Listening to commentaries on the radio, television, streets or reading opinions on the pages of the newspapers and magazines, any visitor to Nigeria would think the 16 months old administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has been such a woeful failure. While it may not have scored 100 per cent on its three cardinal programmes of security, war against corruption and employment generation, it is much too early to assess its achievements. The government’s inefficient handling of its publicity may be partially responsible for the perception but a lot of it is due to insincerity on the part of some Nigerians.
Most of the commentaries do not appreciate where the country is coming from and what must be done to reverse the damage caused by the erstwhile ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over a period of 16 years.
For instance, even though the deliberate devastation of the Nigerian Armed Forces by the Goodluck Jonathan administration through unconscionable corruption is now public knowledge, elements from that regime still accuse President Buhari of being slow in the war against terror in the northeast, lawless herdsmen in the north-central and militancy in the southeast and south-south. A fairer assessment would show that the accountability pledged and painstakingly put in place by President Buhari is paying dividends in terms of a more virile military that is slowly but surely winning the war against all outlaws. In less than one and a half years, the Nigerian military have been transformed from one on the run from the rag-tag Boko Haram to one that has almost completely run the murderous bandits out of the country. These are the same soldiers with the same budget (or even less on account of fallen revenues) but the difference was sincerity of purpose on the part of the leadership.
Also, among the insincere critics of the government are many Nigerians who claim that they voted for President Buhari to effect a change in their miserable conditions of life but are witnessing a deterioration instead. They cite the case of tariff increase in electricity, fuel price hike, dwindling value of the Naira and rising inflation rate as direct results of the administration’s “anti-people” policies. They conveniently forget how the previous administrations failed to utilise the opportunities offered by high crude oil prices to save for the rainy day and also invest in economic diversification projects that would have shifted the over-dependence on volatile oil revenues.
It is indubitable that the present administration gained nationwide acceptability on the basis of its change mantra. Nigerians are, therefore, right to expect positive concrete change in the way things were done previously. However, the President and his Federal Executive Council alone can never achieve much without the total contribution of other arms of government and indeed of all Nigerians. For instance, the president is on record to have lamented over the lackadaisical attitude of many in the legislative and judicial arms of government particularly in the war against corruption. Civil servants have similarly been indicted for attempting to thwart the effort to root out graft in the public service.
We believe that the list of those responsible for effecting positive change in Nigeria runs long and wide to cover everyone – artisans, entrepreneurs, politicians, public servants, professionals, princes and paupers alike. President Buhari is one mortal out of nearly 200 million Nigerians and he can never do everything singlehandedly. National development is a duty in which everyone has a share. The earlier we realise this and buckle up for the very hard work ahead the better for us and for coming generations.