhari’s eight odd years! That is according to https://www.vanguardngr.com ›of May 20, 2023. Breaking it down further, 27,311 persons were killed in the President’s first term and 35,800 priceless lives got wasted between 2019 and May 2023.
According to the Tony Blair’s Institute for Global Change, over 55,430 defenceless and innocent souls were sent to the Great Beyond between 2015 and 2022. And as at this day, the once fertile fields of Benue state, that was acclaimed the Food Basket of the Nation, as well as the mineral-rich Plateau state have since been turned into Africa’s killing fields, under the watchful eyes of outgoing President Buhari. Yet, the mindless murders took place, despite the government spending (or was it wasting) the humongous sum of N12 trillion in 7 years, on security! That is not a figment of my imagination. Rather, it is with reference to Daily Post Nigeria https://dailypost.ng › report of 2021/10/15 ›. According to ‘TheCable’ online news platform of January 17, 2019 the Buhari-led administration failed in 62 out of 73 promises made during his first term in office. That was while critically assessing his performance backed by the credible information from several media houses in Nigeria, covering many important aspects of our national life. These include the number one promise to place a ban on government officials from going abroad for medical treatment. Of course, he broke that with his medical tourism, especially to the United Kingdom (UK), all at our expenses while Aso Rock clinic was left in shambles. Amongst the promises made that were not fulfilled were that of giving free maternal and child healthcare services and that of upgrading all federal government-owned hospitals to world-class facilities within five years. There was the promise for the introduction of National Gender Policy and offer of 35 per cent appointment to women.
In fact, with scarce regards to the National Gender Policy (NGP) formulated at 35% Affirmative Action (AA) in Nigeria since 2006, Buhari promised but failed to implement it, as he appointed only six females out of the 36 ministers during his first tenure.! That amounted to a paltry 16.6%! That of his Second Term was no better as he went ahead to appoint only 7 women out of 36 ministers! Talk about the Trust Breaker, not caring a hoot what others feel about his sense of allegiance to his words of promise. Should a leader exhibit sadism at the expense of the people’s collective happiness? Similarly, the pledge to create three million jobs per year fell flat, and dead on arrival. So was that of pulling 100 million Nigerians out of the ignoble pit of poverty. The bitter truth is that we are currently confronted, not only with harrowing hunger but the sensitive and delicate issues of extreme poverty and food/ nutrition insecurity.
One other seriously scary situation that Buhari is leaving behind is that of the huge debt profile that has risen from N12.1trn in 2015 to N77 trn in mid-2023. Who will pay back these huge debts if we are currently using over 96% of our income to service (not pay back) these debts? With all the listed anomalies and preventable poverty, we are not surprised therefore, that the current life expectancy for Nigeria in 2023 is 55.75 years, compared to that of the world put at 73.16 years. But how do we move forward? That is the million-naira question. Truth be told, we cannot make meaningful progress, as a people if our leaders do not muster the political will to deal decisively with the enemies of democracy. These, yours truly highlighted on his Facebook page, on November 4, 2022. They include the enemies of political restructuring; for the states to control their resources and devolve immense power from the centre. Others include the high costs of accessing political power, making of fanciful promises by conscienceless political leaders during electioneering campaigns that are not meant to be fulfilled. There is also huge pay package for political appointees, even under the harsh economic situation as we currently experience.
Other frictional factor against the dictates of democracy include the painful fact that the led majority do not understand that political power belongs to them and not the self-serving and overtly greedy politicians. The type of democracy we currently practice that brings on board political appointees and elected ones who refuse to tell the leaders the home Truth, whenever they do any wrong, will keep hindering our progress as a people and as a nation.
Baje writes from Lagos