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The entire Sabon Birni Local Government Area of Sokoto State is still in tears; tears for the 74 people killed by bandits who attacked Garki, Dan Aduwa, Kuzari and Katuma communities in the area last Wednesday. Children have been turned to orphans and women turned to widows. Some tears may never dry. This brazen attack reflects the level of insecurity in Nigeria in the last five years. Daily, it degenerates.
Let’s flip to the popular Muna Garage camp for Internally Displaced Persons in Maiduguri. It was gutted by fire last Saturday, with 1,613 temporary shelters destroyed and two persons killed. This camp, home to thousands of IDPs, has been devastated by fire severally with hundreds of people killed. In the first quarter of this year alone, several IDP camps in Nganzai, Ngala, Mafa and Monguno were destroyed by fire, with scores killed. These traumatised IDPs dream of going home, but they can’t because their towns and villages are still dominated by Boko Haram terrorists. The few that returned home had to scamper back. As I pen this piece, there are over 700,000 troubled people in scores of IDP camps in Borno State. They struggle for a meal a day, while scores die daily of hunger, disease and malnutrition.
These facts and figures punch holes in the lies that the Buhari administration has kept to its promise of tackling insecurity. It came to power in 2015 with an avowal to tame insecurity but Nigeria continues to degenerate. The inability to tackle terrorism is one of the biggest failings of Muhammadu Buhari’s five-year-old government. Those pushing out pro-Buhari materials to celebrate the anniversary are simply heartless and coldblooded.
It is depressing for a government to persistently make claims of degrading Boko Haram, yet, IDPs can’t return to their homes. The big question is: Why would a man, his wives and children remain in a squalid IDP camp if his village had been recovered from Boko Haram? Under Buhari’s watch, Boko Haram became the deadliest terror group in the world, with thousands of Nigerians killed in the last five years. Even in IDP camps, people are persistently attacked and killed by Boko Haram.
It is so sad that several weeks after Chadian soldiers entered Nigeria and truthfully degraded Boko Haram, our gallant but poorly motivated soldiers are still struggling to end the war. All the lies about having defeated Boko Haram have collapsed like a pack of cards. The peak of this reckless falsehood was the wild celebration of a fantasy victory over the terrorists in December 2016 by Buhari. I shed tears on that day that Buhari, a retired general, accepted a flag and Quaran purportedly captured from Shekau, as a symbol of victory over Boko Haram from Army Chief, Tukur Buratai.
The Army under the command of Buratai and the Air Force under the command of Sadique Abubakar have never been this mismanaged. In war situations, service chiefs are judged by performance. Buratai and Sadique have failed abysmally. The military urgently needs a change of leadership, yet, our President refused to allow this happen. These service chiefs have spent almost five years without result. Our gallant soldiers now struggle for allowances and equipment on the war front. Many of them have over-stayed on the war front, contrary to the rules of engagement.
It is a big shame that herders, bandits and kidnappers are slaughtering thousands of Nigerians, unhindered, under Buhari’s watch. Guerrillas protecting herdsmen roam freely unchecked by security agents. From Kaduna, to Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Kogi, Zamfara and Enugu, it has been tales of massacre by killer herdsmen. At a point in Benue State, the killer herdsmen controlled some local governments like Gwer West, Gwer East, Logo and Guma. Bandits are rampaging in Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara states, with thousands of Nigerians sent to early graves. No solution in sight after five years; it’s so depressing.
The Buhari administration’s other avowals were to stamp out corruption and improve the economy. Unfortunately, this government hardly engages the statistics that are constantly rolled out about its failure. Nigeria’s economy has suffered greatly under Buhari’s five years. Thousands of businesses are gasping for breath. Many have closed shop, while millions of Nigerians have lost jobs. At a point, inflation was almost at an unparalleled 18.72%. When he assumed office in 2015, the rate oscillated between 7.7 per cent and 8.7 per cent. The truth be told without sentiment; the economy handed over to the Buhari administration was a fairly good one with consistent growth in GDP and industrial capacity utilisation. Nigerians were their businesses with little encumbrances. The forex policy was also friendly to industrialists.
The Naira, our symbol of nationhood, is now in shreds. As at yesterday, it was trading at N450/$ in the real market. This is the same Naira Buhari inherited at about N220/$. Existing industrial estates across the country are in tatters and under-utilised due to infrastructural challenges and inclement operating environment. Buhari should visit the likes of Kakuri, Sherada, Bompai, Ogba and Ikeja industrial estates to understand what I am talking about. Manufacturers are panting for survival, while providing their own electricity, water, road, security, in addition to stifling multiple- taxation by all levels of governments. Power supply is still one big mess. Buhari promised to increase generation to 10,000MW within his first term. This is still a mirage.
The employment rate is a vital measurement of any economy’s health. Nigeria’s unemployment rate of 14.2 per cent in Q4 of 2016 jumped to 16.2 per cent in Q2 of 2017 and 18.8 per cent in Q3 of 2017.
The joblessness rate worsened in the third quarter of 2018, rising to 23.1 per cent. The number of unemployed Nigerians rose from 17.6 million in Q4 2017 to 20.9 million in Q3 2018. We all now have an army of unemployed youths in our homes. Regrettably, this government lacks pragmatic job creation strategy. Our dear President is still jumbling in his management of the economy. As a result, Nigeria surpassed India as the country with the largest number of people living in life-threatening poverty in the world. This is an insignia of disgrace that should task Buhari.
Buhari’s much talked about war against corruption remains a fantasy. Because of this skewed war, under Buhari’s watch, rent seekers in the oil industry are still collecting the proceeds of crude oil sales. This is why the NNPC spent a monstrous $5.8 billion on the importation of 9.8 million metric tons of petrol in four months – October 2017 to January 2018. This is why refineries are still not working; yet, this administration has spent billions of Naira on turnaround maintenance.
Until the collapse of oil price in April, billions of Naira went down the drain in the name of paying subsidies on imported petrol. Which corruption is bigger than plunging Nigeria into unprecedented foreign debt? What do we have to show for all these borrowings in the last five years? The 2017 Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International revealed that sleaze in Nigeria was more severe under the Buhari administration. In that year, Nigeria was downgraded by TI from 136 to 148 in the CPI. Nigeria was ranked 146 out of the 180 countries considered in 2019. The memo written by the former Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu on sleaze in the NNPC remains fresh in my memory. The cabal in charge of this administration tightened the noose on Kachikwu, forcing him to recant.
Some of the payments made by the Buhari government for some comical services often leave me wondering whether the interest of the public is paramount. The latest of such puzzling expenditures was the $4 million paid to an unknown lawyer from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) for God knows what. The Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, is still struggling to supply details of the lawyer who was paid the $4 million from the already depleted excess crude account, and the nature of the job done.
But for persistent protest by Nigerians, Babachir Lawal, the legendary grass cutter, would have remained as the SGF after allegedly mismanaging about N2.5 billion in the account of the Presidential Initiative on the North East, PINE. What about the sleaze allegations against the then Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf? This public servant, under investigation by anti-graft agencies, was reinstated with fiat. What about the then Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency, Mustapha Maihaja, struggling to explain how he spent billions of Naira allocated to his agency? What about the pension thief, Abdulrasheed Maina, who was effectively protected by agents of this government for years? What a war against corruption!
Aside from its five years of ineptitude, for me, the biggest sin the Buhari administration has committed against this country is the division created with its clannishness. Our President’s clannishness is frightening. Buhari has spent five years stoking our fault lines with no respect for Federal Character in his appointments. The military, para-military and key departments/agencies are largely headed by people from a section of this country. Hatred and bloodshed across ethnic and religious divides have assumed an unprecedented dimension, with our fault lines persistently stoked. This is certainly not the Nigeria of our dream.
Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution is very clear: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s remark about Buhari’s clannishness on August 2016 is instructive. He said: “At no time in our history, except probably during the civil war, has Nigeria been so fractured in the feeling of oneness by the citizenry.” The ex-Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, concurred in September 2016, saying “Nigeria has never been as divided as presently, since it’s amalgamation over 100 years ago.”
Bishop Matthew Kukah, hit the nail on the head during his sermon at the burial of Michael Nnadi, a seminarian killed by kidnappers. The cleric remarked that Buhari was running the “most nepotistic and narcissistic government in known history,” and concluded that the President had not only relegated the national interest to the background, but had also introduced nepotism into the military.
Can Buhari honestly say that he has delivered on his promises of building a new and united Nigeria in the last five years? Can he honestly say that Nigerians are better under him than they were under his predecessor? Can he say that he has positively impacted on the lives of the masses of this country in the last five years? The frank answers would be negative. Power supply, federal roads, hospitals and schools are in tatters. Bandits, kidnappers and Boko Haram are rampaging.
Poverty and unemployment pervade our country. My dear President, you still have three more years to amend your ways. The first step is to discharge the legions of sycophants around you and surround yourself with unpretentious and selfless patriots. You must also consistently remember that you were elected President of the whole country, not of a section of the country, and start acting as father to all. This is the way forward for our beloved Nigeria.
Lagos Speaker Should Be Impeached
The image of the Lagos State House of Assembly is at low ebb. Allegations of embezzlement and financial misappropriation against the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, and some of his allies in the House pour. The N51 million approved for himself and nine others to attend a leadership summit in Austria; the N34.7 million released for a media and civil society parley; the N53 million released for a trip to the United States for the 2019 US-Nigeria Trade and Investment Global Summit and the N80 million estacode paid to Obasa; the Deputy Speaker, Wasiu Eshilokun-Sanni, and some other members for a five-day event in Dubai, constitute abuse of office and misuse of public funds. What about Obasa’s long list of suspicious bank accounts and contracts he allegedly cornered? Yes, he has not been convicted by any court, but in decent societies, Obasa would have resigned, to protect the image of the Assembly. This won’t happen here. Lagos lawmakers should do the needful by impeaching him.