Faruk Ahmed writes that Nigerians are the architects of their present miseries and Buhari is a messiah they should follow to pull them out of the doldrums.
Come May 29, 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari will be two years in office as a civilian head of state of the nation called Nigeria. His country is currently undergoing an economical baptism and thus his countrymen are up in arms calling for his head. Should he be guillotined or given a vote of confidence and nod to rule beyond 2019?
Nigerians are known to be chronic complainants and critics who see no good in their leaders. While on seats, they vilify their leaders, calling them all sorts of names; but few months away from the corridors of power, they will be yearning for the return of the gone leaders. Just like Jesus Christ who was rejected by his own people, Nigerians are fond of rejecting their own leaders.
When former president Olusegun Obasanjo ruled from 1999-2007, Nigerians screamed that he was heavy-handed; that behind his flowing agbada was a starched military khaki. They whined and shouted against any action he took. But after his tenure, some Nigerians till date still remember him for privatizing the telecommunications sector which has made phones ubiquitous today. We remember him for the fact that he commenced the dualisations of federal highways like the Kano-Maiduguri and Abuja-Edo roads; and the fact that he created the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Crimes and other Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to tackle corruption (although they were later accused of veering away from their mandates when they were arresting perceived political opponents of the then government only).
Then came in Late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yaradua whom Nigerians tagged “Baba go slow,” saying that his seven-point agenda were too much and hence unrealizable. But few months into his administration he proved the doubting Thomases wrong by upholding the rule of law, commenced the dredging of River Niger, brought the dreaded and menacing Niger Delta militancy to a halt with shrewd politicking, and initiated the Abuja metro line, the Abuja-Kaduna and the Abuja-Kano rails. But unfortunately, the cold hands of death cut his life short on May 5, 2010 when Nigerians have started seeing the succulent fruits of his labour.
Out of the blues, the gauntlet of power fell on the laps of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan when his boss, the late Yaradua, was committed to mother earth. “Mr. Clueless,” was the apt phrase Nigerians dubbed him. According to many commentators, the phrase fit him very well since he looked the other way when corruption feasted and festered during his administration.
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The about N255 million spent by former aviation minister Stella Oduah to purchase two armoured BMW cars or the over N10 billion spent by a former petroleum minister Diazeni Allison Maduekwe to charter and maintain a private jet for her personal use are still fresh in the minds of Nigerians. As you read this, Jonathan’s national security adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.) is still being investigated over the $2.1 billion intended for the purchase of weapons to tackle Boko Haram insurgency. The list of alleged profligacy in the former president’s government is endless which could be evident in the united front Nigerians put in sending him and his team packing in the March 28, 2015 general elections.
But a year and few months into the administration of the new government Nigerians voted into power with their own thumbs, they have started wailing for the return of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan.
Why Nigerians are angry with Buhari
Now, let us analyse why Nigerians are fed up with the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. They say it was during his tenure that rice rose from N6,000.00 per bag to about N19,000.00; and that a dollar which exchanged for about N240.00 is now exchanging for about N480.00. Furthermore, they say, Nigeria is now officially in a recession, prices of commodities have skyrocketed and that they now feed from hands to mouths.
The politicians are also not left out. They claim that Baba has not involved them in the schemes of affairs of the nation. That he appointed political neonates into his cabinet. That some of them don’t even have voter’s cards, while others are still PDP card carrying members.
Why Buhari is a blessing to Nigeria
When Nigerians voted for Buhari, they did so in hopes that he will bring an end to those teething problems bedeviling them. These problems include the ominous Boko Haram, the unbridled corruption, the depletion of the foreign reserve of the country, and the rudderless direction of the previous regime.
As one commentator rightly puts it, “Nigerians are too forgetful, and hence are easily deceived.” If not, how on earth can they easily forget the over 30,000 full-blooded Nigerians who died in the hands of Boko Haram, or that the previous government campaigned tooth and nail at the wee hours of its expiration with our hard-earned foreign reserve? How can we easily forget that it reached a stage that some state governments couldn’t pay their workers’ salaries because the allocations reaching them from the centre dwindled down or was stopped due to political differences? Have we also forgotten that bombs were exploding almost on a daily basis at Madalla, Nyanya, Kano, Kaduna, Gombe, Plateau, etc. where if a father goes out in the morning, his family are not at peace until he returns back alive in the evening?
We shouldn’t also forget that the regime of Jonathan kicked former governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi out of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) just because he blew whistle that NNPC were siphoning billions of dollars intended for the coffers of the country. We shouldn’t also forget that his replacement has been carrying out economic experiments with the commonwealth of the nation; creating this policy today and abolishing it tomorrow.
Can we recall that throughout the tenure of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the naira was stabled against the dollar at about N160? But with the voodoo economics of Emefiele, the naira climbed to N190 and then about N260 even before Jonathan stepped down. And since then, the parting ‘Greek gift’ Jonathan gave to Buhari has further bartered the naira with it now changing for about N480 to a green buck.
Nigerians shouldn’t forget that of recent, the country was importing everything it used, ranging from sanitary pads to toothpicks, rice to eggs and all petroleum products. It was during the previous administration that America stopped buying Nigeria’s crude oil and the market value of the commodity also nosedived.
When the product you sell to get money to feed your house is no longer in high demand and the little you manage to sell is devalued, should you use the money you obtained to buy overpriced vegetables from the market when you can grow them in your backyard?
Nigeria is a blessed nation
In the years preceding and immediately after independence, Nigeria relied solely on agricultural production and mineral exploration to support its large population and even help other countries. A colleague of mine, Malam Ayuba Umar Rano once told me that “It was the former northern Nigerian government that bought the first generating set that powered up the Holy Mosque in Mecca.” But today, it is the other way round. Nigerians are trooping to Saudi Arabia in droves in order to engage in menial jobs.
“Nobody is thinking of how to utilize these abundant natural endowments optimally to create alternative and the needed sources of income. All we do is put blames squarely on the shoulders of our government, “Buhari this, Buhari that” when there are endless opportunities to be recouped in a recession…
The major export commodities of Nigeria in the 50s, 60s and early 70s were palm kernel, groundnut, cotton, kola nut, cocoa and tea. But with the discovery of crude oil, we threw them overboard and developed a lavish lifestyle.
The nation country of Cote d’Ivoire relies only on cocoa exportation for its foreign reserve. Palm kernel was foreign to Malaysia in 19th century. But today it has become her economic mainstay. Even though initial reports have shown that Malaysia got the oil palm seedlings from Nigeria, but a crop scientist, Dr. (Mrs.) Christy Okwuagwu, recently debunked that claim. Whether is from Nigeria or not, Malaysia has grown from an importer of palm kernel seeds to become the number one oil palm producing country today. And this has removed her from an underdeveloped country into a developed one. We have cocoa and palm kernel trees in abundant in Nigeria.
In the Middle East, if you don’t have crude oil, you will have to survive on handouts from the United States of America if you promise to be a good schoolboy. Israel was founded on a desert and is surrounded by Arab nations that are equally deserts. Countries like Egypt, Syria Palestine and Lebanon.
Apart from the lifeline that comes from the USA, Israel looked inward and developed a technology that allowed her to deep-irrigated its Negev desert that gulped up about 60% of the country, into an arable land for the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, dates and other crops. Israel’s tomatoes are the sweetest and biggest in the world and they are found on the shelves of major supermarkets around the globe. Today, Israel is the largest exporter of fruits and is also exporting its technologies to other developing countries like Senegal. Today, agriculture being the mainstay of Israel generates mostly to the GDP of the country.
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If you look across the breadth and length of a Nigerian map, you will not find a single state that doesn’t have arable lands and mineral resources. States like Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Kebbi are good for wheat, rice, groundnut and cereals farming. Cocoa and kola nuts grow in large quantities in southwestern states like Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo. Southeastern and some south-southern states are notorious for yam, pineapple, cassava, palm kernel, fruits and other tubers cultivation. You get livestock from border states like Jigawa, Sokoto, Adamawa and Borno. The north-central states earning the tag of “food baskets of the nation” are Benue, Taraba, Niger and Plateau cultivate yam and Irish potatoes in great magnitudes. Fresh and dried fishes are also not in short supplies.
Nigeria also self-produces tea, ginger, sorghum, tomatoes and many more that most countries in the world rely on just only one. Nigeria can be self-sufficient and export much to gain foreign reserves. But nobody is thinking of how to utilize these abundant natural endowments optimally to create alternative and the needed sources of income. All we do is put blames squarely on the shoulders of our government, “Buhari this, Buhari that” when there are endless opportunities to be recouped in a recession…
Space and time will not allow me to conclude this piece in one installment. I rest my pen here!
Until we meet in another edition of Buhari Blessing, drop your comments in the space below if you disagree or agree with the points enumerated here.