•Plead he fights hunger too, not only corruption
•Past govt failed to save for rainy day—FG
•Says genuine effort being made to revamp economy
By Chidi Nkwopara, Luka Binniyat, Samuel Oyadongha, Jimitota Onoyume, Peter Duru, Daud Olatunji, Suzan Edeh, Francis Igata Abudulsalam Muhammad
In the twilight of the Goodluck Jonathan-led Peoples Democratic Party administration, Nigerians lamented that they had never had it that bad. The challenges confronting them appeared insurmountable. There was pervasive corruption that threatened to sweep away the entire nation. Insurgents were having a field day in the north, declaring their own republic within the Federal Republic of Nigeria and annexing towns and villages while the government looked helpless. There was massive unemployment and the energy sector was in comatose with unending and seemingly impossible fuel and power shortages.
The generality of Nigerians, with the exception of those who were directly benefiting from the government of the day were totally disillusioned. They cried for change and yearned for a messiah that would restore sanity in the land.
When the former military ruler, General Muhammadu Buhari therefore emerged the presidential candidate of the then opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, there was wild jubilation in many parts of the country.
For someone who hated corruption with a passion, Buhari was seen as the only person who could fight corruption to a standstill. He was known for his fight against indiscipline when he was military head of state.
With his large following and his pedigree, his victory at the presidential polls in April 2015 was not a surprise. He had tremendous goodwill both at home and abroad. Alluding to this in his inaugural speech on May 29 2015, President Buhari said “my fellow Nigerians I can not recall when Nigeria enjoyed so much goodwill abroad as now. The messages I received from East and West, from powerful and small countries are indicative of international expectations on us. At home the newly elected government is basking in a reservoir of goodwill and high expectations”.
To whom much is given, much is therefore expected. Nigerians expected President Muhammadu Buhari to hit the ground running. The president himself promised to tackle the challenges head on. “Nigerians will not regret that they have entrusted national responsibility to us. We must not succumb to hopelessness and defeatism. We can fix our problems”, Buhari declared in his inaugural speech.
One year after assuming office however, Nigerians have expressed total disappointment in his administration. They are agonising that they have not felt the desired change they voted for in President Buhari. Great efforts have been made to curtail insurgency and the government deserves huge commendation for that. The fight against corruption is well appreciated but it appears targeted at politicians only as the customs, the police, the civil servants are still corrupt. It is still business as usual in so many sectors.
There is a groundswell of criticisms of the government’s response to the economic crisis which led to increase in prices, growing unemployment, job losses, pay cuts and owed salaries. Even President Mohammadu Buhari’s ardent supporters like fiery Catholic Priest, Ejike Mbaka are commending him for the fight against corruption but accusing him of not equally responding to an economic emergency that has left many families struggling or unable to feed. Mbaka, in a sermon to his congregation on July 23, said “hunger is everywhere.
As the president is fighting corruption, some of us are praying that he will equally fight hunger. The landlords are crying, tenants are lamenting. Sellers are crying, buyers are lamenting. Many students are being rusticated from school because they can’t pay school fees. Proprietors are distressed. Many companies are winding up. The economy is hard”.
Nigerians across the country agree with the Catholic Priest who however maintains that the blame of today’s condition should go to the Jonathan administration. Nigerians are now saying that what they are experiencing now is not the CHANGE they bargained for, that they have been deceived by the APC government that led them out of the biblical Egypt and the government has now abandoned them in the wilderness to die of hunger and misery. We sought the views of many Nigerians especially the commoners. And their common saying is that the Buhari CHANGE has not brought the expected change but gloom.
Salisu Saidu, bricklayer, Kaduna state
“I used to make about N1,500 to N2000 everyday I went out to site, and there was plenty of work up to 2015. We thought we were suffering even at that time and I was a strong supporter of APC. Today, I cannot believe what I am going through. I am a Muslim, my religion forbids lies. The two men I supported, Muhammadu Buhari and Nasir el-Rufai were supposed to abide by this rule.
But, I can tell you that it is unfortunate that they have not tell us the truth. For the past one month, I have got only four jobs and the pay was below N1,500. People are not building anymore and prices of foodstuff are getting out of hand. It is very sad, that Muslims would be like this. I had to argue with my Iman the other day, when he kept saying that we should be patient and I asked ‘should we be patient until we die?’
Idris Makama, butcher, modern market, Kaduna state
“I am very sure that baba Buhari means well for this country. Yes, there is suffering, no doubt, because even in my business you can see that. The only problem Baba has is that he has allowed very wicked people who were formerly in the PDP to close his eyes. But, if you look at the way he is arresting those who stole our money, you will know that there is hope for this country. I’m sure that things will improve. Bad aides and former PDP members in APC today are the problem, not Buhari. I expect him to sack them and bring people who have the genuine love of Nigerians.”
Shegun Akinola, Barber, Waff road, Kaduna state
“Look, Buhari did not go to school. There is no man with simple education that will not be able to know that you cannot just give appointments to your brothers and friends in a country of 170 million people in 36 states. That is why he is not able to understand simple advice on how the economy works. He thinks everything is by force. As a graduate, I have been living fairly well in this barbing business, because of my location and because people came here not only to barb, but to also buy clippers and perfumes here.
But since these people came to power, I’m now regretting not having a formal job. Patronage has dropped badly, and my wife is worried that we may not be able to pay our rent this year. They say he is fighting corruption. Let him fight hunger first, let him provide security too. Let him stop selection in fighting corruption, let him do something about the value of the Naira, jobs etc. Everyday prices of things keep going up and there is even no money to buy them. I’m very angry, sir.”
Hassana Awolu, Food vendor, Kano road, Kaduna state
“I don’t like talking about Baba Buhari, because if you are not careful people will insult you anyhow. There was a day that I quarrelled with my husband and he almost beat me up in the presence of the children. He was one of those who campaigned for Buhari, but now he hates to hear that name. As for me, I love Buhari. He is a honest man and he does not care about the things of this world.
We are suffering now because Goodluck Jonathan left so many problems for this honest old man, and he did not know that the problem is this much. We should be praying for him and not abusing and cursing him. At the beginning we shall suffer, but in the end we shall enjoy. I don’t want to lose hope on him. Because, if Baba Buhari is not there, I don’t see anyone that is good enough for this country. The change will surely come”.
Grace Onyebuchi, food and drinks vendor, Kakuri, Kaduna state
“I beg sir, don’t ask any question about that man. Are you not in this country to see what is going on? Since my husband died five years ago, this business of selling drinks has been feeding me and my children. I used to have five girls working here, apart from the woman who prepares my pepper soup in the afternoon and leaves. I paid each one of them, N10,000 every month, apart from giving them transport money.
It was from this business that I completed the house which my husband started before he died in 2014. But now I can barely pay two girls, and I have to stop the woman from coming. I now prepare the pepper soup myself. From selling about 50 cartons of assorted drinks everyday, I now manage to sell five, and many people are owing me.
I could sell 50 plates of pepper soup, Nkwobi, Goat Head before but now if I sell ten plates, then it is a good day. Governor El-Rufai is not paying workers, business is not moving for many people and food is too costly. Is it not when you eat that you can afford to drink? If things continue like this up till next year people will die like flies. I hate APC now”
Tabitha Markus, Trader, Sabo Tasha market, Kaduna state
“In 1984, I was nursing my four months old first baby, Kazah when Buhari and Idiagbon removed Shagari from power. I cannot ever remember being so hungry like in those days. We would queue for hours and days just to buy milk, rice and bread and there were soldiers flogging us. That year, people were stealing other people’s food while it was being cooked. I told these young boys shouting “change! Changi Changi!” that Buhari would bring hunger, but they would not listen. I can see another 1984 coming again. People are suffering. My shop is full of goods, I cannot sell, because people don’t have money. Please help us tell the president that people are dying of hunger.”
Dr. Ben Tantua, Teacher, Yenagoa, Bayelsa state
“The present slogan of Change is rather a situation of bad to worse economy. There is high inflation rate coupled with the exchange rate of Naira to the Dollar now fluctuating between 350 and 400 to one dollar. This clearly shows the kind of change we have, this change has no economic policy direction.”
Comrade Alagoa Morris, Niger Delta activist, Yenagoa, Bayelsa state
“What I have observed so far is that, the President has the zeal he had when he was a military head of State to tackle those things which have continued to embarrass Nigeria in the committee of nations. These include corruption, indiscipline and unethical behaviour in our individual and collective lives. His lack of confidence in the judiciary speaks volume, especially in his desire to tackle the hydra-headed monster called corruption.
While the above is the scenario, I wish to observe too that Buhari should know we are not sailing in a military era. He should endeavour to align his thoughts and actions with the ethos of democracy. And, paramount in this is respecting the Rule of Law in his actions. And any lopsided fight against corruption should be avoided, if he should get the goodwill of all Nigerians. In the light of the above, the fight against corruption should be total and, not shielding some as sacred cows.
Currently, I have not seen change in the fight against corruption as sacred cows exist. Targeting only members of the opposition party reeks of partiality and nepotism. Maybe, as we go on more will be seen, but for now; not much has come the way of Nigerians as change. The Road between Akwa Ibom and Cross Rivers States is in very deplorable state, the East/West Road is yet to be completed, NDDC is owed about N1 trillion and more. So, there is much more to convince Nigerians that real change is here. However,I hail him for raising hope in the UNeP related Cleanup and restoration of polluted Ogoniland;we hope the entire Niger Delta would be treated equally.”
Ego Agbenke, Business man, Yenagoa, Bayelsa state
I am an APC chieftain but I have not seen any change in this government because when former President Goodluck Jonathan was in power at least people were managing very well but with this government, things have changed. Prices of goods particularly foodstuff have sky rocketed, hunger is everywhere and people are suffering. We now buy rice for N19,000 and N20,00, but in the previous administration it was not as bad as this as we were buying rice for N9,000.
The difference and inflation level in this so called change government is too much. There is no electricity, no potable water while fuel and kerosene are now beyond the reach of the common man. The previous administration was managing the amnesty programme but now ex-militants are being owed four months stipend.
The government fight against corruption is okay but the corruption fight is not all encompassing. If we must fight corruption, there must be no sacred cows irrespective of party affiliation. Right now the fight against corruption is partisan, they only fight people from the other side. In our party APC, there are a lot of corrupt people but they are walking around free.”
Comrade John Bodebilayefa, Yenagoa, Bayelsa state
There is no change whatsoever. I see this government as a witch-hunting government. If you want to bring change, bring positive and not negative change. Now, life is difficult especially food, there is hunger in the land. We are in stagnation. President Buhari should review his economic policies and address the problem squarely. In this kind of change our democracy is endangered because there is no more rule of law. A situation where the government does not abide by the rule of law is pathetic. More so, the change should start from the presidency. He should cut down his lifestyle, reduce the presidential fleet etc.
Chinyere Chibuzor, Applicant, Yenagoa, Bayelsa state
From all angles this is not the change we expected. I don’t know where they got it wrong but the truth must be said that Nigerians are suffering. Buhari for me has good intentions for this country but he seems not to be getting it right. What Nigerians need is food on the table, steady electricity and low cost of living, but that is not the situation on the ground.
The government is trying in the area of terrorism and corruption, but in welfare and food sustenance Nigerians are suffering and complaining, unemployment is high. The government should sit up, Nigerians don’t want excuses from this government because they promised us heaven on earth and they must live up to their expectations.
Eric O. Agbo, civil servant, Makurdi, Benue state
The truth is that from the common man’s perspective, the so called change they promised was a fluke, because it was all premised on propaganda in order to dislodge the last administration. Since coming to office, the government has performed abysmally. Going by the present situation we have found ourselves it has become imperative for government to do a re-jig of its economic team in order to check the slide in the value of the Naira.
This government is killing the Naira with its policies which are essential to the stability of the economy and the prices of goods and service. Whether we like it or not Nigerians are going through the worst hardship we have ever witnessed since after the civil war and the earlier something is done the better for the government and Nigerians. There is no gainsaying that you can visibly see hunger and anger on the faces of 90 percent of Nigerians. For me, the so called change is nothing but a deceit.
Adamu James, motor mechanic, Makurdi, Benue state
This change for me is from good to bad. How can they promise to change our situation but what we have now is a sudden skyrocketing of prices of goods and services. Parents cannot pay the school fees of their children, people can hardly feed themselves and their families. It is as bad as that.
George Alechenu, human rights activist, Makurdi, Benue state
There is nothing like change, we are simply in chains because of Buhari’s lack on knowledge on how to run the economy. Buhari and his government have reneged on the promises they made to Nigerians. We are suffering and they don’t care. He promised to monitor the governors, he has not done that, because there is looting all over the states. Governors are refusing to pay salaries despite funds that accrue to the states. The so called corruption fight is unarguably one-sided. They should also probe the sources of the APC campaign funds, that is when we will take the government serious. This is obviously not the change Nigerians yearned for.
Terfa Answem, contractor, Makurdi, Benue state
We all know that the situation in the country at the moment is not palatable, and we also know that the government has no magic wand to fix the country, but we believe that it will get better. I believe that the government means well because no government will deliberately unleash hardship on its people, we all need to exercise patience, I see light at the end of the tunnel.
Mr Mayungbe, teacher, Abeokuta, Ogun state
It is a new development in the country in general, this particular change is a gradual process, and it’s a matter of time. Things have gone worse than we expected. This present situation is like water that is polluted for a while, and it will surely take much time before it gets cleaned. We just have to be patient for a better change.
Dauda Bamidele, Driver, Abeokuta, Ogun state
As a transporter, it’s really hard to drive around, even our passengers are not paying what we are asking them to pay. Likewise, the high cost of fuel. We just have to pray to God for better change in the country.
Timothy Odagbodo, Newspaper Vendor , Abeokuta, Ogun state
This change has really made positive and negative impacts, things are really changing as the slogan of APC. Mostly, the negative sides are the high cost goods. There is no money in the country and the economic crunch is crushing us. I don’t think our president has what it takes to boost the economy, he should set up a panel to tackle the problem
Abiola,Motor dealer, Abeokuta, Ogun state
The slogan of APC is change, so we have to change our way of doing things and our way of living. As a businessman, it has been tough since the beginning of the year, we just have to endure anything that comes our way. The change is really negatively affecting everyone from businessmen, to traders, civil servants and many others. Customers are not patronizing us like before, they say there is no money in the country. Government should please help us because we are suffering.
Prince Emma Anyanwu, Abeokuta, Ogun state
“The government of President Mohamadu Buhari is a failure. It was the biggest mistake Nigerians made to have voted him to power. It is difficult for anybody of my age to think that Nigeria made the right choice with President Buhari. Nigerians are sick and pained. They are hungry. The greatest mistake they made was to think that a man who had stayed out of governance for so long can come and change things. He made all promises yet we see that nothing serious has been done.
The excuses he is giving for failure are not tenable. He may have good intentions but unfortunately he has failed Nigerians because he made promises that he has not been able to fulfill. Nobody is happy now in Nigeria because of the hunger in the land. You don’t starve people and say you are fighting corruption. You need the people to fight corruption but since they are hungry they are also angry”
Uduak Abigel, Port Harcourt, Rivers state
“The change mantra of the Buhari led government simply means suffering. Change for me under this government is hardship, hunger and poverty”.
Timothy, bricklayer, Owerri Imo state
“Most people voted for the All Progressives Congress, APC, with the hope that things would be better. From the look of things, the APC has completely disappointed the masses. Cash has become a scarce commodity and since people no longer have expendable cash, most artisans have been thrown out of business.
Ikpechukwu, civil servant, Owerri, Imo state
“You can see what we are passing through in the hands of APC regime. Honestly, we were better off when the Peoples Democratic Party was in power. Honestly, nobody knows where we are heading to in this country”.
Madam Ngozi, Mbieri, Imo state
The suffering in the land is becoming unbearable and most unbelievable. If the Buhari administration is not inundating us with the blame game, it finds itself announcing mind bugling sums allegedly stolen by people who served the Dr. Goodluck Jonathan administration. Nobody has so far been found guilty, but we have continued to suffer”..
Mr Dauda Sani, information officer, Bauchi
The coming of Buhari government has ensured the safety of lives and property, especially since the appointment of the new service chiefs that yielded positive results. A lot of achievements have been recorded, especially in the area of security and we pray for a lasting peace in the country. To a large extent, we can now sleep with our two eyes closed”.
Malam Goge Muhammad, civil servant, Bauchi
The anti-graft policy of Buhari administration has reduced corruption that has eaten deep into the Nigerian economy, particularly during the previous administration. The war against corruption by the President Muhammadu Buhari government has yielded positive results, especially with recent corruption probes by the EFCC. These probes will serve as deterrent to government officials who may exhibit such tendencies”
Buba Mohammed, businessman, Bauchi
The government of President Buhari should be lauded for bringing an end to insurgency, corruption and oil theft in the Niger Delta. I am satisfied in the manner with which the present administration has empowered Nigerians to create job with establishment of new skill acquisition centres in the country.
Bin Usman Diyaulhaq, Student, Kano
So far, security is in place, and change has guaranteed peace of mind in an environment hitherto full of apprehension and tension.
Jamila Muhammad Sale, Student, Kano
I still have trust and faith in President Buhari’s government despite the trouble with the economy. I believe he remains the best choice for now.
Abdullatif Kassim, Artisan, Kano
Change is a healing process, I’m hopeful there will be light at the end of the tunnel, it’s just a matter of time.
Johnson Chukwuobasi,Businessman, Enugu
The change we have witnessed since this administration took over power has been a downward change which has not made any positive impact on our lives. For some of us who are businessmen,the high cost of Premium Motor Spirit,PMS,which sells for N145 per liter has affected the cost of running businesses without any corresponding gain. The epileptic power supply and high tariff have not helped matters either. Most businesses have closed shops as a result of incessant power outage. For an administration which took six months to constitute its cabinet,we expected a very tangible change for our good.
Danjuma Gambo, Human Rights Activist, Enugu
Before the inception of this administration,a bag of imported rice sold for N11,000 but now it sells for N20,000. Look at the exchange rate per dollar which stood at N197 per dollar when this administration came in. Now, a dollar goes for N396. Nigeria being an import dependent economy had to devalue the Naira under this administration which further plunged the nation into this economic woes. We cannot wait for Buhari to leave the seat. The government has shown its lack of economic direction which accounts for the present socio-economic challenge bedevilling the nation.
Nkechi Obasi, Entrepreneur, Enugu
The prevailing economic predicament plaguing the nation has stifled the growth of Small Medium Enterprises, SMEs. Access to loan facilities has become almost impossible. A country with a high rate of unemployment and which cannot encourage entrepreneurial growth is doomed. The inflation rate has soared to an all time high of 16.45 percent. This means that prices of commodities have tripled. This administration has not demonstrated any commitment towards addressing these economic problems and that is why there is strident agitation from various quarters for dismemberment from Nigeria.