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Opinion

Why Always Middlemen?

I was not born when General Muhammadu Buhari first ruled Nigeria in the ‘80s, however, during my Senior Secondary School days and the run-up to the 2015 general election, my then Civic Education Teacher, who seemed critical of General Muhammadu Buhari, taunted the retired general saying he never seemed to be in control and that he was a mere figurehead Head-of-State. This gave me a clue of what might have happened during the Buhari 20-month rule between 1983 and 1985. He stated that General Tunde Idiagbon, his Chief of Staff and de facto deputy who seemed like the backbone of the junta was away for lesser Hajj in Saudi Arabia when Buhari’s government was toppled in a palace coup that had no resistance. 

My teacher went on to tell us a story of what happened in a market during the time, there was the hoarding of goods by traders resulting in artificial scarcity. The Head-of-State would not do anything except making comments when pleased. It took the intervention of Idiagbon who led soldiers to break into locked warehouses where the goods were kept and made them available to the citizens. Something is clear in that story and corroborated the headline of a Sunday Herald Newspaper of 29th January 1984 I saw in the Media recently – Buhari Blames Middlemen for the poor economy. It is only laughable that a military man as he then was could trade blames on the failure of his Junta with bloody civilian middlemen when he has everything in his reach and armoury to put things in order. 

Between then and now, it seems nothing much as changed in the president. In December 2017, there was a nationwide shortage of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as Petrol. The Government through the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)  blamed the marketers (middlemen) of the petroleum product for the scarcity, threatening to deal with those behind the scarcity. Of course, until now, the whole country is still waiting to see the punishment meted on those responsible for the scarcity. Nobody could be held because the government itself is the culprit. Marketers that never shared the credit of the availability and abundance of the petroleum product soon became the culprit as soon as the product was short. President Buhari himself was the Minister of Petroleum while all these happened. 

Similarly, in 2018, the President blamed the late Libyan Leader, Mummar Gaddafi, for the proliferation of small arms, banditry, terrorism and violence bedevilling the country. Saying militants who escaped from Libya after the killing of Gaddafi in 2011 are the perpetrators of the insecurities the country is battling with. One wonders what stopped Nigeria from securing Her borders from the infiltration of  “foreign criminals” if the Libyan Terrorists exist at all. Obviously, Late Gaddafi is the MIDDLEMAN between Nigeria and Insecurity, according to President Buhari.

Again, last week, Mallam Garba Shehu, a President Buhari’s Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity in a statement made available on his Principal’s behalf has again blamed “corrupt middlemen” for the high cost of food items in the country. Most of the middlemen are even alleged to be foreigners. The government wouldn’t have been crying blue murder about foreigners inflating the price of goods arbitrarily if the government had invested in Agriculture and empower local farmers. The middlemen could have been adjusting to economic realities in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak which seems to have affected almost everything. Since land borders had been closed against the importation of food items and airways shut due to Covid-19 scare during the time, one then wonders where the foreigners are coming from. Could that be a mere contradiction from the government or a poor attempt at avoiding responsibility?

Why do any other persons apart from the government take blames for everything that goes wrong? When will the government start taking responsibilities? Why always middlemen? 

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