When President Muhammadu Buhari won the 2015 general elections, he did so largely with the support of neutral and anti-PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) commentators. Everything bad in Buhari’s life history was to be forgotten and everything good was in ascendance. From another perspective, it was very difficult for practitioners of competent thinking to justify the pervasive profligacy behemoth of PDP while in power. The ministerial appointments Babs Fashola, Timi Amaechi and other ‘gubernatocrats’ that took more than half a year to make that was the start of the negation of support for President Buhari. Many thinking men deserted except the likes of Wole Soyinka turned their backs on and pens against Buhari. But many political miracles were promised by the Buhari government. Where are they?
Immediately after Buhari was sworn into power many if not most Nigerians “saw” and “witnessed” a magical improvement in electricity supplies to customers. Some even said there was now ‘constant electricity’ in Nigeria. To believe in major improvements in major electric power supplies to the point of constancy without major investment showed millions of citizens to be magical thinkers. In diaspora, many Nigerians talked of constant electricity in Nigeria with pride and consummate happiness.
Under President Goodluck Jonathan, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was the ‘Grand Minister’ i.e. Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy. Unsurprisingly, her ‘neoliberal miracle’ did not manifest under her watch instead she left Nigeria in the worst economic shape ever with a legacy of severe economic hardship for the ‘common man / woman / child’. The current ‘Grand Minister’ under President Buhari is Babs Fashola who had three ministries, [Electric] Power, Works and Housing, merged into one for him to control with the promise of the “Fashola Miracle”.
It is almost a year since constant electricity under Buhari was “celebrated” in the hearts of innumerable Nigerians. However, electricity failures are now so embarrassing that the government has had to come out apologise for them. Those who said the invisible and intangible but “well-reported” miracles of infrastructure development Fashola performed in Lagos State will be effortlessly “repeated” at the federal level were once full of strong excuses but now have none left to proffer.
We have to consider the fact that since the era of ex-President Shehu Shagari, the Ministry of Power (and its other identities) has been Nigeria’s “Waterloo Ministry”; countless billions of dollars borrowed spent on it but not even derisory improvements obtained. Then there has been periods of pernicious underfunding necessary for power sector investment. The Ministry of Works is the core “Ministry of Uncompleted Projects”; another waste of countless billions. The Ministry of Housing is the “Ghost Ministry”; much less than 1% percent of Nigerians live in houses built, sold or leased by the federal [or state or local] government but is an obscenely well-funded ministry.
The ‘Fashola Miracle’ has not yet manifested nor is there any credible likelihood it will in the next three years. We are advised to wait for the impossible to happen then judge in 2019. Well, miracles are the achievement of the impossible but only when they happen. Constant electric power, clean water supplies, good roads, necessary traffic signs, affordable housing, new homes construction, safety of inhabitable buildings, the fire brigade… and proper / strategic investment in all such activities are all at the mercy of Fashola. We wait.
Returning to Buhari’s ministerial choices, whether it was contempt for Nigerians or sheer brazenness that pushed him to appoint ministers Nigerians absolutely did not want is anyone’s guess. Some say it is the “Idiagbon Deficit” becraping Buhari. Some have said the constitution inherently renders the president “too weak” to appoint the ministers of his choice. Others state, perhaps more cogently, that those who brought the ingredients to cook Buhari’s “pot of [political] soup” have to be given preferential treatment in the sharing of the rewards of their investment to put the man in office. Those gubernatocrats who stole from their State coffers to put Buhari in power have to be rewarded with ministerial and other top political posts at least. It is irrefutably evident that ‘Ministers of Change’ [Thiefman Ministers] need immediate changing!
Buhari and Fashola, however, have developed a convenient ‘exit from responsibility’. They either (1) blame PDP for the abject failure of their well-touted miracles and promises or (2) they blame the “crash” in global oil prices for cash shortages, yes, if oil was selling at $300 a barrel they would have transformed Nigeria into a visible paradise already. Either which of the two they choose tout, they will have to tell it to the Nigerian electorate persuasively at the next general elections, assuming the elections are ever truly ‘free and fair’. Electricity mght be a major election decider.