…. Says President’s Claim On A Prosperous Nigeria Belies Reality
The Pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, has described President Muhammadu Buhari’s gloating on infrastructure his administration provided for Nigeria as another indication that those in the corridors of power do not seem to be in touch with the present reality in the country.
It would be recalled that President Buhari on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, said that if not for the intervention of his administration especially on rail and road projects, “people, especially those from the South-West, could have been trekking from Lagos to Ibadan”.
The President stated this when he received in audience a delegation from Kaduna State, led by the Emir of Zazzau, Ahmed Bamalli, and the state’s Deputy Governor, Hadiza Balarabe, at the State House, Abuja.
Acknowledging the primacy of road, rail and power in the growth of a business or country, President said that this was why his administration focused on the development of infrastructure. He then pointed to Abuja-Kaduna and Ibadan-Lagos lines.
In his words, “The people from South West can tell better because between Lagos and Ibadan by now, if we hadn’t done what we did, people would have been trekking because the road was not there, the rail was not there and there was so much insecurity.”
Taking the president up on this claim, Afenifere said that although the resuscitation of Lagos-Ibadan railway was appreciated, it is a height of an unpardonable exaggeration to say that without it people in the South West would have been trekking.
In a release signed by the national publicity secretary of the organization, Comrade Jare Ajayi, Afenifere submitted that the number of people using the rail transport is very small, so small compared with people using the road that not many felt the impact when it was not available. “In any case, assuming without conceding that the rail transport is so significant in the life of the people as painted by Mr. President, what about several other routes in the South West that have no rail system. So, why has the government not provided the rail transport in all these areas so that people would not have to trek? And on the road that the President lamented its absence, whose responsibility is it to provide the road; is it not the government?
Also recalling the President’s speech at the 6th Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) Summit in Doha, Qatar, on the same Tuesday where he was represented by Chief Timipre Sylva, Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Ajayi said that Nigerians are hardly impressed by the President’s disclosure that his administration is now “embarking on different initiatives, projects, and policies to enhance the performance of the oil and gas sector”. Why is the administration just embarking on these initiatives when it has just about 14 months left in office?”
If the government truly believes in the pivotal roles oil and gas play in the lives and economy of the people, why should the prices of these commodities be all-time high now? Why are the refineries not working? Why not license modular refinery operators so that the commodities can be widely available? The reality on ground forces one to doubt the sincerity of the administration in its policies, vision and claims.
Afenifere spokesman added that the declaration by President Buhari that by the time he is leaving office in 2023, he will be “…leaving a legacy for a united, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria” also flies in the face of the present reality going by the rate of inflation, rate of unemployment, the level of mistrust and ethnic clashes not to talk of the unprecedented insecurity being experienced in various parts of the country now. How can we describe Nigeria as ‘prosperous when 74 per cent of its earnings go into debt servicing, electricity supply is less than six hours in a day, new businesses are not springing up and cost of living is rising daily?’
President Buhari had affirmed his intention to leave a prosperous Nigeria for his successor while speaking at a dinner for the 2022 Committee of Business, Political, Media and Civil Society leaders in Abuja recently. He went further to say that his successor will inherit “a strong, repositioned agriculture-led, diversified home-grown economy, stable democracy and revamped armed and security forces.”
But to Afenifere, with the shrinking economy, comatose agricultural practices (due largely to terrorists’ activities and inchoate policies of government), low morale among security agencies and chaotic democratic dispensation in the land, the rosy picture being painted by Mr. President is very much invisible and is hard to believe.