Most Nigerians are biting their fingers over the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari for the second term, a period that has turned out to be the worst experience they have witnessed.
At the same time, many have to live with depleted fortunes and prospects in the country as the government has imposed several austerity measures, which have led to increases in taxes and tariffs for services.
This is the outcome of a survey by Business Hallmark newspapers to determine the reactions of Nigerians to their current economic conditions while also tracking the optimism index among Nigerians in the first three quarters of 2020.
When President Muhammadu Buhari got the mandate of Nigerians to rule them in 2015, not a few had thought he was the messiah that would change the fortunes of the nation and put smiles on their faces. However, some six years down the line, many of those hitherto optimistic citizens claim they are worse off than where he had met them.
They claim that the Buhari government is the worst since independent and rate his performance since he assumed office as being “extremely poor”.
The Business Hallmark opinion poll tally shows that many Nigerians are now extremely sad with President Buhari, and especially with his style of governance, even as they castigated him as being most insensitive, if not callous, in his response to the plight of the people.
A majority of those who spoke within the low and high income levels in the society from all the six zones of the Federation are of the opinion that President Buhari’s policies are based on ethnic considerations, and especially geared towards favouring his main tribe, the Fulanis.
Also being alleged is the fact that the Fulanis also seem to be taking cover under his presidency to unleash terror on other people groups in Nigeria and as well forcefully grabbing their farm lands without his government doing anything tangible to arrest the situation. He is also said to be the least nationalistic of all the leaders from the North.
His era is said to be different from others before him as several respondents say his tenure cannot be compared to the Presidency of the two late presidents, Shehu Shagari and Umaru Yar’Adua who were both Fulanis like him.
Alhaji Shagari and Yar’Adua were said to be more patriotic and detribalised than Buhari, adding that Buhari has failed the nation with his policies that are one sided and oppressive to the people.
As part of the poll process, Business Hallmark asked people to score the Buhari administration on the following: governance, security, health, education, power, handling of Covid-19 palliatives, food and Agriculture, and the latest hike in petroleum pump price and electricity tariffs.
The majority of the 500 people polled, about 450 or 90 percent in all, believed that he has not performed creditably in all the areas while 30 people or six percent believe he has tried his best. The remaining 20 or four percent of the respondents declined to place him.
Even comments from the elites, civil society groups, students, some Nigerian leaders and pan cultural groups in the country also reflect their dissatisfaction with the way President Buhari is managing the affairs of the country
For instance, youths and women groups had only recently taken to the streets of Abuja to protest the recent hike in fuel prices and the new electricity tariffs, saying that the Buhari administration was insensitive to the pains of the common people. They also claimed that he was ill advised on the issue.
Also in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, students had equally protested, carrying placards to condemn the hike in fuel price and electricity tariffs even as they marched through major streets of the city.
Their spokesperson, Olalere Opajunji said President Buhari has failed Nigerians, and especially youths, whom he has neglected to look after. He said he was representing all students across the country and that students had never had it so bad even as the period in office of the present government has been a grave disaster for the youths in the country. He argued that Buhari has failed to keep all his promises adding that instead, he has added to the burden of youths and their parents.
On the 775,000 jobs for youths, he said the scheme exposed Buhari’s government as the most corrupt because the jobs have been shared before getting to the grassroots where the children of the common people could not now benefit.
On their part, Peoples Democratic Party’s women and their leaders and youths who also protested in Abuja condemned Buhari’s government, saying that his government was a colossal failure, even as they called for his impeachment.
Other Nigerian leaders have also castigated President Buhari for mismanaging the affairs of the nation. Among groups that have denounced the administration are the South East, South South, South West and Middle Belt leaders who have at one time or the other criticised President Buhari for the discriminatory way he has run the government.
They specifically condemned the killings going on in most parts of the country without government bringing the perpetrators to book. The spokespersons for the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin has said that the Buhari administration has done nothing to improve the living standards of Nigerians, and equally derided and condemned the prevalent security lapses in the country. He said the verdict out there was that President Buhari has made Nigerians to be more divided than before and they no longer see themselves again as one.
According to him, “the only way out is for the country to be restructured if we are to remain as one.”
Recently also, a new group in the Middle Belt emerged as a breakaway of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF as well as the North East Governors’ Forum. The group known as the North Central Peoples Forum, NCPF was formed by prominent politicians and leaders from mainly the North Central geo-political zone, who are not happy with the spate of insecurity ravaging the region.
This is despite the fact that the ACF has recently elected Audu Ogbeh, a former Minister of Agriculture and former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP from the same North Central as its chairman. Ogbeh is from Benue state.
The group rising from a meeting, pledged to defend the interests of their people, and it has people like former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Jerry Useni, former Minister of State for Health, Gabriel Aduku who is the interim Chairman of the forum and former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, as leading lights.
The group said it has now joined Afenifere, a Yoruba social political group, Ohanaeze from the South East and others agitating for the common goals of their peoples. According to Jeremiah Useni, the chairman, Board of Trustees of NCPF, the group will seek to harness the human and natural resources of the Zone for the good of its people, apart from ensuring that peace and stability is established and sustained within the zone.
“The Forum is also aimed at ensuring cooperation and support for the good policies and administration of the six governors of the zone irrespective of our political, religious and ethnic differences; support and cooperate fully with the Federal Government for full and complete implementation of infrastructures, development projects situated in the zone and the involvement of the people of the zone in the national affairs of the country and promote, defend and strengthen North Central unity and the interest of its people in the context of one indivisible Nigeria and to contribute in safeguarding her territorial integrity
With every zone now having a common socio-political platform where they meet to discuss their strengths and weaknesses with the view to propounding and promoting progress and development of the zone, it is equally in this context that the South-South People’s Assembly and the South-South Elder’s Forum were formed to champion the common cause of the South-South people and draw the Federal Government attention to the perceived problems facing the people of their zone.
It is in similar vein that the South-West Zone of Nigeria established the Afenifere Group, a Yoruba socio-political organization that is constantly being used to draw Federal Government attention to their common challenges. The South-East people of Nigeria have the Ohanaeze Ndigbo as their own socio-political platform for mobilizing their people to actualize political and economic objectives that may attract positive development to their zone
Still on the new North Central grouping, its Interim Chairman and former Minister of State for Health, Gabriel Aduku said the zone which has more than 25 million people has suffered untold hardship due to lack of good representation.
According to him, the zone has been used and dumped by selfish politicians: “The socio-cultural, political and economic diversities of the Zone simulate it as a microcosm of the macrocosm known as Nigeria. It’s extremely rich human and mineral resources make this Zone a unique divine arrangement for immense prosperity, development and leadership within the Nigeria Federation
“Its immense human resource capital has undoubtedly announced the citizens of the zone for excellence and impact. Sadly, however, in-spite of its enormous solid, liquid minerals and natural endowments, commercial fishing, farming and agro-allied activities, as well as the massive intellectual human resources, the Zone has become a sleeping giant, good enough only for political exploitation and exploration by its “patrons” and vote seekers.
Aduku disclosed that his group has set out to liberate the people of the area and harness the enormous mineral resources for the development of the zone.
“Within this giant, painfully lie its great potentials, including several dormant projects, factories, industries and untapped natural and human resources; within this, also lie sleeping great voices and docile interests and aspirations. This irony of the absurd should not be allowed to thrive any longer. The North Central Peoples’ Forum has chosen to rise to the occasion and the challenges
“It has come to ensure the effective aggregation, promotion and actualization of dormant and latent interests and potentials of the zone. It has come to give momentum and expression to voices of giants of the zone that have become silent, weak and inaudible
“The Zone hosts strategic industries, such as the Ajaokuta steel plant, the Iron Ore Processing Plant at Itakpe, the Obajana and Benue Cement facilities, the Bacita Sugar Processing Plant and Jebba Paper Mill and several others, all of which have become challenged.
“Apart from being a solid mineral belt, with a network or inland ports at Baro, Lokoja, Ajaokuta and Idah, the Rivers Niger and Benue have also put the Zone at a strategic position. These rivers have been neglected, abused, ignored and serving independent Nigeria as it did for the Royal Niger Company (RNC) of Pre-independent Nigeria.
“Unfortunately and painfully, budgetary arrangements for dredging these rivers in order to make them fulfill their expected, commercial and developmental strategic roles have met frustrations and failures.”
Those that also attended the meeting include former Col. David Bamigboye (rtd), a former Military Administrator (MILAD) of Kwara state, former Deputy Chief of staff to the President, Chief Olusola Akanmode, Publisher of Leadership Newspaper Sam Nda-Isaiah, Chief Stephen Lawani among others.
It would be recalled that former President Obasanjo had also recently said that President Buhari’s government has divided Nigerians such that the country is now faced with the threat of disintegration, as all the old fault lines which were disappearing before he handed over, have all but re-emerged.
Also, the former chairman the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in Ogun State, Chief Wale Adegbite has said that the policies of Buhari has failed the nation and that his attitude to governance has shown that he needs to redirect his policies towards benefiting the masses.
At the same time, Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land Iba Gani Adams has called on the National Assembly to shun the Water Resources Bill, saying that if that bill is passed it would make or mar the country called Nigeria. He said the bill would not do the nation any good but cater for a section of country and make other section powerless.
It is indeed a time and a time for the nation of Nigeria and its peoples.