Of speeches and reality

Rose Moses
By Rose Moses

For 19 unbroken years, Nigeria Tuesday, celebrated another Democracy Day, also marking three years of the change regime of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Although the occasion was not greeted with much of the pomp and power that heralded it in the past before Boko Haram terrorists began to threaten security of the country, it nonetheless, featured some colourful activities, both at national and state levels.

Constant though was the national broadcast, 

which afforded the president an opportunity to tell the people what his administration has done or is doing to improve their lot.

And in a 37-point speech, President Muhammadu Buhari went to work, and for a start, described this year’s edition a celebration of freedom, salute to the resilience and determination of Nigerians. Indeed, he saw in the occasion a recommitment by government to keep its promise to lead Nigeria into a new era of justice and prosperity, while also assuring that the change his administration promised was still on course, despite challenges.

Looking at his administration’s three-pronged agenda of security, war against corruption and economy, the president at the end of the day, gave his government some good marks.

Boko Haram, has been degraded, various policy measures already put in place to stem the tide of corrupt practices are yielding remarkable results and the economy revamped from where he met it in 2015, the president said.

Foreign reserve, he also said, has improved significantly to 47.5 billion USD as of May, 2018 as against 29.6 billion USD in 2015, with inflationary rate consistently on the declined since January, 2017.

And then this one: “In the area of power generation, Nigerians from all parts of the country continue to report better power supply and less use of generators,” something he said underscores the effectiveness of the methodical plan to deliver incremental and uninterrupted power supply to homes, markets, offices and factories across the country.

Now, Nigerians have never been short of this kind of speech…beautiful, if you like. As a matter of fact, if speeches were to add value to the lives of Nigerians, no Bill Gates will have the effrontery to come to this country, look our leaders in the face, and ‘admonish’ them to invest on human capital.

Neither will a Donald Trump have the gut ts to remind our president that Christians are being killed by Boko Haram terrorists and armed Fulani herdsmen. Nigeria would simply be another heaven.

There may have been improvement in power supply but this obviously is quite insignificant wherever that may be, to the point  millions of Nigerians, who may have watched the Democracy Day broadcast did on generators, while a lot more others could not watch because there was no electricity to do so. 

And of what use, really, is an increased in foreign reserves to a people ravaged by poverty, hunger, diseases, as well as Boko Haram terrorists and Fulani herdsmen that slaughter them like chicken? 

Nigerians, no doubt are groaning under the worst form of poverty, starvation and economic hardship occasioned by years of misrule. 

Therefore, an increase in foreign reserves that is not putting food on the table, generating power, running taps, providing good roads, well equipped hospitals, does not guarantee jobs, among others, makes no sense to a man that can barely feed his family. 

In other words, what is the use of keeping huge sums of money and shoring up other people’s economy when infrastructures that make life worthwhile are lacking, thus leading to unprecedented hardship in the land? 

How did the president speech address all these ugly and painful situations in the land? I’m not sure. Which brings us to the argument that the war against corruption under the President Buhari APC governmentcannot be said to be on course. 

As a former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Professor Chidi Odinkalu, would argue, the war lost its credibility following questions about Federal Government’s sincerity in the fight. For how can a government that fails to prosecute alleged corrupt people it has ties to, but would be targeting members of opposition, be said to be fighting corruption in the real sense of it? 

It is no secret, for instance, that the case of a former pensions boss, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, who was reabsorbed into the Federal Civil Services after being dismissed under the Goodluck Jonathan administration and declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is being treated with air freshener (apology to Senator Shehu Sani) by the Buhari administration. 

Same applies to former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir David Lawal, who was dismissed after being indicted for corruption. 

If the likes of Maina, Babachir, other top officials in the Buhari government indicted for one corrupt practice or the other are not in court yet, but allowed to freely enjoy their loot while only those in the opposition are constantly hounded, then the sing song about fight against corruption by the Buhari government is just a mirage. 

Many would love to know how the president intends to deal with alleged corruption cases against his men because something as important as fighting corruption cannot be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. 

The president, however, didn’t say that much, which leaves the speech just like many before it - uninspiring and another opportunity for self adulation.  
~This article was first published in Vanguard Newspapers
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