By Musa Ilallah
There is doubt that President Buhari was destined to lead this country, first as a military head of state, and an elected civilian President for two terms of 8 years with a strong conviction to make the difference. As a General Officer Commanding (GOC), a Federal Commissioner, a military Governor, Head of State and later as Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Petroleum (PTF), the then General Muhammadu Buhari has proved his worth and capacity to handle his responsibilities with utmost sense of patriotism, professionalism and transparency.
During his swearing in as elected President of Nigeria on May 29, 2015 under the banner of the All Peoples Congress (APC), having defeated incumbent President Jonathan Goodluck of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) amidst very high expectations from him and his party, the President made some pledges. And he has delivered.
Five years on, the PMB administration has worked hard to meet many expectations, but still, there are certain tough decisions which had to be taken to put back the country on the path of sustainable development.
To stop the mismanagement of taxpayers money, eliminate corruption associated with subsidies on petroleum products, power supply and fertilizer, among others, the administration took the decision to implement long-delayed reforms, withdraw and allow the market to determine their prices.
Thus, subsidy removal in these sectors had long been foreseen by successive administrations as game changers in search of solutions to move forward with the nation’s development. These are reforms that are necessary and long overdue.
Several efforts by successive adminstrations had come and gone but courage to take bold decisions was not there to change the trend.
Over the last few days, one claim acquiring a potent resonance with the online community, sections of the labour movement and the opposition is that the actions are ill-timed and ill-advised.
The Group Managing Director, GMD of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mele Kyari recently said that Nigeria spent N15 trillion to subsidise fuel and exchange rates between 2006 and 2020, some of which went into private pockets which explained why fuel subsidy was removed.
“N10 trillion was spent on fuel subsidy between 2006 and 2020 without significant benefits to the masses. Marketers were having a field day smuggling subsidised petrol to neighbouring countries to make more profit, as others faked documents to collect subsidy for fuel they never imported. Hence Federal Government removed subsidy on petrol because subsidy regime was characterised with fraud by some cabals”, said Kyari
Indeed fuel subsidy was the root of most of the atrocities and frauds in the oil sector in the country which necessitated government to remove it with a plan to reinvest on projects that will have direct impact on the masses.
In all sincerity, it is nothing new in the fact that the country is today fighting multiple challenges along with Covid 19, including low earnings, near-collapse of the oil market, floods, threats of terrorism and banditry. These challenges notwithstanding, a good government must take decisions for the people’s good.
As President, Muhammadu Buhari had taken these difficult decisions, with some popular and others unpopular as a leader because he is demonstrating the right courage to take inevitable decisions as they become necessary in view of present circumstances.
In addition to his amazing ability to command votes, President Buhari will be remembered as the President who made real contributions to economic and overall national development by eliminating evils of corruption embedded in subsidies.
According to Garba Shehu, President Buhari’s Spokesperson, “in any democracy, the most important certificate in governance is acceptance by the people. With the support of ordinary Nigerians, President Buhari has shown a rare determination to carry out the bold initiatives as those ones driven by nothing other than the greatest good for the greatest number of people. In carrying out the reforms, the President needs the support and understanding of all citizens-inclusive of the opposition parties, the labour movement and civil society groups”.
He stated further that “in these challenging times, the President is pushing development goals, not politics, and history will judge him in favourable terms rather than his critics in the new media and the opposition”.
It is on record that during his Inaugural speech in May 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari pledged and assured the wider international community of his government’s readiness to cooperate and help to combat threats of cross-border terrorism, sea piracy, refugees, financial crime, cyber crime, climate change, spread of communicable diseases and other challenges of the 21st century.
It is not an exageration to say that the country today faces enormous challenges of economic distress, insecurity, pervasive corruption, the hitherto unending and seemingly impossible fuel and power shortages, as the immediate concerns with a pledge by government to decisively tackle them head on.
Other daunting challenges staring the PMB administration in the face include deficit in infrastructures, unemployment, rise in poverty, low school enrolment and health issues, among others. President Buhari has times without number expressed the desire to once and for all deal with those challenges militating against the country’s development.
On infrastructure, the PMB administration had since embarked on a massive provision of infrastructure for the country in road, rail, power and water supply sectors. This has resulted in a multiplier effect of creating millions of jobs and also lifting many more out of poverty.
Despite the challenge of falling oil price brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, aka Corona Virus, and fall of the Exchange rate of Naira against the Dollar, President Buhari is more determined than ever before to pursue his agenda of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
What is most encouraging under the present difficult times is the fact that Nigerians will not regret that they have entrusted national responsibilities to President Buhari.
Removing subsidies on fuel, power and foreign exchange are inevitable decisions if Nigeria is to move forward and be counted among the comity of nations with a prosperous future for its citizens.
From all indications, government’s wrapped up strategies in policy pronouncements, statements, pledges, directives, actions and further whole hearted commitment by President Buhari to overcome these challenges and more that have stood in the path of unity, progress, growth and development of Nigeria, President Buhari ‘s resolve in improving the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians is unwavering.
No mattet what wailers are saying, PMB is committed towards delivering the dividends of democracy to Nigerians and nothing will distract him from achieving this.
What he needs most from all and sundry is to support him to resolve all the challenges in the intetest of Nigeria and Nigerians. Nothing more or less.