Nigeria: Poverty Index - How Sensitive Is Our Government?

20 November 2020
opinion

Most of the people angry with the President Muhammadu Buhari is because he is seen to be too disconnected with the people.

He does not seem to understand what's going on in the society. They believe he is so ensconced in the comfort of the presidential Villa and completely oblivious of what the rest of Nigerians go through. He does not feel what we feel, nor see what we see. They believe that is why the timing of many of the Buhari administration's actions and policies are markedly indifferent to the realities on the streets.

I start with the most recent.

At a time the Nigerian youths are being placated and enjoined to eschew violence and seek dialogue in resolving national issues, the federal government not only went after perceived leaders of the #EndSARS protest, it froze the bank accounts of nineteen youths believed to have been the prime supporters of the protest. It even went further to de-register the corporate organization of some of the said supporters, just as the Nigerian Immigration had seized the international passport of one of the prominent protesters. Some people even believe the federal government is behind the suit filed against prominent supporters of the protest including Femi Falana, Pastor Sam Adeyemi and 48 others.

How can a government seeking and pursuing peace be the same entity rolling out machinery of war against the same people it wants to make peace with?

As if that was not annoying enough, the government goes ahead, the following week, to increase the pump price of petrol from N159 per litre to N170. This is coming at a time Nigerians have not even regained their breath from the crushing effect from #EndSARS protests wherein many small and medium-scale businesses were destroyed. Raising the cost of petrol at such a time is likened to further choking somebody already gasping for breath, caused by the socio-economic squeeze occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To drag in the argument of complete deregulation of the price of crude will make little sense at a time like this. Government is not run by robots. There should be humanity to government policies. Government policies are made for men and not men for government policies.

Pray, does Mr President understand that there is huge poverty in the land? Does he know the degree of hunger (and thus anger) in the land? Was it for nothing Nigeria was declared as the poverty capital of the world? Isn't that heart-wrenching enough?

Does he not know that the degree of destruction that followed the #EndSARS protests is a reflection of the angst in the land?

Be it herein said: Many Nigerians are hungry. Ekeing a living has become much tougher than ever. Many businesses are shut. The borders are closed. Cost of transportation has increased significantly. Unemployment is swelling by the day. Young graduates can't find a job, Their parents are losing their jobs. The value of the naira is on a steady fall. Purchasing power of the people is getting weaker and weaker everyday... . And the government increases cost of petrol, which is almost the live wire of the nation. Gosh... . Nothing else celebrates executive insensitivity more than this

Nigerian mothers can neither buy tomatoes nor Onion. Minimum wage can't buy just a bag of rice. If it is this bad with over a month to Christmas, one wonders what will happen around Yuletide season. The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says inflation has risen to over 16 percent.

This same government had in August, when the COVID-19 ill wave was flattening its curve, raised the cost of petrol and electricity tariff. It took the protest of Nigerians led by the compromised NLC for government to suspend the increase in electricity price tariff. The timing of these policies are completely insensitive of the realities on the streets.

Where are we going? Life is getting even more brutish and nasty. That explains the avalanche of crime and criminal tendencies in the country.

It is not enough discounting these facts by talking aboutgovernemnt's efforts in re-building national infrastructures. Only the living use public infrastructure. There must be a good balancing between infrastructural development and beneficial governance. The latter is clearly lacking.

We are not unmindful of the fact that this same administration, at the beginning, had raised price of petrol from N97 to N145, and Nigerians took it, believing that the Buhari administration means well. That goodwill has since been lost.

The government must embark on deliberate policy gestures that can rebuild confidence in government and offer visible reliefs to the majority of Nigerians. Such references to N-Power, Tradermoni etc., as government's efforts at boosting the economic power of the people is rather paltry as they are too little, too few to cause an economic rebound.

Nigerian leaders cannot continue to behave as if it is running e-powered governance.

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