By: Okanga Agila
No doubt, Nigeria is undergoing one of its toughest times in her recent history. Just yesterday, Nigeria was clad with the garments of oil boom or excess petro-dollars resources. There was enough for everybody or sector of the economy to blossom.
The country had enough cash to pursue development projects, build its critical infrastructure to attract foreign investments and fortify its foreign reserve base. But its leaders and some privileged few in positions of authority wantonly fretted away these opportunities. Unfortunately, the country was suffocated with crass graft, greed of the ruling class laced in theft of the people’s commonwealth and an unusual interest in weird politicking and such extremities. Nigerians acted like people destined to perish the next day.
Today, Nigeria has been aggressively raped and dumped. There is poverty and misery in the land. There is hunger and thirst in the country. The citizens are unarguably going through the toughest of times. There is no enough money in the wallet to foot basic bills. There are frustrations in many families and homes.
But Nigerians themselves are living witnesses to the downward plunge of the country in the last few years. And in no way was this message absorbed, expressed and amplified more pungently than their desire for a change of government. Nigerians expressed it through the ballot in 2015 with the enthronement of the APC-led Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) in President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB).
His emergence symbolized hope for many and a renaissance in the leadership thought of the country. PMB in the last 20 months has tried to reaffix many of the wrongs he inherited in the country. But again, some dubious Nigerians or forces used to the old order of doing things have constituted themselves into stumbling blocks and saboteurs of the laudable initiatives, policies and programmes of the current administration.
It’s clear that a few dubious elite who prefer to see Nigeria a failed state, which is brought to its kneels in the midst of abundance, work assiduously day and night to frustrate every step to change the misfortunes of this great country. With paucity of funds and dwindling oil revenues, mounting problems and challenges neither recognize nor submit to such entanglements. The feeling is that these problems must be urgently remedied.
But every Nigerian can testify that President Buhari has instituted accountability and transparency in the conduct of government business, by the judicious application of meagre resources to critical areas to ensure the even distribution of social wealth to the poor masses of Nigeria. But this again is being stifled with artificial setbacks deliberately created by enemies of the state, who shout loudest on the streets to conceal their moral disfiguration.
The thieving elite loath the relive the PMB administration is extending to the people and work underground more as destructive spies, to portray his administration as failed. Nigerians must be aware that these cartels of criminally-minded Nigerians have melted into vulnerable and unsuspecting communities in the country to ferment unnecessary and senseless crises.
In effect, the sinewy resources accruing to the government which ought to have been channeled into critical sectors like power supply, education, agriculture, job creation and youth empowerment and so forth are wasted on the security of lives and property of law abiding Nigerians who have been unjustifiably brainwashed into brandishing swords and cudgels against themselves in a chilling exercise of bloodletting.
This is the self-inflicted dilemma Nigerians have found themselves. But President Buhari has always resolved like today, more than ever before, never to relent in his pursuit of the populist cause or policies on his promise to better the lot of Nigerians.
Apart from ensuring that no part of Nigeria is violently assailed and sized by hoodlums and other criminal gangs or terrorists; there are modest efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the ordinary, poor Nigerian masses. The N-Power job creation initiative to empower the teeming jobless youths in Nigeria and other social schemes for the elderly have started with beneficiaries gainfully engaged; the conscious and rewarding steps towards the diversification of the economy through agriculture with loans to farmers across Nigeria are praiseworthy steps.
Furthermore, the bail-out funds to states under the yoke of workers salary debts; the revival of construction sites with renewal of abandoned contracts and award of fresh ones are some of the measures in place, which are the lights of promise of a greater and prosperous nation President Buhari intends to bequeath to Nigerians. Also, funds have been set aside in the 2017 budget to advance loans to Nigerians interested in the development of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and similar businesses to stimulate capital inflow into the economy.
At the last count, local contractors were cumulatively owed contractual debts in excess of N1 trillion, which dates back to the last 10 years. The current regime intends to begin gradual evacuation of these debts with the 2017 budget, in order to inject life into the economy and ameliorate the present hardships faced by Nigerians. These are major pluses for the masses of Nigeria.
No Nigerian is in doubt about the deliberate frustration of the President Buhari’s regime by a cabal which has vowed never to allow him to succeed. Of course, Nigerians still recollect the National Assembly’s (NASS) refusal to grant President Buhari the power to secure the $29 billion loan, which would have speedily activated most of the social schemes and developed critical infrastructure in the country.
The suppression of the emergency powers Bill or economy stimulus Bill from the executive arm of government questions the readiness of Nigeria’s subordinate leadership to assist drive the needed change. These are just the few out of the several landmines strewn on the path of the good intentions of the Buhari administration.
The massive recovery of looted funds would have served as an alternative in closing the financial gaps in public expenditure and the deficits in budgeting. But a greater part of this looted wealth, which it’s domiciliary has already been identified is stashed abroad and requires procedures and processes to cause repatriation of this looted Nigerian wealth.
These processes would not come in a jiffy, as it would take some time to materialize. Back home, looters charged to court are held up in the judicial traffic, but it is hoped that these cases would terminate soon to enable Nigeria recoup its stolen wealth and channel resources to development.
Nowhere in the world has positive change come easily. It is resisted, attacked, frustrated and repressed by corrupted souls likely to be purged of such tendencies. Leaders who launch such changes pass through difficulties, blister nerves and cause tensions. But they eventually succeed with the active support and back-up of loyal and patriotic citizens, their only formidable strength.
That’s why President Buhari needs the support of the Nigerian masses, which he perceives as too sidelined, neglected and humiliated for too long. It is a battle of Buhari against the devious cabal for the sake of Nigerian masses.
It is therefore incumbent on all Nigerians to identify and support President Buhari to deliver Nigeria from this dubious cabal of sharks, who delight more in milking Nigeria. Buhari’s liberation of Nigeria is for the masses of Nigeria at the angst of these leadership hijackers and leeches on government. Therefore, Nigerians should wake-up from slumber, sleep with one of their eyes wide open to identify and shun the ploys they deploy to deceive them into mortgaging their future.
“No pain, no gain”, says one of these songsters. Nigerians will only appreciate President Buhari when the battle is over, and they see and feel how much change has come to their country and themselves.
So, PMB does not only need the strong ideological support of Nigeria, but also their unceasing prayers and commitment to the goals and aspirations of the great country they wish to dwell. Like President Buhari himself admitted, there are hard times, but it is a global phenomenon and experts are working round the clock to remedy it, much as he is making his own modest efforts back home.
Everyone should be optimistic that Nigeria is prepared to come out of this mess better, stronger and with a more secured future. In President Buhari, Nigerians have sighted a promising leader and brighter hope for a prosperous nation and no one should allow questionable elements to blur this vision.
Okanga writes from Agila, Benue State.