The suffering among the masses is sad and very disheartening. Today, the poverty level in Nigeria is something that can be felt because of the unplanned, unstructured removal of fuel subsidy. The removal without proper planning and proper arrangement to cushion the effect on the masses caused all these problems. When you look at the cost of transportation and what transportation adds to the cost of food prices in the market and how it affects the ordinary worker that earns N30,000 as minimum wage, or less than that, in most cases, you will know that these are directly digging deep into the pocket of the working class of Nigeria. The government didn’t know that transportation would skyrocket, and this transportation would affect the transport of food from Makurdi to Lagos, from Sokoto to Abuja, and these would affect the masses at the end of the consumer chain. So, it is painful that the government is insensitive; this government is arrogantly ignorant, and they are not accepting that they do not know what to do.
They are not calling for a national economic emergency meeting with stakeholders from the banking sector, the financial sector, stakeholders from rural communities, stakeholders from every other sector so that meetings can be done to look at how to quickly find solutions to the current hardship in the land. This current hardship is caused by the ineptitude of the current government. The APC generally has failed, and they are insensitive.
I wouldn’t tell you a lie; the opposition parties have to do more. Politics is not just about press statements. There has to be a physical presence of human protest, knowing full well that there is displeasure with what this government has done. Just like what happened in Minna recently, the opposition party must be ready to mobilise, must be ready to organise themselves, and must be ready to go on the streets to demand that this government sits up and that this government must be responsible and responsive to the current agitation by Nigerians. Nigerians are seriously suffering. So, I think it is necessary. Yes, the opposition parties are speaking. They are speaking, but we must now match our words with action and push.
Nigerians are the number one critical stakeholder in this process. There is nowhere in the world where docility does not keep people in government stable. What keeps a government responsible? What makes a government responsive? What makes a government listen to the people? It is the ability of the people to protest bad leadership; to openly protest and physically protest bad leadership peacefully and responsibly; to request that the government must sit up.
Nigerians must stop being docile; Nigeria must stop resigning to fate, and Nigerians must stop saying, ‘No, it will be better’. It will not be better if we do not make demands. We cannot just be satisfied with wishful thinking that Nigeria will be better with this group of leaders. This group of leaders are selfish, self-centred, and do not know what to do and they are not willing to give way to those who know what to do. The failure of this country and the setbacks that this country witnessed today are largely due to the inactive participation of Nigerians in the governance of their states.
It is a fact that when a government sees that people are not worried, they will continue to manipulate the process; they will continue to manipulate the whole system and say they will wait for four years for another election.
Nigeria is back to Buhari’s era because if you listen to Adebayo Shittu, former Minister of Communication under former President Muhammadu Buhari, he said Buhari could give you an assignment and for four years, he might not even ask you about the assignment. Two, Buhari did not respect the law. Buhari wasn’t writing to the National Assembly to seek approval to travel abroad or informing them.
Buhari would stay overseas for weeks. Look at the countries that President Bola Tinubu has visited since May 29, in less than eight months. Look at how many times he has travelled. What are the direct foreign investments that he has attracted? Just like Buhari, none.
So, you will find out that Buhari spent most of his time in the UK. Today, we now have a President who spends all his time in France. He will not tell us the details of his journey. He’s not a private individual. He’s a public individual spending public resources, using public utilities, and living on public security. So, how will he continue to live a private life in a public status? We cannot autopilot this nation and expect it to work. We cannot run this country remotely and expect it to work. Tinubu shouldn’t allow Nigerians remember the Buhari days for good and begin to compare him with the former president.
It is disheartening and painful that we are experiencing these Buhari’s 2.0 governance system. It is disheartening that we must now start to take it seriously. Most painful is that we have a National Assembly that does not have enough courage, a National Assembly that does not have the necessary courage to ask questions and demand that the right thing be done by the President.
That’s why I am telling you that these people are not prepared to govern. These people are prepared for press conferences and propaganda. That’s why the President said last time that they would no longer govern with propaganda, but they can’t change. It is in their DNA; it is in their nature to govern with propaganda. They can’t change. If you are going to get into government, you’re supposed to hit the ground running from day one because you know what you want to do in government. You have a manifesto; you have the programmes and plans on how to run your security architecture. You have programmes or plans on how to deploy those who are supposed to be in charge of various security units to make sure that we get results.
As we talk, Nigerians in the Federal Capital Territory are no longer safe. People are living in fear. So, the general view of the people is that this current government is not ready; the current government is not interested in making sure that Nigeria works for our people because if they are ready, they are not supposed to wait until they get into government before they start to know what to do. They are supposed to know what to do from their intention to run, to whatever promises they’ve made on the campaign ground. So, these are the major contributors to what people are seeing today. The government that came into power did not have any new security architecture to bring to the table. It is just running on the same old failed system. They didn’t know what to do; they came unprepared.
The security of lives and property is the primary purpose of governance that has been enshrined in section 14 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But this APC-led Federal Government has also failed in this aspect. Without protection, without security, you can’t even get welfare because as we speak today, people can’t go to farm anymore, in our rural communities; there are bandits and kidnappers in the forests.
What will it take for the Nigerian Armed Forces, which I so much believe in, to wipe out these forests of ours and bring all these people out? It is because there is no leadership; there is no support for the Armed Forces and no remuneration, and welfare is not even important to those in government. That is where the problem lies; where people travel abroad and leave governance behind to go and fend for themselves and then go and use public resources to do whatever they like. That is why security is not working.
Promising young lives are being lost in a very gruesome manner through the hands of these evil men who continue to make outrageous and near-impossible demands before the release of their captives, and then you tell me there is a government in place; a government that cannot protect lives and property. The framers of our constitution were very intelligent people and they said it because they knew that you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand. This is because, without security, you can’t have prosperity.
There is no security for farmers, and if there is no security for farmers, there will not be prosperity in the farming industry. The agro-business will suffer, and if the agro-business suffers, the food that gets to the table of the common man will become more expensive.
The Federal Government is not Lagos, because Lagos can survive under a functioning and properly placed Federal Government to provide security for Lagos. But if you say you have governed Lagos and you feel that is enough to govern the country without having proper stakeholders meetings, without calling elders from every zone to ask them what can be done, without making sure that the Nigeria security architecture is redesigned by those who have heard it before and interacting with (retired) Generals, then how do you want to secure lives and property?
I don’t see the actions they have taken. For relocating some parts of the office of the CBN to Lagos? I do not see that as an emergency decision. The emergency decision they would have taken that I will take seriously is when the President stops being the Minister of Petroleum, when we know the exact amount of the crude oil that we pump daily when they put a flow meter on it. Every country that produces oil has a flow meter on their pipeline where they will know how many barrels of crude pass through those pipelines and whenever that pipeline has been affected by bunkering.
What we are saying is that the government should know what to do; the government must do an impact assessment, and the government must look at what will be the negative effect or positive effects of these decisions before taking them.
This government has pushed our people into more poverty than ever in the history of our country, and nobody will tell us not to say it because it is our right to speak to them; it is our right to question them, and it is our right to tell them that enough is enough and the government must wake up and make sure that whatever that must be done immediately to soften the lives of the people and reduce the hardship is done. The hardship is even in the air. You can perceive it. I think there is a problem with this government. This government is not ready to do what should be done; they are only ready to do as they feel should be done but that is not the right thing.
For us, we will continue to send recommendations to the people in government and give them proposals on how things will work properly. But the opposition will not go to bed to sleep with those in government who are mismanaging our common resources. There are a lot of avenues, there is an open letter, open advice, documentation of what we have that we have been telling them and they can pick from that and use it. It is not hidden. We talked about how to make sure that the corruption in the offshore and downstream sectors is taken care of. We talked about how to make sure that the NNPC is truly independent, and that the President should remove his hands.
We talked about how to make sure that those who are protecting us, who are the military personnel; their welfare should be number one. Those who work in NNPC, at CBN should not be better placed to earn a better life than those who risk their lives to die for this country. This is the advice we are going to give from the sidelines because the opposition must be seen to be carrying out the function of opposition. The opposition should in no time be seen in bed or romancing with those who are determined to destroy our country.
They have not shown in good faith that they are doing anything to change the lives of our people for good. If they do that and there are steps towards making sure that Nigeria works for all, then we can now collectively say we will discuss. But for now, what is on the ground is not enough for us to wake up and say there will be a discussion. It is for the people to continue to resist the anti-people’s policy and stand for themselves, and ask that these anti-people’s policies be reversed to cushion the negative effect that has been brought upon our people.
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