You were one of the biggest critics of the All Progressives Congress in the yin yang forex up to the 2015 elections, how do you feel today seeing Nigeria in arguably its worst economic situation? This is a situation that some of us foresaw. In the first coming of President Buhari, everything went from bad to worse.
We had to queue for essential commodities. Raw materials and spare parts needed to keep factories running were scarce. Rather than create jobs, tens of thousands of workers lost their jobs. Inflation rose to the astronomical levels. Today, we are back again to square one. President Buhari has returned to make a bad situation worse. We have no one to blame but ourselves.
Given his past record, he should not have been re-elected. But at the same time, the government has argued that the economy is doing badly because of oil prices that crashed, Nigerians’ overreliance on imported goods and the fact that past administrations failed to invest in infrastructure when Nigeria did better financially. Don’t you agree with the argument? It is not true that past administration failed to invest in infrastructure. Some of the rail lines that the present government is inaugurating are legacies of the Jonathan government. Some of the airports they are thinking of selling were rehabilitated by Jonathan. The truth of the matter is that, while in opposition, the present government made sure we would not prepare for the rainy day.
It mobilised the public against the removal of petroleum subsidy. APC governors fought the government against savings during the oil boom. But now in the oil crash, the government has been maladroit in handling it. While it certainly cannot be blamed for the oil crash, it must be blamed for mishandling the crash.
Some people will also say that in addition to all the challenges mentioned above, oil and gas production has dropped due to activities of militants in the Niger Delta area, which has further affected the country’s income and power generation. Do you still think that this government should be totally blamed for the condition in which we are today? The buck stops with this government and with this president. I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.
But after 16 months in office, we now know that President Buhari belongs to the North and not to the South. His appointments have shown a distinct disregard for Nigeria’s federal character. President Buhari’s maladroit approach to Nigeria’s diversity has created new fissures. Fulani herdsmen continue to kill innocent farmers while Buhari sees no evil and hears no evil. We are now saddled with a burgeoning secessionist movement that gets more incendiary by the day as the government continues to violate Nigerians’ right to self-assembly by shooting down pro-Biafra activists. It is Buhari’s body language of Northern domination that has energised an irredentist movement in the Niger Delta leading to the blowing up of Nigeria’s economic jugular of oil pipelines and installations.
President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was also from Katsina, nevertheless he was able to broker peace in the Niger Delta. I have said it before and I say it again, the problem of Nigeria today is President Buhari. He has shown insufficient sensitivity to Nigeria’s diversity, and this has been highly problematic. The change must begin with the president.