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By Anthony Kolawole
Sometimes, I am lurched into serious thinking, just to discern the reasoning capacity of some Nigerians. Often, and with the next general election barely five months away, one is assailed with malicious and bitter criticisms of the three and a half years old administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Whilst to his supporters, Buhari must be returned to consolidate, a few others think otherwise.
Leaders and minions especially from the main opposition party, the PDP are quick to remind Nigerians that President Buhari made 74 promises to Nigerians during his electioneering campaigns and has fulfilled nothing. Others say, Buhari is so far still struggling to register “meaningful” progress in only three areas of the nation-state.
I have every conviction that members of PDP are under perpetual heat. They are professionals in a variety of odd habits. So, the zeal to get back to power in 2019 is extremely infectious and they spare nothing to hurl taunts at perceived enemies. It is written on their faces. It reflects in their shadows. Buhari has a large heart, indeed.
I am also one Nigerian, who is bewildered that the PDP has not shown any good cause to be trusted with leadership of Nigeria soon. This is a country they raped and plundered for 16 years and masses anger ousted them in 2015. It’s expected that they will see nothing good in the Buhari administration. If they sight anything good in the Buhari government, it will be a pleasant surprise.
Therefore, they frame and concoct all manner of lies. They pretend to be saviours of the people; they lament loudest about the hardships in the land. They pretentiously feign empathy for Nigerians.
I wonder if the opposition ever thinks they served Nigerians, paradise by the months of salary indebtedness in 28 states of the federation and at the federal level. Do they ever remember the trillions of naira of accumulated local contractual debts, which exacerbated poverty and hardships, when Buhari assumed leadership in 2015?
In the midst of wealth, when crude oil went as high as $130pb, the PDP government distributed poverty and misery. They drained Nigeria’s foreign reserves and rapaciously shared the money. They emptied monies in Excess Crude Account and the Sovereign Wealth Fund. Our memories are really short.
They plunged Nigeria into recession by their mindless looting of the country’s commonwealth. They initiated many projects, but completed none, even though contract fees were fully paid in some cases.
But is there any alternative to Buhari in 2019? Who is sure Nigerians would allow the locusts in PDP to again invade the land? Buhari is not a miracle worker. He is not a magician to solve the volley of serious national problems PDP created. It’s alright that he made 74 promises to Nigerians. It could have even been 1000. It’s inconsequential.
But in his maiden address to the nation, President Buhari acknowledged the teething problems he inherited. He was lucid that in spite of the promises he made, the first concentration would be on three areas, which by their very nature, demanded urgent attention. Buhari talked about tackling the recessed economy; the debilitating insecurity championed by Boko Haram insurgency and other insurrections and, the anti-corruption battle, which fathers and festers the first two and indeed, any other problem in Nigeria.
Buhari said in his inaugural;
“At home we face enormous challenges. Insecurity, pervasive corruption, the hitherto unending and seemingly impossible fuel and power shortages are the immediate concerns. We are going to tackle them head on…With depleted foreign reserves, falling oil prices, leakages and debts the Nigerian economy is in deep trouble and will require careful management to bring it round and to tackle the immediate challenges confronting us, namely; Boko Haram, the Niger Delta situation, the power shortages and unemployment especially among young people.”
The question which PDP and its apologists should be asking is how far has President Buhari kept his covenant with the people in these special areas. They know the truth, but hate to admit it.
Merely wishing that Nigeria never gets back on its toes does not distort the reality. Buhari is not a saint and has never claimed saintliness anywhere. He has his foibles and we know. But we cannot deny him accolades where he deserves.
Lets peep into these special areas he promised to tackle first to assess the extent of the journey. I know that by 2015 Boko Haram insurgency effectively and fully occupied at least 24 LGAs in the Northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. The fear of insurgents created panic in substantial parts of the North, including Abuja.
But PDP and other opposition elements may not admit publicly for the sake of pride and the dubious quest to regain power that the dreary insecurity has vanished. But Nigerians know and the international community is aware of the decimation and defeat of Boko Haram terrorists. No part of Nigeria is under the control of insurgents anymore. Operations of remnants of terrorists have been confined to obscure and soft targets in Borno state.
Factional leader of the fanatical sect, Abubakar Shekau is on the run himself. I hear he is recuperating in the mountains and caves of Cameroun. His factional rival, Musab Al-Barnawi, whose sect sepcialises in attacking security formations is also having rough times with the Nigerian troops. Had the PDP government flaunted such milestones in the combat of terrorism, Nigeria would not have been thrown in the terrorism mess, pains, tears and sorrows, which became an everyday recurrence.
Its no news that Nigeria has been extricated from recession by the Buhari government. What I cannot decode is the feeling that citizens of a country in recession should be insulated from suffering and hardships. Such thoughts are utopian.
We know Nigeria is gradually getting back on his feet. Contractors have resumed work on projects across the country. Abandoned projects are being completed and commissioned. Nigeria’s Foreign reserves have been restocked to over $47 billion; the Sovereign Wealth Fund which was emptied has over $ 500 million dollars.
Nigerians are no longer under the mental torture of unpaid salaries and pensions, except in a few states where the state governors have mismanaged bailout funds. Social Investment Programme has created jobs and poverty is being alleviated. Conditional Cash Transfer is putting smiles on the faces of poor Nigerians. Agric loans to farmers are released yearly.
The Buhari Presidency has the record of securing the highest number of convictions of corrupt Nigerians who have looted their country. The EFCC displays the record of conviction of high profile Nigerians, in just three years, since the anti-graft body was established more than a decade ago.
The gang-up to oust President Buhari in 2019 by the PDP politicians and their sympathisers, which they santimoniously claim is for public good is the fear of Executive Order 6, which allows the confiscation of assets acquaired with illicit wealth. That’s the real fear.
Power generation and supply in Nigeria has improved from the less than 2, 500 megawatts of national grid in PDP’s 16 years of leadership to over 7, 100 megawatts under Buhari. Meanwhile, the same PDP government and leaders dubiously privitased PHCN. They sold it to themselves and friends and never invested a single naira to improve electricity infrastructure. They even shortchanged government on the stipulated amounts they were to pay.
But they foul the air and insult our sensibilities. We are wise enough. Nigerians cannot be deceived again. In 2019, there is still no alternative to President Buhari.
Emphatically, the alternative to Buhari is still Buhari.
Kolawole PhD, a University teacher wrote this piece from Keffi.