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Nigeria: Why is Bad Luck Trailing Goodluck

By Olawale Rasheed

Amidst harsh economic condition, the one-year-old administration of president Muhammadu Buhari has been receiving hard knocks and praises from friends and foes alike. It has not been a bed of roses for either the administration or Nigerians.

With blame game still high in the political space, Nigerians are struggling to understand what is happening to the tough talking General and his team. There is a combination of what a friend called bad luck, error of judgement and past mismanagement. One is out of control, the other two are within the house.

Die hard loyalists are at ease commending positive strides of the Daura General so far while at the same time blaming deep inherited rot for the shortcomings if any that may have been recorded by the administration. Many of the points raised are real and convincing. If Nigeria has not achieved much in the last one year, it has at least stopped the fiscal drift and profligacy of the past.

Some old loyalists are however not happy. They cannot understand why things are not moving as positively as they had hoped and voted for. Indeed, some Buhari supporters had anticipated a magical transformation and when the change takes time to materialize, they develop cold feet. They are still loyal to the President even as they now agreed that their man is not a magician after all.

Still within the house, some are feeling left out. As factions exist within the ruling party, the old PDP group within is feeling the heat. Bukola Saraki is under pressure; Atiku Abubakar is facing his business empire; the old CPC are having field days.

That is not just the internal challenge -regional disparity in presidential patronage is manifesting. The southern wing of the ruling party is not happy. Increasingly, a perception of a northern mafia grabbing all the juicy positions is emerging. Yet, it is suffering in silence as nobody wants to be seen to be rocking the boat.

And there is the group of professionals in politics who out of principles overlooked perceived weak points of the President to back his presidential bid. They were the first to feel betrayed and because they don’t understand politics, they are the first to spill the beans, writing epistles encapsulating their sense of disappointment. They were quick to rock the boat.

There is also the latter days’ defectors to the ruling party. The political class is enmeshed in a culture of corrupted living. Hence the mass defections into the ruling party was necessitated by the allure of state largesse. That was however not forthcoming as there is simply no money to run the government to borrow the clause from the Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi. So the defectors are stucked in an ocean without fish.

There is the world of old Eastern Nigeria, the zone that prevailed throughout Jonathan reign. Dispossessed of state power, hounded in the anti-graft war and losing out in the commanding height of the economy, the anti-Buhari sing song was loudest from the zone. We don’t have to justify such position on account of performance; it is more about loss of state power.

The troubled opposition political parties are in good stead in their attacks on the president. At least, they have clear vindicating message- even when we stole so much, the economy was not this bad during our time. Fact is stealing has not and cannot become a virtue.

My main worry is the pain of ordinary Nigerians. Things are really hard for the poor. In the northern states, the situation is extremely bad with the easily affordable “tuwo shinkafa” becoming a luxury. The elite faced with cash crunch have cut back on their humanitarian largesse. The states cannot pay salary regularly   while a society dependent on public sector patronage now sees elected officials sneaking out of town.  The north is feeling squeezed out.

The south while also getting hurt badly is provided a cushioning effect by the traditional private sector presence across the southern states. Even at that, the economic crunch is biting hard.

But it has not all been bad. Many Nigerians are quick to affirm the President’s strength in the area of anti-corruption and security. A substantial number opined that what the president missed in the economy, he gained in tackling national security crisis and deepening corruption. What should be worrisome to those in power however is the increasing perception that failure on economic management can spell doom for an administration that rode to power on populist platform.

There must be positive turn of event on the economic side before long. The budget must be implemented in a way that alleviate the pain of Nigerians. Here, there is an emerging challenge. The Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun has just announced that paucity of fund may affect full implementation of the 2016 budget. While that is a statement of fact, it dampens the initial euphoria that newly signed budget will ease the pain of the people.

Why are Nigerians becoming worrisome about the administration? It is not lack of understanding of how the past is hampering the present. It is more about lack of clear and working policy alternative to address the growing challenges facing the nation. It is more about a perception of lack of presidential sensitivity to feelings of ethnic enclaves and religious interests. It is more about disappointment over re-emergence of state impunity.

All said, it is still safe to agree with many Nigerians that it is too early to judge the President. By midterm, the judge will surely be out. For now, it is fair to give the administration that grace of twelve months to clock midterm.


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