Nigeria Decides: Four more years for what? by Buchi Obichie (Opinion)

Nigeria Decides: Four more years for what? by Buchi Obichie (Opinion)

Editor’s note: In this highly charged article, the writer, Buchi Obichie, questions the rationale behind giving four more years to the Buhari administration. She expresses anger and disappointment at the present government and states that she would not, in good conscience, be able to cast her vote for it.

I had a rather surprising conversation with an elderly friend a week ago. Because I’ve written opinion pieces about politics for a while now, most of my conversations with friends usually turn towards the subject at some point; and this one was no different. However, because I hadn’t spoken to this friend in a very long time, I didn’t quite have an inclination as to his current political leanings.

I was quite surprised though, when he said to me, “Buchi, I hope you are voting for Baba oh.” I was like “wait, what? You can’t be serious sir.” I mean, why on earth would I want to cast my vote towards another four years for Muhammadu Buhari to stay on as president?

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Anyway, in the spirit of ‘respect’ and ‘decorum’, I tried as much as possible not to lash out at this man, who, aside from politics, had taught me valuable life lessons in the past.

So, I went further and I asked, “So Oga, you are voting for Buhari?” He responded, “Yes oh”. Then I asked, “But why sir?” Then he stated, “Buchi, we need to clean this system. I know things are tough right now but we need to go through this so things can get better.”

At this point, I was dumbfounded; so I said to this elderly friend of mine, “Sir, you mean to tell me that you are happy with the way things are right now?” Then he started stuttering. Anyway, I ended the conversation by wishing him the best and telling him to vote with his conscience.

But inwardly, I was mad as hell!

For the love of all that keeps us sane, why would anyone give Muhammadu Buhari a second chance? For what?

My friend was repeating the usual talking point – that the man is fighting corruption. LOL. Give me a break please. How can you wine and dine with corrupt elements and then claim to be fighting corruption? How can you embrace (allegedly) corrupt people – even those facing trial for embezzling public funds – and then tells us that you’ll ensure that there would be no hiding place for looters?

What moral justification is there for the national chairman of the president’s party to say that when one comes over to his side, that person’s “sins are forgiven”. Or how can a man who claims he is fighting corruption choose to be associated with a chief executive of a state who was captured on camera, seemingly taking bribe?

Mehn, we have taken a lot from this government.

Okay, they say they came to revitalize the economy and make life better for all, right? Yet, while Aso Rock has a N149 million budget for foodstuff and catering material supplies for the president and his vice, the average man on the streets cannot afford to feed twice a day – not to talk of thrice!

As at February 2019, the World Poverty Clock, a tool created to monitor progress against poverty globally, stated that the number of extremely poor Nigerians had risen to 91.6 million. In other words, virtually half of our country’s population now live in extreme poverty.

In June 2018, this same World Poverty Clock had named Nigeria as the poverty capital of the world!

Our healthcare system is in shambles, doctors are leaving the country in droves and patients are dying from non-life threatening ailments as a result of their financial situation and poor infrastructure in the sector; yet, our president takes medical vacations to the United Kingdom with as much frequency as a ‘small girl with a very big God’!

When last did your monthly take-home cheque actually take you home? For a large section of the populace, that was ‘never’. While South Africa has increased its minimum wage for workers to N126,480 per month, over here, we are still battling to implement a 30,000naira minimum wage and our president does not seem to have the willpower – or even the desire – to make this possible!

What about when you go to bed at night…do you feel safe? Well, if you’re like me who lives in Lagos, you are somewhat able to manage to close both eyes at night. However, if you live up North, say in Borno, that will be very difficult. How can you have restful sleep when your mind continually processes images of previous Boko Haram invasions?

In 2019, we have a terrorist organisation still operating with impunity in the North, with better fighting tools than our military; yet, our president is a former general who came into power with a firm promise to tackle the insurgency!

They keep telling us Boko Haram has been ‘technically defeated’ but almost every other day, there’s news about a deadly attack by the terrorists in some part of the country!

I know this particular issue is not entirely Buhari’s fault because the Boko Haram insurgency has been turned into somewhat of a ‘political weapon’ by some wicked, criminally-minded people. However, I do believe that when there is a ‘will’, there will be a ‘way’. And from where I’m standing right now, there’s no such will in sight!

To be fair, there have been a few successes like the Treasury Single Account (TSA) which has helped ensure fiscal discipline in the federal government. However, if an economic policy does not translate into tangible benefits for the common man, then more needs to be done.

By the way, the TSA was actually proposed and partially implemented by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, so the Buhari government cannot claim total credit for the policy.

The government has also reiterated, over time, its commitment to infrastructural development, with investments in railway transportation; however, not everyone journeys by train…the majority of us still move about by road. And a trip by road from Lagos to Benin or from Lagos to Ibadan is still basically a ‘trip from hell’.

Not long ago, the president signed Executive Order 7 of 2019 on Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme to improve road infrastructure by developing Public Private Partnerships with investors. But why wait till 2019?

The Buhari administration also likes to tout its record in the area of social development programmes. However, if the poorly implemented School Feeding Programme which has seen school children being fed ‘abysmal meals in cellophane packaging’ or the Trader Moni Scheme which has been described in various quarters as being tantamount to a money-for-votes scheme is what the government would want to blow its horn about, then it seriously needs to come up with another tune!

Nobody ever said fixing Nigeria would be easy; but then, instead of getting things done, this government has spent four years blaming an opposition no longer in power, chasing political opponents while seemingly turning a blind eye to alleged looters in its own camp, and labeling opposing views as ‘hate speech’ while defending a governor who boldly told the international community that those who intervene in our elections will go back in ‘body bags’!

Ha!

See ehn, I’m tired. ..even worse, I’m ‘tired of being tired’!

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Well, in conclusion – so I don’t keep on venting - I’ll just say this: If you’re one of those who think this government deserves another chance, by all means, go ahead and give them your vote. However, I want you to be totally convinced that you are doing the right thing.

Keep in mind that they have nothing more to lose…the president cannot run for another term if he wins this election, meaning he doesn’t need your votes anymore after this. So, after Saturday, February 16, keep your complaints to yourself!

As for me, I cannot in all good conscience give this administration my vote towards another four years.

I know that this country is one where ‘strange miracles’ happen and ‘funny things’ take place at polling booths. However, if President Buhari wins on Saturday, I would at least take solace in the fact that my vote wasn’t one of those that perpetuated a government that, in my opinion, has been a disappointment so far!

Four more years? Not with my vote!

This opinion piece was written by Buchi Obichie.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Legit.ng.

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