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PMS: Buhari, time is ticking

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By ‘Lanre Ahmed

An average Nigerian, it seems, is more preoccupied with post Muhammadu Buhari era, notwithstanding that the remainder of the tenure of the incumbent President is over one year away.

When people assemble in clusters, nothing could be farther from the truth; it is largely about the nation’s polity, revolving around how the once cherished goodwill, chorused across the country, has been bungled.

No thanks to the modus operandi at the apex level of governance to the tipping point that vast majority of the populace would rather fast forward the hand of the time and hastily put behind them May 29, 2023 for a new lease of life.

A number of issues are pushing the people to crave for fresh air; insecurity is alarming, inflation is at an all time high, poverty is endemic, prices of goods (food items inclusive) are far beyond the reach of the commoners and as if to rub salt on a wound, the last three weeks have remained a nightmarelike due to the prevailing acute shortage of fuel otherwise known as Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in circulation.

The importation of adulterated fuel into the country, which was in turn, sold to dealers of the commodity for onward use of the final consumers was said to have triggered this.

In Nigeria today, Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited has become sole importer of fuel and dramatically the imported substandard petrol scaled through the routine checks before being allowed to go to the end users.

Buhari, Nigeria President

As expected in a saner clime, the hierarchy of the apex petroleum organization would have been summarily indicted and relieved of their duties for the misdemeanor. This would have been done prior to claims and counter-claims to show that governance is not to be trivialized.

But here in Nigeria, anything goes. It is possible to eat own cake and have it. Those who should ordinarily kiss their seats goodbye for the crime against humanity might even be seen the following day dancing “Zah Zuh or Shaku Shaku” and throw hard currency at one another in a party club.

And this is the gloomy and pathetic situation of the country at the moment where no one has been held liable and be made to face comeuppance for the gargantuan crime. What insolence!

As it stands, it is most doubtful for heads to roll in this colossal damage to our national psyche, and the masterminds could, afterward, get pat on the back. After all, crimes have classification in the country.

While a set of people who steal tuber of yams are liable to languish behind bars till God knows when, those who pillage our common patrimony in billions of naira would only be tried for money laundering. And since the former is a minor crime, which is categorized as theft, the latter is a mere corruption and not stealing like some had advanced.

Instances abound in this matter, and of recent is the sentencing of the former Minister of Water Resources, Sarah Ochekpe, and others to three months imprisonment for money laundering to the tune of over N400million with an option of fine of N1million.

That is a bad precedent being emplaced for the successive generation. And it does not end like that but emboldens criminality, especially now that inordinate quest for material wealth has assumed a dangerous trend.

It goes to say poignantly that being appointed into public office is a meal ticket to enrich oneself to the detriment of the poverty stricken masses while a slap in the wrist is handed after being caught or found guilty.

In the final analysis, Nigerians have had to endure the attendant pain of the lingering fuel crisis in the last three weeks without sign of relief coming anytime soon. And the protracted nature of the PMS shortage has heightened the claim among a section of the pundits that the purported importation of adulterated fuel into the country was a mere subterfuge for the upward review of pump price of petrol.

Whatever it is, the leftover of the goodwill that the President Muhammadu Buhari has enjoyed among the populace is about to be tossed away, for this is how it began for President Goodluck Jonathan when he announced the removal of subsidy on PMS as a ‘greek gift’ on January 1st, 2012.

It fueled nationwide resentment and protest and that was the beginning of the end of Jonathan among other catalogue of his sins that led to a revolt in 2015 when he sought re-election.

President Buhari, time is ticking, and patience has its elastic limit. A time when the citizenry would remind the government of the agony of the past three weeks is imminent.

‘Lanre Ahmed, an Ilorin-based journalist.

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