By Ephraim Adiele*
Good Day Ma. How are you? And how is life as the First Lady, sorry Wife of The President (your husband does not want you to be called First Lady). I’m sure it’splendid. I saw pictures form your book launch, you are really doing well for yourself I must say.
Madam, May 29, 2016 would make it a year since your husband, Muhammadu Buhari became President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I do not intend to bore you with long introductory speeches, I have already done that in similar letters I addressed to your children, Zarah (when Buhari’s government was 100 days old) and Yusuf (when Buhari’s government was 9 months old).
Let me go straight to the point, a lot of things have happened since your husband became President, but I will touch on as many as I can. I really want to keep this short!
BEAUTIFUL UGLY CRUDE
Since Buhari became President, the price of Premium Motor Spirit (fuel or petrol as it is called in local parlance) has gone from the jaw-dropping to eye-popping to heart-breaking to blood-pumping. We have had the kind of scarcity that made people sleepover at petrol stations. The situation got so bad that the price of the product depended/depends on what part of the country you live in and the time of the day you want to make the purchase.
Some months back the Federal Government put the official pump price for petrol at N86.50 per litre, but that price was just a rubberstamp. Fuel was selling for N100 to as much as N500 per litre. The effects of this hike in the price of fuel are too numerous. Transport fares skyrocketed as commercial drivers had to make up for the exorbitant prices they bought fuel.
Recently, the Federal Government announced an end to the payment of fuel subsidy and an increment of the official pump price of fuel to N145. This is not an entirely bad idea, but the thing is there are no measures in place to cushion the effect of the increase while the minimum wage remains the same.
ECONOMIC BLINKING BLINKING
Madam Aisha, I sincerely doubt if you know what is obtainable in the country as regards the economy. That said I’d like to intimate you with a few of the things going on.
The current exchange rate of the naira to the dollar has terribly affected the cost of everything, but one of the most alarming is the price of tomatoes – one ball goes for as much as N100.
Asides this, the following economic woes are of note:
- In September 2015, the country’s GDP recorded a 40% decline and more recently, it was reported to have fallen to its lowest in 25 years.
- Also in September 2015, foreign investors withdrew N410 billion investment in the Nigerian Stock Exchange
- As at October 2015, the country’s foreign debt hit $11 billion
- By November 2015,Nigeria’s earning from non-oil exports dropped by about N52 billion
- By December 2015, the NNPC announced a loss of about N241 billion while the country’s Fixed Income Market Turnover Dropped By N2.7 trillion.
- In January, it was reported that NNPC owed International oil Companies (IOCs) about $2.8 billion. In the same month, the Nigerian Stock Market Index fell to a 4-year low. Like that was not enough, the naira fell to a 43-year low, getting exchanged for over N300 per dollar.
- In February, news had it that the NNPC made a loss of about N267 billion
- In the midst of the already terrible economy, it was reported in March that the federal government had slashed the salaries of federal university staff by half.
- Asides the hike in fuel prices, there has also been a major hike in the electricity tariff across the country. The annoying part is that the huge electricity bills being incurred by poor citizens is a far cry from the amount of electricity being supplied.
- On March 31, 2016, at exactly 12:58 pm, Nigeria entered the record books as the country produces 0 megawatts of electricity
HUMAN RIGHTS AND JAGUDA THINGS
Before the 2015 elections, there were accusations that Buhari would the toe the line he did during his time as Head of State when the fundamental human rights of citizens were flagrantly abused. We were then told that Buhari is a converted democrat.
Fast forward to present day Nigeria and a lot of questions need to be asked as regards President Buhari’s human rights record.
Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Director of Radio Biafra has been in custody since he returned to the country in October 2015. Several court judgenments and even his bail conditions have been met, but the President and his people at the Department of State Services (DSS) have refused to let the man go.
The same situation has fallen several people , including the former National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki; the former Chief Security Officer to former President Goodluck Jonathan,Gordon Obua; former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode; the spokesperson of the opposition PDP, Olisa Metuh, and many more… all within just one year.
FULANI MILITIA AND THE ‘ENEMIES OF NIGERIA’S UNITY’
Since President Buhari assumed office, a hitherto silent threat to the security of lives and property – the Fulani herdsmen – suddenly became more brazen in their attacks on innocent citizens. There are too many cases but a few have been widely reported in the media.
- An attack on the farm of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Olu Falae, which ended with the elder statesman being kidnapped.
- An attack on Agatu in Benue State which left at least 200 people dead.
- An attack on Nimbo community in Enugu State, leaving about 100 people dead.
- In January 2016, the Fulani militia abducted and killed the monarch ruling Ubulu-Uku Kingdom in Aniocha South Local Government Area of the Delta State, Akaeze Edward Ofulue III.
- There have also been attacks in Taraba, Benue,Delta, Enugu, most parts of the middle belt and the South Western part of the country.
The aim of highlighting these attacks is to show how widespread the attacks have been and what such attacks portend for the unity of the country as several parts of the country have since called for secession as a result of the attacks.
On the other hand, President Buhari has severally issued threats to those he deems to be the enemies of Nigeria’s unity – namely Biafran secessionists and Niger Delta militants who have resumed attacks on oil installations.
In my unsolicited opinion, the biggest threat to Nigeria’s unity at the moment remains the Fulani herdsmen, who unlike Biafra secessionists and Niger Delta militants have killed hundreds of innocent people.
The most baffling aspect is the fact that President Buhari has not once come out to condemn the menace that is the Fulani militia.
Let’s leave that matter.
MUCH ADO ABOUT BEING FANTASTICALLY CORRUPT
The Nigerian media and populace in general went berserk very recently when a video surfaced showing where the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who while addressing top British functionaries including The Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury described Nigerian leaders as “fantastically corrupt.”
Although any have aired their opinion on the matter, my submission remains that President Buhari should take the blame for the unguarded statement from British PM. My reason is this: President Buhari has never failed to tell the world that Nigerians are corrupt. He has done so on so many of his international voyages, at least I remember him making such statements about Nigerians in India and France.
Aunty Aisha, please tell him to stop. Remind him that as President, he should be the country’s biggest PR executive. Going out to make such statements about your countrymen is not a smart move, sir.
LET ME SHUT UP
Aunty Aisha, I would have loved to go on as there are so many other issues which have not yet been highlighted including the attempt by the Buhari-led APC government to hijack the judiciary and the nations electoral body, INEC; the inability of your husband’s government to commence a single capital project of note; the scandalous 2016 budget amongst others.
Aunty Aisha, I doubt Zahra and Yusuf delivered the letters I sent to them. May 29 2ould make it a year since your husband became President and it is unfortunate these are things his government would be remembered for, unless he takes another direction… and fast!
I know you will not deliver this letter too. I just hope you read it and try as much as possible to whisper these things to him whenever you guys are having “couple time.” I’m sure he’ll listen to most of what you have to say.
*Ephraim Adiele is a journalist and media practitioner. He is currently an Associate editor with The Trent (Nigeria’s Online Newspaper). He is also a Social Media Manager with RDM/Pulse Nigeria, the Media Relations Executive for Cliqit and the Media Officer for La Cave Musik (Paris) amongst other things.