By Bolanle Bolawole
President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, retired General Muhammadu Buhari, was quoted as saying in far-away Washington DC, United States of America, that he has done his level best for Nigeria! Can you imagine that! And can you beat it! It would appear that Nigerian leaders always need to “japa” to far-away countries to make statements that are better told to the Marines! Hear what Buhari was reported to have said: “I have done my best for Nigeria, says Buhari in Washington. President Muhammadu Buhari says he has done his best for Nigeria. According to a statement by Garba Shehu, presidential spokesperson, Buhari spoke in Washington, USA while meeting with Al-Mahfoudh Bin Bayyah, secretary-general of the Abu Dhabi Forum, and Bob Roberts, his deputy. ’We are big in size and population, facing many challenges but in many areas we are trying. In seven-and-a-half years, I have done my best’, Buhari was quoted as saying. Buhari said solving the problems affecting youths is the priority of the government as they are the country’s promise for a better future.
“The president also noted the need to raise generations of youths devoid of religious extremism and bigotry. He urged the group to continue to target the young people ‘who are the promise of the future. Your work is very important in helping especially the youth to understand one another and, at the same time, to be proud of their heritage’, he said. ‘This great initiative by you will help future generations to plan well and live together in peace. On our part, we’ll continue to solve our problems, especially as they relate to the youths’. On his part, Bin Bayyah said the visit was to invite Buhari to attend an award conferment on him in recognition of his achievements in promoting peace and security. He said the conferment is in line with the foundation’s work in fighting religious extremism, promoting peaceful coexistence and dialogue amongst all religions”
Does it not amaze you that Buhari said he has given his very best to Nigerians? Tell me in what areas – mention just one! As a two-star Army general, former military Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Buhari boasted, and everyone believed him, that he would end Boko Haram insurgency in a matter of months. Instead, insecurity, which was limited to the North East and to Boko Haram, has since spread to envelope all parts of the country, with new non-state actors more devilish than Boko Haram joining the fray. Now we have Fulani herdsmen, Fulani bandits, all manner of sundry criminals like kidnappers, cultists, arsonists running riot all over the place with Buhari unable to tame them. Non-state actors have boxed the State into a corner, such that Nigeria today is described by many as a failed state. The situation was not as bad as this when Jonathan, a “bloody civilian”, was the president. Now, nowhere is safe and no one is safe. If the bandits can threaten to kidnap Buhari himself, then, what are we talking about? No means of transportation is safe, be it vehicular, train or air! Road transportation has become a nightmare. Trains have been hijacked and airports attacked. Even high brow military fortresses have been demystified by insurgents. Yet, Buhari said he has given us his best!
Buhari made the fight against corruption one of the pillars of his three-point agenda – and we believed him. We thought he was a no-nonsense, forthright, and credible leader. We were misled by his short spell in office as military dictator (1983 – 1985) to think he was a safe pair of hands. How mistaken! Comparing corruption under former President Goodluck Jonathan with corruption under Buhari is like comparing sleep with death. At no time in the history of this country has any government exhibited incompetence in the fight against corruption as Buhari; yet, declaring false victory over the monster as Buhari’s administration has repeatedly done beggars belief! Year-in, year-out, the country has slipped further down the pecking order on Transparency International’s corruption index. Brazen oil theft under the very nose of Buhari, who continues to double as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, beggars belief. For a man who, as presidential candidate, pilloried his predecessor ceaselessly with allegations that fuel subsidy was a scam, the humongous amount that goes for the same fuel subsidy under Buhari also beggars belief.
Should we talk of the humongous debt overhang that Buhari has pushed this country into, with nothing commensurate to show for it? Should we also talk of the debt servicing obligation that is already choking the economy and, by extension, Nigerians to death? The Naira is fast becoming worthless, at one time exchanging at over N800 to the US dollar. Foodstuff prices are fast slipping out of the reach of most Nigerians. Cost of living, cost of essential commodities and services has more than tripled. Yet, salaries have stagnated. Jobs are not available. More and more of those in employment are being laid off. Industries and businesses are relocating from Nigeria because the environment is no longer business-friendly. Epileptic power supply is a nightmare. In eight years Buhari has not built just one refinery. So, we import fuel and other petroleum products. The cost of these essential drivers of the economy has shut through the roof. Unemployment is at an all-time high. Strife and social tension is everywhere prevalent. Nigerians are voting with their legs in droves. The new but sad phenomenon is called “japa”, which means “cut and run”.
Our hospitals are now desolate because doctors and other health workers have “japa” to other lands and are still doing so in droves. Our institutions of higher learning – the universities especially – are also desolate as teachers and workers are running away to greener pastures and saner climes. Tell me one area where Buhari has excelled? If that is too much to ask, tell me one area where things did not deteriorate under him! Like I said before, all Buhari touched, he ruined! But, perhaps the “Oga Pata-pata” of the havoc Buhari has done to this country; “the General Overseer of them all” is the unity and oneness of Nigeria and Nigerians that Buhari has put to the sword with his mind-boggling nepotism. If Nigeria dies, Buhari killed it. But, then, Buhari could be right! It is possible he actually has put in his level best and will now hold the unenviable record for life as the most effete, the most clueless, the most incompetent, and the most divisive leader Nigeria ever had.
Still on ASUU/FG brouhaha
Dear Bolanle, I read your piece on the above subject matter and I felt so sad that educated minds like yours could not ventilate fairness, equity and justice but, rather, would join hands with tyrants, through your pen and enviable platform, to vilify ASUU for going on strike to press home their legitimate demands documented in 2009 agreement, some Memorandum of Understanding and Memorandum of Agreement, etc freely signed by government. How sad it is to go on strike on 2013 promotion arrears which, even if it is paid now, is next to nothing considering the time value of money! How many of those vilifying ASUU are being owed by the Nigerian State?
How do you teach practical class effectively if four students jostle for one microscope? Above is my current quagmire whenever I take students in my Department. I have to divide the class into two and teach each class twice, so that I can achieve two students with a microscope. Remember, the university will not pay me for teaching the same class twice. If I do not adopt this gracious measure, there is no way my students will understand this vital course that will actually make them professional geologists. This is patriotism at my own level. It is pertinent to state that these microscopes were bought by the Alumni Association of the department; amongst whom are lecturers being vilified by the FG. It takes a patriotic academic to stay in Nigerian university, considering the very hostile condition in which we work.
If the Nigerian media could not place the blame where it rightly belongs but, rather, would join hands with the oppressors to destroy Nigerian universities; one only wonders that people like you could be potent catalysts in the move to destroy whatever remains of our universities! Good luck to you and God bless for taking sides with oppressors! History will never forget someone like you who, probably, benefited from a Nigerian university but could only join hands with those people that are hell bent on mortgaging the future of the children yet unborn – From Olawale Aromolaran @ firstname.lastname@example.org
My response: Thanks for your adamant misconception of my position on ASUU/FG imbroglio. It’s people like you that are the problems of ASUU! Your patriotism is well appreciated but in squaring up with the FG, you, too, must not engage in acts that will quickly bring down the roof over our head. I have never spared the FG. In fact, I have always reserved the harshest words for them but jaundiced partisans like you will never see that. All you want to see is someone who, from start to finish, will side with ASUU and pillory the FG non-stop. I will not do that because there are two sides to a coin; so it is with this ASUU/FG issue. I maintain that the best thing is for the government to adequately fund education at all levels. Where the government is not doing that, ASUU has a right and duty to call the government and the public’s attention to the havoc being done. But where the government remains recalcitrant and strike action, rather than being effective has become destructive of the very purpose it is meant to serve, then, we must think out of the box if we are not to bring the same roof we purpose to mend down on our head. I did not and have never condemned strike action by ASUU or any workers’ Union as a weapon available to them to draw attention to what ails them but a long-drawn strike going to two academic sessions, with no evidence it will achieve its desired purpose, deserved to be reviewed; otherwise, ASUU and lecturers like your good and patriotic self are the ones joining hands, even if inadvertently, with the oppressor-class in government to “patapata” destroy our comatose education system. I feel certain that this cannot be your intention. Therefore, let us jointly search for alternative solutions other than long strike action that is no longer working. I am willing and ready to partner ASUU on this. Permit me to add that I have repeatedly expressed in my writings how appalled I was over the decrepit state of infrastructure in our universities occasioned largely by the parlous state of funding over time by successive Federal administrations. But it must be added, however, that the cankerworm of corruption, which has eaten very deep into the fabrics of our society, is also prevalent in our universities. Physician, heal thyself! All the same, thanks for taking time to express your views on this very important issue.
*Former Editor of PUNCH newspapers, Chairman of its Editorial Board and Deputy Editor-in-chief, BOLAWOLE was also the Managing Director/ Editor-in-chief of THE WESTERNER newsmagazine. He writes the ON THE LORD’S DAY column in the Sunday Tribune and TREASURES column in New Telegraph newspapers. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television.