By Emmanuel Aziken
Given the simplicity of his 2015 campaign agenda, it was so difficult to pin the 2015 presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC Muhammadu Buhari on any commitment on economic specificities.
His mantra was that he was going to handle security, economy, and corruption. Now whether it was going to be for the better or for the worse, some are now asking.
For many who were swayed by his celebrated taciturn nature, it was easily assumed that Buhari could do no wrong and would always take the side of the masses on any issue.
But for those who directly promoted him like Bukola Saraki, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi and a few others who were directly involved in negotiating him to political ascendancy, what they saw was the famed 12 million vote bank.
Their objective was to supplant Goodluck Jonathan and put in their man who they saw as lacking the political structure or capacity to translate the 12 million votes to political power.
What they saw in Buhari was a vote puller who they would install as president. After that, they would pull the levers of government and politics towards what they imagined would be the collective good of all.
So when the Jonathan administration in 2012 caused what it described as the liberalization of the fuel price regime leading to the doubling of fuel prices to about N140/litre, the political opposition easily collaborated with the civil society organizations that organized nationwide protests that January.
Buhari who was at that time still pondering his political options after the 2011 defeat was not conspicuous in those demonstrations.
The campaign to shut down Nigeria led to strong security concerns that prompted President Jonathan, and also some sensitive members of the opposition to compromise their positions leading to the stoppage of the protest.
Two years later with the opposition now better organized in the shape of the newly formed APC, the political traction for those determined to oust Jonathan was on firmer ground.
Buhari having earlier sealed a deal with Saraki, Tinubu, Aminu Tambuwal on the APC ticket was at the front of the protest against bad governance in November 2014.
What was called bad governance at that time was the decision of the Jonathan administration to withdraw part of the security attached to Speaker Aminu Tambuwal following his defection from the PDP to the newly emerged APC.
Speaking at the November 19, 2014, public demonstration on the streets of Abuja that was hyped as Salvation Rally, Governor Rotimi Amaechi in questioning the perceived aloofness of President Jonathan said:
“Today, the President must tell us why our brothers and sisters are dying in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states and they are here enjoying in Abuja. The President must answer that; why is he comfortable and Nigerians are dying.”
Buhari also speaking at that rally said:
“The PDP cannot run from responsibility. They cannot escape from the position they put Nigeria. Now, we are in extremely very bad shape. This country is insecure. This country is getting bankrupt and it is merely because of corruption and incompetence.”
It was against the background of the popular agitations that the Buhari administration emerged with the groundswell of change.
So, with change in personalities in government but an apparent continuance of the system that operated during the Jonathan administration, Nigeria is apparently in dire straits.
That situation was made all the more manifest this week as the federal administration allowed significant measures that directly affect the wellbeing of the populace.
The increase in electricity tariff was quickly followed by the increase in petrol pump price.
The week before, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN also announced the doubling of passenger service charges at the airports.
The hikes, coming in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and measures adopted by other countries to soothe their populations are really difficult to imagine.
In many other countries, governments are paying private businesses to keep their staff at work and providing incentives for businesses including tax reliefs. But here Nigerians seem to be going in the opposite direction with direct assault on the wellbeing of an already traumatized populace.
Though Buhari ascended to political power on the simplicity of his person, in three years time he would be out by fire or by force.
What Buhari leaves as a legacy is what must begin to trouble his genuine friends and associates. The goodwill with which he came to power is now directly mocked by reports of his chastisement even in his strongholds including Katsina State.
As Buhari said in 2014, the PDP could not run away from responsibility for the supposed misdeeds of its years in power.
In the same way, the APC and its leaders who collaborated to enthrone the present administration cannot run away from responsibility for the heartaches in the land. They should act now!