By Abiodun KOMOLAFE
“The future comes slowly, the present flies and the past stands still forever.” – Johann Friedrich Von Schiller.
Baring any unforeseen circumstances, Nigeria’s journey to 2019 has already started and one can only wish the country well!
Having run its first full-circle four year-term, 2019 will put to test the capacity of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to renew its contract with Nigerians as well as the opposition’s ability to reassess itself, especially, in the light of significant challenges of poverty, unemployment and ethno-religious fundamentalism currently confronting the country.
Well, while some of us on this side of the divide may not be seeing what others elsewhere are seeing in terms of the epileptic existence, structural weakness and economic vulnerability that have unfortunately-yet-understandably taken the shine off this administration, that Nigerians are hungry and that President Muhammadu Buhari needs to put some smiles on their faces before the situation gets out of hand is no longer in doubt. As it stands, there is too much anger, which typifies the frustration of the people; and there’s too much capability to deliver violence in the midst of little or no tolerance. Perhaps, the more reason there are so many deaths in the land.
With the benefit of hindsight, the 2015 presidential poll was a battle fought, largely, between a “populist appeal” and an “outlandish profligacy”. In that election, Nigerians saw in Buhari a clear, credible, reliable, forward-looking and development-oriented leader who would not only give the arrogance of office and insolence of power that had taken the better part of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s government a run for its money, he was also seen as the preferred brand who possessed an enormous amount of political capital to take key transformative decisions that would positively affect the fortunes of the downtrodden. Little wonder the former president was bent on capturing power by any means and at all costs.
Though the rest, as it is often said, is history, the reality in this widely-diversified, ceaselessly-varying, half-organized and half-conscious society of which the electorate forms a part, is that Nigerians are always at home with “the concept of change in the metaphysical sense but not in any way that hurts them and their families or friends.” This is where the problem lies and this is why the government has to do more in terms of communicating well with the citizens if it is indeed interested in retaining the electorate’s confidence in 2019.
So far, so fair for the tragedy of victory which is much more than its defeat! Key indices have so far attested to how the worst of Buhari’s government could be preferred to the best of Jonathan’s. But that is not what we are saying here! The rate at which Nigeria is going is very worrying and something needs to be done to salvage the precarious situation. Precisely, the Nigerian naira is in bad shape, revenue generation is proving to be pressingly challenging even as the country is seeing a lot of household and international debts. Oil production recently sank to as low as 800,000 bpd even as government revenues have declined by more than half of what it used to be, pre-Buhari era. While it cannot be denied that this government has done some good job in its anticorruption crusade, it needs to be noted that less than 10% of our collective patrimony can actually be attributed to this socio-economic malaise while a greater percentage of the rest is siphoned out of the country by multinational companies with little or no effort by the government to remedy the situation.
In the first quarter of 2016, Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was said to have contracted by 0.36%, the first negative growth in many years. During this period, unemployment rate stood at 12.1%; underemployment, 19.1%; and youth unemployment, 24%. Even, in crime rate, Nigeria ranks ‘high up’ there, Boko Haram terrorists and Niger Delta militants being her ‘prized’ jokers! As a matter of fact, Nigeria was said to have had the highest case of kidnapping in 2013 and 2014, after equally-endowed countries like Mexico and India. Threateningly too, she’s found a ‘comfortable’ seat among world’s most dangerous countries like Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea and Libya. And, as if these are not enough, the murderous activities of Fulani herdsmen have ‘spiced’ our broth as world’s fourth most deadly terrorist organization!
In his remarkably personal book, ‘How will you measure your life?’ Clayton Christensen describes management as “the most noble of professions, if practised well.” Christensen might be right, at least to the extent that “no other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility, be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a bigger team and a bigger purpose.” But then, I doubt if those who contended that Buhari was too old a warhorse to lead a country as vastly endowed as Nigeria on the road to socio-economic recovery were not too enmeshed in the intricacies of inanity to have realized that the major contenders for Barrack Obama’s throne are also drinking from the same cup of age with our president. On the other hand, while other candidates were unadulterated lightweights who merely wanted the electorate to learn how to pronounce their names, those who opposed the emergence of Buhari as the preferred choice in the last election have so far fallen short of telling Nigerians in what garb an alternative to Jonathan would have appeared.
Yes, Buhari did inherit a past laced with selfish whims and inevitable traumatizations. Still, he can explore the womb of his party’s deliberate strategies, even the unanticipated alternatives that have so emerged, to create a future of opportunities and prosperity for Nigerians! The bitter truth is that a government that fails to adequately cater to the needs of its citizens will sooner than later provide space for the people to go haywire. So, the earlier the president realizes that the honeymoon on Nigeria’s Qadesh-Barnea adventure is over, the better for Nigeria. To the best of my understanding, the people are not asking for too much from this government. Their only demand – and, a legitimate one at that – is some relatively strong amount of confidence, happiness, and self-esteem, not dissatisfaction, frustration or ingratitude.
If Zaire, Congo, Guinea, Benin Republic and Zimbabwe are instances too distant to cite on how political battles are won, on the strength, not number, of political parties, Benue (April 11, 2015) and Kwara (September 24, 2015) are two freshly unambiguous lessons on how a people, badly battered by hunger and avoidably bruised by poverty could rise beyond political sentiments to make a statement. Ours need not be like that popular actor who decided to apologize to her ‘big auntie’ for not being with her in her time of need only after her ‘big auntie’ has accessed afterlife! If Singapore could rise above the vagaries of a developing country to become one of world’s great success stories in one generation, that it is achievable in Nigeria is already conceded!
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria ([email protected])
020, Okenisa Street,
PO Box 153,
Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State.