• Saturday, September 30, 2023
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One month to inauguration: Nigerians apprehensive of uncertain future

Long walk to May 29

Two months after the general election that gave many Nigerians much hope for a better future, and one month to the inauguration of a new administration, many citizens seem to be apprehensive of what lies ahead.

The fact that it is just one month to bid farewell to President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration gives a sense of relief to most Nigerians.

It is like a freedom-at-last feeling, considering the near-hell Nigerians have been through for the eight years of Buhari; who in 2015 was seen as the saviour of the country, but the disappointment still stares on the faces of the supporters.

But while May 29th brightens hope for the country as a new administration takes over the affairs of the country from the poorly-performed Buhari’s administration, the citizens have mixed feelings on the hope and what to expect from the incoming government.

While some, who have looked into the crystal ball see peace and abundance, many see no such things.

In his own crystal ball, Onyewuchi Akagbule, a senior lecturer at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, sees dashed hope.

According to the lecturer, the inauguration should not even take place because the election result is hugely contested by the other parties and the reality is that Nigerians voted against the ruling party.

“If you rig and get inaugurated, you are going to run an illegitimate government. “So, nobody will hold you accountable because majority did not vote for you. I don’t see the incoming administration impressing Nigerians because of the manner they come into power,” Akagbule said.

Meanwhile, he fears the the opossition will suffer greatly in the hands of the incoming administration. “Remember there is another four years after the inauguration, the work to be done is to silence opposition and the masses as well in the country,” he said.

As well, the future looks bleak for Bulus Danjuma, a Plateau State-born retired senior security officer.

According to him, the change the country needed to escape bad governance, poor development and corruption has been truncated.

“If you recall the time of Bukola Saraki as the Senate president, the presidency did not have its way. Since then, they have been influencing the leadership of the National Assembly to ensure that their loyals or rather ‘stooge’ are there. The incoming administration is doing same to handpick the leadership of the National Assembly. So, where will the checks and balances come, who will challenge the president-elect? I don’t see change, but same system Buhari adopted, which has drawn us back,” Danjuma decried.

The retired security officer noted that a brighter future for the country would be possible if the incoming administration has leaders with different mindset, leaders who truly won their elections and have sense of accountability to the people and leaders who are challenged by what their peers are doing in places like Dubai, Qatar, Indonesia, Singapore, among other thriving economies of the world.

Danjuma fears that the masses will bear the brunt of raising money through heavy taxation to fund the incoming administration.

“That is their style in Lagos to tax even street beggars and I see businesses closing because of heavy tax burden and more tolls open to raise money as they do in Lagos,” Danjuma said.

Rather than judging the past or being pessimistic, Samuel Onikoyi, a Nigerian academia in Brussels, Belgium, said the ball would be in the court of the incoming administration after the inauguration on May 29th and that Nigerians should be patient to see what they will do.

“I was displeased with the manner the presidential election was conducted. We all saw the manipulations even from our base abroad here. But the court may not restore the mandate of the people, so the option we have is to watch and see what the incoming administration is up to, starting with the appointments and first policies on the economy and national security,” Onikoyi said.

On the average, he is not hoping so much from the incoming administration.

“As much as we hope for better future for Nigerians, I don’t think the incoming administration has all it takes to address all the challenges that will pave way for the better future we all desire for Nigeria.

“There is a high level of insecurity to tackle, higher level of corruption, more divided people than before, troubled economy. We should pray that the incoming administration is not overwhelmed like the outgoing.

“It is not about doing anything to get power, but how to use that power to improve lives, make your country liveable, investment haven, put in place modern infrastructure and improve the economy to stop brain drain from Nigeria, it is alarming now,” he noted.

On his part, he fears sabotage even when there is good intention.

But Onike Anjorin, a company lawyer, thinks otherwise. According to the UK-trained lawyer, for a better future, Nigeria needs a good start and a solid foundation on which other incoming administrations will consolidate their developmental mandates, and the ruling party, according to him, has failed on that note, hence expectations should not be high for the incoming administration.

“Let’s not fool ourselves. Nigerinas have suffered under the ruling party and same people that are running the party are returning and you expect change?

“There is no sentiment on this, the rulling party should not come near power in a sane world, but here are they and you expect change or better future.

“Hope less because the incoming has more troubles than the outgoing and the issue is ‘it is my turn’ and what I can get and not what the masses can get,” the angry lawyer said.

In terms of collaboration or support for the incoming administration, Onikoyi said that there would be support, but that many are not supporting for the interest of the country, but for their pockets.

“Already, people are calling to congratulate, visiting, and making moves to connect with the incoming administration. That tells you that Nigerians will hardly change, they go where the wind swings,” Onikoyi said.

But Akagbule noted that the incoming has been running their show long ago and will hand pick their loyals and allies for collaboration and support.

“Even if some people change their mind to support the incoming administration, I don’t see the government embracing them wholeheartedly because it has always had a team and will always work with that team. As far as they are concerned, that team delivered for them, hence they will chose who to collaborate with or choose who to receive support from, for now until when another election draws near,” Akagbule said.

A recent survey conducted by Political Africa Initiative (POLAF) reveals that Nigerians

want the government to address issues around rising poverty, the health, insecurity and education sectors.

This is in synergy with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data, which state that at least 133 million people are experiencing multidimensional poverty in health, education, living standards and work and shocks.

Beyond these, creeping disillusionment, unemployment, insecurity or rising crime wave as well as very high cost of living are some of the issues begging for urgent attention.

Nigerians say that newly elected officials must seize the momentum of their freshness in terms or in government, coupled with the renewed goodwill offered by the people, to hit the ground running in solving these problems.

Some Nigerians have also called for the creation of employment opportunities and payment of living wage, also known as decent wage.

Lawal Femi, financial expert with a federal government agency said the incoming administration must review the minimum wage for workers in the country and open up employment opportunities for fresh graduates in the country.

“In Nigeria, it is a double tragedy because there is a high rate of unemployment and most workers are paid depressing wages. Wages paid to workers in Nigeria are ridiculous and among the lowest in the West Africa sub region.
“Also it is really depressing to talk about living wage in Nigeria today. This is because it is disheartening that both the federal and state governments complain about paying a miserable sum of N30,000 national minimum wage, a figure that is below what most private sector employers pay. And it’s laughable that many state governors have refused to pay the minimum wage, claiming not having money to implement the N30,000 minimum wage which is below $50.

“The new administration at the federal level must look into This and increase the minimum wage in the country. Most of these can pay, but the money are been siphoned by few individuals,” Lawal said.

Olufunke Oluwatobiloba, an academic, said even though the conduct of the 2023 poll did not meet the expectations of Nigerians, the country must not be allowed to crumple.

Oluwatobiloba noted that she fears if the country would ever get it electoral process right, stressing that the incoming administration must focus on key sectors and initiate policies to revamp the economy.

“A lot of us are not happy with the way the election was conducted, personally I fear if we would ever get it right in Nigeria in conducting a free and fair poll. I am worried because this election presented that best opportunity, which was misused. But we can’t allow Nigeria to crumble, the court would decide.

“But my expectations for the Bola Tinubu’s administration are quite enormous; however, I strongly believe this transition should bring about feasible transformation into new experiences. This will not be done overnight.

“So, my expectations are not theoretical presentations but to have a practical implementation of the right policies, strategies that will lead towards the kind of nation we all prayed for.

“I look forward to seeing more focus on education, issues of power for business people and of course creating simplified, practical and sustainable policies that will assist Nigerians here at home and diaspora to believe in our nation and start doing their investment here in Nigeria. Don’t forget the economy, it is the engine of anything you want to do.

“Also, we must know that leadership is not enough, it must be coupled with professionalism that will eventually metamorphose our nation back to the giant of Africa that we were.”

Samuel Michael, a political analyst, said the mood in the country does not show that Nigerians are excited by the incoming administration, noting that few people are happy with the conduct of 2023 presidential poll.

“A lot of people did not like the way the presidential election went and are not bothered about the incoming administration or who he is. People just want to move on with their lives, be able to afford basic things or feed themselves or their families,” Michael said.

Bright Oniovokukor, Project Manager, Indomitable Youth Organisation, said that though most Nigerians have lost hope, the future is still bright only if the right managers are employed.

“No doubt that Nigerians were very hopeful in terms of the 2023 general election but these hopes were dashed at the point of collation and the announcement of result. So many Nigerians are yet to recover from the shock they got from the election.
“The apprehension about Nigeria’s progress is still high because there are cases in court and many are still hopeful that the court could do something about the petitions impartially. More so, Nigerians are bothered if they will be going into the inauguration when those allegations after the election are yet to be debunked.
“There is so much uncertainty in the air coupled with the fact that the president-elect left the country for a long time and at some point we didn’t know his whereabouts. Things like these give room for apprehension.
“It was expected that the moment the results were announced and he was declared president-elect, this will be the time to reecho his manifesto and begin plans with respect to how it will be implemented for the betterment of Nigerians.
“But, as we speak, nothing has been said about it. So, are we going to wake up and have a president-elect inaugurated without reaffirming his campaign promises? It is a good thing that proxy talk but when you hear from the source at different fora trying to reassure you, it gives hope.
Oniovokukor, however, urged the incoming administration to shun talks and lure the citizenry with actions so as to increase the citizens’ confidence and boost synergy between the government and the people for Nigeria’s sake.
“Collaborating will depend on the administration. They need to prove to Nigerians what they can deliver. We need action. People will collaborate if the actions are going the way it is supposed to be. They should use action to demonstrate, otherwise Nigerians will not take words or comments because they want to see or feel the inputs of the government,” he added.
Ogbidi Emmanuel, president, Network Of Civil Society Organisation of Nigeria (NOCSON), opined that the nation’s future is bleak considering the crop of leaders that are at the helm of affairs and the way democracy is being practiced without the rule of law.
“The future of this country is on two sides. If we change the way things are done today, change the way our institutions are being handled, change the flagrant disobedience to the rule of law and principles as well as the rules of engagement, then this country will be better.
“But if we continue with this trend, where people do things with impunity, where elections are conducted with high level of compromise and breach of electoral guidelines and leaders emerge; where the judiciary becomes the arm of government that determines who win an election which is supposed to be decided at the polling units and reflect the will of the people, then it is a great danger for this country,” he said.
Emmanuel, who decried the lack of participatory governance in the state, urged Nigerians to collaborate with the incoming government and, at the same time, hold them accountable.
“The Nigerian people have always been willing to work with the government but the government has never been willing to work with the Nigerian people. So, over the years, we have had government that is shrouded in secrecy, and do not utilise any input from the people in terms of governance,” he added.

For Bob Kingsley Umunna, a politician cum business man based in Lokoja, the capital of the Confluence State, the future is so bleak for Nigerians looking at Nigeria’s public finance, the huge debt that is a serious threat to the country’s unity, corruption in the system and they impose their party faithful in a position they don’t know anything about it, only to pay them back for their loyalty.

“Nigeria’s future is very bleak unless urgent steps are taken to stop the huge haemoraging of Nigeria’s public finance, arrest the serious endemic corruption and humongous in justified reward system of politicians and redirect Nigerian economy from consumption to production.

“The huge debt overhang is a huge threat to both our unity and economic stability.

“Nigeria has all the signs of a failed state and this is going to be worsened by an administration the legitimacy of which is in doubt. Pockets of armed agitation all over Nigeria, a greatly divided nation is a big threat to the peace, unity and existence of Nigeria.

“The divisive posture of the ruling party has dealt a deadly blow to the unity of Nigeria and this will lead to unwillingness of organic cooperation of the people coupled with the promises the incoming APC government said it will serve some people bread soaked in tea, it is going to be a turbulent period because of the refusal of the leadership to be there for all Nigerians plus the role of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the last election,” Umunna said.

He also said that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has caged Nigeria a lot and it would take time to heal.

“Collaboration with the new administration will be difficult by Nigerians because there is general notion and view that the election was masassivly rigged and the ill-treatment of some ethnic nationalities in some parts of Nigeria which has divided the nation more the more. It will take time for the wounds to heal if it will ever do;
unless the election is cancelled and repeated to correct the impression of people as this will restore the confidence of people to democratic governance,” he further said.

Jude Onyebade, a reverend father and big-time farmer in Delta State who has been abducted three times in two years, on his farm in Isselle-Uku, by armed Fulani herdesmen, is apprehensive of the future.

On each of the times they abducted him, they tortured him for days and collected ransom before releasing him. According to him, they are demanding that he abandon his farmland for them or be ready to risk his freedom or even lose his life.

Speaking to BDSUNDAY in an exclusive interview, Onyebade said Nigerians should prepare for the worst this time around, adding that leaving the country is a better option.

“I am among Nigerians who don’t believe we have a president-elect officially. Nigeria is ruined as far as I am concerned. At least, from my own experience, not just Tinubu but all political elite have disappointed us, especially the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Read also: LP tackles Buhari for attributing party’s election loss to overconfidence, others

“The future of Nigeria is bleak and it’s going to be worsened because when they use people they know have criminal record, what do you expect? They know them, we all know them yet they are being allowed due to what people call stomach infrastructure.

“Insecurity will worsen. In fact, that’s why I said personally that if I have a way, I will run away from this country, I will do so,” he said.

He took a swipe at traditional rulers for not living up to their responsibilities while evil is perpetrated in society.

“Our traditional rulers are not helping matters because they are also interested in their pockets,” he said.

“The herdesmen come to us with guns but we have no gun. When they finish with people that have no security, they that have security will notice that they don’t have people around them again,” he further said.

Doris Godswill, a businesswoman, wife and mother of four, expressed sadness that plans were already on to swear in Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the nation’s president.

“This country hates the truth but loves lies. There’s no trust as bad leadership is the problem we are facing. While the poor masses are suffering those at the top position are enjoying our collective resources. The poor are treated as an outcast in their own country despite that the country is richly blessed by God. These leaders don’t care whether God is in existence. They do everything that pleases them.

“My fear is that something may happen if Tinubu is sworn-in on May 29. There could be confusion leading to war situation. There may be no peace in the country unless the man steps down, then peace will reign.

“Nigerians who would like to collaborate with Tinubu are bribe-takers. Nigeria is known for bribery and corruption but if you go to other countries, it’s not like that. The whole Nigeria is not well-coordinated because of the greed of the political leaders.

“War looms because people will not want to collaborate or support the BAT’s administration. I see youths protesting against him because they are not happy with the man, especially with the INEC declaration favouring against Peter Obi, their popular choice. No youth in this country supports him.

“A tree cannot make a forest but Tinubu thinks he has money and bribed his way to become the president-elect. If he had allowed INEC to do its work rightly, the masses won’t be agitated.

“If it is the will of God for him to be sworn-in, he will be sworn in but his tenure will not last because I believe God wants to use this opportunity to wipe out the evil ones as he did during COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m not appealing to Nigerians to support or collaborate with him. Myself, I am not supporting him,” Godswill, a businesswoman in Asaba, said.