Nineteen months into his administration, President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘change’ slogan has become a sad reality for Nigerians, a preacher has said.
Tunde Bakare, founder of Latter Rain Assembly and former ally of the president, said on Sunday during his annual state of the nation speech in Lagos that “it is unfortunate” that the ‘change’ mantra “that was once the rallying cry for progressive development has now become associated with retrogression and suffering.”
Mr. Bakare, a politician and former vice presidential candidate to Mr. Buhari in his failed 2011 bid, said the hard times Nigerians are grappling with are the consequences of the policies of the Buhari administration.
Mr. Bakare said the policies, especially on exchange and interest rates, should be discarded forthwith and more pragmatic ones be implemented instead.
“To begin with, the confusing and discriminatory multiple dollar to naira exchange rates – favourable to some and not so favourable to others, and without doubt confusing for potential investors – must be discarded while a more reliable and predictable exchange rate, mutually beneficial to our people and economy and attractive to foreign investors, should be put in place,” Mr. Bakare said.
“Similarly, prohibitive and punitive interest rates must be lowered in order to liberate the creative ingenuity of our people as well as encourage those who can access mortgages at affordable rates to become homeowners, especially if our Pension Scheme is up-to-date and robust.
“The multiplier effect of the removal of these bottlenecks in our economy will cushion the effect of the current recession on our people,” the preacher said.
Mr. Bakare also decried alarming levels of inflation in the country, which he said had seen the prices of everything —from staple food supplies to electronic appliances and automobiles — skyrocketed.
He said this year will be crucial in the life of the current government, warning the president to immediately reshuffle his cabinet because “we have no more time to waste.”
“Mr. President must galvanise his team to get the job done; square pegs in round holes must be removed or put in appropriate places; the wicked who surround the righteous must be led away from the presence of the king. Those who cannot stand the heat must get out of the kitchen.
“It is time to demonstrate leadership, wise judgment and astute public policy that guarantees stable and prosperous nationhood upon a foundation of peace; it is time to build a well-ordered nation with strong institutions dispensing justice; it is time to arise with patriotic zeal to build a great nation such that, years from now, generations yet unborn will look back at their history, not with disdain, but with gratitude to God that our generation preceded theirs.
“May 2017 be the year we look into the future with the eyes of faith and take steps to accomplish all that we know is possible,” Mr. Bakare said.
But he gave the president a pass mark on counterterrorism and internal security.
“On insecurity, Nigerian Security Tracker 10, a portal of the United States Council on Foreign Relations, which maps violence in Nigeria, reported a decline in deaths per month from violence perpetuated by a combination of state and non-state actors, including Boko Haram, from 767 deaths in May 2015 when this government came into power, to 250 deaths in December 2016, nineteen months into the administration.
“The group’s capacity had also diminished significantly from the control of 13 local governments just before the 2015 elections to a resort to suicide attacks by the turn of 2016.
“Under this administration, 21 of the abducted Chibok girls were also released to their parents in October 2016, and, last Friday, Rakiya Abubakar, the latest rescued Chibok schoolgirl, was reunited with her parents in Abuja,” Mr. Bakare said.