By Abdulwahab Oba
No doubt, our nation, Nigeria, is passing through an unfortunate economic recession, attributable to several years of self-inflicted, self-centred manipulated factors. Years of opportunities for self-rediscovery were frittered away by our leaders’ profligacy. Our common wealth was appropriated by a privileged few.
But as if these are not daunting enough, the current symbol of our nationhood, the incorruptible advocate of the masses, President Muhammad Buhari, is out of the country (or better still, has been out of the country for weeks now) with no one able to hazard a guess as to when he would return. And although we have an active Acting President, the absence of the one whose name sends cold shivers down the spines of those who have something to hide from the people of Nigeria has created room for many and diverse comments, interpretations, explanations and expectations, the worst of which is the devilish innuendo among some about the continued existence of the President.
From the day he wrote to the National Assembly explaining the need for him to undergo certain medical procedures before returning home, they claimed he was hurridly wheeled out of the country; others insinuated he was dead. This is the genesis of my intervention today.
Please let Buhari live. That should be the disposition and prayer of every genuine Nigerian at this trying moment. Get me right, the times are tough; yes I know. Nigerians are hungry; no jobs for the youths; those engaged are not adequately remunerated; those with good jobs are under constant threats of disengagement. Inflation has gone sky high with industries barely surviving. We are truly in a recession. May we not depress further.
These are unfortunate realities we have found ourselves. These are the despicable conditions foisted on the rest of us by corruption, ineptitudeness and feebleness of, especially, the immediate past government. They destroyed our heritage and plundered our wealth as if tomorrow will never come. No. Everyone is guilty. We are all accomplices, depending on where the pendulum swung. Sorry, let us leave that for another day.
This is the time we need a “man who can be described without equivocation as the man of the moment, a leader with courage of conviction, a leader with compassion, a leader with example in fighting corruption, and a leader with credible track record when providence gave him the opportunity. Nigeria needs someone who can stand up in the international community and command respect. We need someone whose word is his bond and not someone who only makes promises without fulfilling them. We need a man of the masses, not a man for the privileged few.”
Get me right; mistakes could have been made in certain instances, (and I have not failed in identifying some of them in my previous interventions) they are human and can always be corrected. But this is the time Nigeria needs a man of Buhari’s character; we need a man who can walk the talk about dealing with corruption and the other ills that have stagnated the nation. But for Buhari, who would have ever imagined that a sane person would steel as much as over $92m at a time civil servants across the country barely receive salaries? The atrocities are too mind bugging to be listed in this space. From Andrew Yakubu who swore before the Senate that there was no missing $20b to Dasuki, Diezani and others, only a Buhari can summon the courage. Only God knows how much their boss stacked away. Buhari must not die now to complete the task of cleaning the Augean stable.
Yes, they may ask what impacts the recovered funds have made in our lives. The current efforts will dissuade others Andrews and Dasukis from plunging us into a depression. When finally recycled into the economy after the court cases, our children will get employment and our infrastructure taken to new heights.
Every sincere believer in the Nigerian project must therefore pray and work to ensure that all goes well with the nation and our president. As a Nigerian, I understand the pains we are passing through; it will be playing the ostrich to say that things are near being good for us in the country. In the interim, we really need some concrete steps to bail our dear country out of the woods. One of the ways, I will suggest to this government is to look into two aspects of our agric sector as a way of easing the recession.
Although we all agreed on the need to go back to the farm, the reality is that in Nigeria today, there is no specific funding models by our financial institutions to aid and encourage the farmers. Governments over the years have been talking about easing this aspect of the agric sector but nothing concrete is on the ground. Buhari must fix this, when he returns.
And the President must rise up and do something really concrete and fast about irrigation for commercial farming as the only potential alternative for the current economic conundrum. My interactions in the last few weeks with operators in the sector have revealed the dire straits farmers are put in when they do not have irrigation for all-year round farming. We need to move beyond this natural dependence and act like other nations of the world who are sincere about using agriculture to move their economy to higher pedestals.
And of course, I want to plead with the federal government to reconsider re-introducing the Commodity Boards of old, if we are serious about checking the galloping inflation currently waging war against our beloved naira. The concept of the commodity boards was to provide a safe opportunity for farmers to dispose of their produce without delays and at a reasonably fair price. Since it was abolished years ago, farmers in Nigeria have had to grope with not just securing loans for farming but finding markets for their produce. It is a classical case of double wahala, like the ancient Fela Anikulapo Kuti sang years ago.
We need to free our farmers from this wahala, and I plead with Buhari to see to it, when he returns. This is why our president must not die now. Our prayers are with him at this time and always.
*Oba, can be reached via email@example.com