The late Nigeria virtuoso, Sunny Okosun in his song Which Way Nigeria asked the then burning question: “How long shall we be patient before we reach the Promised Land?” That question is as pertinent today as it was in the 1980s when the musician posed the challenge, only that the question has taken on a wider ramifications today in view of our more dynamic and broader circumstances as a nation.
To enquire about how much longer it would take to reach a promised destination presupposes that one is on course towards that destination and the corollary of this is that that the destination is in sight or at least that the odds favour an end to a tortuous journey, however long it takes to reach the end.
In the twilight of the Goodluck Jonathan-led Peoples Democratic Party administration, Nigerians lamented that they had never had it that bad. The challenges confronting them appeared insurmountable. There was pervasive corruption that threatened to sweep away the entire nation. Insurgents were having a field day in the north, declaring their own republic within the Federal Republic of Nigeria and annexing towns and villages while the government looked helpless. There was massive unemployment and the energy sector was in comatose with unending and seemingly impossible fuel and power shortages.
The generality of Nigerians, with the exception of those who were directly benefiting from the government of the day were totally disillusioned. They cried for change and yearned for a messiah that would restore sanity in the land.
After three previous failed shots at the presidency, Muhammadu Buhari was finally moving into Aso Rock, Nigeria’s presidential palace, as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
But this time, the former head of state had secured victory by tapping into the much desired change Nigerians sought for decades after suffering in the midst of plenty.
Buhari and the APC had sold the change mantra to Nigerians who desperately needed a better life at all cost, even if it involved voting in a former tyrant who once ruled the country with iron fists.
When the former military ruler, General Muhammadu Buhari therefore emerged the presidential candidate of the then opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, there was wild jubilation in many parts of the country. For someone who hated corruption with a passion, Buhari was seen as the only person who could fight corruption to a standstill. He was known for his fight against indiscipline when he was military head of state.
In the weeks leading to the election, Buhari had asked Nigerians not to lose hope because change was imminent in the country. In a report in the Nation newspaper dated January 01, 2015, the APC presidential candidate listed a five-point change agenda which he promised to implement if elected president. According to Buhari, the change meant:
– A country that you can be proud of at anytime and anywhere: where corruption is tackled, where your leaders are disciplined and lead with vision and clarity; where the stories that emerge to the world from us are full of hope and progress.
– A Nigeria in which neither you, nor your parents, families or friends will have to fear for your safety, or for theirs.
-A Nigeria where citizens get the basics that any country should provide: infrastructure that works, healthcare that is affordable, even free; respect for the environment and sustainable development, education that is competitive and outcome-oriented in a knowledge-economy.
– A country that provides jobs for its young people, reducing unemployment to the lowest of single digits and providing safety nets so that no one is left behind.
– A Nigeria where entrepreneurship thrives, enterprise flourishes and the government gets out of your way so that you can create value, build the economy and aggressively expand wealth.
Buhari also emphasized that the above five-point change agenda was possible to realize through exemplary leadership.
But having been the slogan with which the APC achieved tremendous success at the last general election, it has come as a surprise to many that the change mantra is yet to translate into socio-economic prosperity for Nigeria.
Some Nigerians are beginning to feel the change promised by the current administration is elusive; this has been heightened by many factors which have made the change promised by the APC mirror a change for the worst.
One year after assuming office, Nigerians have expressed total disappointment in his administration. They are agonizing that they have not felt the desired change they voted for in President Buhari. Great efforts have been made to curtail insurgency and the government deserves huge commendation for that. The fight against corruption is well appreciated but it appears targeted at politicians only as the customs, the police, the civil servants are still corrupt. It is still business as usual in so many sectors.
There is a groundswell of criticisms of the government’s response to the economic crisis which led to increase in prices, growing unemployment, job losses, pay cuts and owed salaries. Even President Mohammadu Buhari’s ardent supporters like fiery Catholic Priest, Ejike Mbaka are commending him for the fight against corruption but accusing him of not equally responding to an economic emergency that has left many families struggling or unable to feed. Mbaka, in a sermon to his congregation on July 23, said “hunger is everywhere. As the president is fighting corruption, some of us are praying that he will equally fight hunger. The landlords are crying, tenants are lamenting. Sellers are crying, buyers are lamenting. Many students are being rusticated from school because they can’t pay school fees. Proprietors are distressed. Many companies are winding up. The economy is hard”.
For Awoonor, the seeming despondence stemmed from a certain fact accompli which appeared to have been foisted by a celestial force over which there was no control. This is understandable, for what can a man do when he can do nothing? But when a problem is self -inflicted, then some soul searching is required in order not to repeat the same mistake.
There is no question that today everybody appears to be at sixes and seven in Nigeria with the fear and uncertainty about the state of the economy and the future palpable barging ugly and heavy in the air. Whatever fills and thrills might have been occasioned by the emergence of Muhammadu Buhari as the President, the same appears to be dampened by an uncertain economic climate, compounded by a turbulent political ambience-no thanks to the ruling All Progressive Congress and an unabated spate of terrorist attacks.
The ultimate question therefore is: when the Protector becomes the Predator, what then becomes of the Prey?
Isaac Opatewa esq
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