Nigerian women know what they want. And even though their agitation for a better deal is yet to fully achieve the desired goal, they are aware that they need to persevere and press on. So, they are ever ready with suggestions and constructive criticism, whenever a new government comes on board. As the Buhari-led administration clocked one year last Sunday, the women aired their views on its performance and style of governance.
‘Despite Promises, Positive Change Yet To Come’
Bukola Adefope, CEO, Optimal Performance Ltd.
The last one-year has been highly dramatic. The economy has gone from bad to worse. What make is particularly painful are the high hopes we all had during the presidential campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB). The many promises made have not been kept and Nigerians are perplexed at what we are experiencing under the leadership of a government that promised positive change.
As an entrepreneur, I can say the experience is excruciating. Nigerians now have less disposable income, and some companies have had to close shop, while many organisations that never used to owe for long periods now do so. Electricity is now a luxury, as it is available only once in a while. Generating electricity via generator now costs twice the price, so putting on the generator means a further drain on scarce resources.
However, I understand all this has to happen for the country to get back on its feet. The quantum of decay in all facets of the economy is alarming. The amount stolen by various individuals in positions of authority is really saddening. The level of corruption is phenomenal. Getting Nigeria back from the brink will require sacrifice and we will just have to find new ways of doing things.
We will have to create other sources of income besides oil, which has been the main source of our national income. The quantum of anger and frustration in the country now is enough to power PHCN for the next 1,000 years. We can convert this negative emotion into power to create and drive a new vision for our land.
‘Nigerians Must Quit Lamentation And Seek Re-orientation’
Chizor Malize, Managing Partner/CEO Brandzone Consulting LLC
The Buhari-led administration has been in power for one year now. During this period, our nation has been grappling with a lot, which has put pressure on the overall economy and is causing pain to the average Nigerian. There are the falling oil prices, the constant rise of other foreign currencies against the naira, the poor state of infrastructure, including transportation, energy and security, all of which combine to affect the cost of doing business. These are capable of driving many businesses into insolvency and invariably job loss. However, the current government inherits most of these.
Regarding the gains, we know that economic downturns provide opportunities for repositioning, strength and growth. As a country, we can focus on the gains of the present economic downturn. Nigerians must quit the lamentation of hardship and seek the re-orientation of our mindsets towards discovering the opportunities that lie in developing the country’s resources, both human and material. We can identify new areas of development and focus on other revenue sources such as agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and solid minerals; and exploring the creative minds of our highly talented citizens.
These resource fields remain largely untapped and would surely help cut down on importation, while issues of foreign exchange and plunging oil prices will be a thing of the past. Fortunately, these are the vision and strategic goals of the current administration and I would count that as major gain for the administration. For me, I believe that our tomorrow shall be great.
‘We Are Suffering, Let Govt Reduce Cost Of Living’
Precious Okuchukwu, TV Presenter/Artiste
AS a Nigerian, I am not opposed to this government coming to power because there were very enticing hope in the promises of change. I think Mr. President has tried in the fight against the insurgency, by containing the war that ravaged mostly the Northern parts of the country. He should also resolve the issue of herdsmen killings and settlement for their grazing.
The government has also performed well in the corruption fight, but a cross section of Nigerians think it has not been holistic.
However, let’s move forward and support them to see how it goes, as we progress. Again, it would be good for us to obey the rule of law and not detain people without trial because we are supposed to be under a democracy.
Nigerians would want government and President Buhari to look into the high electricity tariff, increased price of petrol and high exchange rate for forex, which have resulted in high costs of goods and services. The pain is terrible, as prices of food have skyrocketed, while the poor and average Nigerians find it difficult to feed. We are suffering right now and disagree with those who said that Nigerians are not suffering, as is being circulated on social media.
We would want the president to assure Nigerians that the new officials will not be corrupt in future. Let the government give us hope that the promises for which they were voted into power shall be realised.
The state of the economy is not very good because of the drop in oil price in the international market. I would also suggest that government toes the line of peace and constructive consultations in dealing with the militants, rather than moving to crush them, which may create more problems and the inability to meet up with our oil quota.
Lastly, I call on fellow ministers of God not to become politicians. Rather, they should create good time to pray for Mr. President and Nigeria. These are hard and tough times in history, and only God, through His inspiration and wisdom upon Mr. President and this government would enable us cross the Red Sea and take us to the Promised Land.
‘Time To Get Priorities Right’
Sheun Oke, Award-Winning Author/CEO Loquats Consulting Ltd.
I remember the election period for President Buhari so vividly. We, Nigerians in Diaspora were really tired of our past; bearing in mind that Nigerians are one of the most intellectually sound races found anywhere worldwide.
I personally wanted a change. Someone fresh, someone with some military background that could immediately tackle insecurity. Someone that could help us bring our 200 plus kidnapped Chibok girls back.
Also, someone that would tackle corruption that had eaten so deep into every strata of government and every day living. Yes, we voted for change one year ago and it was such a joy to see that Nigerians all came together to create the change.
Is one year enough to erase or right all the wrong that had been building up for years with different administrations? I will say categorically that the answer is NO.
I think this administration’s next phase of action plans should be focused on getting the basics right and what better way to do this than using the popular model of Marlow’s hierarchy of needs?
The provision of affordable food, shelter, electricity, good roads, etc would create a positive feeling. Nigeria has been blessed with large expanse of land, with agricultural land estimated by World Bank (2011) to be about 78 per cent.
It is pretty simple. We have young people out of work (massive manpower) and land. Why can’t we create farm enterprises and employ these young intellectuals in mechanised farming and associated industries? Zambia as a nation has been able to create a thriving economy producing its own food with surplus to export.
Furthermore, massive re-orientation programmes need to be embarked upon to correct the ‘get-rich-quick’ syndrome that has now plagued the minds of our youngsters.
To create an economy, where every single Nigerian feels valued, is able to offer value and have a better quality of life that can be proudly passed down to generations, is the outcry of us all.
I do know ‘uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’, yet our president can lean on the expertise of both Nigerians resident in the country and those in Diaspora to move the nation forward.
‘It’s Been One Year Of Betrayal’
Betty Abah, Executive Director, CEE-HOPE Nigeria (Children and women’s right activist)
In my view, and I guess, that of millions of Nigerians, the last one year has been one of betrayal. We expected so much and got so little. Promises were broken at will and with an unprecedented stone-facedness. Where government should take the blame and improve, they arrogantly shove the blame on their predecessors.
On the economic front, the level of suffering Nigerians have been exposed to has not been seen in recent times. I believe that this is completely avoidable, if only Buhari would take it upon himself to hire the best economic advisers, and then heeded advice and let go of mediaeval mindset in the running of a modern day economy. I wish he had not greedily clung to the position of Petroleum Minister, and then started junketing around the world instead of staying back to consolidate and run the country in addition to the ministry, which is already herculean.
The worst is the insensitivity of government. The way Buhari has responded to such issues as that of the Chibok girls and their parents, herdsmen’s killings, as well as the way he has carried on amidst the suffering of the generality of the masses in the most unfeeling ways, is quite depressing. While some progress might have been made in the areas of security and the anti-corruption war, I believe that governance centres majorly and should be measured by people’s welfare. The reality of the masses’ suffering compels me to rate Buhari very low.
Indeed, in the course of the year, some of us have been pushed to believe that, while, on one hand, Nigerians had hinged so much hope on Buhari as the long-awaited messiah, for him, it may just be about accomplishing a life-time dream of returning to lead the country and once again enjoying all the appurtenances of power, which is really unfortunate.
Like most Nigerians, I am far from being satisfied with Buhari. I hope he improves on the economy, puts sentiments aside, goes beyond party lines to get the best hands to run the economy and Nigeria like a modern day economy and democracy.
‘At The End Of The Day, We’ll Benefit’
Mrs. Ariyike Oladipo Chief Executive Officer, Apreel Ventures
There is no gain without pain and so for me, everything going on right now is to our benefit at the end of the day. I am not against Buhari’s administration. It is a difficult situation to manage the economy due to the fact that a lot had happened in the past. There has been a lot of squandering, mismanagement and mishandling of things and for all those things to be put back in place, it will take a lot of time, just like a house that is not built properly. These are parts of the issues that have prompted us to buy tomatoes at a very high price and fuel too, including the problem of no power supply.
I know they are looking into them, but this is the situation and phase we have to pass through. I know they are working towards it, I believe in the government.
‘We Need Basic Amenities, Enabling Business Environment’
Prof. Onyeka Iwuchukwu, Associate Professor, Nigerian Open University of Nigeria (NOUN)
The Nigerian situation affects women more than any other group in the country. When there is no light, it is you the children will run to and getting fuel is also not easy, even with the increase in pump price. As a professional, I have to sit at home to write my papers, but this is no longer possible because I don’t have fuel to help me work at home and so, I have to do all my work in the office.
In my house, I am forced to cook everyday because I cannot store food in my freezer since there is no electricity; it is so hectic for me. I travelled to my husband’s village the other day and I saw women looking like vultures beaten by rain, because feeding has become a big problem for them. Women in the village do not enjoy transportation system. They should be provided with means to help them transport their farm produce to the markets. They also need fertilizers and electricity to aid them. The young lady, who owns a salon, cannot run her shop because there is no electricity to aid her work.
Let government provide basic amenities and create enabling environment for people to survive. People are simply suffering.
‘Throwing Out The Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill Is Not Good For Women’
Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, Executive Director, Project Alert
As a Nigerian woman, the last one-year has been characterised by uncertainty as per the direction the nation is heading. Lots of campaign promises are still hanging in the air. With regards to women and the area in which I work, nothing has happened at the three tiers of government. The Legislators threw out the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill, which is not good for us as women.
‘More To Do On Advancement Of Women’
Nkem Agboti, Legal Practitioner
His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari’s focus in the last one year, has no doubt been on the economy, the war against corruption and security. Our President has worked tirelessly in these areas, and I am confident that his administration will bring about all the change it promised. Furthermore, the appointment of six women to the Cabinet is a good step forward on the journey to substantial gender diversity in government, but there is more to be done in the area of the overall advancement of women in Nigeria.
I would like our President to actively encourage the provision of the necessary supporting social services to enable not just mothers, but all parents to combine family obligations with work responsibilities and participation in public life. This is because far from being only objects of political action, families can, and must become active units working to see that the laws and institutions of the state not only do not offend, but also support and positively defend the rights and duties of the family. I also wish to stress that under this administration, and always, our laws need to continue to reflect natural law and the morality of the Nigerian people.
Affirmative action is also needed, and I recommend that this should be merit-based, and driven aggressively. There should be 35 per cent female participation in public service and employment opportunities, as well as 50 per cent educational opportunities for women.
‘This Government Appears To Have No Direction’
Bimbo Owolabi, Chief Executive Officer, Seven, Six and Ten Interiors
From my perspective as a woman, when President Muhammadu first came into office, many were of the notion that a northern president would not be women-friendly, but with time people saw differently. Currently we have a woman as finance minister, which is a plus.
We should also commend Mrs. Aisha Buhari for choosing to operate as only the wife of the president, rather than the First Lady.
Although she has embarked on some laudable initiatives, I don’t understand why she took such a decision to operate in the background.
It would have been nice to have a prominent First Lady. My favourite First Lady is the late Mariam Babangida.
I don’t think Buhari has done badly, but taking a look at the economy in general, there is inflation, as things are expensive now. Nobody knew how bad the economy was until President Buhari took over. The last one-year has been a trying time. I believe by now, they would have taken enough time to study the situation to know what the challenges are. But we don’t know where they are going.
This government does not appear to have direction. Nobody knows anything or where we are headed. It is either they don’t have a plan or the plan they have isn’t working. We are yet to have full details of our economic blueprint.
Also, information from the government is not coordinated. On the issue of deregulation of the downstream sector, we expected that the government would pass information to us, but the information coming from different government sources are conflicting. We did not know what the truth was, but it translated to hike in pump price of fuel. And we still cannot say the sector has been deregulated. We need to get the information directly from government. I don’t think we have ever had it this bad.
Government has ensured the reduction of importation to encourage local content. Actually, when importation is less, you expect the process to be easier, but things are harder. Given the harsh economic situation, corruption is high and people are becoming more desperate.
Some of government’s harsh polices made the business environment not to be conducive. The foreign exchange situation is not helping small businesses, but we know that as long as Nigeria does not manufacture, there is bound to be importation. When you don’t manufacture and you tell people not to import, it also has its consequences. Within this short period, I heave heard of businesses that have closed shop, which has negative implications. Nigeria needs small businesses because they are the backbone of the economy. We are hoping that things will get better, so that businesses can thrive.
‘So Far, President Buhari Is On Track’
Monisola Adejo, Business Development Manager, Sacred Creative Artistry
This past one year has been challenging, but to be fair, President Muhammadu Buhari is trying. The hike in the price of fuel was bound to happen at one point or the other. Things will actually get worse before getting better.
He has also recovered stolen funds, and more is expected to come in from other countries, where the funds were stashed. It is a lot of money and if he pumps it into the economy, a lot of progress will be made.
It is not easy, everybody is complaining, and some even intend to run away. But like I said, it would get worse before it gets better. There is inflation and things are expensive, but I believe he will find his way around the situation. So far, I think the President is on track.
‘There Will Be Light At The End Of The Tunnel’
Funmi Peters, Managing Director, Branella Gems
In my opinion, I think we are in good hands. President Muhammadu Buhari is not a magician; so, we need to endure. I am sure there is light at the end of the tunnel. Things will definitely get better. All this suffering is for a better tomorrow. We need to give him more time.