By FEMI ADESINA
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has a fixation with 60 years. At the height of its heady days in power, it challenged its Chi (personal god) to a wrestling contest, vowing that it would rule Nigeria for minimum of 60 years. We know how the story ended. The Chi gave the boastful party a thunderous pin-fall. So great was the fall that not all the king’s horses nor all the king’s men could put Humpty Dumpty together again.
The Sugar Candy Mountain of 60 years ended in 16 years, with the bloody nose Nigerians gave PDP at the polls through the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015.
Since that time, however, PDP has not stopped fantasizing about 60 years. Addressing the media recently on the 5th year anniversary of its nemesis, President Muhammadu Buhari, in power, the party, through Kola Ologbondiyan, its National Publicity Secretary, said the President and his team “have taken our country 60 years backward.” Lol. What a neurosis with 60 years.
When the PDP lies, it speaks its mother tongue, its natural language, “for he is a liar and father of all lies.” The party has become willfully blind and deaf to all progress going on in the country.
Back to English Literature class in secondary school, we were taught what an oxymoron was: figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction. That is why we want to examine the ‘good setback’ the Buhari government has given Nigeria, taking her back 60 years, according to the PDP.
There are minimum of 600 road projects going on in different parts of the country today. What a good setback. The Buhari government is doing what Napoleon couldn’t do, and so, it is taking the country ‘backward.’
Hear the story of the Bodo-Bonny Road. It had been on the drawing board for 48 years. It is supposed to be the first link road between Bonny, where the country’s cash cow, the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) project is sited, and the rest of Rivers State. But no access, except by boats and helicopters.
For almost five decades, the Bodo-Bonny Road was only in the realm of imagination. Till Muhammadu Buhari came. Work commenced on the $333 million project in 2017, and estimated time of completion is 2022.
The 38 kilometers long road runs through low lying marshland swampy terrain, with many culverts, two creek bridges of about 500 meters in length, and a major river bridge of about 713 meters length. Yet, Buhari is building it, in conjunction with NLNG. What a backward movement!
We have said a lot about the Second Niger Bridge. And we shall never stop talking about it. The project makes our heart to beat Du du ke, du du ke, each time we remember it.
The first bridge was built in 1965, and is the major gateway to the land of the wise men-the East. But the sole bridge has become grossly inadequate, and people virtually see hell on it at major festive times.
Government after government had built a new bridge-with their mouths- particularly since we returned to democratic rule in 1999. Whenever elections approached, and they needed the votes of the people, they would take cutlasses, hoes and shovels, go to the site of the bridge, and pretend to be digging the ground. Once elections were over, and they had got the votes they wanted, it’s goodbye basket, I’ve carried all my apples.
Till Buhari came. Without fanfare, no bravado, no theatrics, he set to work. The bridge is 48% completed today, with sights firmly set on the first quarter of 2022 as delivery time. What a backward move, according to PDP. And to think the party can’t even complete its head office, despite raising billions of Naira, which developed legs and vanished.
What about rail? Have you seen the Warri-Itakpe line, which had vegetated for over 30 years? What about Abuja-Kaduna, already put to use? And Lagos-Ibadan, about 90% done? Ibadan-Kano has been awarded, there will be Lagos-Calabar, and many others. But PDP says the rail lines are leading us backwards by 60 years. What a good backward movement!
Airports. The country was rated as having some of the worst airports in the world before Buhari came. But today, see ultra-modern terminals in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Kano, and Enugu is coming on stream shortly. But they say it’s a flight backwards. Oh, I see. Such people may never then fly forward ever and ever. They are perpetually stuck in reverse gear.
Agriculture. We used to import everything. Even when we had a celebrated farmer as President, we brought in rice from all over the world, and beans from Burkina Faso. Maize, wheat, sorghum, millet, we imported everything. Fertilizer was one huge scam, when we planted nothing.
Then Buhari came. He told Nigerians to return to the land. And he put his money where his mouth was. Agriculture was massively funded, and today, we have pyramids of rice round the country. We no longer import any type of grains, rather our neighbors come to buy here. We are almost self-sufficient in food.
Imagine if such hadn’t happened, and COVID-19 came. No foreign exchange to import food, all international borders closed, nothing to eat. Nigeria would have been in terrible crises. But we thank God Buhari came this way. He made all the difference. Yet PDP (Papa Deceiving Pikin) says it’s backward movement. I like that kind of backstroke, don’t you?
Eleven quarters of consecutive GDP growth, before Coronavirus threw a spanner in the works. Yet, they say it’s all backward movement. Non-oil exports have grown highest in the country’s history. We are taking massive leaps in the Ease of Doing Business. Light appears at the end of the long tunnel of lack of electricity, with a transparent deal with Siemens of Germany. For the first time in over ten years, Nigeria is conducting transparent bidding process for 57 Marginal Oil Fields to increase revenue. Insurgency, crime and criminality are being robustly fought. COVID19, which has humbled the great powers of the world, is also being battled relentlessly. What of corruption? No retreat, no surrender. Do the crime, do the term. More than 1,400 convictions, and over N800 billion recovered in recent times. Yet PDP says it’s backward movement. I hear.
When AfDB President, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina came to see President Buhari recently, I had a private dialogue with him. And he told me of an African leader who met him and said: “Those who don’t want you for a second term in office say you are not doing well. But if what you are doing is a bad thing, please continue with those bad things for the sake of Africa. We appreciate what you are doing.”
Doing admirable bad things. Another oxymoron. But some morons don’t know oxymorons. So they talk of Nigeria being taken back 60 years. What a good backward movement. Nigerians want more of such.
*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity