The last one year of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has been traumatic and hurtful for millions of Nigerians.
This is according to the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, KOWA party, Ijaw National Congress, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Association of Small Business Owners of Nigeria, and Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, among others.
The groups described Buhari’s first year in office as a disappointment for Nigerians who had expected so much from the President.
They said the economic conditions of Nigerians had gone worse rather than get better.
Already, investigation by Saturday PUNCH had revealed that the gloomy state of the economy had led to the astronomical rise in the prices of perishable and non-perishable goods even as citizens’ disposable income had drastically reduced due to the loss in the value of naira.
The situation, it was learnt, had exacerbated the country’s poverty and hunger levels.
The National President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima, said many people considered one year as too short to judge the government, but it is “big in the life of a nation.”
Shettima said excuses by ministers that previous governments should be blamed for Nigeria’s woes were not tenable.
“Some people think it is just one year but to me, I don’t look so,” he said, adding, “If you look at the way we run this country; every government in place works for two years, by the third year, people in government begin to reposition themselves for elections.
“To be honest, Nigerians have faced the most difficult situation ever in the history of this country. No matter how the government tries to convince Nigerians otherwise, the citizens have suffered and are still suffering.
“In one year, there is nothing to show and that is the truth. Even if the government starts action now, in one year, I do not think that it will be able to meet the expectations of Nigerians. Things are bad and terrible but I hope the government refocuses and thinks of what to do better as soon as possible.”
Also, the Spokesperson for the Ijaw National Congress, Mr. Victor Borubo, said there was little to celebrate in one year of Buhari’s government.
Borubo said beyond the success recorded in the fight against Boko Haram insurgents, the President had underperformed.
He said, “In the area of security, yes, the Boko Haram issue was brought down significantly; I have to give him credit for that. After that, issues started to arise from other parts of the country like in the Niger Delta and the worst of all is the problem of Fulani herdsmen, which has not been curbed up till now.
“Nobody can pretend to wipe out corruption in a country like Nigeria or in any other country of the world, you can only minimise it and you will not come into an administration and begin to make fighting of corruption your first priority.
“Anybody who is in the opposition seems to be harassed and there are lots of people in his cabinet who funded his election.”
According to Prof. Remi Sonaiya, the Presidential candidate for KOWA party in the 2015 election, the extent of damage done to the economy by the past administration was much.
Sonaiya, however, accused the Buhari-led government of failing to show any urgency in finding solution to the problem and adequately carrying the public along in its policies.
She said, “Lots of people have been saying that this is not the change that they voted for. There were lots of expectations that the people had while voting for the current President.
“However, one expects more responsiveness from the government. It is as if the administration is giving itself the luxury of time and that is something that we do not have.”
A recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that no fewer than 1.5 millions of Nigerians lost their jobs in the first quarter of 2016 alone.
The President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Frank Jacobs, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said the first one year had been very difficult for manufacturers and other employers of labour.
Jacob said, “Many of our members have either closed shops or operating below their capacity.
“The first one year has been full of uncertainties in the sense that the Federal Government has been slow in coming up with policies that could stimulate the economy.
“The uncertainties have affected businessmen and manufacturers; we were unable to plan because of the uncertainties in the economic direction of the government. This made things difficult for us. Essentially, what I can say is that the last one year has been a very difficult one.”
It was learnt that the uncertainties in the economic direction of the government affected many companies in the food, beverage and tobacco sector such as Guinness Nigeria Plc, Nigerian Breweries Plc, FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, Nigerian Bottling Company Limited and SevenUp Bottling Company Plc, which have sacked no fewer than 450 of their workers between January and April, this year.
The National President, Food, Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association, Mr. Quadri Olaleye, who confirmed this, said the fate of those still in employment was hanging in the balance.
The management of the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company recently sacked about 400 workers.
The President, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Tony Ejinkeonye, recently said that 50,000 workers lost their jobs within two months due to the scarcity of foreign exchange for the importation of raw materials by local industries.
On April 29, 2016, FBN Holdings Plc indicated plans to sack about 1,000 workers in a bid to address its 2015 financial year’s 82 per cent slump in profit.
The First City Monument Bank early this month sacked 400 workers and shut 40 of its branches.
Read more: Punch