Is a critic oathed to only hunt for faults? Should he be impervious to hope, optimism and positivity or should he be amenable to fairness, truth and sanguinity – even if the facts are not in harmony with his public posture? It is customary here once you are branded a ‘’critic’’ of the government you are expected to only breathe fire like a dragon – ‘’see no good, speak no good; – just attack and attack’’.
This is the fallout out of militarised socialisation – a hangover of military-era opposition. During Nigeria’s military rule, scorched-earth activism/criticism was the definitive approach to the government and rightly so. Down with the Kaiser! If you betray any emotion for the Kaiser, then you are a traitor who must be hanged ‘’comrade-style’’.
I used to be that guerrilla critic; always hungry for an attack. And truly so, there were always reasons – good reasons. But I realised that if you prime yourself for complaints and fault-finding, you will always have reasons. You only see what you want to see. This does not vitiate the very important task of holding the government to account. No!
Insecurity remains a detraction to the achievements of the Buhari administration. While most of us agree that the performance of the government on security has not been impressive, very few may want to acknowledge the fact that President Buhari has made appreciable gains on infrastructure.
The Buhari administration has done well on infrastructure. It is a leap from where we used to be. We can agree that security remains a challenge but still acknowledge the good outcomes when we see them. At a time Nigeria was fortuned by favourable crude oil prices – in the past administration – funds for infrastructure were either diverted or frittered away. Contracts were awarded as a meal for political cronies. I am aware that the contract for a famous road in Abuja was awarded without a design – but funds were paid to the contractor who happens to be a cousin of the former president. That road was abandoned afterwards.
Let me get down to brass tacks. On rail, the 157km Lagos-Ibadan standard-gauge rail was inaugurated today. The benefits of this infrastructure are immense. The project is a relief for those who ply the tortuous Lagos-Ibadan road. The 327km Itakpe-Warri standard-gauge rail was completed and inaugurated 33 years after construction began. Abuja light rail was completed in 2018. Financing negotiations for Ibadan-Kano standard-gauge rail project are also in progress.
Some road projects have been completed and more are in progress. Also, more than N360 billion worth of Sukuk Bonds was raised in 2017 for many crucial road projects across all the six geopolitical zones. New terminals for international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt were completed. The construction of new runways for Abuja and Enugu international airports was also completed.
Yet it appears insecurity is eclipsing the achievements of the Buhari administration in this area. The basic responsibility of any government is to protect lives and property. We can only ride on the train and use the roads if we are alive. In fact, road trips have become an attempt at self-murder. The roads are gravely unsafe. Security comes first in the hierarchy of needs. It is the nucleus.
The Buhari administration must do well to address insecurity – for its own reckoning. Any achievement it records in other sectors will be obviated and dampened by daily episodes of killings and kidnappings.
The administration will be cheered and applauded by more Nigerians for its achievements when it saves Nigeria from the grim reaper rampaging everywhere in the country.
Fredrick ‘Mr OneNigeria’ Nwabufo, tweets @FredrickNwabufo