President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President, Pastor Yemi Osinbajo, and President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, are all public thieves, Nigerians said on Monday while protesting against hardship in their land.
The “One Voice” protests also known as “I Stand With Nigeria” protests held in the commercial city of Lagos, the capital Abuja, and other parts of the country and the world.
The protesters said there was too much hardship in the land and the change the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and President Buhari promised them during the 2015 elections was nowhere to be found.
“Buhari, ole…Osinbajo, ole….Saraki, ole”, they could be heard as saying in a video recording captured by online newspaper, Naij.com. The Yoruba word “ole” means thief.
President Buhari, who assumed office in 2015, promising to make Nigeria a better place, has been ruthlessly fighting corruption and Boko Haram in the northeast.
But the economy has not fared well because of the oil prices, which fell on the international market, and because Nigeria did not save during years of oil boom.
Mr. Buhari has repeatedly said that Nigeria was looted heavily by past administrations to the extent that 49 years after Nigeria started selling its oil in 1958, Africa’s most populous country does not produce anything.
With oil accounting for over 90 percent of dollar earnings, Nigeria found its currency plummeted as oil prices crashed. As at now, a dollar exchange for about 500 naira against 180 in 2015 when Mr. Goodluck Jonathan whom Mr. Buhari defeated, was in power.
Mr. Buhari has accused the administration of Mr. Jonathan of gargantuan looting and several; officials of his government are currently being tried for billions of dollars in a country where most people are stuck in squalor and hopelessness and have to manage less than a United States dollar day to survive.
With the fall of the Nigeria, all the imported items Nigeria relies on have skyrocketed and are now beyond the purchasing power of ordinary people. Millions of people have lost their jobs since Mr. Buhari and Osinbajo came to power and very few jobs have been created to replace those lost.
With poverty in the land, tension has been increasing, especially after it was learnt that some government officials under Mr. Buhari have also engaged in massive looting. Some have been accused of stealing money even meant for Boko Haram victims in the guise of curring grass.
But Mr. Buhari has looked the other way, going heavily after opposition members but dragging his feet when corruption was exposed within his administration.
But even with the anger, Nigeria’s Acting President, Mr. Osinbajo, while acknowledging that government was not insensitive to the plight of Nigerians, told the protesters on Monday that the way out after years of looting and corruption would be hard.
In an opinion article, TheSimonAtebaNews said with Nigeria consuming everything, it will take some decades to stabilised an economy in total disarray.
Added to that uncertainty, President Buhari has been in London for more than two weeks on medical leave. The President extended his stay on Sunday February 5. He left Nigeria on January 19, promising to resume work on February 6. But a day to his resumption date, his spokesman, Femi Adesina, issued a statement that the President would need more time for his health in London.
Rumours had said the President was either dead or under intensive care. But the Presidency had dismissed those rumours, saying that Mr. Buhari was well. He was hale and hearty and cannot return on the advice by his doctors.
With President Buhari sick, rumours began to spread that northern leaders were pressuring Vice President osinbajo to resign. Mr. Osinbajo is a Christian from southwest Nigeria, while Mr. Buhari is a Muslim from northern Nigeria.
On Monday, Mr. Osinbajo said he was not under any pressure to resign and was going about his work unperturbed. But those rumours have continued.
Nigeria seems to be passing through another turbulent time and the days and weeks ahead might be critical.