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Buhari: Turning Nigeria's Most Gloomy Moment To Her Most Glorious By Peter Claver Oparah

On his emergence as Nigeria's President last year, President Muhammadu Buhari was faced with two broad choices; Continue the larcenous state of corruption he met when he came in or cap the corruption wellhead and move the country away from the hugely predatory state through deliberate actions and policies that will cleanse the badly desecrated Augean stable and redirect the values that rule a country that had vicariously bled from perilous and corrupt leadership. Having campaigned on the mantra of Change, it was not a hard choice to make. He must topple the old sordid order and install a new cleansed order that will govern not only the conduct of governance but the general life in a serially abused country.

Added to this was the fact that Buhari had to replace the same order that has ensured that a country so richly blessed and hugely endowed was practically writhing  on all fours when he came to power. Nigeria, under the Jonathan regime Buhari succeeded, was a painted sepulcher. It was a grave dabbed with flattering white emulsion. Forget about the nonsense of Nigeria being Africa's largest economy, forget the padded presentation of flattering GDP, forget about the feel-good statistics that were dripping from the previous government's so-called economic team, there was nothing on ground to suggest that Nigeria had an economy; talk not of the largest in Africa. We had a gangsters heaven where oil was sold and shared in such fashion that jarred human decency. That was termed a robust economy and all other sectors that should drive a normal economy were killed in a frenetic rush for oil money.

All infrastructures needed as props to an economy were dead, unemployment was soaring in such mad fashion such that it took a mere advertisement of 3,000 immigration jobs for millions to flood every available public space in Nigeria and many were trampled to death for jobs that never came. In short, Nigeria was an extension of hell on earth. Yet, oil price went as high as $140 per barrel and Nigeria exceeded its OPEC quota but life diminished to that in a state of nature in the same period. You are wont to hear one of the campaigners of the outgone Jonathan era tell you how he used to get rice and pure water free of charge in that era yet it tells quite a story that a regime that reaped so huge from an oil boom purportedly used tens of trillions of Naira it reaped from oil sale to import rice for its citizens!

In a country where the artificial fruits of corruption value chain had so distorted the psyche of its citizens,  enriched quite a good number of knights of the rotten order, given millions of others false hopes of security, Buhari knew he made a very risky choice by seeking to topple the corrupt order that had thrived since independence. He knew that most Nigerians are like the Israeli  rabble who care less of history or tomorrow but whose only interest is the now, now and now. The Israeli mob were mobilised to rebel against Moses on their way to the Promised Land with such blasphemies that Moses should have left them to be wiped out in abject slavery in Egyot, being fed with morsels of captivity and being clobbered to death than for them to temporarily lack bread on their way to the Promised Land. For them, as for Nigerians today, there would be no tomorrow. Yesterday is gone and today is what matters. Buhari knew all these things before he decided to change the same system which, in the long run, has finished off Nigeria and would have buried it if the country was so unfortunate to have continued with the Jonathan government.

Come to think of it, can any of the people struggling desperately to mount a political campaign of how hard things are under Buhari today tell us what would have happened if Jonathan had continued in power and carried on in his sordid ways and met oil at $27 a barrel when, as at the time he left, oil was still selling above $60 and 23 states were bankrupt and couldn't pay workers salaries running up to one year? Could any of those frantically working the mob up to revolt against Buhari just because he had plugged the rat holes from which they pillaged this country, tell us what would have happened if a Jonathan had met oil at $27 a barrel when his government borrowed half a trillion Naira to pay federal civil servants' salaries when oil was still selling above $70 a barrel? It would have been so disastrous that by now, Nigerians would have been cutting themselves up and eating were it not for the coming of Buhari. Facts are sacred. A government that got 23 states bankrupt and borrowed half a trillion Naira to pay civil servants salaries when oil was above $60 a barrel would have buried the country were it to still be in power when oil plummeted to $27 a barrel. This is the fact those who have made it a daily catena reminding us of how life has been hard under Buhari are either ignorant of or want to hide from others in the process of reviving a nefarious interest.

So Buhari was aware that his decision to stop corruption and such massive plundering of state resources as happened under Jonathan, was bound to be unpopular among a citizenry who have been left with no option than improvise corrupt ways to live. For one, he knew that those that criminally benefited from corruption will not watch and allow themselves to be brought down. They must fight, with the huge resources they have stolen and in cahoots with their ilk littered all over the country. He knew they will fight in different forms and guises so he is not surprised at what is happening today. Perhaps, that is why he had remained stoically committed to what he is doing despite the antics of these rouges. Again, he knew that it will be easy to recruit the masses, collective victims of corruption, to mass against such redemptive actions by just promising them bread and butter. He knew that in embarking on the mission to rid corruption from the country's body fabric, he would come to a head-on collision with a formidable and well-stacked brigade; ready to lay down their lives to ensure that such system that had so empowered them is not toppled. That is what exactly is happening today.

Nigeria is in recession, that's a fact. No one is denying it. No one is disputing  the fact. No one is disputing the discomforts that attend it. Buhari is not mincing words about it. He had, at each stop of the mending work he is doing, pleaded with Nigerians to be patient. The ground has to be cleared, tilled and the crops  tended to fruition before we expect harvest. It is as natural as it is logical. Moreover the recession we are suffering today was long foretold. Eminent economists and social commentators warned that we will be where we are today if we did nothing to meaningfully use the oil boom Jonathan frittered away like worthless rag. When the regime and its acolytes were  carrying Byzantine plundering, many people warned that the oil dollars that was funding that bizarre licentiousness will run out someday. The government never listened. No effort was made to improve our facilities. Nothing was done to create opportunities and employment for  the teeming jobless youth as nothing but egregious freeloading thrived and this in turn, grew a culture and life of extreme debauchery and idolatrous consumerism where the country indulged in unrestrained importation of freebies and junkies. The bubble was soon to burst as the country bankrupted on the eve of Jonathan's exit from power when states couldn't pay salaries, talk not of engaging in any meaningful capital project and his government had to borrow a hefty half a trillion Naira to pay salaries when oil was still going for a princely sum compared with what we have today.

Yes, Nigeria is in recession and the Buhari Government has rightly admitted this. Nigeria is in recession because oil price thumbed. Nigeria is in recession because displaced politicians sponsored criminals and outlaws to destroy oil pipelines and halved Nigeria's oil export quota because they want to 'avenge' their political loss. Most importantly, Nigeria is in recession because the Jonathan government which harvested a providential oil boom supervised the wholesome plunder of the money that would have been saved, as other nations do, to avoid what we are facing today. Nigeria is in recession because previous governments presided over the complete ruination of our infrastructures, neglected every other source of revenue, refused to invest in agriculture, healthcare, education, power, roads, rails, industry, trade and commerce. Nigeria is in recession because previous governments adamantly refused to diversify our economy but stuck to free sharing of oil accruals. None of these was caused by Buhari but by those that mismanaged our good fortunes, looted every available resources and left the country for dead.

But Buhari is the solution and has undertaken quite brave measures to save the country . He is frontally tackling the recession in quite a unique way. He had outlawed corruption and in the process, saved our meager resources for the country. He has invested handsomely in agriculture, solid minerals, power, roads, railways, education, health and other vital sectors that undergird a solid economy. He has clearly gone beyond oil in financing our national budgets and has  stabilized the polity such that in the period of recession, states that went bankrupt when Jonathan was selling oil at above $60 a barrel are now sure of paying their workers. The only thing that has been put out of circulation is stolen and illicit money and it is a matter of time before those hooked on corruption value chain source more legal and decent means of survival.

With Buhari's prescription, we can see that even in the period of recession, roads that were left to rot for the decades when we were swimming in oil money are being rehabilitated today. We can see that it is during this recession that modern rails which formed topics for fairy tales when we had so much petro-dollars are beginning to become real. We can see that huge investments are now being made in capital regenerative projects in a moment of recession than when we had more than enough dollars in our kitty. We can see that self sustenance  in agriculture is becoming real during this recession. We can see that the much hackneyed diversification of our economy is happening in this period of recession. We can see that Buhari has dealt corruption a bloody nose despite the orchestrated antics of the pro-corruption brigade. He has taken measures previous leaders had been afraid to take or were too compromised to take because he is carrying no baggage. He is a long distance runner unlike his opponents who are just people of the moment. He is rugged, determined and steely both in his character and in his resolve to turn Nigeria's most gloomy moment to her most glorious.

Peter Claver Oparah

Ikeja, Lagos.

E-mail: [email protected]


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