The Buhari Debate: Two Personal Encounters

By Ikenga Chronicles January 12, 2018

The Buhari Debate: Two Personal Encounters

–Babatimehin Muyiwa

The debate about the suitability of Buhari as President and the state of Nigerian economy goes on in every space of the country. The debate is louder by the day and it goes on with all manner of persons with each giving their own perspective about Buhari and the Nigerian economy. The scarcity of petroleum products since the yuletide period exacerbated the debates. If you want to listen to economic and social analyst; just visit a newspaper stand early in the morning. You may be angry at some stupid arguments, you will laugh, and you will hear some new things that will require a research by you to authenticate.

I had two different encounters and subsequent debate with some individuals late last year. It was insightful and I was happy I engaged the individuals in the argument. The first encounter was in a luxury bus from Abuja to Lagos on the 18th of December, 2017. In that encounter two guys were so critical about Buhari, his economic policies and the state of road infrastructure in the country. According to them, no road had been repaired since Buhari became President and that people were losing jobs. At that point I interjected and educated them on the roads which I know had been rehabilitated or undergoing rehabilitation. I mentioned the Ilorin – Jebba road, Enugu – Porthacourt express road, Enugu – Onisha express road, Mokwa – Bida road, the second Niger bridge etc. I informed them that the loss of job in some service sectors was inevitable because those sectors were not contributing meaningfully to the growth of our economy. I explained that the loss of jobs is compensated for by gains in employment in other sectors such as agric and agri-business. I explained to them the depleted external reserves that Buhari met and how he has grown it to $40 billion dollars and told them that I attended a church service in Makurdi early in 2017 when two testifiers testified how they have made millions from there farming activities in the immediate past farming season. To my amazement, the guy sitting next to me in the bus, interjected and said “Oga don’t mind them, it is only lazy people that will not commend Buhari’s government”. He said further, that, he is from Plateau state and that this year alone he has sold yams worth 2 million naira and that he has another consignment that is waiting for him in Lagos that will fetch him nothing less than N3-4 million. He said he had harvested over 70 bags of rice which he is yet to sell. Another man said he is from Bauchi particularly from Tafa Balewa that he had gone home to source for land for next season farming as he would no longer stay and waste his time in Lagos anymore. For the young man and several other persons in the bus, Buhari is the best thing that ever happened to this country.

The second encounter was in a Siena bus from Ilorin – Ibadan on the 31st of December, 2017. The man in the front seat and the driver, understandably, complained bitterly about the fuel situation in the country but went ahead to assert that Buhari is a bad omen for Nigeria. He condemned the President and the APC to high heavens and that the APC government was stealing more than was stolen under GEJ. At that point I requested of him to categorically state what he thinks has been stolen under this government. He mentioned the Oil deal involving Baru that was brought to the fore by Kachikwu. I educated him on the oil deal saga and went further to educate him on the great strides in agriculture and how agriculture has turned many to millionaires in Nigeria based on the favourable policies of government and that it is the importers of illicit products and those stealing under the GEJ administration that are critical about the government. I made him realize that while he spoke about the difficulty in getting fuel, I could not confront him because it is an embarrassment but did not also fail to let him understand that this was the first time in over two years that the country experienced fuel scarcity. As I was trying to explain further, a couple sitting beside me interjected at the same time asking the man to go to Sharagi-songa part of Kwara state to see how farming and agri-business has produced millionaires. The husband said the company he works with was hitherto into the importation and marketing of rice but when Buhari government came, it became difficult to import and that the company diversified into farming and milling of rice. He said further that, as at today, the company sells over 150,000 bags of local rice daily. He said the staff strength of the company grew from just 18 during importation to over 19,000 as at present. He also explained the large scale production of sugarcane and sugar that the BAU group has embarked upon in that area. He said that when the Sugar Company begins operation next year, Nigeria will have no business importing sugar. A young man sitting at the back seat was so eager to make his own contribution and when he had the opportunity, he said, he is a local government staff and when salaries was not forth coming he approached the Bank of Agric for loan. He said he was given an initial loan of 120,000 naira with which he started his farming business. He stated further that within the two years he started, “I now have a tractor of my own and this year alone, I have sold over 50 bags of rice and just today, I sold 3 bags of beans at 24,000 naira per bag.” At this point I noticed the wailer felt a sense of defeat. Not a word from him and the driver till we reached Ibadan. Sincerely, I had a sense of satisfaction and was glad I engaged in the conversation.

At any opportunity, my advice to wailers is for them to press the reset button and to reset their lifestyles and take advantage of the enormous opportunities in this current dispensation.

Don’t mind my long narratives.

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