On the brink of hope deferred
AS the seamy revelations of how the nation’s commonwealth was ruthlessly looted under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan keep coming in and justifiably provoke Nigerians’ outrage, it is not the citizens who are the winners, at least for now. The recovery of the looted funds would only benefit the citizens when they have been properly deployed to improve their miserable lot. Rather, the laurels go to the All Progressives Congress (APC) government.
All attention is now focused on these revelations. We no longer probe nor disturb the authorities with the questions of how much positive impact the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is making on our lives . Yet, the idea of the giant strides in governance being made by the APC government is a self-delusion and the earlier they are told so the better for the country. We daily face the grim realities of the absence of the progress of the administration of Buhari in the last seven months. And we can easily measure the progress of the government by the amount of the improvement in the lives of Nigerians.
Has the life of the average citizen really improved? Have jobs been created for the citizens to generate sources of incomes to raise their standard of living? Now, we are again wrestling with the days of fuel scarcity, with the price of the product soaring out of the reach of the bulk of the population. The product may even sell for N97 next year. In the earlier days of the Buhari government, the excuse that was being constantly served Nigerians for the absence of a well-defined direction of the government was that it was preoccupied with clearing the impact of the maladministration left by the past government. Now, the excuse has moved to the government’s preoccupation with investigations into how the funds meant for the purchase of arms were mismanaged. The danger inherent in the position of the government is that it would keep on giving excuses since the problems of the nation are not about to end so soon. Rather, what is obvious now is that fresh challenges would continue to emerge to test the managerial capability of this government.
Unlike the giddy days of electioneering promises, the stark reality of the difficulty of managing the economy to improve the citizens’ lives is now staring the leaders in the face. The upshot is that more excuses are beginning to come from government. And this is at a time that the citizens have thought that their long wait for improved fortunes would soon come to an end. Instead of the much-awaited news that the government has put in place measures to improve the lives of the citizens, they are now being told that harsher economic times would be their lot next year. Why must there be a timetable for when the harsher economic times would start and there is none for when they would end? Would the citizens be subjected to another round of governmental swindle reminiscent of the days of the Ibrahim Babangida’s Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) whose gains were only enjoyed by the then military president and his acolytes? Why must the citizens endure privations when their lawmakers are colluding to splurge billions on vehicles they could do without if they really spared a thought for the long-suffering poor of the country?
If the government is already dazed by the existing challenges, how prepared is it to effectively respond to the fresh ones that are now breaking out? By now, the president must have realised that his knowledge of warfare is antiquated in the light of the irregular measures being deployed by insurgents to launch attacks on the northern part of the country. The December deadline he gave to the military is not feasible. Even if the Boko Haram insurgency is defeated, that may not be the end of insurgency in the country. For as long as the faulty foundation of injustice on which the nation is erected is not dismantled, there would be pockets of insurgency all over the country. It is such a foundation of inequality that has spawned the pro-Biafra protests in the South-East . If the Boko Haram insurgents found their compost in a wrong-headed religious ideology, there would be more of such crises that are energised by religious fundamentalism. It is this faulty foundation that has nurtured the audacity of religious groups such as that of El-Zakzaky to block the movement of citizens on public roads and paved the way for a bloody clash between the group and the military.
Whereas it was a credible electoral system that brought Buhari into office, there is now the anxiety that on his watch, the democratic process may be truncated. In the short time that elections have been conducted while Buhari is in office, there is the suspicion that the presidency has played a major role in their becoming inconclusive. Despite the obvious imperfections of Prof. Attahiru Jega, the citizens supported the democratic process because they believed in his sincerity. Yet, in less than half a year that Buhari is left to manage the democratic process in collaboration with the electoral umpire, they are fast driving the country to the brink of an electoral crisis that may upturn the gains the democratic experience has conferred on the nation. For if elections are no longer credible, the citizens who stabilise the democratic process through their participation would no longer be interested. Then there would be a recourse to the jeremiad that “ whether you vote or you don’t, politicians would have their way.” In the past, it was such apathy that paved the way for politicians writing their own election results in the comfort of their homes or hotels. Is Buhari now a blight on the democratic process?
Buhari can no longer predicate his stay in office on fighting corruption. It is incumbent on him to make life meaningful to the citizens through the provision of basic needs while executing his anti-corruption campaign. He must courageously respond to the fundamental questions of the polity that nurture the pores through which rebellion creeps from the north and the south to threaten our collective existence. Or else, for the citizens who have been traumatised by years of governmental neglect and betrayal, and are waiting for Buhari’s promised change , it remains another hope deferred .