By Olabode Opeseitan
Dear Alhaji Lai Mohammed, I didn’t know I would have to comment on the state of the nation again so soon after a recent response to presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu on the courage exhibited by President Muhammadu Buhari in running #Nigeria.
Last week, President Olusegun Obasanjo expressed the concerns of many Nigerians about the state of the nation and concluded that President Buhari and his team must take heed to prevent Nigeria from becoming a failed/divided state and the poverty capital of the world.
Honourable Minister, this is not the time to play partisan politics in view of the dimension of the multifaceted challenges buffeting the nation. Things are not well with our country and you all know the truth. This is the time to pool all resources together to prevent a collapse of this union and the economy.
As the official in charge of managing the reputation of this government, I will advise that you should do a reputation assessment of the regime to enable you know, scientifically, what the people think about the government.
You will discover that the reputation is tottering.
Abject poverty saunters across the land. Ethnic distrust has replaced national unity. Insecurity is on cruise control.
Inflation has taken a steroid stronger than what Ben Johnson took at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, taking prices of goods and services beyond the reach of many Nigerians. A bag of 50kg of rice that was sold for about N8,700 under the Jonathan Goodluck administration we so much pilloried, I learnt now sells for as high as N25,000, depending on your location.
Honourable Minister, kindly check the reality on ground truthfully. You may have sprinted several kilometres away from what the people are contending with.
We don’t need to deny the obvious sir. What will it cost the government to admit that the level of poverty in the land is high but totally unacceptable to the Buhari administration? Government can then give the assurance that a new approach has been devised and Nigerians will soon begin to see the impact of these measures in weeks to come. People want to hear messages of hope and inspiration but such must be grounded in reality.
Why can’t President Buhari, for instance, set up a special task force of the best of Nigeria’s petroleum engineers home and abroad and give them a mandate to completely revive all the government owned petroleum refineries in the country within 18 months? The task force will also be given the resources it needs to accomplish its task. This is just one of the numerous options government could explore to find a lasting solution to its quest to fix the refineries. We are racing against time.
I can imagine how, Alhaji, you would have responded if you were to be in the opposition, fighting to wrest power from this government. You would have roasted President Buhari’s performance with your fiery remarks. When Jonathan’s government removed fuel subsidy in 2012 and the pump price of fuel jumped from N65 to N141, all hell was let loose. Jonathan’s government was called all kinds of unprintable names for bringing untold hardship to the people. What the opposition told us was wrong then has suddenly become courageous today!
As you may know, I have a lot of respect for you and our President. The hope of over 200 million people rests on the performance of your government. You cannot afford to let the people down.
Honourable Minister, you talked about the dwindling revenue of government without talking about the loans you have taken and the taxes/tariffs you have raised. The economy can surely be better managed than what we have seen in the last five and a half years.
There is yet some time for this government to play its A Game. Let us see this as a football match where a team can play badly in the first half but play a sumptuous game in the second half to give its supporters sweet victory. We need a majestic performance from the Buhari government in this second half to return Nigeria to the path of peace, unity and prosperity.
*LAST LINE: I DO NOT BELONG TO ANY POLITICAL PARTY. ALL I WANT, LIKE NUMEROUS OTHER NIGERIANS, IS TO SEE A MORE PROSPEROUS NATION.
*Olabode Opeseitan is a communicator and PR Specialist