Best wishes to the father of the 4th Republic!

By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir Talban Bauchi.

Nigeria’s 4th Republic story just wouldn’t be one, without your steely efforts, commitment and perseverance. It is accurate to say that our return to democracy was fathered by you, as you remained stoic, in the struggle for Nigeria’s return to democracy. You served as an umbrella and cornerstone to the champions of democracy, as you fought for the entrenchment of democratic rule in Nigeria, which has come to stay. Mr. President, It is quite patriotic of you to shun all celebrations for your Birthday as you turn 72, on the 29th of March, 2024. Out of respect for the murder of some of Nigeria’s finest military officers, and the mood of the nation, as Nigerians face very challenging times, in the midst of very tough but necessary economic decisions
taken by your administration. On the 29th of March, 2023, you did cancel your yearly Birthday colloquium, and asked that special prayers and thanksgiving service be held, for the peace, unity and progress of Nigeria. You did also cancel your Birthday colloquium for the year 2022, to honor the victims of the Kaduna terrorist train attack, and you said, “for me to be here celebrating, dancing, and enjoying myself does not show enough concern of a statesman and a senior citizen of this country”. It is heartwarming for us that you exude such empathetic leadership towards the citizenry.

As response to the very tough economic decisions taken by your administration, we recognise the concerted efforts you made towards alleviating the struggles of the common man. 5 billion naira was doled out to each state of the Federation from the get-go, to provide palliatives to people all around the country. Stipends were also provided for civil servants to cushion the effects of those decisions. In Minna recently, you begged the governors on behalf of Nigerians to do more in terms of cash stipends, so that workers take-home will be close to the new minimum wage, which is set to be announced soon. Ofcourse true to our Nigerianness, Marketers and other manipulators, took advantage of the unification of our exchange rate, and created a psuedo-inflation in the economy. Online exchange platforms and BDC operators manipulated the exchange rate, causing a huge de-valuation of the naira against the dollar. Your confidence in the ‘headmaster’ however, is reaping benefits, as the dollar is slipping down, almost as fast as the way it galloped up. Your roundtable with key economic players and manufacturing conglomerates has also helped in bringing down the prices of some goods notably cement, and noodles. Alas Mr. President, some other manipulators are still hugely at play.

Mr. President, in a recent statement by former President Buhari, he did mention that Nigeria is a very complex country to govern, and that he knows you are doing your best. One of such complexities Mr. President, is our penchant for impunity, manipulation, and disobedience to law and order. Mr. President, there are certain areas that you’d have to apply the strong arms of the law, to strong arm our marketers who are railroading us into living with an arbitrariness in the pricing of goods and services. Prices of commodities that have no business with the exchange rate, assumed highly unaffordable stances. Prices were increased on a daily basis, and still are. The explainer is that, as the dollar goes up, the amount of money they need to buy raw-materials shoots up too. We have come to terms with that. But when the dollar started crashing, the prices continued to sky-rocket. Sugar for example has refused to behave like the dollar. This time round, as the dollar is crashing, the price of sugar is rising. So with a lot of pharmaceutical products Mr. President.

Mr. President, our Nigerianness will only listen to a commodity price control board/ mechanism. The way the Headmaster handled the manipulators of the naira, is the only way to handle the manipulators of the prices of goods. Either a price control board with proper enforcement be put in place, or, a review/ amendment be made, of the mandate of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, FCCPC. Wholesalers and more culpably retailers, have been taking advantage of unprotected consumers with all kinds of arbitrary pricing. Basic commodities consumed by the common man are made costly out of sheer greed, as opposed to any logical business costs or calculations.

Mr. President, as an empathetic leader, you have proven so many times that you are a listener, a fast thinker, and one that is quick with action. It is said in Nigeria that once prices go up, they never come down. Please Mr. President, we pray that you revisit your decision on the control of prices of goods and services in the country. The economic situation is getting better, but the manipulators in the economy, do not want us to breath. They give us stories of old stock and new stock, and to their convenience, one stock or the other never gets off of their shelves. If they are not checked Mr. President, they will succeed in creating another parallel market in the prices of goods and services. One is the actual price of goods and the other, the ‘Nigerian price’! They will continue to rob us of appreciating any of the economic positives your administration is recording, and continue to pitch the masses against you, for their own ‘market gain’. As a patriotic Nigerian, I will heed your Birthday Wishes, and make a humble gesture to a charity near me. I wish you success in your official endeavors, as you strive to make Nigeria great again, as your success is indeed ours too.

Tahir is Talban Bauchi.

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