I do not lay claim to have been around for very long, however I must say that for over twenty years of my existence in this country Nigeria, I have never witnessed a transition period as terrible as this. In the short period of my existence, I have been privileged to witness a number of military take-overs, vis-à-vis democratic transitions. Although those periods were as well characterised by various forms of apprehension and anxiety, none ranks anywhere close to the level of apprehension that currently pervades the polity.
In the course of last week, the Vice-President elect Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) stated that the economy that was being handed over to the incoming administration was at its worst moment in history. These statements came after a two-day Policy Dialogue on the Agenda for Change organised by the Policy, Research and Strategy Directorate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council.
According to him, Nigeria’s local and foreign debts now stand at $60 billion. The debt servicing bill for 2015 is N953.6 billion, being 21% of the budget; while on account of severely dwindled resources, over two-thirds of the states in Nigeria owe salaries. In a swift response to this, the co-ordinating Minister of the Economy debunked his claims, stating that the total debt figure was not a true reflection of the debt incurred in the current administration, rather an accumulation of debt from previous administrations in addition to theirs. While this seems to be more self-absolving, the current state of things in the country leaves no one in doubt of the outgoing administration’s ineptitude.
To think that a few days to a change of government, many individuals and businesses are not sure if they would have enough fuel to transport themselves, or even power their offices. The nation seems to be grinding to a halt as civil servants continue to pray for a miracle to happen to enable them receive their salaries. Other workers in the private sector are beginning to consider alternative means of transporting themselves to work (trekking inclusive).
On Saturday, a friend of mine had an appointment scheduled in Lagos and had booked an early morning flight from Abuja. He arrived the airport early enough and in high spirits, unaware of the rude shock that lay in wait for him as he was later informed that all flights had been cancelled. This situation was the same across other airports. As though this wasn’t enough, some of the network providers have begun sending messages to subscribers, informing them of the possible disruption in services, based on their inability to provide fuel to their numerous base stations. While all this was beginning to settle in, the banks dealt a final blow, also informing customers that they would be closing their branches to customers earlier than normal due to the increasing difficulty of purchasing diesel. The question then is, where do we really go from here?
The recent news that the purported strike by the oil marketers has been lifted and nationwide movement of oil-laden trucks expected immediately has still not elicited any excitement from the populace. A vast majority of Nigerians can’t just wait for the current administration to move out. Over the weekend social media was abuzz with claims by many Nigerians that if the elections were held again, they would not bat an eyelid in voting for the APC all over again. Although a few people still claim that the scarcity is a sabotage by the APC, this claim perhaps no longer holds water, going by the widespread suffering that currently pervades the nation.
As the days draw into hours and inauguration day comes upon us, one message that we choose to send the outgoing administration is that, regardless of any ploy to further ground the economy to a halt, we can’t wait for them to exit. We can’t wait to see what it feels like to have a decisive President in power, we can’t wait to see corruption being a thing of the past, we can’t wait to have a President that is ready to relate on our level, introducing policies that are humane. Well, we sure do not expect miracles from the incoming administration, but we still can’t wait to give them a chance. Above all, we can’t wait for the return of our dearly beloved country Nigeria to it’s once glorious past. Nigeria will arise again. Amen.