By Yemi Adebowale;Â firstname.lastname@example.org
Thousands of IDPs in the sprawling Muna Garage camp on the outskirts of Maiduguri are traumatised daily. This year alone, they have been attacked 13 times by Boko Haram bombers, with scores killed. Yet, there is no succour in sight. They ran away from their homes in different parts of Borno State, only to be persistently slaughtered in this IDP camp. The latest attack on October 22 claimed 16 lives. This is according to official figures. Sources said dozens of people were actually killed. The terrifying tactic of the military is to obstinately keep casualty figures low. We must all demand for better protection for these hapless Nigerians at Muna Garage. The military must revise the security situation in this camp and employ modern surveillance strategies, to enable them identify potential attackers before they strike. This same security overhaul must take place in all the 27 IDP camps in Borno State.
On the flip side, the raid on a military base in Sasawa, Damaturu, Yobe State,Â on TuesdayÂ by Boko Haram again exposes the deceit of the Buhari administration about having decimated the terrorists. It is a shame that the leadership of the military has persistently failed our gallant soldiers. A forward-looking government would have overhauled this sluggish leadership.Â I find it difficult to comprehend why these terrorists must consistently take the fight to our soldiers. They have been obviously emboldened by the lethargic tactics of our ill-equipped and ill-motivated military. Boko Haram has repeatedly attacked several military formations. Haba! This must be stopped. In the Sasawa attack, eight of our gallant soldiers, including an officer, were killed. A civilian also died. Dozens of soldiers are still missing, while several others were injured. Eyewitnesses said the terrorists overran the military base with several gun trucks and took the soldiers unawares. A resident, Lawan Adamu, corroborated the Sasawa raid, which he said was a well-coordinated attack on the military base. Many will be shocked to know that this base had been attacked four times by the insurgents this year alone.
Spokesman for 3 Division, Nigerian Army base in Damaturu, Colonel Kayode Ogunsanya, confirmed the attack on the military base but was silent on the precise loss on the side of the military. As at press time, sources said the terrorists were still roaming freely in Sasawa. I sincerely hope that our gallant soldiers will respond appropriately to the challenge in Sasawa.
The recorded killings by Boko Haram in this October are now 34. Just on October 19, seven soldiers were allegedly ambushed and killed by the terrorists on Maiduguri-Damboa highway. Legal adviser of the civilian JTF in Borno State, Barrister Jibrin Gunda, confirmed the killings. He said the soldiers were taken unawares. The Maiduguri-Damboa road was declared safe last year by the Army, yet no vehicle can drive through without military escort. Several people, especially women have been killed by the terrorists along this route in the last two years, without appropriate response by security agents.
Celebrating Binge Borrowing in Nigeria
The Buhari administration is looking good for the unenviable record of being the most notorious for binge borrowing in the 57 yearsâ€™ history of this country.Â Within 29 months, it took foreign loans of almost $7 billion. Early this year, it celebrated the $150 million loan approved by the World Bank for our mining sector. The Minister of Solid Minerals, Kayode Fayemi announced it with fanfare after a meeting with Buhari. The government is also negotiating $1.25 billion in budget support from the World Bank.
This is aside the $575 million already approved by the same bank for the rehabilitation of the North-east. There is the $1 billion loan approved by the African Development Bank. Of this amount, $600 million had been drawn. There is $1 billion Eurobond, with an additional $500 million expected from the Global Medium Term Note Programme. The China Exim bank is expected to provide $5.8 billion in the next few months, once all outstanding issues connected with securing the loan are addressed. There is the $300 million raised through a Diaspora Bond issued in June 2017. With the way things are going, the federal government may end up with close to $13.7 billion foreign loans by the end of this year. Perhaps, this would have been higher if the Senate had not truncated plans to borrow another $30 billion earlier this year.
Just two weeks ago, the federal government forwarded another proposal for $5.5 billion loan to the Senate for approval. I can clearly remember the Chairman, Senate Committee on Debts, Shehu Sani, remarking that if Nigeria must borrow, it must borrow responsibly: â€œIf we must bequeath to the future generation a pile of debt, it must be justified with commensurate infrastructural proof of the value of the debt. The payment plan of this debt will undoubtedly last the length of our lifetimes and possibly beyond. We must leave behind a legacy that will appease and answer the questions the next generation of Nigerians will ask.â€ Unfortunately, this has not been the case in Nigeria. This administration and indeed previous ones have imposed a heavy debt burden on the country without commensurate development projects or programmes to justify the loans and to aid repayment. What hapless Nigerians have been gaining from these massive borrowings are poverty, hunger, disease, malnutrition, unemployment and decay in infrastructure. The burden of these loans on our star-crossed generation and indeed future generation is weighty. Just recently, the IMF estimated that Nigeria spends 66 per cent of its tax revenues on servicing debts. It also projected that Nigeriaâ€™s indebtedness would climb to 24.1 per cent of its GDP by 2018. The IMF said that Nigeriaâ€™s current indebtedness would have reached 23.3 per cent of the GDP by the end of 2017.
A worried Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II recently urged the FG to slow down on its borrowings. The Emir remarked: â€œThe federal government is spending 66 per cent of its revenues on interests on debts, which means only 34 per cent of revenues is available for capital and recurrent expenditures. That model cannot work. If you look at the 2017 budget, I sometimes wonder what Nigerian economists are doing? In the 2017 budget, the amount earmarked for debt servicing is in excess of the entire non-oil revenue of the federal government, but that is not the problem. The problem is that it is a budget that is even going for more debts. Borrowing has reached its limit and government should therefore look for ways to attract investments. Growth can only come from investments. It cannot come from consumption.Â It cannot come from government balance sheet. It cannot come from borrowing because you cannot borrow unsustainably.â€
The states are also into binge borrowing. Many of them have accumulated foreign and domestic loans far beyond their repayment abilities. This is why states like Osun, Kogi, Imo, Kwara, Oyo and Benue can no longer meet basic obligations to their citizens; civil servants inclusive. It is preposterous that Osun State is struggling with N147 billion domestic debts as at December last year. The poverty in Osun State is frightening despite taking huge loans.
The way governments celebrate these loans often leaves me crestfallen. They create the impression that it would be a quick fix for all our problems. Unfortunately, it does not often turn out that way. Just imagine the completed $1 billion Eurobond sale being turned into an achievement. The oversubscription to the tune of $ 7.8 billion at an interest rate of 7.88% was celebrated as if we are getting free money. For those who donâ€™t know, by the time this country exits this bond, we would have conservatively paid an additional $1 billion as interest.
My message to the Senate this morning is that it should please turn down this latest loan request. Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, said it would take this country 30 years to repay this $5.5 billion loan proposal. For me, if we have a focused, intelligent, prudent and pragmatic federal government, our budgets can be safely financed with revenues from big federal agencies like NPA, NIMASA, FAAN, NBC, NCC and NNPC. These agencies are still squandering a large chunk of money that should be going into the federation account. Buhari must look inwards to save this generation and indeed future generation from excruciating loan burden.
The Lucky Chap Called Ibrahim Lamorde
Ibrahim Lamorde, the immediate-past Chairman of the EFCC is no doubt a very lucky chap. After his skewed tenure as boss of the anti-graft agency, he disappeared abroad under the guise of going for medicals, to frustrate attempts by the Senate to probe sleaze allegations against him. The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions subsequently issued a warrant for his arrest. Lamorde eventually came back to the country and was rewarded with double promotion by his godfathers. On November 25, 2016, he was further rewarded with an appointment as the CP in charge of the Police Special Fraud Unit in Lagos. Even the Senate Committee that was investigating him has been silent. I guess Lamorde is still technically out of the country.
The committee investigated allegations of financial crimes and corruption brought against Lamorde by George Uboh, a human rights activist. Chairman of the Committee, Samuel Anyanwu admitted that the petition against Lamorde was weighty. Anyanwu reeled out Ubohâ€™s allegations against Lamorde to include: That EFCC operates accounts in banks to warehouse recovered funds which do not reflect in EFCCâ€™s audited account; that the EFCC doctors and manipulates bank accounts to conceal diversion of funds; that the EFCC releases recovered funds to unidentified persons and EFCC officials; that EFCC moves fund from its recovery accounts to EFCC operations account from where it diverts same; that over 95 per cent of EFCC recoveries in foreign currencies, other than those from multi-national companies, had been diverted; that EFCC trades with recovered funds through bank deposits and placements; that EFCC colludes with real estate companies in order to grossly under value seized assets before they are sold to their cronies; that EFCC has not accounted for offshore recoveries and that over half of the assets seized from suspects were not reflected in EFCC exhibit records.
These are indeed hefty allegations. I am surprised that nobody is talking about the case against him anymore.
Fela: A Carnival of Moral-Bankruptcy
How many of those who spent most of last week celebrating the late Afro beat musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti would say â€œAmenâ€ to their children ending up like this late artiste? I am sure that none of them would chorus this â€œAmen.â€ Yes, Fela gave us good music. For me, it should end here. The other side of Fela remains despicable. This was a man who spent virtually his entire life smoking and promoting marijuana. It would have been nice if he was just doing the smoking of this hard drug. Felaâ€™s shrine was a big market for marijuana. So many young men and women who thought what he was doing was right, trooped there to buy marijuana. Many of them ended up in mental hospitals. The truth that must be told is that Fela destroyed hundreds of innocent lives with marijuana. I grew up near his shrine and I know what I am talking about. A neighbourâ€™s daughter, got hooked on marijuana in the shrine, dropped out of school, had mental challenges and eventually died of marijuana addiction. Felaâ€™s shrine was also a big hidey-hole for prostitutes and their customers. How can we be celebrating a man that promoted marijuana and prostitution? Lagos State Government even erected a statue in Felaâ€™s honour with public funds.
Some people are even canvassing for a national honour for him. Fela was never a role model. He destroyed lives with marijuana. Will these people celebrating Fela allow their children near marijuana and prostitutes? They pretend to be unaware that Fela was the grandfather of marijuana, a psychotropic drug that goes straight into the brain and destroys it. They pretend to be unaware that Felaâ€™s shrine was the venue for all sorts of atrocities. They pretend to be unaware that Fela destroyed hundreds of lives with marijuana. They pretend not to remember that he was killed by promiscuity. Hundreds of genuine role models around us are not celebrated by government. What a country!