By Paul E. Michael….
Prior to the May 28, 2015, presidential election, the All Progressive Congress, APC, presented before Nigerians the “Change” ideology, which promised a nation void of corruption, insecurity, unemployment, dwindling economy, under-development, epileptic power supply as well as retrogressive leadership. The ideology was heartily accepted by majority of Nigerians, who were yearning desperately for a new nation, where the overall interest of all is placed ahead the egotism of a selected few.
One vital factor that promoted the emergence of the APC, was the high level of impunity that greeted the 16 years administration of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, whose leadership found pleasure in distributing national resources reserved for over 160 million Nigerians with a relatively low segment of the population, thereby plaguing the rest of the population with untold hardship. This hopeless situation was vehemently rejected by Nigerians at the sight of the “Change” ideology despite its infancy.
With a presidential aspirant that was highly respected in the northern part of the nation and its numerous magical promises, it was easier for the APC to take over the affairs of Aso Villa. Some of the promises made by the APC include to “Establish a Conflict Resolution Commission to help prevent, mitigate, and resolve civil conflicts within the polity; Revive and reactivate our minimally performing refineries to optimum capacity and Stabilise oil price.”
Others include to “Amend the Constitution to remove immunity from prosecution for elected officers in criminal cases; Create a Social Welfare Program of at least Five Thousand Naira (N5000) that will cater for the 25 million poorest and most vulnerable citizens; Provide allowances to the discharged but unemployed Youth Corps members for Twelve (12) months while in the skills and entrepreneurial development programmes; Equate N1.00 to $1.00; Generate, transmit and distribute electricity on a 24/7 basis whilst simultaneously ensuring the development of sustainable/renewable energy, by 2019.”
Undoubtedly, this “Change” mantra is now a year old in Aso Rock. The questions we should be asking ourselves are simple: are Nigerians celebrating today or lamenting as usual? Are we better off today than we were a year ago? Are the changes we have experienced within this one year positive or negative? Are there chances that we would have been better under former President Goodluck Jonathan? What is the hope that the next three years will be better for Nigerians?
Honestly, the ordinary Nigerian has not experienced any positive “Change” in his living conditions this past one year. Nearly all the promises made by the APC remain unattended to after a year of its administration. Nigerians are seriously wailing and weeping, as poverty, unemployment, inflation, power outage, crime, and ethnocentrism increase across the country. But this does not mean the situation would have been better under former President Jonathan.
However, the President Mohammadu Buhari led government needs to re-strategise as fast as possible, as the expectations of Nigerians are still very high.
Security wise, the APC government would have been a success considering several victories recorded by the Nigerian Military against the callous Boko Haram guerrillas, which include the rescue of one among the over 200 abducted Chibok girls and about 11,595 captives held hostage by the terrorist group as well as the prompt response of the government in putting a stop to the unrest that ensued at the South-east and South-south, as a result of Biafra sovereign State agitation.
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However, the inability of the government to tackle the rampaging Fulani herdsmen, who find pleasure slaughtering fellow countrymen across the nation for the protection of cattle and the emerging economic sabotage of oil installations by Niger Delta Avengers, whose agendas seem manipulated and selfish, has made Nigeria to maintain her unsecured position. Obviously, these situations need urgent attention by the Buhari led government if Nigeria must make any headway in terms of security.
Regarding corruption, we are aware before now that Nigeria is one of the most highly corrupt nations of the world. In 2014, Transparency International rated Nigeria as the 15th most corrupt nation in the world among 174 nations included in its “corruption index”. Today, Nigeria is making good improvement towards good governance, transparency and accountability, considering the anti-corruption war led by this administration, though some commentators have argued that the fight is one-sided. However, the life of the ordinary Nigerian will remain unaffected, until recovered funds are used judiciously to improve the standard of living.
As for the economy, the government will need to do beyond admonishing Nigerians to be hopeful. Factually, in a publication titled “From world 3rd fastest growing economy, Nigeria drops out of Top 15 in Africa”, published by Vanguard on April 26, 2016, it was revealed that the 2016 GDP of our nation will be lowest since 1999. This has exposed how weak the policies of the current economic team are.
Consequently, Nigerians are suffering increased unemployment rate, alarming inflation which is also a resultant effect of the weakening naira alongside hike in fuel price, and worsening living conditions. President Buhari needs to source for professional economists, who can set up result oriented policies, so as to alleviate the suffering of citizens across the nation.
As for the Oil sector, the price of Premium Motor Spirit otherwise known as petrol has gone up from N86.50 to N145 per litre, which is currently a major concern in the land. However, the removal of fuel subsidy is a total welcome development. It was most unreasonable for government to pay over N1trillion on a product that was unavailable for Nigerians to buy at the subsidised price of N86.50 while critical infrastructures suffer. In essence, the people were losing at both ends. Now petrol is suddenly available nationwide at a price that may soon begin to fall.
This is an improvement from the corrupt subsidy regime, but there is much left undone. While mindful of the fact that the immediate past President would have done poorer, I admonish the government to revamp our existing refineries, increase the minimum wage from 18,000 to at least N50,000, put in place social palliative programmes for the vulnerable and poor in the society, encourage investors in the power sector to serve optimally, create job opportunities, bring insecurity to a standstill, continue fiercely its fight against corruption, appoint credible youths and professionals to partake in governance, strictly monitor the implementation of the 2016 Appropriation Bill as well as promote national integration.
These little things are capable of making the three years ahead more fulfilling than the past 17 years of unfulfilled democratic promises.
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