By Izuoma Ibe
One is expected to get a hundred naira airtime each time he or she purchases an airtime ticket from internet subscribers but it is fraudulent when the airtime ticket purchased for two hundred naira eventually credits the fellow’s account with one hundred naira. And it will be an insult to injury when the operator insists that one hundred naira was the amount the fellow subscribed for instead of two hundred.
I do not see any difference this analogy stands for with a publication credited to Garba Shehu, senior spokesperson to Nigeria president Muhammadu Buhari insisting that the economic hardship and herdsmen attacks across the country is the change Nigerians voted for. He had titled that article; ‘In Defense of President Buhari: Is This The Change We Voted For? Yes, It Is!’
Mr. Shehu, this is not the change we voted for. I know in your right frame of mind, without the influence of your office as the presidential spokesperson, you know the truth that this is not the change you also voted for. That is if you voted in real terms.
Firstly, I would love you to consider my response to your publication as I would try my best to focus on its contents and not you even as my anger wells up against you for making such a publication against Nigerians.
The PDP has been so painted as corrupt as it may not or have been ever since this current administration as led by president Muhammadu Buhari. Your article made same attribution when you wrote, “When they ask the question, is this the change we voted for, the critic forgets how far we have come from the scam-tainted years of the PDP rule.” But how would you live in a glass house and still throw stones, Mr. Shehu?
The people, I and your real conscience inclusive are against this administration for it has not done any much in showing the world that it is different from the government that it is painting in variety of ill-colours. Has it? No, it hasn’t! If it has, there wouldn’t be any reason for a government to keep its face away from corrupt practices across the nation as perpetrated by party loyalists.
Let me ask you Mr. Shehu, where are the list of the looters of Nigeria economy which Mr. President promised to make public? Was he advised not to bring it to the fore as it may have negative implications? What does that tell? It tells that the government is not in any way saying the truth; It tells that the government is not sure that it has the face to go against those it called corrupt. Is this not same with the former administration that boasted it knew those behind the 2011 Abuja bombing and never mentioned them? What is the difference?
What do you know about the budget padding as it is trending in the House of Representatives? What have you said for the presidency?
You said that President Buhari’s administration is unfairly criticized when you wrote, “Unfair criticism of the Buhari administration especially on account of escalating prices of foodstuff and the liberalization of the currency exchange needs to be challenged before it overshadows the commendable job the President has done in fighting terrorism as part of overall effort to secure the country, reducing corruption and yes, arresting the economic slide before it sinks the nation.” At some point, I am beginning to think that Aso Rock and its inhabitants are not part of Nigeria. If not that I have been there many times, I wouldn’t have thought otherwise.
The escalating prices of foodstuffs and the liberalization of the currency exchange notwithstanding, what is the fight against terrorism and how has the government reduced corruption and arresting the economy from sliding as you said? Those living in Aso Rock shouldn’t be unaware that there is yet to be due attention paid towards terrorism in Nigeria. And that this economy is a reflection of this current administration. Every sound mind knows that. Politics shouldn’t be mixed with this.
Mr. Shehu, there is nothing revealing about the efforts of the government in effectively attempting to quell Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. There has been none! Let me ask you, Shehu, what is today going on in Niger Delta? Are the military sent there to undergo training or to attack those perceived to be militants? If they are there for the later and were sent down there promptly as it was and they are stationed there, what is the current pressure put in place to ensure that the current resurrection of Boko Haram is handled?
How has the presidency concerted efforts towards securing the country is it by keeping mute at the growing attacks of people by herdsmen? Have you made a tangible statement as the spokesperson to the president in that regard? What did you say when a woman’s life was snatched from her in Kaduna state? Have you said anything with regards to the just murdered two in Enugu state? Are those not lives? Is it a boost to nationality that a citizen would be murdered in cold blood and the capital says nothing?
You boasted of the image of the president when you wrote; “Wherever they go these days, in London, Dubai, Beijing, Washington, New York or Tokyo, Nigerians get the good feeling of being asked the question, how is President Muhammadu Buhari?” Mr. Shehu, there are two things people get popular for. It is either good or bad. If the people of London, Dubai, Beijing, Washington, New York, or Tokyo are saying well of the president, that is because they hear his voice and not feeling the impact of his panning. Nigerians should ask same for such to be valid. Charity they say begins at home.
The president may have really spoken good words and made good promises in hope to do well in the future but the true fact remains that, what is on ground is in no way promising such. It doesn’t! It should have been promising if the presidency has been living up to its campaign promises. I know you are not unaware that the Abuja-Kaduna railway is the first and only tangible project that has been commissioned by this administration.
You said that the currency liberalization and deregulation of the petroleum product sale will make the president one of the best presidents till date. I will not contest it with you but would do so if it continues to yield negative results as it is today. But will commend you if it goes otherwise.
“There are many today who take for granted the declared victory over the Boko Haram terrorists, forgetting the reign of the bomber who made it almost impossible for regular attendance in Churches and Mosques in many of our cities, including the Federal Capital City, Abuja”.
“Victory over Boko Haram has brought peace not only to Nigeria but to the countries in the Lake Chad region.”
It is unclear what you intended to say in those lines as no Nigerian in the right senses will agree with you that there is calm in many cities, including the federal capital city, Abuja. If the message you wanted to convey is as it is in those lines, I wish to inform you that that is not true as many worshippers in the north attend churches and Mosques with their hands in their chests as they do not know what fate hold for them, it may not be in the hands of the bomber you attributed but in the hands of some few who claim to be part of a religious sect, who would come attacking them with clubs and machete without the spokesperson to the president saying anything to that regard.
With regards to global rise and fall in oil prices which is today used as panacea for leadership success or failure, I wish to ask you, Mr. Shehu, what was the cost of oil in the reigns of Obasanjo compared to Jonathan’s regime? What was the allocation from Abuja to the states? Was Obasanjo not the minister of petroleum as President Buhari? The states were still able to carry out their duties. If the oil price has fallen and the government has removed the oil subsidy which now earns it 2 trillion naira annually, wouldn’t that balance it? what is the total of 2016 budget? How much has been saved. What figure was the reserve deposit? How much is there now? How much has been borrowed to run the government? How much was the country’s debt?
Much as the country depends on oil as a major means of revenue generation and there is a drop on its price, the government has no reason not to roll its selves higher in order to diversify the economy. But, in diversifying this economy, I don’t think that focusing on Agriculture in the North means diversification but the encouraging of small scale industries across the country. Some citizens are not meant to be neglected in such an exercise as diversification involves humans who would contribute immeasurably.
Giving attention to only a sector at the detriment of others will also have negative effect on the nation’s economy in the future.
You said the country inherited massive technological inventions from Biafra, yet failed to take it forward. “Every crisis, it is said, is an opportunity. Not so in Nigeria. This is a country that inherited massive technological inventions from Biafra, yet failed to take it forward. We must not lose this opportunity to diversify the economy and our foreign earnings presented by the present oil crisis”.
I don’t think Nigeria has learnt anything with regards to human development. Though this is the most shocking statement or revelation from your articles, I wish to inform you that the government which you represent is not innocent of abandoning those technological inventions.
If you have an invention and you are not encouraged to develop it, will it thrive? It won’t! Well, I wouldn’t get into that but would live you with the saying that he who holds one to the ground is still holding himself to the ground.
Ibe, a Sociologist and from Port Harcourt, email@example.com