I am an experienced Social Media practitioner with a strong passion for connecting with customers of brands. As part of a team, I presently work on the social media account of a leading European auto company. On this job, I have brought my vast experiences in journalism, marketing, search engine optimisation and branding to play.
By M. Babajide-Alabi
Published in the Sunday Vanguard May 1, 2016. Click HERE.
It is not really a hard exercise to judge the mood of Nigerians at this time in point. Generally, one can say, it is at the lowest ever in the history of the country.
In doing this simple exercise of “placing” the national mood, one runs the risk of being labelled a “hailer” or a “hater” or worse still a “wailing wailer”. These are the new words that have found their ways into the Nigerian political lexicon. There is no middle line on political or economic commentaries in Nigeria any more. A casual or honest criticism of the government earns you the membership of the “wailing wailers” club. If on the other hand you genuinely praise government’s effort, you are crowned a “hailer” without sense.
It is of note that the social media is still patronised by individuals taking stands for and against leaders in the present and past administrations. These Nigerians, either for pecuniary gains, the love of the characters involved or sheer patriotism are not letting off as they have turned the various social media platforms to war grounds. Fans of both sides line up to defend their mentors or paymasters in many ways, no matter how dirty, they can.
While the “war of words” are going on between these supporters, common men on the streets are lamenting their situations in the aftermath of what some observers have dubbed the “Great Expectation”. This is obviously referring to the renewed hope of better life for Nigerians going by the promises of politicians during and immediately after the 2015 General Elections.
By the end of this month it would be one year since President Muhammed Buhari took over the reins of power from Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. The story, from May 29, 2015 till date, for the ordinary citizens seem to still be the same as before the elections.
One would be economical with the truth by saying majority of Nigerians are satisfied with the state of the nation so far. From all indications, most are disappointed in how little, if any, the “new” government has impacted on them. One can empathise with them considering the great change that was promised them by the politicians before the elections. Unfortunately, eleven months down the line they are yet to feel, not to talk of getting the “dividends” of democracy.
Never in the history of Nigeria was there such a rekindling of nationalism and patriotism as before and during the 2015 General Elections. The sentiments of the citizenry were whipped up by high sounding words such as “Change”, “Transformation” etc and Nigerians got carried away with these “booming” words which created the Great Expectation of “miracles” immediately after.
Unfortunately for Nigerians, in the course of the past year, they have been reminded many times on national and international media that the individuals they voted in to power are not “magicians” or from outer space. As a result they cannot perform beyond their capabilities and available resources. The frequent use of the phrase “we cannot perform magic” has brought Nigerians back to reality.
While the “expected” miracles are not happening on time, Nigerians were at least expecting a little “change” in their situations. Unfortunately (again) for them, no such thing has happened. The expectations after the elections were so high that citizens were dreaming of a better and ideal Nigeria. They dreamt of a country with constant electricity supply, affordable homes, adequate and efficient basic infrastructure, good network of roads etc. These, till date, are still dreams that have refused to become reality.
Months after the elections, the politicians have changed the catchword from “change” or “transformation” to “Nigerians are impatient”. The ordinary citizens are adjusting to the fact that the expected change will take a while to come, as all of a sudden, electricity is now a luxury in a country with an average temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. To their dismay, despite all the assurances before elections, they have to queue for hours before they buy fuel, at cut throat prices determined by shylock marketers. These are strange times for Nigerians, some of whom are beginning to express doubt about the “great expectation”, as promised by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The government has said it is not insensitive to the woes of the people, but had been constrained by the fall in the price of oil in the international market. To start off the administration, the government had devoted most of its energy on fighting corruption. In doing this, it has not failed to regularly remind us that the government of Jonathan acted irresponsibly by depleting the national resources with nothing to show for it.
From Port Harcourt to Kano, Nigerians can recite the various billions of Naira, top officials of the Jonathan administration were reported to have embezzled. The awareness of corruption has been the beginning of wisdom in the country. The arrests and detentions of hitherto “untouchables” have brought a semblance of sanity to a society that thrived mainly on corruption.
Nigerians have hailed the efforts of the government in this direction but many are worried that nothing is being done to stimulate the economy.
To show Nigerians his administration is not all about anti-corruption, the President headed towards China, in one of his numerous officials travels, to seek ways out of the economic miseries his people have found themselves. The President had no choice of destination in terms of economic matters than China as the West seem to have lost interest in the “change expectation” from Buhari and his team. Prior to this travel, the foreign exchange system was (and still) in chaos with the Naira reaching its all time low against major currencies.
It is unfortunate that till date, Nigerians are confused on the details of the China deal. There has been conflicting reports on what was agreed with the Chinese government or businesses. While we were initially told the President managed to secure a loan deal, a few days after Nigerians were told it was a “currency swap”. And not long after we were informed again there was no swap. The citizens saw their President in China but they have no idea of the package he brought back on their behalf.
To be fair to the Buhari administration, various institutional failures or problems being witnessed right now are results of years of decay and rot in the system. The miseries of the common men on the streets did not start yesterday. They dated back to when the colonial masters handed over the apparatus of government to Nigerian leaders. One can therefore sympathise with the Buhari administration when it says the rot can not be fixed as fast as citizens desire.
Nigeria’s history has been largely written on certain indices such as tribalism, poverty, bribery and corruption, mismanagement, lack of infrastructure among many others. It was not until recently that terrorism found its way into our history books through the murderous activities of the Boko Haram group.
All these together over the years put the ordinary Nigerian citizen in tight corners while struggling hard to keep above the waters. He has to cope with all sorts of miseries coupled with political leadership that has no love for the country. These combined has made the common man a pitiable figure.
To be concluded next week