As the sun sets on another day in Nigeria, it casts long shadows over the masses, shrouding them in the chilling gloom of hardship. The man on the street, the woman at the market, the artisan in the workshop, and the child in the classroom, all bear the brunt of a political system that seems far removed from their plight. While they continue to hope for the best, the worst keeps locating them, and their soreness keeps festering.
Coming off an eight-year tenure marshalled by the grossly ineffective Muhammadu Buhari as President left Nigerians wondering if there could be some higher levels of nationally inflicted tragic pain. Alas, they were wrong because the new President, Bola Tinubu has once again begun demonstrating to them that the motivation behind the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was basically to run Nigerians out of existence.
A few days ago, Buhari, the former President, spoke to Nigerians through his media aide while in office, Malam Garba Shehu, to explain why he did not remove fuel subsidies despite making plans to do so. According to him, he did not remove subsidies because he wanted his party to win the Presidential elections, which were at stake at the time. The fact that Buhari could say this to Nigerians without mincing words clearly shows the policy direction and mission statement of the APC.
Regardless of the prism from which one chooses to view those comments from Buhari, they were deeply insulting to the common intelligence of Nigerians. Reading the rationalisations for dodging such a crucial decision at a time it should have been taken should tell Nigerians how lowly the APC rates governance in the country. It was not just cheap, it was overly pedestrian that such a crucial national issue was deflected for partisan considerations. Buhari will do well to advise him to keep more to himself in the coming months, rather than coming to the public space to spray noxious bile into the eyes of Nigerians with his utterances.
At this point, Nigerians can only wonder, how many other crucial national issues Buhari had to gloss over in preference for partisan interests and in which areas. That revelation was simply startling and incriminating. Perhaps it is high time he opened up to tell Nigerians why he failed abysmally in security, economy, and education, and also why oil thievery and bunkering, became big hitters under his maladministration.
During his campaigns, Tinubu promised Nigerians openly that he was going to continue where Buhari stopped. And he is doing exactly so. Despite the praise from his vuvuzelas about how decisive he has been, nobody has managed to point to any material impact of his policies on the lives of Nigerians. It is indeed befuddling that some sycophants are already declaring Bola Tinubu to be the best president Nigeria has ever had.
What is perhaps more troubling is how, due to the same euphoria, some economic decisions are being cheered on as necessary pain and Nigerians are being pushed to swallow them hook, line, and sinker. They are passing off hard decisions using very dubious means and using the maxim of ‘suffer now, enjoy later’ to deflect and whitewash them. What these praise singers have completely ignored in their foolishness is that one has to survive first before enjoying El Dorado.
In a case of crass showmanship, Tinubu unilaterally removed a subsidy scheme that has been in place for over three decades. He did this without considering how Nigerians would survive or cope. Over a month after that drunken announcement, he has yet to provide any cushion for Nigerians, who now struggle to stay alive every day.
What is perhaps more painful is that within the same period that Nigerians were still gasping for air following the removal of fuel subsidies, Tinubu’s government also supervised the announcement of the removal of subsidies on electricity tariffs and their plans to introduce VAT on diesel.
Within the same period, Tinubu also signed the Student Loan Bill, an indication that the cost of post-secondary education will shoot up. And of course, he knows the implications. This development leaves any sane mind wondering whether the government considers the patience of the impoverished infinitely elastic or if there is a deliberate tactic to push people off the edge.
To think that all these supposed harsh measures came in the wake of Nigerians’ survival during Buhari’s nightmarish years, including a misconceived naira redesign policy that declined their purchasing power, explains the kind of human beings in the APC and the disdain they have for struggling Nigerians.
The government of Tinubu has been completely lacking in direction. Following the removal of subsidies, the government has failed to communicate with Nigerians the way it should. A government that should be at the forefront of communicating where this is leading has chosen aloofness and silence. It betrays an obvious lack of direction. Nigerians have been caught on many occasions asking themselves, to what end is all the suffering? And answers have remained elusive.
Just a few weeks ago, the World Bank alerted the world that Nigeria is one of three countries with the highest level of poverty globally. Recall that sometime in February this year, another report from the bank explained that 12 percent of the world’s population in extreme poverty lived in Nigeria, given the poverty threshold of US$1.90 per day! The World Poverty Clock’s data also show that not less than 71 million Nigerians are extremely poor. If one adds this to the fact that the National Bureau of Statistics had a few months ago classified 133 million Nigerians as suffering from multidimensional poverty. This paints a picture of what Nigeria is today under the APC, and the picture keeps growing grim.
All his life, Tinubu’s political fortunes and transformation have always come at a cost, and this cost has always been borne by the poor citizens of Lagos State. In this case, he has just made it emphatically clear to anyone that is paying attention that the cost this time will be covered by the ordinary Nigerian citizen who is grappling with the harsh realities of economic turbulence, insecurity, and social inequality.
In 2015, the APC, which had President Tinubu back then as its leader, promised change and progress. They vowed to guide Nigeria toward prosperity. Yet, years later, the common Nigerian is still awaiting the fulfillment of these promises. The reality of life in Nigeria sharply contrasts with the rosy pictures painted during election campaigns. The struggle for survival has become the national anthem of most, echoing in the hearts of millions.
Tinubu’s party, the APC, has ensured that through their cluelessness, inflation, unemployment, and insecurity have continued to fester, deepening the wounds of the common citizen, and pushing them further into the abyss of despair. The hardship is real, tangible, and heartbreaking. It is etched in the furrowed brow of the father who cannot feed his family, in the weary eyes of the mother who cannot afford healthcare for her sick child, and in the helpless sigh of the youth, burdened by unemployment and a bleak future. What Nigerians are currently going through is not just painful but deeply concerning.
All over the world, the role of any robust political party, particularly one in power, is to alleviate the hardships of its citizens, not exacerbate them. In the case of the APC and Tinubu, it appears the reverse is the case. The misery of Nigerians has continued to advance with every passing minute.
The politics of hardship is a bitter pill to swallow for Nigerians, who have always shown resilience in the face of adversity. Their strength, however, should not be a license for political indifference or policy missteps. Tinubu should not continue to take Nigerians for a ride. The wickedness must stop.
Going forward, it is high time Nigerians rose above the politics of hardship that the APC is known for. Nigerians must begin to make deliberate efforts to hold their leaders at all levels accountable, question their actions, and remind them of the promises they made. It is time for Nigerians to unanimously demand that the country be restructured to enable several ailing sectors in the country to thrive. To Tinubu and the APC, the message is clear: it is time to turn the tide. It is time to transform the politics of hardship into a politics of hope and prosperity. The Nigerian masses suffering surely deserve better.
In conclusion, the sun will rise again over Nigeria, but let it not rise on a country beleaguered by hardship. Let it rise in a country where the political system serves its people, where leaders stand up for their citizens, and where every Nigerian can live with dignity, security, and hope for a brighter future. Nigerians must determine to change this rubbish, and they will if they remain consistent in speaking out.