Back in 2015, a lot of people who were fed up with the direction of the country – the wanton corruption, the insecurity, etc – thought that you represented the change that would improve things.
You talked a good game. You spoke about fighting corruption and insecurity, and you spoke about making Nigeria a country that every Nigerian could be proud of. You had a reputation for incorruptibility, in stark contrast with most Nigeria’s political class. At your inauguration, you spoke about ‘belonging to everybody and nobody’.
Many who believed in your candidacy took to the streets – online and offline – and campaigned for you to their friends and family. In some cases, relationships with those friends and family became strained. Some ended altogether.
However, they were convinced that your performance in office would vindicate them, would make all the small sacrifices worth it. The people who voted for you viewed those sacrifices as a small price to pay to get the country back on track.
Those promises have not fulfilled. As economic growth entered negative territory and inflation began to rise, you gave only excuses, indicting the Jonathan administration at every opportunity. No doubt, past administrations have their own share of the blame, but you came into power on a pledge to fix it, not to remind us of all the reasons the last guy had to go.
It took seven months after you took office to appoint ministers, while you focused on getting back looted funds. The excuse then was that the deadweight needed to be cleared.
A year later, it is hard to see what value has been derived from delaying those ministerial appointments. The budget process was a disaster, dogged by delays due to ‘padding’.
The ultimate test of a government is the change in the material circumstances of its people, and that has been much worse since May 2015. Inflation is now at 18.3%, the highest since January 2007. Even though petrol subsidies were rightly removed, the price jump was so severe due to the continued poor handling of the forex situation by the CBN. All kinds of measures to manage the demand for forex – including using the DSS to arrest Bureau de Change operators – have been used, and have backfired.
There is no confidence in the management of Nigeria’s economy under Godwin Emefiele, yet he remains in his position. This can only be because the President agrees with him.
Now, with policy after policy, your administration looks out of touch with suffering Nigerians. From VAT on passports, to proposed taxes on phone calls, and now with this data price hike, people are approaching breaking point.
Supporting you in 2015 has now become a thing of shame and regret for many people. They are constantly hearing ‘I told you so’ from Jonathan supporters, even as they share in the pain of your administration’s bad decisions. It becomes a double trauma.
It is hard to believe that you contested to be President four times, only to deliver a first 18 months like this. There is still time to redeem yourself, but that time is fast running out.
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