An Uncommon Change, an Uncanny Character

In 2011, shortly after the demise of Pres. Yar’adua, Nigeria’s political, social and economic spaces were resigned to a common submission that change was needed and the persons in charge of government must be substituted by a newer generation; energized with modern and technologically advanced models of getting things. Yar’adua wasnt seen per say, to belong to this new class or breed of politicians, being a protege of Pres. OBJ, and a younger brother to OBJ’s number two man, back in the late 70s. Pres. Umaru Yar’adua did his bit even though his ill-health got the better part of him, but he is still remembered as the hero that reduced the price of petroleum products, built our foreign reserves and increased the minimum wage. He is also remembered for decimating Boko Haram’s activities at the time, before their re-insurgence not too long after his death. Pres. Jonathan was unquestionably embraced with open arms, perceived as the Moses to lead a break away from the old school to the new school of leaders and leadership style in Nigeria. He did break away eventually, but not necessarily in the much desired direction that was sought after – when the offensive for change was launched. His PhD did not reflect in his leadership or governance know-how and he totally kowtowed in the direction of the enemies of change.

Even though GMB did not belong to the new school of politics and technologically driven governance models, he was probably the only politician at the time, that had the capacity to lead a cataclysmic political endeavor, that would unseat an incumbent President of modern day Nigeria, where everyone and everything bends naturally in favor of the government of the day at any given time. The assembly behind him was heralded by an unwritten agreement that the status quo must go, by all means necessary. Strange bed fellows charged forward to give PMB his victory in 2015, defeating Pres. Jonathan, to kick start the change agenda.

When in traffic in any city of the country, the unrestricted and continuous honking of horns by motorists will give you the clear mental picture that we are a country filled with a special breed of impatient people – albeit we have been taken for 1 ride too many, by leaders with deficits in leadership skills and effective governance frameworks. PMB got into power when shit had hit the ceiling economically, and the CBN Governor, Emefiele, had told PMB that Nigeria did not have anything to put in PMB’s cap, that would be used in running government and implementing the change agenda blueprint. We were already in a full blown recession, the economy was contracting, and we were borrowing for 3 months to pay federal worker’s salaries.

Our impatience could not be contained and an extempore verdict was reached that PMB had failed and change had eluded us. Again in our nation’s history, the commander-in-chief’s ill-health came to the fore as a hindrance to the progression of governance and the growth of our economy. We all can reflect on the cartoons showing PMB working on a broken down vehicle depicted as Nigeria, or Buhari seated on a stool, doing some laundry, profusely trying to clean the ‘dirty Nigerian flag’ as a metaphor for change – just the way Pres. Trump describes it in the US as ‘drain the swamp’.

Towards the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, our economy began a continuous growth in GDP, and exports and non-oil revenue began to grow astronomically. We were no longer borrowing to pay salaries but only borrowing to invest in huge capital projects that were tangible, visible, and necessary, if we are to have real economic growth. Today, the railways are in place, and new ones are being built, such as the Abuja – Baru – Itakpe – Lokoja Railway. Also the Light rail connecting the city centre of the FCT, to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. The standardisation of the Abuja, Lagos, Port-harcourt airports, with Enugu underway, to meet world standards. The 2nd Niger bridge is no longer a powerpoint presentation, as the actual structure is grounded into the River Niger with the Abutment (the base on which the bridge will rest on either side of the river) showing the rising and receding water levels as the rainy season draws to an end.

Ports are springing up nationwide such as at Baru, alongside other inland ports like the ones at Kaduna and now Nassarawa. Calabar port is returning to functionality and a new port is being built in Bayelsa. Apapa and Tincan ports are being decongested. A super highway is being built under a PPP deal that will provide 8 lane dual carriage ways that will reduce the duration of the road trip from Lagos to Abuja to just 4 hrs. This ofcourse will have rail-lines alongside it.

It is no longer a secret that we have become Africa’s largest economy relegating South Africa to 2nd place. We are now the largest producer of rice in Africa, thus successfully shutting down our land borders to save us from the doldrums of a dumping ground country, courtesy of Cotonou, Benin Republic’s unhealthy trade practices. There is huge transformation in livestock farming,  aimed at the self-sufficiency in milk and other dairy products production, and the large scale production of tomatoes – readying us as an exporter of tomato paste. Oil prospecting in Gongola II River Basin (kolmani), has yielded hydrocarbon outflow and this means oil in commercial quantity in the North east.

The notorious Police pension Fund fraud debacle tried to rear its head back into the country almost successfully, but PMB’s decisive executive order on the matter has seen to the arrest of Maina and another haul of the retrieval of assets worth 1 trillion Naira. Another 600 million Naira was forfeited by the erstwhile HOS, Winifred Oyo-Ita, who was in the middle of the pension fund actors reincarnation debacle.

Bombs are not going off wantonly and it’s been 3 to 4 straight years of easy calm during festive periods, as against the orgy of bombs during religious holidays and ceremonies. Boko Haram still conducts raids, but most definitely, it is not as much as it used to be – in terms of deaths, destruction and potency. The recent border shutdown too is dealing a deadly blow on banditry, terrorism, and importation of arms.

This President is not interested in building or owning his own private school, neither is he poke-nosing into consulting for the customs or the NPA. He is not negotiating deals or cornering contracts, or interfering in due process to favor firms he has vested interests in, and if my words are light-weight to you, please you can confirm from Dangote. Nigeria is now among the top 20 countries with improved ease of doing business; and this is evidently why Dangote is making huge investments back home – as against his expansionist forays into European and other African markets.

This President has a fantastic working relationship with his VP, Prof. Osinbajo, and this time round, this duo – unlike previous ‘duos’, are not changing political parties and contesting against each other, embroiling the nation in a personal power fist fight, at the expense of nation building. Buhari has over time, metamorphosed from a GMB, to a PMB, even in the midst of outcry from his admirers, that a GMB style of leadership would have been a better fit, to drive the change agenda judiciously. Since the beginning of Buhari’s 2nd term from May 2019, things have been much better, giving credence to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s response to wailers, when he said that PMB will no longer be ‘doing go slow’. Senior government officials are banned from foreign trips until their budget defences’ are completed, so promptness is expected of them when handling govt’s work. The activities of Buhari’s programmes, reforms, and infrastructural drive are heartwarming to say the least. His admirers and supporters are happy that we now have a ‘New MB’, that will spur the country into a faster pace of development, economic growth and instill a robust state security network.

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