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Thursday, August 11, 2022

THE STATE OF THE NATION

NIGERIA under President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch is bleeding as all indices suggest. There is no gainsaying the fact that the emergence of Buhari as Nigeria civilian head of government in 2015 was greeted with huge expectations, as the overwhelming support and votes that saw him defeating the incumbent government of Goodluck Jonathan were predicated on the lackluster performance of the latter, in the area of slow economic growth, palpable corruption and endemic insecurity. It was not surprising then that Buhari’s major praxes in seeking Nigerians’ votes were woven around; taming corruption, provisions of infrastructure and fight against insecurity.

IT would be recalled that most Nigerians trusted Buhari because of his high record of integrity and revulsion for corrupt practices, stern dispositions attributable to his regime as military head of state, as well as his spartan life-style and identification with the poorest of the poor in the north. Interestingly, his inauguration speech, which became popular for the notation of “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”, was seen as a marked demonstration of his intentions to unmask and demystify individuals, as well as recalibrate and upset institutions, processes and individuals, in the overall quest of birthing a new nation.

WITH two recoveries from what some watchers termed avoidable recessions in the space of his two terms of four years each, for which he is in the twilight, Nigeria has dangerously retrogressed in virtually all aspects of life. Ironically, the Jonathan government that Buhari despairingly  criticised before coming to government has become a relative reference point to underscore the degenerations witnessed in very critical spheres of Nigeria life.

FOR instance, we find it disheartening that inflation under the Buhari administration has continued to rise, with acute scarcity and sharp increases in prices of commodities denying consumers the needed staple dietary requirements for decent living. This is as companies collapse under very volatile economic atmosphere. The present debt of Nigeria stands at N41.6trn, leaving the country to be servicing loans with a greater percentage of her budgets.

      AS  a result of the monolithic crude oil earnings, the naira has persistently lost value to other major currencies, thereby reducing the purchasing power of citizens whose personal earnings and investments have dipped dramatically to expand their impoverishment.  Paradoxically, notwithstanding the anti-corruption posturing of the Buhari administration, cases of crude oil thefts remained unmitigated, leading to the drains of national resources into individual and group purses, as arguments are rife that illegal proceeds from these transactions and others are fueling the pervasive insecurity in the country.

WE are equally worried that the oil sector has been perpetually overshadowed by corrupt practices, with the issue of subsidy payments still vexatious and shadowy. The haziness in the oil sub-sector has generated mistrust from citizens who do argue that the issue of subsidy regime in successive administrations is a big fraud. Painfully enough, the Finance minister recently bemoaned the deficit in the income accruable to the country that was not sufficient to meet the obligations of subsidy payment. Curiously too, fuel subsidy payment for 2023 has been put at N6.72trn. This incongruity in financial administration negates economic reasonableness in a nation where huge loans are obtained to provide for infrastructure. The recent transformation of the NNPC to a Limited Company, based on the dictates of Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), left in its trail controversies around ownership of shares, problematic appointment into the board, etc.  

UNDER Buhari watch, even though he set out with the arrest and incarceration of the former National Security Adviser to Jonathan, Sambo Dasuki, in relation to the issue of multi-billion dollar arms deal, Nigerians have similarly been inundated with: the multi-billion naira scandal at the NDDC, involving the former acting Managing Director, Kemebra Dikumo Pondei; the pension fraud of N2 billion  in the defunct pension reform department traceable to Abdulrasheed Maina, and the recent trial of the ex-Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, who was accused of criminal breach to the tune of N109.4 billion. For the latter, the IPPIS payment platform that was paraded as fool-proof was the springboard used to pilfer the treasury.              

THE Hope notes, with great anxieties, the festering of insecurity across Nigeria under this administration, with palpable cases of kidnapping, murders and arsons perpetuated in the North-West, North-East and South-East. The climate of fear of insecurity has descended on the entire country, with violence made ubiquitous in a manner similar to the rage of itinerant criminal herders. Specifically, non-state actors now charge taxes in some areas in Kaduna State, as a community head, the Emir of Yandoto, AlhajiGarbaMarafa recently turbaned the leader of a bandit, Ada Aleru, as the Sarkin Fulani, in a desperate ceding of space to miscreants, in search of safety, after constitutional governments failed in their responsibilities of protecting the citizens.

THE audacity of terrorists and the vulnerability in the Nigeria security architectures were dangerously engraved by: the ambush of, and attack on, the Presidential Advance team in Dutsinma, Katsina State; terrorist attack on the Nigerian Correctional Centre in Kuje, a few distance from Abuja, the seat of power, during which close to one 1000 inmates were freed, including 64 Boko Haram high-profile fighters and suspects; the attack by bandits on a mining site in Shiroro, leading to the deaths of 30 soldiers; the murders of more than 41 parishioners during an attack at St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State and early this week, the daring attack on troops of Presidential Guards Brigade, by terrorists in Abuja

 AT  various times, there were also attacks on the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, a symbol of military exploits and the Kaduna airport. With some of the victims of banditry attack on the Abuja/Kaduna train still being held and subjected to very harrowing treatment; the rag-tagged bandits have further desecrated the sovereignty of Nigeria by threatening to abduct the president and the governor of Kaduna State, El-Rufai.

THE country has lost gallant security personnel to the sustained onslaughts by criminal elements. Unbelievably, even after a court of competent jurisdiction has declared bandits as terrorists, the federal government is still dragging its foot in carrying out total bombardment of these terrorists, with some Nigerians accusing the federal government of treating renegades with kid’s gloves. We had thought the acquisition of military hardware, particularly Tucano Jet fighters, would have realistically degraded the terrorists, as against the degradation usually mouthed by President Buhari.          

AS  Nigeria keeps painful records of these attacks too many, just as the government renews its assurances of taming the scavengers who decimate citizens by the day, with ineffective threats and choreographed condolences, many Nigerians, in clear loss of confidence in the government ability to secure the people, have resorted to anxious lamentations, while some others are leaving the country in droves for other nations in quest of security and better life. These emigrants are mostly professionals that are being lost to other nations to grow their economies. We like to state, very unequivocally, that no nation loses its best and survives it

THE Hope  recalls, very regrettably, that the health sector is also in a parlous state, with public health institutions barely able to discharge their duties to the citizens. In some cases, needed personnel, items and equipment for diagnosis and treatment are not available, to the detriment of citizens who end up as victims of wrong diagnosis and lack of basic health care.

SOCIAL  services and amenities are almost non-existent as monies claimed to have been spent on paper did not translate to concrete realities for the benefits of citizens. Most federal roads are still in very critical conditions, as those being constructed have taken very long time to be completed. Contrary to the commitment of the Buhari regime to adequately fund education, strike actions by staff unions in higher institutions have led to the locking up of the gates of these institutions.

EVIDENT  of national shame, staff unions in public universities have been on strike for almost six months, with the agents of government playing to the gallery, rather than take pro-active steps to resolve the crisis. The precious times of the innocent students are wasted by the government, while members of the political class send their own children to train overseas. Organized labour and concerned citizens have early this week begun nationwide protests and threatened solidarity strikes to support the striking lecturers. Electricity supply remains epileptic in the face of incessant collapse of the national greed, cooking gas prices are skyrocketing while petrol pump prices are tendentious, and driven by perennial scarcity.

WE are patently worried that the foregoing regressions are suggestive of a failing nation, with apparent government inability to arrest the drifts. The Hope is specifically miffed by the annoying lackadaisical dispositions of the president who always seems to be absent within the national space he constitutionally presides over, other than the lame threats he issued to terrorists and the platitudinous directives he hands down to heads of security agencies, which have not produced the needed improved security that citizens seriously desire.

THE Hope regrets the obvious display of ineptitude by the president who complained that he spends between six to eight hours per day to attend to national issues, as if he was voted as president to play

AS  needless as it was for him to talk about the personal sacrifices he had made, and his best he would still do, we are of the opinion that his efforts have not been good enough to positively direct the affairs of Nigeria, and his intended best might not produce the positive change the nation seriously yearns for! For whatever it is worth, the president should be reminded that the sovereignty of Nigeria has been seriously undermined, and that the country needs an urgent fixing! and Mr. President should do the needful.   

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