Why I Support A Protest Against The Nigerian Government

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Why I Support a Protest Against the Nigerian Government, By Femi Akinfolarin

Why I Support A Protest Against The Nigerian Government, By Femi Akinfolarin

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Mid-way through Mr. Buhari’s four-year tenure, I find myself now praying that he doesn’t get another term in 2019. It is obvious that his administration is slowly cementing its place in the annals of Nigerian history as a monumental flop. Twice. The two times he has been president have resulted in unbelievable and drastic increases in the misery index of citizens. In fact when one’s administration is compared unfavorably with the abysmal Jonathan administration, then it’s time to count your chips and fold.

This piece was written by Femi Akinfolarin. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.

Mr. Buhari came into office with a promise to rapidly improve the security situation in Nigeria by taking on and destroying the operational capability of the feared Boko Haram Islamist insurgents in the North-East, who had, at some point, taken over more than seven percent of the local government landmass of the country. He indeed succeeded in downgrading the insurgents, but while busy doing that, the scourge of muderous Fulani herdsmen spread rapidly across the country, with many states experiencing attacks as the cattle men felt that it was more profitable to chase farmers from their land than to peacefully cohabitate with them. Up to date, the president has done nothing to decisively deal with this recurrent concern. This morning, we read in the newspapers about attacks on people in Taraba, while Southern Kaduna has been torn apart by killings in the past year. There are no solutions to these issues in sight. Militant activities have surged in the Niger Delta dramatically, impacting the flow of crude oil through Escravos and other terminals. Electricity production has been adversely affected by the impact of the militancy on gas production and distribution to power plants. Crude oil production has dropped from the erstwhile 2.2 million barrels per day to 1.4 million barrels a day, significantly reducing forex inflow at a time the economy needs it most.

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The president, seen as personally clean, has been engulfed in a wave of corruption allegations sweeping across his inner circle in the past few months, and showing him as clearly incapable of dealing with this hydra headed monster, particularly in relation to those close to him. However, it’s the return of open corruption in the wider society that has become alarming. For example, a friend told me a story recently about our famed Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He had gone to visit a friend of his who had been arrested. On getting to the Okotie Eboh Road office of the Commission, he met security men at the entrance who informed him that he couldn’t enter because it wasn’t visiting time. On observing that other people were being allowed through, he went back, at which point the security men told him to ‘drop’ something. He parted with N2,000 and was allowed in. Once inside, he submitted the name of the person that he had come to see but observed that while other people were brought out, his own friend never appeared. When he engaged the EFCC official, he was told his friend was asleep and that the custom in the place was not to wake sleeping inmates, because it could prove traumatic being aroused from sleep like that. Monies changed hands again and the man was ‘woken up’ to attend to his visitor. All that happened within an institution at the very heart of the anti-corruption campaign! Another anecdote about the Nigerian prison system claims that at the Kirikiri Prisons, once an inmate has paid N65,000, he is moved to a special section where he can cook his own food, have access to Dstv, use a cell phone with data and voice capabilities, and also have access to a warden who can run errands to buy him food at the local mammy market. He can even send for kerosene in order to cook; right inside a maximum security prison! It is now obvious that these corrupt people were initially hiding at the outset of the administration, but have now become emboldened enough to come out of the woods; hence a reversion to status quo, once again.

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Another fatal flaw of the president is his inability to properly manage his economic team. As example, the two largest drivers of Foreign Direct Investment into Nigeria are the telecoms and oil and gas sectors. The flow of oil and gas investments into Nigeria has dried up primarily due to two reasons – the drop in the global market price of crude oil and the needless refusal to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill. Mr. Buhari’s inability to get the bill passed means that oil and gas companies in Nigeria are unwilling to make investment plans for new projects in Nigeria. And, new projects are what translate into an uptick of FDI (forex) into the economy. Two years in and the president is yet to do what really matters.

The budget is another area in which the president is falling short. Last year, we were assailed by a new term entering the governmental lexicon, called ‘budget padding’. The president swore to ensure it never happened again. Yet, he has failed. The new budget has seen a huge growth in the same ‘padding’. As instances: Sewage charges for Aso Rock has climbed from N6.1 million in 2016 to N52.8 million in 2017, without an increase in the number of occupants of the State House. An item called residential rent is also included in the State House budget and has risen from N27.7 million in 2016 to N77.5 million in 2017. Is Aso Rock being occupied on lease? Who is receiving the government’s rent payments?

The final failing of this current administration is the inability to communicate a clear and cohesive vision for the country, dealing with the economy and the national consciousness required to drive us forward to achieving our corporate destiny. When Mr. Buhari was spending so much time campaigning over the last 16 years, why was he campaigning? What did he seek to achieve? What is his idea of Nigeria, and where are his big and audacious plans for our country? Can he paint a picture of the Nigeria that needs to be attained in 2025 to its citizens? For example, if his ambition is that Nigeria becomes like Dubai in 2030, then he would have to paint the picture of what he intends to achieve, and how we will get through our currently economic stagnation to arrive there. Do we need to reduce the number of states in the country to save on costs? Are our federal legislators too many? Do we need to downsize on our expenditures?

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I consider the proposed protest in the country to be apt at this moment and fully support it. While there is the possibility of its being hijacked by miscreants and one is not largely sure of the motivations of the organisers, yet we need to send a strong reminder across to the government of Nigeria that they are not only failing but are obliged to work for us as their employers. They are the employees of every Femi, Chudi. Tomi, Danladi, etc. We put them in power and we have a minimum level of expectations from them with regards to the living standards we expect them to help us attain. So far they are failing us resoundingly and we cannot continue to suffer in silence.

Bring on the protest!

Femi Akinfolarin, a lawyer, writes from Lagos. Twitter: @femo520.

This piece was written by Femi Akinfolarin. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.

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