Nigeria bankrupt, hopeless without new constitution, says Afe Babalola
• NLC warns on deregulation of downstream sector, laments power sector woes
• HURIWA backs Kukah, knocks N’Assembly over failure to impeach Buhari
The founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, (ABUAD), Chief Afe Babalola, yesterday, declared that the country has gone bankrupt, citing free fall in dollar to naira exchange rates and the level of external debts as basis for his assertion.
The legal icon stated this in Ado Ekiti during a media briefing to reiterate his earlier call for postponement of the 2023 elections to pave way for enactment of a new constitution.
He lamented that the country has collapsed due, largely, to poor management by leaders thrown up by the 1999 Constitution.
He said: “The naira, which was N199 to $1 in 2015, is now over N570 to a dollar. The external debt, which was $10.7 billion in 2015, is now over $38 billion. The government is borrowing more, spending more, but earning less revenue. The worse thing is that the debt servicing level is also rising.
“In 2020, Nigeria was ranked the poorest country in the world, with over 50 per cent of Nigerians living in extreme poverty, while over 70 million Nigerians are in urgent need of life saving assistance.
“The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics confirms Nigeria’s poverty capital vide The Guardian May15, 2020. The Guardian devoted 78 powerful editorials to the need for Nigeria to have a true people’s (federal) constitution. In addition, many leading traditional rulers, former presidents, governors and lawyers have supported The Guardian editorial and pleaded with government and the National Assembly to convene a national conference for a new people’s constitution.”
He said: “To save Nigeria from nose-diving into irretrievable bankruptcy and poverty, irreparable economic and political damage brought about by the 1999 Constitution and its beneficiaries, a new constitution is imperatively necessary before any election.
“I am of the firm conviction that moneybags now control the lever of power. If we allow the current constitution beyond 2023, what we will be getting is recycling leadership, who will continue the old ways.
“We need a constitution that will throw up young, brilliant, dedicated people to save this country. We can’t get all these under the current constitution.”
ALSO, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged Federal Government to halt further moves to deregulate the downstream sector.
It said the policy translates to wholesale importation of refined petroleum products, which benefits only middlemen profiteers and their partners in the corridors of power.
It noted that full deregulation of diesel and aviation fuel has failed to deliver on promises of abundant products supply and cheaper prices.
NLC stressed that Nigeria can and should refine its crude oil to generate refined petroleum products including diesel – one of the easiest to refine by-products of crude oil, especially using modular refineries.
In its Easter message to Nigerian workers, yesterday, in Abuja, NLC said: “Today, Nigerians pay far more for diesel, kerosene and aviation fuel and yet these products are hardly available. While the promoters of deregulation have suddenly lost their tongues, the burden of this grand failure has been transferred to Nigerian workers and the public.”
Speaking on behalf of the Congress, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, noted that since privatisation of power generation and distribution assets in Nigeria, the promise of constant supply of electricity remains a mirage.
While bemoaning non-review of power sector reform, Congress called for scrapping of the electric power sector privatisation programme, given its failure to make affordable and constant power available to Nigerians and their businesses.
MEANWHILE, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), yesterday, backed Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah, who criticised President Muhammadu Buhari on insecurity, corruption and division in Nigeria.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the cleric was right that everything under Buhari has “literally broken down” and that the country has become “one big emergency national hospital with full occupancy”.
It also knocked the Ninth National Assembly, led by Senate President Ahmad Lawan and House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, for failing to impeach Buhari despite his many failings.
HURIWA said: “The respected Catholic bishop was on point when he said every aspect of our national life has been grossly broken, since President Muhammadu Buhari came into office in May 2015. Everything he said cannot be further from the truth.
“In all ramifications, the President and his entire cabinet have failed in the government’s primary responsibility, which according to Section 14 (2)(b) of the Nigerian constitution, is: ‘The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government’.
“Monthly, vicious insurgents, killer herdsmen, and gunmen slaughter hundreds of innocent Nigerians in Kaduna, Zamfara, Borno, Yobe, Plateau, Taraba, Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi, and other states. Sadly, these terrorists and enemies of the country walk freely, unarrested and unprosecuted by the Buhari regime. Security agents wander around, sparing the killers, while the President gives empty marching orders and unsympathetic condolence messages.
“The sitting duck and bootlicking Senate and House of Representatives are also complicit over their failure to impeach President Buhari after he has lost legitimacy to exercise authority as President, having failed woefully to enforce Section 14(2) (b) of the Constitution, which is the primary duty of government.”