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Growing poverty the Buhari way

Irecently had a “robust” exchange with a Buharist who was celebrating the so-called achievements of his cult hero, President Muhammadu Buhari.

This Buharist was quick to refer me to the recently released documentary that tried to showcase the achievements of a government that looks utterly confused about the challenges that have overwhelmed us as a nation.

He met a different viewpoint from the statistics I dished out to him to underscore the lowest ebb which this government has taken us. It is not in doubt that Nigeria is a beauty on paper, some kind of Eldorado, but very ugly and awkward in sight, some kind of unpalatable realities that present themselves in form of decayed road network, decrepit educational facilities, grandiose corruption at all levels and an epileptic power supply that puts a lie to all the so-called investment in that sector.

 

From over N500 naira to a dollar, to the astronomical rise in prices of staple food items, it is not out of place to pass the verdict that President Buhari is a failed leader, whose intervention in our political lives has brought more hardship to us than imagined. By now, seven years on, a General Muhammadu Buhari has not seen the end of insurgency?

Too bad. Under his leadership, insurgency has given birth to armed banditry, kidnapping and general insecurity. He does not know how to retool his underperforming cabinet. Even those who are sleeping on duty are hardly noticed. The cabinet members, many of whom are lazy appointees, have continued to enjoy the spoils of office.

 

Have you heard anything about water resources in recent times? What about Police Affairs Ministry? What about Special Duties Ministry? Have you heard anything about Youths Ministry? What about Agriculture Ministry? And the worse of them all is the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory.

Those Ministers are permanent bench warmers. Abuja roads are now contending with pot holes in very strategic areas as if there is no government in place. The Minister of Finance has not shown convincing understanding of public finance. She says smuggling is the reason why prices of rice have gone up, as if it is the responsibility of my father in the village to stop smuggling.

What we are now looking forward to is the shape that 2023 will take and what would be left of the country by the time President Buhari takes his exit. I went to Lugbe Market, Abuja on Saturday 13th November, to do my usual stock taking of prices of food items.

The high cost of items which affect the ordinary Nigerian out there is unpardonable. Malt drink that sold for N100 in 2015, now sells for N250.

A bottle of coke drink that sold for N50, now sells for N200. Buhari inherited cooking gas @ N150 per Kg but today it is N800.

A small cylinder of cooking gas that sold for N1, 700 now sells for N4, 500. He met a bag of cement at N1, 500 but now sells for N4000. A six-inch sized building block that sold for N50 in 2015, now sells for N270. A tube of toothpaste initially at N180 per one now goes for N550.

 

A match box that sold for N5 now sells for N50. A bottle of Pepsi was sold for N50 but now sells for N150. A can of sardine sold for N150 in 2015, but has sky-rocketed to N650 per one. A sachet of Maggi that sold for N150 before now sells for N600 depending on the brand – Knorr, Royco, Star, Mr. Chef or Ajinomoto. Ponmo, the hide and skin of cow, which used to be the cheapest part of the cow industry, has suddenly gone out of the reach of the ordinary folks.

 

A small portion that sold for N500 for three pieces, is now selling for N1000 for the same small portion of three pieces. In the automobile industry, imported cars have become prized items. Toyota Camry 2.4 litres engine capacity that sold for N800, 000 now sells for N2, 700.000. Toyota matrix that sold for N1, 500,000 now sells for N3, 200,000 depending on its cleanliness. Electricity tariff was at N7 per unit but now sells for an exorbitant N45 per unit.

A loaf of bread that sold for N200 now sells for N600. I saw a Josy Ajiboye’s cartoon in the mid-80s talking about increase in the cost of break from 10kobo to 70kobo when Buhari presided over Nigeria.

It is the same old story of hardship and lamentations. Whether young or old, President Buhari has not shown strong capacity to deliver leadership essentials. You cannot give what you don’t have.

A litre of fuel that sold for N87 now sells for N165. A litre of diesel that sold for N130 now sells for N330. Value Added Tax that was charged at 1% has now been increased to 7.5%.

 

Federal universities’ tuition fees hovered around N20, 000 and N40, 000 but have now assumed an all-time high of between N100k and N150k. A giant sized mattress that sold for N50k now sells for N150k and above. A 4-litre tin of vegetable oil that sold for N2000 now sells for N6, 500.

 

The exchange rate (naira to a dollar) at N165 in 2015 now sells for N540 as at this morning. A bag of rice sold for N8, 500k but now sells for N32, 000k. A bag of beans sold for N20, 000 but now sells for N100k.

A two-bedroom flat in mainland of Lagos that used to go for N180k is now N600k, yet minimum wage is still at a ridiculous N30k monthly. Road transport on Toyota Hiace Bus from Lagos to Abuja that used to be N2500-3500 now goes for N10, 500 – N13, 000.

Transport by air from Lagos to ABUJA economy class that used to go for N25k has now assumed a double rate at N50k for economy class.

 

These astronomical increases in the prices of food, goods and services are not rocket science but a function of bad leadership that cannot understand the behavioural pattern of market forces. While there is so much emphasis on growing our own economy and reduce the practice of over-dependence on imported goods and services, the insecurity in the system has further compounded our predicament.

 

The farmlands are literarily deserted. Kidnappers have taken over the forests. Herders have become kings of the forests. Grazing routes occupy a prime of place in Buhari’s presidency. In another two years from now, following Buhari’s progression, we may end up with food scarcity.

 

It is becoming obvious by the day that famine may set in if we are unable to find permanent and enduring solution to the insecurity that presently incubates our forests and farmlands. In 2015, I was one of those Nigerians who were optimistic about Buhari’s presidency. I was looking forward to seeing a different approach to handling governmental business.

The idea of governance that was espoused by those who knew Buhari better than some of us was such that Nigeria would become a mini-Dubai, a great construction site that was to re-launch the country to global reckoning.

 

I never thought in my faintest imagination, that Nigeria would be crippled on all fronts six years after. All the positive indices that were inherited in 2015 have all become negative indices. From agriculture to housing, from power to infrastructure. Nepotism has taken over. Double standard has become the order of the day.

 

From one dysfunctional conclave to another, the country is galloping downwards with its internal contradictions, to the pit of hell, enabled by favouritism and selective amnesia. The leadership is weak and often in the hands of inexperienced aides who occupy the central gamut of power play. Cronyism has doubled, while merit has given way for mediocrity to flourish. Nigerians wake up every day, unsure of its sustenance the next minute. Soldiers are being killed.

Officers are being mauled down, police officers who are working under very difficult circumstances are also being killed wantonly, yet our president, finds comfort in his global tour of duty, at a time that our foreign policy is on recess. Ghanaians now travel to Dubai without visa.

Nigerians now have to fly to Ghana first before they fly to Dubai, no thanks to very ridiculous overzealous egocentric stance of those who should earn us respect but throwing away our opportunities. Do we truly have a Minister for Aviation?

Do we?

President Buhari prefers to visit any foreign country than go to any state in Nigeria to assess the situation of things first hand. It is all about self-adulation, self-comfort, and nothing more.

 

Once the president is enjoying his roller-coaster adventures, every other thing can be placed on auto drive. That is the plight of a nation with tactless leadership. Too sickening to comprehend.

 

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