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When a hunter becomes the hunted

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Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari holds a press conference with US President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, April 30, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN

I must issue this caveat emptor that opinion(s) expressed on this platform is(are) mine and does(don’t) reflect my employer’s.

People’s hope was pitch high; and expectations exaggerated that President Muhammadu Buhari would come and offer a utopian elixir which automatically would launch our harried and beleaguered masses into an elusive el Dorado within shortest possible time.

Not few citizens including my humble self shared in that exaggerated optimism; the reason being that those of us who were not born during his draconian military interregnum were made to understand that he —Buhari possessed an elixir or a magic wand that was capable of putting us out of our economic, security, political and social misery and quagmire at the wave of his hands.

Some misguided school of thoughts had anchored the so-called ‘Buharismatic elixir’ or ‘Buharinomics’ and much touted administrative\governance success on the strength and discipline of his late deputy Tunde Idiagbon. How time flies! How so carried away were! Now we know better.

Actually, the major factor that brought Buhari to power was his over-hyped, exaggerated anti-disposition to that hydra-headed monster that has eaten the core of our national life —- corruption.

It was mainly his angelic personality that endeared him to the majority of Nigerians. We all must be honest to concur that age is no longer on his side.

But did he not factor all these and other handicaps before casting his  ring into the net, considering he’d made previous attempts in 2003, 2007 and 2011 Presidential polls?

Since Nigerians were tired of corruption, impunity, insensitivity and maladministration perpetuated, engineered and superintended over by former ruling national party – PDP, an alternative course of action was expedient; hence, the last resort to embrace apologically ‘Fuji House of Commotion’ – the APC.

As economists, we do not rush into hasty conclusions when matters on policy initiation and implementation are being raised and discussed to avoid bias.

Admittedly, policy benefits  take some relatively long period of time -gestation period before we begin to assess and analyse their impact/benefits and costs.

This emanates unarguably, from time lag or lead depending on what’s been looked at in terms of cost-benefit analysis or the  time such policy measures take off.

This administration, on inception exhibited so much inertia and lethargy such that many of us began to wonder and question its ability to effectively and promptly deliver the much anticipated change and deliver the overdue dividends.

Economists in their knowledge and wisdom, believe an economy recovering from economic downturn does not just ‘bounce back’ by ‘jump and start’.

So, it would be callous, delusional and deceptive to expect an economy coming out of the woods to jump out of it overnight.

We must not forget that reforms bring hardship on citizens; but where managerial deftness and acumen or litmus test lies is for the government in power to introduce palliative measures to mitigate the adverse effects of these policies on citizenry.

Art of governance is really taxing and requires patience, wisdom before the benefits begin to trickle in. Moreover, the government must avoid concentrating attention on one side while the other side is abandoned. Its intentions also must be pure and really developmental.

Also, the citizenry which is at the receiving end of the outcome of these noble or otherwise policies must be carried along.

Consequently, where development programmes are not spread in turn, undermines spread of development, exacerbate and perpetuate inequality which also widens the gulf of poverty in the land which originally is being waged bloody war against.

Now, without being unduly critical, biased or seeking attention as government often labels well-meaning citizens; APC-lead federal government has failed us on many fronts: ranging from controversial lopsided appointments/upholding federal character principle, economic mismanagement, security, corruption and counter-corruption, and national cohesion.

Against the backdrop of coming to unite the nation, Buhari-led government came and jeopardised our national unity by some of his actions.

It is a big shame and pity that those things an angelic figure was presumably vehemently opposed to, have now reared their monstrous, ugly heads and are now thriving both overtly and covertly; right and left, and front and back.

Corruption prematurely presumed to have fled upon western media sensationally hyped arrival of an anti-corruption czar which at a time gathered momentum , but, unfortunately, everything has fizzled out or waned dramatically.

Rather regrettably, EFCC dancing to the melodious tunes of the presidency casts its deadly dragnet and tentacles which it now uses pitiably and conversely to capture, suppress, entangle and cage the opposition.

We were promised also that at the flip of Buharimatic fingers, the naira would magically come to be at par with the world’s major currencies.

These ignorant political statements and propaganda machines were engineered just to solely confuse and convince us to gain access to the presidency without considering core economic fundamentals which have taken into consideration our production capacity to generate foreign incomes; the short and long term benefits, if any of an artificially created strong naira built on false premise and assumptions.

Without necessarily being an economist, it means that, an artificially strong naira would induce more importation and consumption of foreign goods.

Again, a weak and undiversified economic base would have eroded whatever semblance of value the naira might possess. Continuous buck-passing of how our economy was ruined and run down by predecessor governments typifies incompetence, lack of direction, utter confusion and weakness.

You promised you had what it took to return sanity to the business of governance, as well as bring us back to the path of economic progress and prosperity.

Now, all hear and read on daily basis is being inundated with childish inexcusable excuses as to why you can’t perform; how your wings are clipped from flying and legs and hands tied from running and fighting; as well as being blindfolded from seeing.

The excuses are simply too much. This was not what we had voted for! We wanted fast thinkers and solution providers to the myriads of problems besetting us as a nation.

Buhari might have good intentions for us, but he is aged and sick to continue with the rigours and demands of modern state governance.

He knows it that time has come for him This is to quit the stage, but the political buccaneers, jobbers, leeches, boot lickers, sycophants and hypocrites won’t let him be because they know what they’d lose if he fails to recontest.

I recall vividly, as an economics undergraduate at UniUyo some few years ago, our lecturers never failed to admonish us to desist from some hasty and biased conclusions in order to arrive at optimal outcomes most times.

Now, what keeps denying us our development aspirations? What makes policies that work perfectly elsewhere falter here? Is it institutions, environment or our geography, as development experts continue to dig deeper to unravel?

As usually asked by development experts and others, does it require some rocket science to be able wrought and tap into, exploit our huge latent potential?

The chicken has reply come to roost! What we had feared most has befallen us like biblical job. Our misery index has worsened!

Insecurity, seemingly ceaseless attacks from herdsmen with tacit government support and those things we thought had been dealt mortar blows have come back with ferocious revenge. Chaii!Chaii!!

The world is fast leaving us behind with emerging able, innovative, enterprising, energetic and creative youth as leaders of their countries while we in Nigeria are shamelessly recycling dead woods. We have become a laughing stock of the global community! Tufiakwa!

Where are we headed with this one step forward, ten steps backward? Can our so-called patriots search deep down their hearts and swear before God and man, that they have the interest and well-being of our country at heart?

I can’t stop weeping that Lilliputian countries like Botswana, Rwanda, Mauritius, and other once war torn countries are making rapid economic progress and gains while we play religious, tribalistic, stone age/primitive politics devoid of vision and development. We have become the proverbial chicken feathers that weigh nothing to the world; more or less a liability.

•Ogbonna is an economist, wrote from Apapa, Lagos.


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