Democracy Day: Should we count gains or losses – a question for President Tinubu

 

This statement is written on behalf of the many Nigerians who are concerned about the state of affairs and the direction in which it is headed 25 years after its return to democracy – supposed government of the people.

 

Today is June 12, 2024, Nigeria’s new democracy day. In June of 2018, former President, Muhammadu Buhari signed a Bill of the National Assembly into law, which changed our earlier Democracy Day commemoration from May 29, the actual date of Nigeria’s returned to democracy in 1999, after 15 years of military interruption to June 12. Hence, this anniversary of 25 years of uninterrupted democracy in Nigeria may be coming 14 days late. However, that is not the focus of this statement.

 

As we mark this 25th anniversary, we’re quite certain that Nigeria is not where it used to be. However, have we moved forward? The answer, undoubtedly, is yes. Are we on course and still moving forward? This is where we have a divide. The government, its praise singers and a few citizens who also can see through the lenses of the government will answer in the positive while the bulk of the ordinary citizens who can no longer cope with the prevailing hardship will answer in the negative.

 

Regardless of the divide, on this 25th anniversary, with President Bola Tinubu on the saddle of leadership for a year and 13 days, Nigeria has taken three steps forward and ten steps backwards!

 

The government of Tinubu has recorded some tangible gains through the deliveries of ministers of works, Senator David Umahi and Barr. Nyesom Wike, the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

 

The infrastructural development championed particularly, by the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike has exposed and amplified the incapacitation of his predecessor, Hon. Bello Muhammed also known as “Keep in View (KIV)” minister and his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari who was fond of rewarding failure and the dead.

 

In the FCT, we have seen quality rehabilitation of roads, not the kind we saw under Buhari. We have also seen the completion of road constructions and flyovers. The light rail is also back. These infrastructures have opened up the city and ease traffic congestion. We are also aware of some ongoing reforms in the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA). The new reforms have opened up the FCTA civil service and has created more opportunities, we hope it will increase efficiency. We commend this deliveries by Wike and request that more be done.

 

We are also aware that the government of President Tinubu has refurbished the third Mainland Bridge in Lagos. As part of his one year anniversary, he commissioned virtually, the rehabilitation of 330 roads and bridges across the country. On some of the rehabilitated roads, construction are still ongoing. Also, 135 out of the 330 roads are in the FCT.

 

Beyond the aforementioned, what else has the President done, perhaps the reversal of our national anthem to the old one – “Nigeria We Hail Thee.”

 

On the other hand, we would like to ask President Tinubu, how has his policies, programmes and projects improved the living standards of Nigerians? What was the inflation index before he got into office and what is it today? What was the value of the naira before he got to office and what is it today? What impact has his policy on the naira float had on the United States dollar? How effective is his policy on subsidy removal? One year down the line, can Tinubu boastfully say he has done well? The President and his praise singers know that all is not well with the country today.

 

On assumption of office on May 29, 2023, the President, Tinubu took simultaneously, two hasty decisions – removal of subsidy and floating of the naira. These decisions have remained the greatest undoing of his government not because they were bad decisions but because the attendant consequences of the decisions were not carefully understudied and understood before implementation.

 

The ripple effect of subsidy removal and naira float has brought untold hardship on the citizens. It has widened the gap between the rich and the poor, increased youth unemployment, increased hunger and sadly, the number of deaths.

 

At this point, we would like to remind President Tinubu that he met PMS at N197, it is today selling between N670 and N900. He also met 50g bag of rice at N25,000, today, it is selling between N58,000 and N70,000 – depending on the brand and market. A United State dollar was exchanging at N461 before he got to office, it is today exchanging at 1,489! We can go on and on to reel out the basic necessities that have gone out of the reach of the ordinary Nigerians under Tinubu’s watch.

 

Sadly, one thing has not changed, the minimum wage of workers paid by the President. Minimum wage is still N30,000. Let us also at this point take a look at the implications of this minimum wage. On May 28, 2023, a day before President Tinubu took over from Buhari, workers earning N30,000 had a USD equivalent of $65. This means that, as bad as the situation was under former President Buhari, the least worker was striving on $2 a day. Today, under the watch of Tinubu, that same worker who still earns N30,000 has a USD equivalent of $20!

 

The United Nations classifies people living on less than a dollar as being extremely poor. The implication is that President Tinubu has dragged a bulk of our people into extreme poverty. We remembered when workers under former President Goodluck Jonathan were earning N18,000, a USD equivalent of $97, Tinubu and his associates told the people they were suffering – what a deceitful leader.

 

It is important to note that this is not the worst of Tinubu’s government. We are surprised that the clamour by workers for a pay rise is being trivialised by Tinubu and his men. They have stamped their feets on N60,000 – a 100% increment. What we want the President to know is that, even if he approves N100,000, it is only worth former President Buhari’s N30,000. Today, while N100,000 is worth $67, N60,000 is worth $40.

 

Let us again imagine a scenario where President Tinubu in his thinking, magnanimously approves N100,000, in the Tinubu’s Nigeria of today, what needs will the monies address?

 

Mr. President, as we commemorate this 25th anniversary of uninterrupted democracy, counting our gains or losses, our losses outweigh our gains. Wake up Mr. President and live up to your mandate – your clock is ticking

 

God bless Nigeria.

God bless Concerned Nigerians

 

Pen Sam

For Concerned Nigerians

(From Lagos, Nigeria)

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