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Failed system won’t change overnight

Protests against President Muhammadu Buhari’s government have taken place in some Nigerian cities. Victor Adetula, head of research at NAI, views these developments as a sign of a rising citizens’ consciousness. However, he cautions against the protests being hijacked by an elite group that takes issue with the administration’s agenda for change.

‘Muhammadu Buhari´s presidency has not favoured many within the Nigerian elite class, whose members are fast losing their privileged positions and impunity status. Many of the elite are bitter and would stop at nothing to cause distractions. The country’s economy is in recession, which makes it easy for some members of the disgruntled elite to manipulate public opinion by reducing questions of governance to bread and butter issues just to whip up popular sentiment’, Victor Adetula remarks.

According to Adetula, only a few governments in Nigeria have tried as hard as the Buhari administration to proffer long-term solutions to the nation’s problems – not least when it comes to fighting widespread corruption.

Victor Adetula.

‘It requires a great amount of patience to put in place long-term solutions to the daunting economic and social problems of Nigeria. A failed system won’t change overnight. Moreover, of course, the ones that are losing previous privileges they enjoyed under the old order will not give up easily. They will put up a fight’, Adetula notes.

However, he thinks the government needs to improve its public communication strategies fast. Governance procedures are complex, no doubt, but the people should know what the government is doing and what it plans to do. Currently, public information about government policies and programmes is insufficient. This partly explains some of the rumours and half-truths that dominate the public domain, which are capable of leading to misunderstanding of the government’s intentions.

‘Some among those opposed to President Buhari have circulated many rumours about his health, as well as the policies and programmes of his administration, on social media. The only way to deal with rumours or alternative facts is to provide correct and adequate information. This can help people to interpret, judge right and form their own opinions on issues. This is how political opinions are shaped’, Adetula says.

TEXT: Johan Sävström

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