By Onyebuchi Emeka
I slept early last night, no thanks to the stress of Lagos. I usually wake up quite early to catch up with latest happenings in the country before heading into another round of traffic stress.
Early this morning as I scanned through facebook, especially that of Sokoto social Media and NTA, AIT footage, I saw viral pictures of the visit of former President Goodluck Jonathan to Sokoto.
He came to the caliphate to sympathize with the Dasuki family over the death of the Late Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki who was the father of his National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki who is currently in detention.
There was a huge crowd that received him with placards asking for his “return”. I found that very intriguing. In the north? In Sokoto? Asking someone called an “infidel” to return to power? This is serious indeed.
The likes of Attahiru Bafarawa, Sule Lamido, Aminu Wali and Kabiru Turaki who are Muslim and respected by their supporters.
As I scanned through the comments made by people, I stumbled on one which suggested that the event was a carefully arranged political gimmick meant to create a wrong impression. That got me thinking and I asked myself a number of questions.
Why would GEJ rent a crowd in Sokoto of all places?
What will be his objective by so doing?
Is he running for any office?
Is there any election?
Sokoto is a state ruled by an APC Governor who sneaked out of the state to avoid meeting with former president who in spite the pressure and security reports against Tambuwal over his acts on his government; as speaker, Jonathan avoid and tolerate him till after the government.
The important questions are who would have arranged the rented crowd? Who will fund it? In the pictures, you will even find officers of the state local agencies and government officials among those line up to received and have glance at him.
Dasuki is in jail and incommunicado. He couldn’t even attend the funeral of his father. He must be overcome with deep grief and I think renting a crowd or pulling off anything political will be the last thing on his mind right now. Even for a fully grown man, the death of a father breaks him down.
And does Bafarawa who travelled together with GEJ from Abuja to Sokoto have time to order his supporters to come out for that reception?
The answer is simple.
Across the country, there is huge disenchantment with the government of President Buhari and his party, the APC.
People are hungry, tired and frustrated.
I say this with a deep sense of responsibility. I supported and voted for Buhari but in all of my adult life, I have never seen people this hungry before.
Even for me with a fairly stable job and a steady pay, I am struggling to cope with the spiraling inflation which has made a complete nonsense of my pay. In the last eight months, my expenditure has gone up by more than 100% yet the salary remains the same.
If someone like me whose salary has never been delayed for a second in the last seven years is complaining, then you can imagine what people who salaries are not even paid are going through.
There is hunger in the land.
Our economy has gone to the gutters. Our money has lost value. Businesses are crumbling. Companies are closing down. The forex market is crazy.
I have a friend who deals on bags somewhere in Surulere. We worship in the same church. I buy bags from him. In September, I had gone to his shop to buy school bags for my kids. When I got there, I thought I had missed the address and I had to check again to be sure I was at the right place. The shop was practically empty. The guy himself wore a forlorn look. This was a shop that brimmed with goods. I even asked him to look for a bigger shop because it was hard moving inside to look for bags to buy.
What happened, i asked him with deep concern.
My Ballista, he responded with his deep Anambra accent, this country is finished. No money to buy anything again. No dollar. If you buy dollar at 370( that was the price then), how much will you sell your goods, who will buy? If this thing continues, I will have to return home. “Ballista, mmadu ya anakwa virrage o, ighoyato?”
Sincerely, I was deeply heartbroken.
That is how bad it is. That is the story of most small and medium size businesses in Nigeria today. It’s even worse for workers whose salary values have been rendered completely useless by inflation. Then for those who are owed, it’s pure hell. I sincerely wonder how people eat these days.
States are broke. Oil revenues are going down by the day. International crude prices have plummeted, then on account of militant activities in the Niger Delta, our production has gone down. Money is in short supply. States are not getting enough and can’t fund even the most basic needs of their people. In Nigeria today, only three states out of 36 are stable financially. This is complete disaster indeed.
Buhari’s approach to the Niger Delta question has been an absolute disaster. Yaradua saw this same situation and applied deep wisdom and things got better.
Take it or leave it, Buhari’s plan is not working. Pushing soldiers into the region is not the answer. It failed before and will fail and fail again. Every problem in this world is not solved by a military solution.
For as long as we rely on oil to run this country, we must evolve a workable solution to handle issues of the Niger Delta.
Even with a crumbling economy, there is insecurity. Across the country, people live in fear. From marauding and blood thirsty Fulani herdsmen in the South East, militancy in the Niger Delta, Boko Haram in the North East, Shia Muslims clash in the North West, Nigeria has become a huge battle field with an endless spilling of blood.
Last week, over 20 Shia Muslims were gunned down by the police in Kaduna.
The Shias have never had it so bad in this country. With their leader, El Zak Zakky in detention without trial, close to 100 of their members have been killed in the last one year.
These people have existed for several years before now. They have had their procession over the years without any incident. What has changed?
Fulani herdsmen have always been with us from time immemorial. How come they suddenly became killers who carry weapons of war and extermination?
Under GEJ, the only security issue we had was Boko Haram. The Niger Delta was calm and oil production was proceeding well, albeit, at a huge cost. But pipelines and oil installations were not bombed. Money was coming in, though what it was used for is another issue.
I have asked what the economic policy of Buhari is exactly. That question has not been answered. What is the definite forex policy of this government?
Few days ago, security agencies raided and arrested currency dealers. How will that help the market?
On the political front, the APC has been a comprehensive disaster. A party that enjoys huge majority in both chambers of the National Assembly now behaves like an opposition party? Presidential communications are thrown out like rotten meat. There is no cohesion anywhere. Everything appears to be in sixes and sevens. Within the APC, there is common ground on anything. In the eyes of Buhari, every other person is a thief.
Two days ago, the Edo State House of Assembly approved a 300 million Naira house as parting gifts for Oshiomhole and his deputy. This is in addition to a pension for life. These things are enough to cause deep emotional disequilibrium in the mind of the average hungry Nigerian. You were Governor for eight years with all the perks of office and you leave with so much yet people who worked for 35 years can’t event get the pittance they are entitled to as pension.
I could go on and on.
As Christmas approaches dangerously, many Nigerian families cannot even afford to buy rice to eat. A bag is now close to 24k. By this time last year, it was nearing 9k. Yet salaries have not increased. How will people cope with this?
Life was surely better for the average Nigerian under GEJ. This is the sincere truth. The reason could be many but for the man on the street who doesn’t understand economics, his assessment of any government will be based on how he is able to put food on his table.
I don’t believe that GEJ rented any crowd in Sokoto. He didn’t have to. That crowd is a reflection of how bad things have become in the country.