It is not often that a government insider gives account of an administration’s successes and challenges so passionately and incisively as Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to the President, did about the Muhammadu Buhari administration in a piece published on the front page of THISDAY of August 28.
In the said piece, Kyari noted, rightly, that the Buhari administration has come under intense focus and scrutiny because of the expectations it raised among Nigerians and the international community. But he was quick to point out the irony embedded in that expectation, which is that some Nigerians appeared to have forgotten the situation of the country in 2015 when Buhari came to power.
Buhari inherited a country where violent extremists were carving out territories for themselves as if Nigeria had no army because money meant for arms purchase were shared to party men for political campaign. Billion-dollar contracts were awarded to phony companies and friends of the regime smiled to their banks with undeserved cash. Salaries, allowances and pension of workers were unpaid for years and oil, the country’s major export earner, was losing markets.
The situation worsened when oil price crashed in 2016 because the country had no cushion for it. In the boom years of oil from 2000-2015 when the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) was in power, very little was saved and almost nothing was invested. It was a country in dystopia and the citizens in despair.
This, according to Kyari, is why expectation of the Buhari administration was so high.
True, no incumbent has been so resoundingly rejected by the electorate the way the Goodluck Jonathan’s PDP administration was scorned. Buhari, who had ran three unsuccessful presidential campaigns, was seen by many as the messiah whose time had come.
But Buhari, in the opinion of Kyari, did not promise utopia. “President Buhari made three simple promises to Nigeria: to tackle insecurity; to promote economic diversification; and to challenge corruption.”
But even though he made “simple” promises, the solutions were not expected to be easy. As Kyari noted: “The answers are more complex, and it would be a mistake to look for easy solutions.“ There are no quick fixes for the Nigerian condition and to think or say otherwise is pure mischief. Change, real change as envisaged by this administration is tough and rough, and unpopular.
The Buhari administration faced a choice between status-quo and a new Nigeria of progress and development. It chose the path of reform and diversification of the economy, which in the short term could bring some economic hardship but in the long- term lead to prosperity for a larger segment of the population. Aside reform, the government is also in a head -on-collision with corruption, especially in public revenue and expenditure. Buhari had warned that if we do not kill corruption, it will eventually kill us.
If truth be told, only a tiny fraction of the population benefits from the huge corruption that had weighed this country down for years. It is this minority that is resisting the reforms of the Buhari administration. Kyari called them “vested interests” and a “minority that does not want change” because it wants to “hang on to undeserved privileges.” These are the people throwing blocks on the road to Nigeria’s prosperity.
But these are cowards who cannot openly admit their villainy and crime against their fatherland, but instead hide under the umbrella of rule of law, patriotism and democracy. They are the ones killing democracy and raising their hands and voices as victims. These are the politicians, retired generals and businessmen playing on the peoples’ distrust of government in Nigeria due to previous decades of bad governance. They are the ones who complain about the slow pace of government when indeed they are fighting to delay and distort the change.
They are the ones playing divisive politics by sponsoring fake news and propaganda on social media and issuing statement to condemn government. They are the ones instigating division and violence and blaming them on the government in a desperate effort to achieve regime change.
But despite the pain of misinformation and falsehood spewed by the “terrified” minority, Kyari is confident that majority of Nigerians appreciate the giant strides of the Buhari administration. Diversification into Agriculture and solid minerals is providing millions of jobs in rural areas of the country long neglected by a thieving ruling elite. It has also brought integrity back into oil sector governance as payment of cash calls has become a priority for government, unlike in the past when Nigeria was an unreliable trade partner.
On security, the government had decimated Boko Haram and reduced it to a terror group that sneaks into Borno State on lone suicide missions. No longer are they able to hold any territory within Nigeria’s border or invade communities to wreak havoc as happened in recent past. Indeed, anyone who lived in any of the states in the North East four years ago will appreciate the tremendous improvement in security achieved by our gallant troops.
Age-old tensions between farmers and herdsmen have been brought under control while long term strategies for sustainable livestock and agricultural policies are being implemented. Key transport arteries are being renewed after long years of neglect. Financing for the Second Niger Bridge is also in place. Same for the Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja -Lokoja high way which have become death traps. Work is already approaching 45 percent on all these projects. Railways promised Nigerians since the country returned to civil rule in 1999 are now up and running and part of promises kept by this administration.
It is amazing that all these are happening within three years of Buhari administration and at a time of high budget deficits. It says a lot about the character and spirit of the administration and its commitment to this country. This is why the enemies of the country are unhappy and are determined to stop the people’s momentum which this administration represents. This is the warning contained in Kyari’s piece.
“Transition is unsettling. It is in the nature of the journey that we do not to fully appreciate the destination until we reach it. But the deliverables are already there, and stacking up. Just because we have every right to be cautious of what our governments tell us does not mean we need to believe all the disingenuous or ill-informed messages we receive on our phones, often from anonymous forces with an agenda.
“Nigeria has reached a defining moment. We have come a long way. The old order is terrified and will employ all the old tricks and new ones to pretend that this is not the case, and that instead it is they who have the solutions, when all too often they have been the problem.”
– Roberts wrote from NYSC FCT Orientation Camp, Kubwa, Abuja.