In the run up to the 2015 presidential election, leaders and members of APC were very vocal in condemning the then president of the country, President Goodluck Jonathan, for every step he took. This even included attending churches on Sunday, Jonathan’s religion’s holy day of obligation. It was Babatunde Raji Fashola, the then governor of Lagos State and now Honourable Minister of Power, Works and Housing, that succinctly captured the mind of the All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders and supporters then when at the sixth Bola Tinubu Colloquium in Lagos some time in March 2014, he charged at his listeners by asking them if they wanted “someone who spends most of his time in church or mosque, or the man who is ready to spend his time on the job.” That was when life was very sweet as an opposition party especially with the tolerance level of Goodluck Jonathan. At least, Goodluck was spending his time in the country even if, in the hyperbolic words of Fashola, he was spending “most” of it in church.
However, fast forward to today, we have the same Fashola who is currently serving as a minister under president Muhammadu Buhari who would remain Nigeria’s most travelled president for a long time in our history. So far, since his inauguration into office on May 29, 2015, President Buhari has traversed 24 countries of the world within a short period of 9 months.
Considering our scarce resources, this is too frequent, too costly and is a disturbing development as the nation is in its worst economic quagmire since independence. Never in the history of our nation even when we thought we faced economic recession and hyper-inflation has our exchange rate run on auto-devaluation as it is now. The prices of food stuff and basic items are climbing higher and out of the reach of the common man. The purchasing power of the citizens has been badly eroded while people are not only not getting employed, those who are employed are losing their jobs in droves.
The economy is at a standstill! No gainful economic activity going on anywhere. Infrastructural development that characterised Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has since been brought to a halt; our revived agricultural sector is now in a speedy reverse course. While harmless and armless youths protesting peacefully within their constitutional rights are regularly mowed down by mindless security agencies in Zaria, Aba, Onitsha etc, the supreme court has come under several severe attacks from the ruling party as the Honourable Justices of the apex court have resisted the “body language” charm and refused to do the bidding of the party in some of the judgements given by the court recently. Kidnapping has not only returned but assumed a more dangerous and fearful dimension, and the security agents seem overwhelmed.
Power supply has become more epileptic than ever even as the DISCO’s have hiked their tariff by about 40% and they still expect Nigerians to pay for darkness supplied in the midst of gross financial powerlessness. There is general disenchantment in the land as the Buhari administration has sufficiently demonstrated a total lack of idea on how to run our economy to attain its full potentials at this time. This fact is further strengthened by the shambolic and embarrassing preparation of a simple budget that
is a normal ritual of governments all over the world. Nigerians believe that the budget was fraught with fraud and an indication of the hypocrisy of the current government’s anti-corruption stance. Having suffered so much, the Buhari budget is widely believed to be the “most stolen”, “most missing”, “most padded”, “most denied”, “most investigated”, “most withdrawn” and “most re-presented” budget, yet, there is no outrage in the land over that garbage. If PDP had made that “mistake” during its time, of course, the country would have been on an uncontrollable conflagration, set on by APC.
Despite the rapid descent of the country into catastrophic and unbelievable state of socio-political and economic anomie within a very short period, President Buhari carries on as if nothing is wrong. There is no sense of urgency or even needed level of concern for the state of the nation. Buhari keeps globe-trotting as if the solutions to the nation’s woes lie abroad. The sophistry peddled by the administration’s spin doctors, as it was during the presidential campaigns, that the president’s frequent travels has already yielded much fruits for the country is only a lullaby-like tale told to children in order to put them to sleep and prevent their usual late night tantrums. Obviously, the complaints of Nigerians about the worrying situation of things in the country would no doubt have been sounding like tantrums to the ears of government.
Given Fashola’s lamentations about former president Jonathan’s frequent presence in church, one would have expected this same man and his likes to caution the president about his needless travels, sit back at home, consult with his cabinet and concerned Nigerians on how we can all move this country forward rather than junketing all over the world in search of foreign solutions to local problems.
The argument that he is in talks with some oil producing countries to see how they could help increase the value of oil in the international market by scaling down on output is akin to pouring water in a basket for the purpose of storage. If we are able to get Saudi Arabia to reduce output will a country like Iran not take advantage of that and flood the market with their own oil especially as they have a lot to unleash on the market having been shut out from the international market for a long time as a result of US sanctions until recently. This is more so especially when one considers that Iran would be very happy to do the exact opposite of what Saudi Arabia does even if it is just to spite the Saudis owing to the frosty relations between the two countries. In addition, the pro-Shiite Iranians expressed very strong diplomatic reservations over the recent killings of Shiite Muslims in Zaria by a band of military men led by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai. This might just be an opportunity for a pay back by them.
It is also instructive to note that a majority of our oil patrons have either found new buyers or have embraced alternative sources of energy. So, whichever way one looks at it, embarking on extensive and expensive diplomatic shuttles majorly for this purpose is not only illogical, it is also antithetic to common sense and beats the imagination of even elementary economists. Little wonder then our president seems to be the only president among the oil producing countries who think the best way to shore up the price of oil worldwide is by diplomatic shuttles. No other president worldwide is travelling for this purpose.
Our nation is dying, the president is travelling and his party is parrying the truth about the situation of things and the true outcome of the president’s frequent travels. Let the president return, sit back and spend quality time at home and stop working like a distant learning student!
Jude Ndukwe is a political analyst who lives and works in Abuja, Nigeria. He tweets from@stjudendukwe.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.