Home » Back Page » Killer Change

Killer Change

Who on God’s earth would ever have thought that the change agents of Nigeria can ever be likened to Lawrence Anini?

The “Change” mantra shook Nigeria like a tropical storm in the last General Elections. The PDP that ruled Nigeria for 16 years and boasted of ruling for 60 nonstop years was swept out of power. The preachers of change were all the rage, with some of the blokes claiming they needed to prove their belief in change by trekking from Lagos, through thick forests and bushes, to Abuja to felicitate with the new Baba on the block in the shape and size of the straight-as-abroomstick President Muhammadu Buhari.

It is as though change has reduced Nigerians to trekking on foot instead of using cars! A great friend of mine who so much believed in the much-ballyhooed change left his post in the United States and returned to Nigeria for good, arguing with great gusto that he believed in the Buhari change magic of “One Dollar To One Naira”.

My counter argument that the man from Daura had no magic wand to put Nigeria’s poor Naira at par with the mighty American dollar nearly ruined my over 30 years’ friendship with this otimkpu (praise-singer) of change. Truth to tell, he deleted me as a friend on Facebook. Now that 9 months of being in office by Buhari has actually turned the Naira into a woeful exchange rate of 350 to one solitary US dollar, my friend has been reduced to a mental wreck, speaking in tongues in the manner of the newfangled churches in an obscure corner of Mushin, Lagos State.

As my people say, people do not join the white garment churches with normal eyes… Some of the erstwhile preachers of change are now dodging me these days. When Buhari revealed recently Who on God’s earth would ever have thought that the change agents of Nigeria can ever be likened to Lawrence Anini? that he had been keeping overseas medical doctors since 1978, one of these my friends did not know when he ran naked into the streets.

This fellow had all along believed that Buhari was so poor he needed to sell a cow or two to be able to campaign in the elections. Criticism of change has started coming from very strange quarters. The celebrated syndicated journalist Sonala Olumhense could be ranked as the earliest promoter of the Buhari cause.

When the budget imbroglio broke out, my former editor and outstanding mentor Sonala Olumhense wrote in his syndicated column thusly: “Few budgets in history have been as scandalous in preparation, presentation, substance or management. Advertised as ‘The Budget of Change’ it has emerged as ‘The Budget of Shortchange’, and an embarrassing exposure of poor control in the administration… Here is a budget prepared for implementation on the basis of foreign loans but which turns out to be loaded with priority confusion, with the presidency the focus of proposals that would have embarrassed even a PDP government led by Lawrence Anini, Nigeria’s most famous armed robber.”

Who on God’s earth would ever have thought that the change agents of Nigeria can ever be likened to Lawrence Anini? And by a very serious guru like Sonala Olumhense… Well, it is a well-known Nigerian factor that things always change only to remain the same, if not worse. It is now obvious that even as the change mantra was all about running a pro-poor government what has eventually manifested is a government for only the rich.

The so-called “Budget of Change” attests to the fact that Buhari plans to run a plutocracy, that is, government of the rich. I had in an earlier article written on “Onemanocracy”, which means “Government of one man, by one man, and for one man.” A peep into the budget explains without beating about the bush that it is all in gear with the lavish splendor of the feudal rich. For starters, the budget has this item of paying “rent” for the use of Aso Villa.

The sum of N22,321,880 got budgeted as rent. Upping the ante, N436,054,626 was put down in the so-called budget “for meals and refreshment, canteen/ kitchen equipment, foodstuff and catering materials for the president and the vice-president.” Then in the spirit of adding to the lavish life of the idle rich, N20,260,300 was allocated for sporting and games equipment for the Presidential Air Fleet. As if to add change insult to APC political injury, N39,075,000 was the proposal for the purchase of recreational facilities at the State House.

Add that figure to the N193,513,097 allocated for recreational facilities in the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation. Exotic cars will of course make the wheels of change move forward in great comfort. The tidy sum of N904,015,000 was proposed for the acquisition and maintenance of the brand new fleet of automobiles to suit the image of a plutocratic Presidency. The figure for the proposed renovation of Aso Villa Guest House stands at a staggering N387,980,200. The garish furnishing of the rooms in the Guest House will gulp N45million. The State House Medical Centre got N3.8billion allocation which towers over the N2,666,853,303 earmarked for the construction of hospitals nationwide.

Vice-President Yemi Osibajo obviously loves books which accounts for why his office got more allocation for books than the federal polytechnics in the country. After all, in George Orwell’s Animal Farm “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” Within the budget, the buying of the same model of Toyota Hilux Van differs in prices thusly: N1,264,941 for Gashaka Gumi National Park; N5,700,000 for the Nigerian Natural Medicine Development Agency; N6,500,000 for Federal Government Girls’ College, Owerri; N7,500,000 for the Ministry of Technology, Akure; N8,855,000 for Federal Government Girls’ College, Gumi Tambuwal; N9,178,142 for Federal Government Girls’ College, Umuahia; N10,000,000 for Federal Government College, Ezzamgbo, Abakaliki; N11,147,675 for Federal Technical College, Lassa; N12,888,016 for the Ministry of Health; N13,500,000 for Federal Government College, Okigwe; N15,970,515 for the Foreign Service Academy; N26,600,000 for the Office of the National Security Adviser; N27,273,523 for the Federal Technical College, Ikare; and a whopping N27,660,000 for Federal Government Girls’ College, Kazaure.

The same vehicle, the same budget, different prices! Toyota Hilux Van: The corruption of change is thy name! At this rate, this change can kill us all. President Buhari has famously said that if we do not kill corruption now, corruption will kill Nigeria. The killing becomes quite immense when the selfsame corruption is built into the socalled budget of change.




e-mail: maxim.uzoatu@theunion.com.ng

%d bloggers like this: