The doctor who became worse than the patient - By: Sonala Olumhense | Dailytrust

The doctor who became worse than the patient

There is a strong push by the Muhammadu Buhari administration to paint the Muhammadu Buhari administration in colours of heroism and achievement.

And it would appear to be led by Major General Buhari himself, sending members of his cabinet out not to get things done, but to proclaim how great he is.

Here is how this strategy, which is sold in half-truths and hard lies to a complicit and unquestioning mass media, played out last week as its army of hypocrites fanned out.

Buhari himself declared how his infrastructure heroism has saved Nigerians from suffering.  In his story, but for his intervention on the Lagos-Ibadan Road and rail projects, Nigerians would have been having to “trek” the distance.

But the rail adventure was launched in March 2017 with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo vowing that the “world class rail project” would “be completed in December 2018.”  Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi also stated: “On this very one, work will not only start, but it will be completed in record time.”

But the project has barely been completed.  And yet none of those figures has returned to offer an apology to Nigerians.

As everyone knows, the road project is in even worse shape and schedule, and the current government has no superior record in pace or purpose than its predecessors.  That may explain why Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Works and Housing and one of Buhari’s best sycophants, did not on Tuesday list it among his projects to celebrate.

Describing three “critical infrastructure projects” that had defied previous administrations, the former governor of Lagos State cited the Apapa-Oworonshoki road in Lagos, being built by businessman Aliko Dangote; the Bodo-Bonny Bridge in Rivers State; and the Second Niger Bridge (SNB).  He confirmed that the Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja-Kano expressways, along with the SNB, will be completed in the next 12 months.

I grant Mr. Fashola the benefit of the doubt concerning the Bodo-Bonny Bridge, which I have not independently reviewed.  But it is clearly fraudulent to celebrate the Apapa-Oworonshoki road and the SNB, which are far from finished, in the calculation that they will be completed before Buhari departs office.

I will return to the SNB and AKR in a moment.

“[No] country can really advance without road, rail and power, that’s why I wanted to sort out infrastructure, knowing that Nigerians are competitive by nature, and they will face their businesses when there’s road, rail and power,” Buhari said admirably, last week.  He did not mention the healthcare sector, perhaps because he does not seem to understand why every Nigerian cannot fly to London in their presidential jets for that.

But let us talk about roads, rail, and power a little bit more, because he spoke as if he has “sorted out” infrastructure.

Just last month, I cited how Fashola had ridiculed the United States over infrastructure as he praised Buhari’s “achievements” in the sector.

How successful had Buhari been, according to Fashola? He said, “As at December 2021, we had completed 941 kilometers of roads across all states and geopolitical zones.”

In the same article, I observed how National Planning Minister of State Clem Agba had announced that in 2021, the government “constructed over 500 rural roads,” a claim that even Fashola did not make, and demanded proof of the claim.  Up until now, neither Fashola nor Agba has shown Nigerians a list of those roads.

Last week, Minister of State for Power, Goddy Jedy Agba took the future tense approach one step further, ending Nigeria’s age-long electricity woes in one sentence.  “Power failure is a thing of the past,” he declared, adding, “By the end of [2022], 85 percent of Nigerians will have electricity.”

That was a positive message.  I can’t wait to celebrate.

But where might Nigerians be today had they not been fortunate to have Buhari as “a strong leader”?

Yet another idol worshipper, Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige, asked and answered that question.  He said Nigeria would have been in crisis, like Venezuela, and—as if Nigerians are not refugees in these very countries—that they would have been “refugees in Cameroon, Niger and other countries.”   He then curiously went on a long description of excellent leadership qualities, none of which Buhari possesses.

To listen to most of these men is to understand why Nigeria is in such deep crisis: their loyalty is to a man, not to the country.

Think about it: the Abuja rail project, when it was signed by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012, was going to cost $500m.  Jonathan built most of it but when Buhari launched it in 2018, praising his government as one that delivers on its promises, the project cost was put at $823.5m.

Worse still, his FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello, said that “Phase II” would cost $1.3bn.  That is—in just six years, a $500m project becoming over four times more expensive, at $2.1bn!  In any event, with Jonathan not being available to build it, I ask of the Buhari government: where is the phantom “Phase II” of the Abuja rail that Bello claimed he had “since commenced” work on??

If Nigerians are going to respect Buhari beyond the bootlicking of members of his cabinet, these questions and far more would need to be addressed frontally.

On the AKR, for instance, I pointed out in a previous article that Julius Berger confirmed completion to be scheduled for 2025, NOT 2023.

Nigerians should remember that the AKR, SNB and the Lagos-Ibadan expressway projects do not lack funds.  Also elsewhere, I have explained why I think that these and thousands of other Nigeria projects need not more money, but leadership.

It is a shame that Buhari’s employees continue to fall over each other to praise him, something Nigerians would be pleased to do should they be given a good reason.  Instead, they persist in the twin strategy of belittling Nigerians and putting down previous administrations as a way of somehow elevating theirs.

I hate to restate the obvious, but under Buhari’s leadership, Nigeria has grown smaller, not bigger; it has become more laughable, not more respectable; poorer not richer; hungrier not happier.  Ours is the country where—as officials praise Buhari—“new” train equipment without fire-fighting equipment erupt in fires or simply break down; major road arteries collapse; and insecurity precludes road travel between towns and cities.

Under Buhari’s watch, corruption and indifference dance in the open, with government officials—including immigration and customs officials—demanding bribes even of stunned visitors.  We humiliate our heroes, as we did of the female soccer team this week.

And so, before you all bludgeon us into submission with your lies, remember exactly why you got this job.  You were voted in not to “build infrastructure,” that is part of the job.

You got the job because you offered fundamental challenge: promising to amend the deviant ways of our country.  You came—did you not—to effect change, to build trust in government, to set things right.

Regrettably, the doctor has become sicker than the patient.  Yes, the PDP government was corrupt, but you are shamelessly worse.  You are weak and arrogant.  And you talk to yourself.

This column welcomes rebuttals from interested government officials.   

• sonala.olumhense@gmail.com

• @Sonala.Olumhense

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