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Measuring Buhari’s Effect on Nigeria’s Socio-economic Life in 2016

By Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria.

As we begin a new year, we would like to thank every community worldwide for their fervent prayers for Nigeria in 2015. Their prayers produced General Muhammad Buhari as the current Nigeria’s President. It will be recalled that President Muhammad Buhari (PMB) is a recycled military dictator and a committed Muslim reputedly with a possible aggressive Islamic agenda, but God is using him to bring about much needed and very welcome changes. Already it appears to us that some of the biggest thieves are being arraigned before the courts, more responsible people are being entrusted with responsibility, and Boko Haram is losing ground and being downgraded. Very Sadly however, the Chibok girls are still in captivity, many more lives have been traumatised,  suicide bombing occurring anywhere and at any time by activity of same insurgents. Biafra agitators are possibly on the increase, fuel scarcity is the prevailing daily living, the national currency the naira is tumbling against important international currencies, unemployment for the youths remains too high and unbearable, unpaid worker’s salaries, inflation moving up and up.  There is a long way to go yet. Hence we plead that you do not relent in your prayers for our beloved country. Our focus is to examine the expectations from PMB and any significant effect his administration may have in our daily life, if any in 2016.

Also recall that his political party, the APC that sponsored his electioneering, and all the ministers he has appointed,  with or without portfolio, came on the slogan of change. The direction of their change will also be crucial in our forecast. The change slogan of PMB may have any of these outcomes;  (a) no change at all, just another election gimmick to get rid of an equally weak and corrupt opposition,  (b) forcing others and the opposition parties to change but those in leadership remaining unrepentant, unchanged, unconcerned,  (c) only PMB, his wife Aisha and a few others in government and society will buy the change phenomenon or (d) there is a significant positive change upon which to build a new nation for future generations. The society is already more traumatised after about seven full months of PMB on the seat of power. The promised employment has drifted to everyone queueing for small amount of petrol daily. Certainly that is not how will intend to change. Already we envisage that APC is not acting as one, and or not behaving as the ruling party because they still believe that the outgone PDP is still at their back. We notice a lot of slowness and inactivity, lack of a clear road map whereas the opposition is still controlling the news media and the weak economy.

Nigeria is a dynamic society who is expecting to be second to none, we expect everything to work, we expect signal for next action and next step, etc. Nigerians can be very impatient but they are excellent followers. If Nigerians are corrupt then it is because their leaders have been living in corruption all their lives,  otherwise they are excellent people and proud of their nation. The PMB phenomenon to be effective must run the race ahead of the general public engaging the general public in the direction of change. For example PMB going to jump start a rice production programme in the North west of Nigeria recently is in right direction. Whrreas wardrobe allowances, flashy lifestyle, unaccountability, life of total impunity and lawlessness will never indicate that the changing winds are in the horizon.

Government must decide who is the right spoke person and be consistent on pronouncements. We heard that PMB would keep fuel subsidy at one time, later Vice President was quoted that fuel price would drop, Minister of information blaming the general woes Nigerians are passing through cheaply on PDP, yet we have heard that subsidy may be removed and fuel to find its market value (which I support), electricity (which we don’t have or not enough) to cost more, etc.  Government officials should speak from results of deliberations and final agreements at resolution meetings and not personal desires or personal opinions. Campaigns are all over for APC for now. Only PDP and other parties we don’t hear about except during election announcements should continue to campaign to function in their roles as opposition parties. APC and PMB should be seeing performing rather than talking and speech giving only. Nigerians are excellent in speech writing but low in implementation and performance unless we change the trend.

The general public ought to understand that Nigeria cannot grow above itself. That is those who are in the national assembly across the land, the ministers and commissioners, those being investigated and those investigating them represent the average Nigerians. In the ongoing investigation, probe, leading to court charges,  all this episode represents the lifestyle of past Nigerian governments and how they used security votes and all other government monies. In order to create the New Nigeria from this ugly episode it may be necessary to have an independent, open and full scale national probe. APC cannot be expected to probe itself and what each successive PDP failed to do, by failing to probe a past administration,  is also wrong. We must support PMB in its attempt to start a new culture of accountability through public and open independent Public Probe Commission. If the ongoing probe should pull any APC government officials  down, so be it. The probe is a fundamental and essential part of the change concept.

In the coming year Nigeria society will continue to fight the old battle for doctrinal supremacy of faith and of religion, of ethnic groups and other interests. It is going to be a drama that will play itself into Nigeria politics and leadership struggling. In the struggle we should realise that there are many varieties of Muslims across Nigeria and a lot more varieties of the Christian faith. These are Abraham’s faiths in addition to Judaism not so pronounced here but existing. Sectarian differences amongst us are likely to flow out and possibly producing violence and lack of accommodation for each other. Yet we must resist all temptation and support out fighting men and women in uniform and make them proud.

For instance Nigerian should not be tempted to reduce the recent confrontation between Gen Buratai and his men and the El-Zakzaky leader as a “Sunni in uniform who is wielding a gun, confronted by a Shiite insisting on lack of regard for the state”. Incidentally Gen Buratai is a Muslim and El-Zakzaky also another brand of the same faith, but at different spectrum on the continuous. Suppose Gen Buratai has been from a Christian faith and did what he did? Hence we must support Gen Buratai and the position he took even when so many lives had been lost. I ran to the El-Zakzaky boys sometime 2014 coming from Sokoto to Abuja immediately after Funtua. They occupied the entire length of the road and reduced every vehicle (about 200 or more vehicles of different sizes) to their trekking speed.  You dare not over take them. I was in a  Sokoto State Government bus with others in that occasion. It was a new thing to me. But we must blame previous Nigeria governments who have only one side of the religious sentiment. The battle is always going to be in the hearts of the men on all sides. It could be regarded as theological, ideological as well as indoctrination battle. Nonetheless Nigerians must be made to feel part of the government, one whose votes count, who can express self freely and associate as desired. President Muhammad Buhari must factor the average Nigerians in his efforts to run an inclusive governance and making rooms for their independent participation in the economic life of the nation.

Prof R. A. Ipinyomi


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