By Bamidele Ojo
I am one Nigerian very cynical about the prosperity prospects of my country of over 57 years old as an independent state. The locust years of military intervention in the political cum democratic leadership of this generally applauded potentially great nation would forever be a pain in the heart.
Let my compatriots pardon me for sounding like a perpetual pessimist about the promise my beloved country holds for us. I still love and cherish Nigeria even though it has too consistently failed to impress me.
Why do I howl this loudly? It’s because Nigeria has had too multiple national leadership failures. As citizens, I feel we deserve much more than our leaders have afforded us since independence. It is disappointing and scandalous for any one of us to think, in spite of our enormous wealth, a greater percentage of the population still fete penury, instead of wealth.
We have injured ourselves so badly overtime and with scant regard to the consequences. We know everything; we are brilliant people and very hard working. But our personal greed appears to have left our country drifting into total disrepute on the basic ideologies of statehood and sustenance of a nation.
Our political leader, President Muhammadu Buhari has just returned from Dubai in UAE on an official trip. I admired this catchphrase, Buhari used during an interaction with Nigerian community in Dubai on his efforts at repositioning Nigeria into a country which can inspire confidence and trust of the citizens.
Buhari said; “You can’t take Nigerians on paper; it’s when it comes to practical application of what is on paper, this is where you have problem with Nigerians.” I kept pondering on the substance of this profound wisdom.
I got the President accurately as someone who knows character disposition of Nigerians. It was a parody, delivered as pun, but with an uppercut, if it is not outright invective. Plainly expressed, our President mocked all of us for reneging or failing in our patriotic and vital responsibility to deploy our ideas to national productivity, outside supercilious conceptions.
But I think, God is so kind to Nigeria. I have never been excited with a presidential election in Nigeria since the return of democracy in 1999 until the 2015 general elections. This was the ballot that brought President Buhari on board again, as Nigeria’s leader,
Nigeria is the only country, I know her citizens elatedly plot its downfall and supervise it to finality. We hate ourselves more than others hate us. We breathlessly come out best in destruction than developing ourselves and the nation. We malign, impugn and disparage our leaders genuinely committed to lead us on the path of progression.
We proudly kicked against the Buhari Presidency’s campaign of #ChangeBeginsWithYou, crafted to draw our attention to attitudinal reordering of our moral values. Almost every Nigerian in one opposition party or the other made a jest of it.
Now, let’s look at Buhari’s renewed campaign of “Buy Nigeria,” or even “ Proudly Nigerian,” campaign, which emphasizes local content in patronage of goods and services or promotion of the pride and dignity of our country.
But we are more concerned with past failures than the success story staring at us today. Buhari is hardly given a chance to try his hands on anything. So, whence would Nigerians submit themselves as proudly Nigerian?
Anyway, those who are averse to President Buhari’s history of positive change may go ahead. But the rest of us know, Buhari has discharged his first mandate due to expire in May 2019 as an honorable and trusted leader of Nigeria. He has made us “Proudly Nigeria,” in ways his predecessors have failed.
We are “Proudly Nigerian”(PN) as president of Nigeria, Buhari reclaimed all the 17 local governments in the Northeast under the captivity of Boko Haram insurgents, which belittled our sovereign powers and territorial integrity.
President Buhari has halted the trend of insurgents freely recruiting and indoctrinating our boys and girls as the sect’s foot soldiers and bomb carriers for destruction of lives and property. Is this not a thing of pride?
The Buhari has rekindled our spirit as proud farmers by prodding us to heeded to his call for back to the Land. It has yielded positive results; helping us to achieve food security notable in our consumption of home-grown rice; instead of imported rice and varieties of other local crops. So, we are proudly Nigerian.
Through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), over 720,000 smallholder farmers have been empowered with over N120 billion for cultivation of a variety of other crops and livestock such cattle, poultry, fish, cassava, soybeans, ground nut, ginger, sorghum, rice, wheat, cotton and maize. Today across the land, major departmental stores and local markets stock high quality Nigerian agricultural produce. It has made us proudly Nigerian for consuming what we produce.
We are proudly Nigerian for having an incumbent President and leader who has no appetite for looting of the people’s commonwealth. He has led by example by exuding it throughout his years of public service for us to emulate.
There is much excitement in the land that Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPCP) are longer toothless anti-graft agencies, which can bark without biting. Today, the EFCC has recovered fixed assets and cash worth trillions of naira acquired with illicit wealth. We are Proudly Nigerian at the revival of Nigeria.
Nigeria has restored transparency in the management of public finances with the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy. The culture of MDAs operating multiple accounts, through which government revenues were mindlessly siphoned, has been terminated. Nothing else has made us Proudly Nigerian because it has entrenched sanity and accountability in us.
Nigeria now boasts of a national government with keen interest in revamping our collapsed infrastructures such as roads, rail lines as well as restocking our public health and educational institutions abandoned for decades courtesy of President Buhari. It has given the nation a facelift in infrastructure and reinforced our pride as Proudly Nigerian people.
For the first time since 1999, Nigeria’s National Grid capacity has appreciated from 2,300 megawatts in 2015 to over 7,100 megawatts by 2018, with the sector witnessing more investments in power generation and distribution. Fairly we can say, the journey of powering the industrial sector is underway and Proudly Nigerian.
It is a thing of pride that Nigeria’s economy has been pulled out of recession and the economic recovery process has recorded positive marks. Statistics in 2018, indicated economic growth by 1.93%; and it appreciated to 2.38% by the end of the year. Our Foreign External Reserves have appreciated from $29 billion by May 2015 to $47 billion in 2019 despite a drastic drop on prices of crude oil in the international market.
Today, the Nigerian military has significantly reduced the capacity of the insurgents to recklessly strike and re-established the authority of government. Over 16,000 Nigerians held captive by terrorists have regained their freedom and reunited with their families under the Buhari Presidency including, the release of 106 Chibok and 104 Dapchi girls. We can now flaunt ourselves as proudly Nigerian.
Peace and security has returned to the perpetually restive Niger Delta region because of the policy of social inclusiveness and development plan for the South-South, which have given the people renewed hope. Nigerians are now proud of their country.
And despite the economic crunch, the Sovereign Wealth Fund project has been expanded by injecting about $650 million to strengthen its capacity of investments in local infrastructure, power, health and power.
We now have a government which believes national wealth should be shared among the majority of Nigerians, but not a privileged few as done in the past. The Social Investment Programmes (SIP) has effectively implemented schemes like Home Grown School Feeding, N-Power Job creation Scheme Programme, the Conditional Cash Transfers to less privileged Nigerians and the recently launched YES progrommes are some of the initiatives making us proud as Nigerians.
Why would Nigerians not be proud of their country when President Buhari knows that the Nigerian worker is underpaid and therefore, introduced and signed into Law a New National Minimum Wage Bill which stipulates a minimal national pay of N30, 000 to every worker? Certainly, we cannot be proud of our country when majority of the citizens cannot feed three times a day, while the few minority wallow in affluence.
Nigerians are proud to hear stories of our military giving terrorists a hot chase and the social media buzzes with the news; while the traditional media scream it in major news headlines.
The recent Maisandari incident in Damaturu, Yobe state, where our troops ambushed and massacred Boko Haram terrorists almost broke Google newsfeed. We are delectably and proudly Nigerian under a Buhari Presidency because he has repositioned us aright.
Ojo is a development expert and wrote this piece from Lagos.