DEEPENING NATIONAL CRISIS paved Nigeria, at 60. Worsened in the past five years. Basic sustainable needs elude the citizens. There is governance deficit, rising insecurity, low wages and rising unemployment, high cost of living, general over-taxation, quantum hikes in utility prices. Misery on the rampage – as Nigerians beg to eat and live. All combined to unleash unbearable and unspeakable hardship on the citizens. WHAT is in it to celebrate, at 60, in the mist of unquantifiable misery. Nigerians are asking?
BUSINESS & TOURISM TIMES, team, anchored By AUSTIN EDOSOMA, Publisher/Editor-In-Chief, in this SPECIAL EDITION of NIGERIA @ 60, from the VIEWS of Experts and Analysts, FOCUS on “NIGERIA, A BIG SHIP, PILOTED AT WONG DIRECTION”.
CELEBRATING NIGERIA’S 60th independent anniversary, would have been resounding, if significant progress had been made in nationhood, by leaders of the country. But the nation is moody, gloomy and bewildered, at 60. Nigeria and its citizens should have been acknowledging significant happy day or events, at 60, if all was well. The reverse is the case. Vast majority of Nigerians, today, are painfully distressed, in a country, that is resourcefully endowed. But, presently, described as one of the world’s “poverty capital”.
Nigerians beg to eat and live, presently, under President Buhari’s watch, according to analysts. Many are surviving by liquidating their assets – selling off appliances and things the family, presumably, can do without. Others solicit help from friends, colleagues and family members. Experts estimate, that over 60 per cent of Nigerians survive on junk foods – foods that merely fill the stomach, but starve the body. Foods without the mix of nutrients for healthy living.
Nigerians live under server infrastructure deficit. Lacking affordable and decent accommodation. Unclean source of portable drinking water. Decay in education and healthcare delivery system. Economy collapsing without direction. Saddled with the monster corruption – looting and re-looting of the economy. While the nation’s leadership and cronies, wallow in affluence. Cared little or none, at all, for their masters – the electorates, who brought them to power by their voting powers.
NIGERIA, presently, is a nation at cross road. There are laud public outcry from distinguish and ordinary citizens, that the curtain of a united Nigeria and Nigerians may be coming down. That Nigeria has never been as divided along parochial, ethnic, religious, nepotic and tribal lines, as well as, regions, as it is, presently. Each region and section of the country, agitated over marginalisation and neglect.
Pundits in circle of the present leadership in the country, console themselves with arguments that the current crisis bedevilling the nation are not new. That they did not originate with Buhari’s presidency. That Nigeria’s multifaceted problems, date back to when the nation gained its independent. They however, are no doubt aware, that the ugliest, most devastating, dehumanising conditions of citizens in the country, and consistently deteriorating, without adequate approach and drive to addressed them, are with the present government.
PRESIDENT BUHARI, Thursday, October 1, in his independent anniversary broadcast to the nation, derided his predecessors in government, between May 1999, when Nigeria returned to full democracy to 2015, when he took over as president. He described them as leaders that piloted the country to “near destruction”. He justified recent increase in petrol pump price. That petrol is cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia – producer and refiner of petroleum products.
Specifically, President Buhari, in his independent anniversary address, was alluding to former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo; late Umar Yar’Adua; and Goodluck Jonathan; who piloted the nation’s affairs within the period he referred to, as leaders who led the nation to “near destruction”.
Buhari said: “Those in the previous governments from 1999 to 2015, who presided over the near destruction of the country have now the impudence to attempt to criticise our efforts. In the circumstances, a responsible government must face realities and take tough decisions. No government in the past did what we are doing with such scarce resources. We have managed to keep things going in spite of the disproportionate spending on security”.
And added: “Petroleum prices in Nigeria are to be adjusted. We sell now at N161 per litre. A comparison with our neighbours will illustrate the point. Chad which is an oil producing country charges N362 per litre. Niger, also an oil producing country sells one litre at N346.In Ghana, another oil producing country, petroleum pump price is N326 per litre. Further afield, Egypt charges N211 per litre. Saudi Arabia charges N168 per litre. It makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia,” Buhari stated in defence of his government’s increase in petrol price.
Officials of his government, have argued that there are plenty of goods in the shelves in the markets. But they fail to acknowledge that Nigerians starred at them as ornaments – no money to purchase them. The foods in the markets are not within their reach. In civilised societies, individuals and families on poverty lines, enjoy subsidies in various shades – under “social welfare schemes”. Nigeria has no social welfare schemes. Subsidies enjoyed, on few items, particularly, petrol and electricity, have become contentious with the government.
According to experts, Buhari’s government have, consistently, been in denials about lacklustre performance of his government. Shifting blames, not accepting blames for failures of his government in the past five years. The president, his team and advisers, analysts say, undermine the need for quality and efficient management of public institutions, organisations and the nation – major factors that make the difference between success and failure.
PUBLIC REACTIONS, Thursday, October 1, to President Buhari’s leadership, in the past five year, were spontaneous and varied. While the president was making his merry address, and throwing tantrums at past presidents, protests hit the nation’s capital, Abuja, and some southern states of Nigeria. The protesters engaged security agents – the Police and Department of State Services, DSS. Activists were reported to have taken to the streets in Edo, Oyo, Lagos, Osun, Rivers, among others.
Aminu Tambuwal, Governor of Nigeria’s Sokoto State, and leader, Nigeria’s opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Governors Forum, reacted that Buhari’s leadership and actions are divisive, and leading Nigeria to “extreme decay”. Tambuwal’s statement, Thursday, titled “Reflection On Nigeria @ 60: The Past, Present And Way Forward – We Need A National Dialogue”, said Buhari supervised the nation’s slide into extreme decay, within five years in office.
Tambuwal said, despite enviable strides recorded by various governments since independence, 60 years ago, Nigeria appears to be on “reverse gear” with the state of affairs in the country. His words: “In the last five years, under the APC-controlled administration, Nigeria has continued on the downward slide into extreme decay, with the country displacing India as the poverty capital of the world, with an estimated 87 million Nigerians living on less than $1.9 US a day (Brooking Institute 2018)”.
He said: “We as leaders must strive harder to make sure that poverty is minimised in all parts of the country. This is even made worse by the fact that in 2019, Nigeria ranked 93rd out of 117 qualifying countries with a score of 27.9 below Guinea and Mali in the Global Hunger index.
“It is also regrettable to note that the Buhari-led APC administration has plunged Nigeria deeper into the debt trap after the country had exited from its initial debt burden from the London and Paris Clubs under the PDP-led administration. It is indeed sad to observe that Nigeria’s external debt hit a 16 year high of $27 billion in December 2019, just higher than the $20.8bn in external level as at 2005, when Nigeria exited from the club of its foreign creditors.”
President Buhari’s ruling party, All Progressive Congress, APC, Governors Forum, sees things differently. Abubakar Bagudu, leader of the forum, Wednesday, ahead of the independent anniversary, released a press statement, titled: “Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary – We Reaffirm Our Commitment To Nigeria’s Development” that President Buhari is on course.
Departing, entirely, from the pulse of the nation, and the general situation afflicting citizens, at 60, Bagudu said: “Under the leadership of President Buhari, our politics is today being refined to ensure indiscriminate development of all parts of the country. In addition, the President is inspiring all of us in the APC to change our political culture especially in relations to electoral contests”.
And added: “Unlike what obtains in other parties where the operative culture is to manipulate electoral contests to produce set outcomes, the environment in our party, the APC, is being made more liberal. With such a liberal atmosphere, combined with impartiality of the Independent National Electoral Commission, as a governing party, our electoral probability, in all elections, is even.”
NIGERIAN vision, in the years ahead, according to analysts, need to achieve lofty heights, from its present deepening national crisis. But they argue that President Buhari, seem not to have the right vision for developing the country. Foremost, they say, is that the president blames, everybody and thing, for his failures. And unwilling to take responsibility for his actions and inaction, as a leader. Especially, often blaming his predecessors who, distinctly, achieved much, and launched Nigeria in a future of hope.
President Buhari needs to rekindle hope in Nigerians, and Nigerian project. Improve conditions of living. Provide reassurance of the cooperate existence of all citizens. Make Nigeria a country where the rule of law prevails, and were citizens’ rights are guaranteed. Where all regions and sections in the country, play down the clamour for disintegration. These were absent in the president’s 60th national independent day broadcast, on Thursday, October 1.
Vision, as a concept or approach to management of a nation, they say, is deeply rooted and focused on betterment of the future. Vision, nether alters the past. Nor do much about the present. But focus on building better future. The past and present, in a vision, are only relevant, to the extent of learning lessons from them. More important, is articulating and adequately actualising the plans for the future.
President Buhari and his team, according to experts, need to progress in their collective thinking and planning about building a healthy and endurable nation. Play down on blame games – always blaming the past and living in apologies and denials. Instead, the president needs to focus on his electioneering campaign promises to restructure the country to reflect true federalism, rather than “nepotism”.
Fix the economy, rather than, the economy, often relapsing to negative growth. Diligently fighting corruption, rather than, officials of his government, re-looting the economy. Ending Boko Haram insurgency and banditry, rather than, Boko Haram and banditry defying solutions in the country. Experiences in countries with focused leadership and national vision, parades huge successes.
Buhari’s government needs to set directions, inspire followers and subordinates on generally agreed ways of doing things, and move towards define course. He needs to envision a New Nigerian of national consensus. Unite the people behind common national goals, aspirations and widely shared values. New national vision, after 60 years of independent, need not be about designing ANNIVERSARY LOGO. But the needs to guide the voyage of the nation’s development stride on the right course.