By Tony Eluemumor
The All Progressives Congress (APC) political party and its President Mohammadu Buhari-administration has proved to be a medicine worse than the disease it was voted into power to cure.
APC, carrying aloft a beacon of hope, approached Nigerians begging for votes. It posed as a salvation army primed to jostle against every ill that has subjugated Nigeria, defeat those destablising and demeaning Nigeria.
Most of all it promised to free Nigeria from the shackles of ineffective governance and its sundry symptoms such as runaway inflation occasioned by a ruinously worthless Naira, dead education sector, electricity supply that had remained shamefully, alarmingly and disastrously low as it hovered around the 3000 megawatts mark for some three decades even as Nigeria’s population increased exponentially and it stymied the industrial and manufacturing base. Stymie (or Stymy)? No, it is worse than that.
The word stymie is a situation in gulf in which one ball obstructs the line of play of another on the putting green, so it means an impasse, a quandary.
The abysmally low 3000 megawatts of electricity for Africa’s most populous country and a pretender to one of its biggest economies will point Nigeria towards one direction only; to become a nation of shop-keepers and not manufacturers.
Though APC came into power with the promise to take Nigeria to the next level, it now appears that it is either the leaders of the party did not know what they were mouthing, or they were simply being deceitful for so far, Nigeria is worse off in every way than she was under the administration which the present one succeeded.
The greatest attack against the value of the Naira comes from the inexplicable wastage which Nigeria, a veritable oil exporter has condemned itself into; to waste scarce foreign exchange in importing refined petrol while its four refineries produce nothing. How this could have gone on in an administration headed by a man who supposed to be experienced in both oil and leadership matters must remain one of the inexplicable mysteries of this age.
Here is a man who was a governor of the North-Eastern state by 1975. When the Olusegun Obasanjo administration was handing over power to the civilians in 1979, President Mohamadu Buhari, as Petroleum Minister had superintended over the building of some two refineries.
Then in 1984, he became a military head of state. So, he had seen it all, and experienced it all before he was elected President in 2015. So, why is Nigeria still groping in the dark under him?
Something else! Nigerian intellectuals used to think they were making a strong point when they used to point out that past Nigerian leaders have been accidental presidents as none of them dreamed of becoming president and so never prepared for it.
That was a lie because Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida prepared to be military president, dreamed of it and schemed for it. Yet, he failed himself and failed Nigeria when he overreached himself by annulling the free and fair election which the late M. K. O Abiola had won clearly and cleanly.
His supporters have argued repeatedly that while IBB was willing to hand over power to Abiola, that some military officers forced him to annul that election. That is absolute nonsense. IBB was the first real and full-fledged dictator Nigeria experienced. While the Supreme Military Council (SMC) was there to check the dictatorial tendencies of the past heads of
states, including Buhari, IBB rose above the SMC which he renamed Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) as he could retire the members whimsically.
Yet, even if IBB did not prepare for the highest office in the land as Buhari himself did—he had been there before. And while another military head of state became a civilian president before Buhari, it
could be argued that Olusegun Obasanjo was asked to come lead us in 1999—as he exited the prison which the dark-goggled one, Sani Abacha, had thrown him into. Buhari campaigned for years throughfailed elections and then cried openly because he thought he had missed the chance forever. Then the chance came! But what did he do with it? Had he done nothing, Nigeria would not be in a deep mess today. He did worse than nothing and the value of the naira fell against other national currencies.
Where there was just the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria when he came in, the bandits and killer herders have joined Boko Haram in a three-pronged attack on Nigeria and Nigerianness. For a past and present petroleum minister, Buhari’s inaction on the local refinery front is shameful. As I wrote last week, quoting Dataphyle: “Already, refined petroleum takes the largest chunk of Nigeria’s import bill. Between 2015 and 2019, Nigeria’s total import value stood at $220.2 billion. In the same period, refined petroleum imports contributed $37.85 billion. This is almost 17 percent (16.91%) of the total import value.
An analysis of the data on product importation by Nigeria revealed that almost 17 out of every 100 dollars spent by Nigeria companies on product imports is spent on refined petroleum.” Buhari should know this! And it should have worried him.
Yet, we have been told that the answer for such problems could even lie in Nigeria importing petrol from Niger Republic. No disgrace could be worse than that because if the Niger Republic could run a refinery,why would such a task be impossible in Nigeria?
And does Nigeria know that the Soraz refinery in Niger Republic has a capacity for just 20,000 barrels daily? Though the daily demand there is just 5, 000 barrels, the remaining 15, 000 barrels will not make a noticeable mark in Nigeria where demand hovers around the 483,000 barrels per day. And if we feel that we are too corrupt to manage refineries, we could invite Algeria to teach us how; Algeria’s refineries are government-operated.
Nigerians have been groaning under a wicked petrol scarcity for weeks now and nobody up there appears concerned.