Nigeria’s perilous and trying times
This is not the best of times for the generality of Nigerians. Never before – save for the period when the Nigeria-Biafra raged – had we experienced such excruciating economic hardship as we are passing through now. But we cast our votes Muhammadu Buhari, our current president, in the hope that he would better our lots in life and take Nigeria to a great technological height. During the 2015 presidential election campaign, his legendary Spartan lifestyle, avuncular disposition, and distaste for corruption won us over to his side. And Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s lack-lustre, inept, tardy, and uninspiring political leadership helped Buhari’s political cause, immensely, too. Again, we should remember that Muhammadu Buhari contested the 2015 presidential poll on the political platform of APC, the slogan of which (change) resonated with us.
Having contested the presidential poll four times before clinching the Presidential diadem, President Buhari ought to be very familiar with Nigeria’s hydra-healed and multi-various national problems. He could have articulated and formulated policies and programmes of action before taking the oath of office. So, after his assumption of office, we expected him to hit the ground running. But it didn’t happen.
In fact, it is sad that President Buhari’s occupation of the highest political office in Nigeria has led to his demystification. Now, it’s obvious to us that a man’s zeal for political leadership is not a proof that he posses leadership qualities, and a guarantee that he will turn around his country’s economic fortunes.
President Buhari’s actions, inactions, and frequent over-sea medical trips have portrayed him as a man, who is ill-equipped, both mentally and physically, for the rigours of political leadership of Nigeria. In the United Kingdom and America, their Prime Minister and President named members of their executive cabinets soon after they’re elected into offices. But it took President Buhari eon period to cobble together an executive cabinet that is filled with tired, retired, recycled, and incompetent politicians and technocrats. Most of them can be likened to putting square pegs in round holes.
The unpalatable fact is, over the years, President Buhari hasn’t weaned himself of religious bigotry and ethnic chauvinism. So ethnic and religious factors and party membership influenced and informed his choices of people, who are members of the executive cabinet. It is an indisputable fact that his federal appointments are lopsided in favour of a section of the country.
When merit is sacrificed on the altar of sectionalism and other primordial and selfish interests, national development will be put in abeyance. Now, Nigeria’s economy has gone into recession owing to the slump in global oil prices and this political administration’s jejune and misconceived economic policies. Consequently, some banks as well as companies had shed off some of their workers. That measure has compounded our country’s unemployment problem. More so, many states in the federation are so financially distressed that they owe their workers backlog of salaries.
As a consequence, millions of children of school ages engage in child labour to augment their parents’ income. They are out of school as their parents cannot afford to keep them in school owing to the economic hardship besetting Nigeria. As the price of almost every food item has skyrocketed, millions of Nigerians go to bed every night on empty stomachs. So when Tuface Idibia, a musical pop star, proposed and planned a protest to call government’s attention to our plight, not a few people applauded the proposition and move. But, behaving true to type, the Benue-born popular musician, who is known more for his singing prowess and lascivious indiscretions than for political activism, backed out of the planned protest.
Thankfully, the protest was held in some cities in Nigeria. It’s a proof that millions of Nigerians are dissatisfied with their country’s economic status quo ante bellum. The people’s discontent can ignite revolution, which can sweep this political administration out of power. The Arab spring, which caused the dethronements of despotic leaders like Muammar Gaddafi of Libya; Ben Ali of Tunisia, and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, is still fresh in our minds.
So, it is imperative for President Buhari to do the needful to avoid entering the pantheon of past leaders, who fluffed the opportunities offered to them to take Nigeria to a great economic and technological height. It is high time he stepped up his act and reinvigorated his executive cabinet with fresh hands in order to solve holistically Nigeria’s seemingly intractable national problems.
Now, Nigeria’s survival as a nation-state is being imperiled by economic down-turn, Boko Haram insurgency, Niger Delta militancy, Fulani herdsmen’s murderous deeds, IPOB agitation for a sovereign state, high rate of youth unemployment, and infrastructural deficit. These can cause anarchy in Nigeria. But, is the absence of an anarchic situation in a country not a pre-requisite for its sustainable national development? The issue of Boko Haram insurgency, Fulani herdsmen’s murderous deeds, and Niger Delta militancy should be tackled decisively as they have the potential of sparking off political conflagration in Nigeria. They are not incapable of causing Nigeria to bowl over. While the Federal Government has dealt a big blow to the Boko Haram insurgency with the capture of the dreaded Sambisa forest, it still treats the issue of the Fulani herdsmen’s homicidal activities with levity and a kid glove. Those cattle-rearers bear A-K 47, invade communities, and kill people with impunity. Yet, the government hasn’t cracked down on them.
But the Federal Government’s use of heavy-handed approach in handling the IPOB’s agitation for statehood is morally reprehensible and unjustifiable as the IPOB members do not engage in violent acts. And every ethnic nation reserves the right to clamour for self-determination.
Okoye wrote from Uruowulu-Obosi Anambra State.
A few years ago, in United Kingdom, Scotland conducted a referendum to determine its continued stay in Britain, the Catalonian people in Span are still clamouring for their own sovereign state.
It is the feelings of marginalisation by some sections of the country that triggered separatist agitations and militancy in our country. The Niger Delta people who are the geese that lay the golden eggs feel that they are being treated unfairly and unjustly in Nigeria’s scheme of things. Their feeling of discontentment is at the root of their militancy. Likewise, the Igbo people are being given a raw deal in Nigeria as to appointments in federal establishments, citing of industries in their area, and others.
So, it behooves this government to consider the calls for the restructuring of the country. More importantly, our economy, which is dependent solely on revenue accruing from crude-oil sale, should be diversified. Agriculture, which used to be the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy, should be given a boost. In the First Republic, Nigeria exported cocoa, palm oil, and groundnut to other countries, which yielded humongous revenue to the country, then. We can return to the era of agricultural boom with the implementation of pragmatic agricultural policies.
But the key to unlocking our potential in agriculture and reviving our comatose economy is forming an executive cabinet that is peopled by competent and patriotic Nigerians.
Okoye wrote from Uruowulu-Obosi Anambra State.