GUEST COLUMNIST: MAGNUS ONYIBE
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, August 25, 2020 continued with the rejigging of his administration’s policy plank by repackaging his erstwhile three point development agenda of anti-corruption, fighting insurgency as well as economic development. He chose the occasion of the parley with diplomats for the presentation of their credentials to him to make the very important announcement which represents a policy sea change.
He put it this way: “In our efforts to achieve a realistic domestic and foreign policy, as well as national development, we have identified the following nine priority areas to guide our policy directions over the next few years.
“Build a thriving and sustainable economy; Enhance social inclusion and reduce poverty; Enlarge agricultural output for food security and export; Attain energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products and expand transport and other infrastructural development.
“Expand business growth, entrepreneurship and industrialisation; Expand access to quality education, affordable healthcare and productivity of Nigerians; Build a system to fight corruption, improve governance and create social cohesion; and improve security for all.’’
Remarkably, anti-corruption war which was the number one priority and fulcrum of the former policy is now in the rear as it is being replaced by fighting poverty which was not originally on the agenda as number one priority.
Coming on the heels of the reversal of the regimes unsustainable policies of fuel subsidy that has been gulping public funds estimated to be in excess of a trillion naira annually that should have been used to subsidize education which would be in support of production, instead of subsidising consumption which fuel subsidy is really about; the defence of the naira against the dollar or currency devaluation which has resulted in the hemorrhage of the foreign exchange reserve ,only a forth night ago, the relegation of the anti corruption policy of the administration to where it should have been from the get go, affirms my thoughts canvassed in the last public opinion piece that I published which is that Nigerian economy may well be under the full control of the new economic management team led by Doyin Salami, with Chukwuma Soludo and Bismarck Rewane and others as key drivers .
With the economy out of the orbit of those who hitherto reveled in the pastime of continuously bashing and stigmatising Nigeria and Nigerians by tagging them with the toga of corruption with gusto, all in the effort to impress President Buhari whose ego they were massaging owing to his acclaimed zero tolerance for corruption, our country and country’s men/women were only rewarded, if you can refer to it as such, by trading places with India, as the new poverty headquarters of the world. And the branding of our country with that abhorrent epitaph happened after our economy descended into recession in 2016 which was more of a self-inflicted damage or own goal, than due to weak economic fundamentals, which really broke my heart.
Obviously, with the busting of the anti-corruption bubble and demystification of the likes of the currently suspended EFCC boss, lbrahim Magu, the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti Corruption, Chairman, Itse Sagay and a host of other hawkish Aso Rock Villa apparatchiks that were beating the drums for anti-corruption war for Mr. President’s listening pleasure and possibly for him to dance, now replaced by the new Chief of Staff to the president, Prof. lbrahim Gambari and the forward looking, tested and tried economic policy wonks, the polity can now heave a sigh of relief.
Tellingly, President Buhari’s choice of meeting with the diplomats for the public presentation of the new policy, carries the imprimatur of his chief of staff, Gambari who, as a juggernaut in foreign policy and affairs, is leveraging the ability and capacity of that August body to catalyse that good tiding abroad.
Hopefully, the accomplished men and women now driving the new initiative who are manifestly desirous of nothing more than to prove their mettle and protect their already solid reputations, will remain in the front row with Mr. President, so that the administration may end well in 2023 in the best interest of the long suffering Nigerian masses, most of whom are currently at the point of asphyxiation, economically and security wise.
lf my prediction and presumption about the new economic team being on the saddle now is correct, then Nigeria can be said to be on the cusp of witnessing a positive new dawn. Prior to the current positive turn of events, the choice between whether to wage war against corruption or poverty was open to the government at its inception in 2015. It chose war against corruption over war against poverty under the wrong notion that corruption is the cause of poverty which may appear correct, but that’s darn wrong because poverty is often a product of, or a fall out of poor planning or lack of a winning plan, hence the nation’s economy is now in the doldrums. Furthermore, the contest between the choice of warring against corruption or poverty reminds me of the current hard choice of whether to weigh in, on the side of life or livelihood by going out to work or staying at home, in dealing with the crisis of COVID-19 pandemic. It also re-enacts the conflict of conscience on whether to slow down economic activities and associated pollution in recognition of the damage it does to the climate and its threat to life/mankind or sustain economic activities/livelihood and Damon or live with the consequences.
Happily, the administration has now chosen to wage war on poverty which is cheery news.
As a proof of our consistent warning to the authorities via opinion articles, drawing their attention to the fact that, with their zealous war against corruption, they were hurting the economy more than they were helping with their fantastic and unsubstantiated corruption claims, permit me to put things in context by citing and reproducing excerpts from four of my previously published articles on the subject. The essays include (1) “Balancing The War Against Corruption and Economic Growth,” (2) “How Can President Buhari Move The Economy Forward Looking Backwards”, and (3) “Which is Hurting More, Corruption or The War Against It? as well as (4) “The Role of The Judiciary, State And Society.”
To further put things in perspective, allow me go on memory lane by recalling the first few paragraphs in the referenced articles commencing with the one titled, “Balancing The War Against Corruption And Economic Growth” published widely on 9 June, 2016 on both online newspapers such as the Cable and traditional newspapers.
It goes thus: “The most significant telltale of the economic melt down in Nigeria is the drop in GDP from between 5-6% annually, a couple of years ago to an all time low of 2.7%, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS figures for 2015. A further downgrade to about 2.3% this year is being forecasted, particularly if there is no upswing in international price of crude oil, which is very unlikely.
The global rating agency, Fitch has also affirmed, NBS’s dismal growth outlook for Nigeria by downgrading Nigeria from BB- which is a negative forecast just as Standards and Poor, another acclaimed international rating agency has also stepped down Nigeria to B+ which is also negative. Both Fitch and S&P risk ratings are three and four steps respectively below investments grade which is a sad commentary on an economy which was one of the fastest growing in the world and the fastest in Africa only half a decade ago.
Not to be out done by the global agencies that are reckoning that Nigeria’s economic future may be impaired, the International Monetary Fund, IMF in a recent report -Article IV Consultation-which is an outcome of IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde and her team’s recent visits for consultations with Nigeria, avers that “Nigerian economy is facing substantial challenges”.
The harm that negative risk ratings such as the ones listed above do to economies is to increase the cost of borrowing from sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds and portfolio equity funds abroad.
Unsurprisingly, all the aforementioned dismal economic outlooks are being attributed to the sudden drop in crude oil price which traded at over $100 between 2012-2014 but suddenly dropped by about 70% to between $30-40 since late 2015.
However, the injurious impact of the crash in oil price does not tell the whole story about the distress in Nigerian economy because the reality is that President Muhammadu Buhari’s fight against corruption has also, perhaps unintentionally, exacerbated the instability in the polity to the extent that the political tension is now having a contagion effect on the economy and as such it is taking an unintended toll.
The assertion above is premised on the fact that while new investment initiatives are not being taken, owing to the tough fiscal and monetary measures arising from the anti corruption war, existing businesses are grinding to a halt, due to the hiatus engendered by the uncertainties and disarray in the economy.
There are three significant and overlapping anti-corruption initiatives of govt that have become the triggers for the current economic doom and gloom, manifesting in Nigerian streets and cities as fuel queues, high cost of living and massive unemployment amongst the youths.
The first is the so-called Dasukigate -$2.1bn arms funds, allegedly converted into campaign slush funds and the ripple effect. The probe has sent jitters down the spines of both genuine and fraudulent businessmen and women engaged in defence and security sectors of the economy, such that even the non-guilty are afraid. That’s unsurprising because over 300 companies that did business with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) are being investigated by the dreaded Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) led by the fearsome Ibrahim Magu.
With such huge number of companies under scrutiny, the apprehension and uncertainty engendered have become contagious to the extent that others are now afraid to continue to do business, so they are adopting a wait-and-see attitude. The proposed one day workers’ strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to forcefully bring the plight of workers bearing the excruciating pains of a collapsing economy to the attention of govt, is a testimony to the fact that the Nigerian situation is degenerating into a potential labour crisis and it is a result of the absence of defined fiscal policies.
Secondly, apart from security focused companies involved with ONSA that are being quizzed, oil/gas companies have also been under the gaze of anti graft agencies.
With the corruption ridden crude oil for refined products swap contract reviewed by the new Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu and a new list of crude oil lifting firms drawn up, as well as a new template for importation of refined petroleum products replacing the former procedure, there is bound to be disruptions and the resultant consequence is the fuel queues on the streets. This perhaps explains why Kachikwu, who also doubles as the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), told Nigerians that he was not a magician who could wave a wand so that the embarrassing fuel queues would disappear over night. The straight talking Kachikwu’s narrative didn’t resonate well in the political circles, so he got lambasted by APC leader, Bola Tinubu for not being politically correct. Even though it should be clear to everybody that the fuel queues won’t go away till the month of May, when the new imports are expected to arrive as importers only just received allocation of foreign exchange, politicians and activists would rather Kachikwu apologised to Nigerians instead of telling the truth.
We do not need a soothsayer to inform us that the disruptive petroleum sector probes were bound to have consequences and barring plans to mitigate such fallouts – like govt having strategic reserves of fuel in different locations nationwide-the current fuel shortages were inevitable.
The simple truth is that companies (downstream and upstream) accused of short changing Nigerians through shady Oil Swap and opaque production sharing contracts, have been returning their loots and in the process, their treasuries have been running dry such that they are unable to sustain their operations like before. The net result is the downward scaling or complete shut down of some of the oil companies thereby further compounding the already dire unemployment situation in our country.
Same situation applies to importers and marketers of refined petroleum products who were unable to continue with the trade as they found it difficult to service their existing bank loans which was due to unpaid or delayed settlement of fuel subsidy charges by NNPC.
This is in addition to the fact that without the approval of budget 2016, fuel importers were also wary of whether or not govt’s position on the controversial fuel subsidy would remain the same or change.
Until International Oil Companies (IOCs) through an arrangement brokered by Kachikwu decided to support fuel importation by making $200m available to independent importers, the CBN was unable, due to paucity of funds, to continue to single handedly fund new imports of fuel. With no fresh imports from independent marketers except the meager supply by NNPC, the pumps dried up prompting the current supply crisis.
Similarly, local banks which are the erstwhile providers of funds for fuel importation are having hard time obtaining new credit lines from their counterpart banks abroad, especially as international rating agencies like Fitch, S&P etc, earlier mentioned, are rendering negative prognosis of Nigerian economy, signaling distress.
Thirdly, in addition to the unsavory outcome and ripple effect of Dasukigate, the delay in passing the 2016 appropriation bill, the debilitating outcome of the probe of the oil sector, and lack of fiscal policy blue print, another policy that has had negative effect on the economy is the mopping up govt’s idle funds hitherto kept in commercial banks by ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, through an initiative referred to as Treasury Single Account (TSA).
The policy has resulted in the transfer of three trillion naira into the vaults of the central bank of Nigeria, CBN.
Oddly enough, considering the universally acknowledged economic principle of every active one dollar generating about 40 cents, it does not bode well that a whooping N3 trillion TSA fund is now sterilized in CBN vaults”.
Still harping on the danger that the unbridled anti-corruption war poses to the economy , six months after, l followed up with the article below titled: “How Can Nigerian Leaders Move Economy Forward, While Looking Backward” whose excerpt is reproduced below:
“Economic policies can stifle growth when they are excessive, inappropriate, introduced late or out of sync with reality.
So at what point do wrong or inappropriate economic policies muzzle growth?
A simple answer to the rhetorical question would be that things go awry when policies that are supposed to address challenges that may constrain the economy from growing, like policy reforms aimed at enabling the charting of new development paths, are relegated, while priority are given to policies dwelling on the past, such as devoting too much energy in fighting corruption which amounts to trying to move forward, while looking backwards.
Except on one rare occasion, during a tour of the pentagon, when a naval officer who was conducting us round the edifice that houses the USA Department of Defense (DoD), was moving forward while facing us, l have never seen any sane and rational human being walking backward over such a lengthy distance.
While l was enthralled by the awesomeness of the Pentagon complex which is practically the size of a small town, l was equally amazed that the navy officer who was walking backward with great agility did not bump into other people who were moving back and forth on the same corridor.
Upon inquiry, later, I was informed that it was the tradition and custom for the tour guide at the Pentagon to address guests facing them while walking down the corridors and narrating to them, brief history of the strategic building complex, housing the USA military high command.
To me, the idea of the current govt in power spending the better part of nearly two years in office dwelling entirely on what the outgone govt did wrongly or did not do at all, re-enacts the flabbergasting experience of watching the naval officer, during the pentagon tour, deliberately walking forward with his back while facing us and at the same time looking backwards to ensure that he does not bump into others.
Although, the naval officer successfully conducted us round the complex without bumping into people because the process has been practiced over time, so he has mastered it, but our leaders don’t have the benefit of having practiced the very odd concept of attempting to move forward while looking backwards, hence the nation’s economy had bumped into all manners of obstacles before it finally ended up in the recession ditch.
Now, I have heard some bureaucrats in govt argue that Nigeria’s economy is currently in recession because we do not export any other commodity than oil/gas, while we import everything else that we consume including refined petroleum products, and since oil/ gas price has tanked, recession was inevitable.
Such claim is illogical because in 2008, without having other products except crude oil to export, Nigerian economy had bucked the global recession arising from a similar slump in oil/gas price, mainly because the country had robust savings in its foreign reserve and also partly due to the fact that at the time, the economy was under the management of astute technocrats.
So unarguably, it should be stated unequivocally, that the descent of Nigerian economy into recession is a result of policy challenge which has become the regular trademark of Nigeria and more pronounced during these past 18 months of the current Aso Rock occupants being on the saddle.
The reasons for the above assertion are not farfetched as they are rooted in the policy inertia or paralysis characterised by the following: not setting up a cabinet until nearly six months after ascension to power; not making a decision on whether to sustain or scrap petroleum products subsidy until one year after; delayed passage of budget due to executive and legislative arms of govt wrangling; not deciding to float the naira until about one year on the saddle ; equivocation on retention of amnesty extended to former Niger Delta militants by previous regime and introduction of capital control measures culminating in the banning of 41 items from sourcing foreign exchange from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN window, amongst many other well documented factors which reflect lack of preparedness to mount the saddle by the new govt.”
Please take note that the foregoing piece was written three years ago.
And although the alarm that I and other members of the commentariat were raising was largely ignored, I did not relent in the push as evidenced by another intervention on July 25, 2016 published in THISDAY newspaper and online platforms. It was titled: “Which is Hurting More, Corruption or Collateral Damage from Fighting It?”
Some of us have literarily been at President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘throat’ over what we deem to be economically, socially and politically rough methods and procedures that the president has been adopting in combating corruption in Nigerian and the catastrophic effects on the nation. Apart from the evidently obtrusive anti-corruption war, another clog in the wheel of progress is the knee jerk and pigeon hole policy initiatives that have led to failed expectations of positive outcomes, as opposed to unleashing a holistic policy package, which could have addressed all identified economic, political and social challenges harmoniously in a timeous manner, without equivocation and thus yield the desired socio-economic liberation of Nigeria.
By now, it must be clear to all, as it has become incontestable that, it is the economic, social and political fallouts of the brutish pursuit and tunnel vision of eliminating corruption at all costs by this administration that is the culprit for the unprecedented hardship currently putting the nation’s economy on a lockdown.
The fiasco that the economy has been plunged into is reflected in the imminent recession now confirmed by both the IMF in its World Economic Outlook, WEO report and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN via Governor Godwin Emefiele’s recent testimony to the Nigerian senate.
Other incidents or events signposting the fact that Nigeria and indeed Nigerians are in dire straits are: social upheavals in the north-east triggered by Boko Haram terrorism resulting in millions of families being consigned to living miserably in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps; renewed Niger Delta militancy focused on bombing oil facilities that has crippled oil/gas business and damaged the ecosystem and environment very badly; the recent increasingly violent crimes popping up in the suburbs of Lagos and in fact, across the country in the form of kidnappings and violent attacks on defenceless people by bandits disguised as Fulani herdsmen.
As glaringly disruptive and debilitating as the effects of the anti-corruption war has been on the hoi poloi, whom the president is ostensibly protecting, nobody has considered a change of tactics to ease the pain on the less privileged members of society. This implies that our leaders may be oblivious of the reality of how, cruel, grueling and dreary life has become for the average Nigerian in the past one year.
In the light of the growing and palpable despondency being foisted on the populace, following the economic woes in the country fuelling the emasculation of the common man, the rhetorical question elicited by the circumstances would be: which is more hurtful, corruption or the collateral damage of fighting it?
On a scale of balance, the simple and rational answer would be that corruption is more harmful, because it is debilitating and virulent like HIV/AIDS, Ebola virus and cancer disease combined, but in fighting the malaise, authorities should be careful not to inadvertently throw away the baby and the bath water, otherwise, the collateral damage could be equal, if not more devastating, as we are currently witnessing in Nigeria.
Tell me, who would set a house on fire along with ornate and precious artifacts just to catch or kill a rat? My heart skips a bit when I read online comments by Nigerians, whose backs have been pushed against the wall to the extent that they are now saying something like, Bring Back Goodluck Jonathan and PDP with all the warts of corruption, as alleged, simply because life was less hellish under his watch than it currently is.
Understandably, the world economy is presently suffering from bouts of recession, so all is not well globally, but the anti-corruption war in Nigeria, being executed after a historic successful transfer of power to an opposition party that trumped the incumbent at the polls, is definitely a major culprit for Nigeria’s current stagflation.
Put succinctly, the financial crisis situation could not have gone south, had the anti-corruption war not exacerbated the situation. The foregoing stems from the fact that while most countries were writhing in and agonising in financial pains, Nigeria came out of the 2008 global recession unscathed due to buffers creatively woven into the financial system.
So, it is possible that the current global recession might not have been as devastating on Nigeria’s economy, had authorities not literarily added fuel to a raging inferno by staging an all-out war against corruption resulting in exodus of funds and businesses from Nigeria at a time we should be courting both.”
Although, the conclusion of the piece was pretty grim, it did not dissuade the authorities managing our economy from staying the course which was apparently going to lead to perdition.
So when the opportunity presented itself once again, I wrote and published the article below titled: “War Against Corruption: Role of Judiciary, State And Society published on online and traditional media platforms on July 27, 2016 and reproduced copiously, below:
“I would like to commence this intervention with the very cryptic statement by President Muhammadu Buhari at the opening ceremony of the 55th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA on August 21,2015 where Mr. President urged the judiciary to support his war against corruption while noting that, “Ability to manipulate and frustrate the legal system is the crowning glory of the corrupt and, as may be expected, this has left many legal practitioners and law courts tainted in an ugly way.”
Mr. President then added that “In a gathering such as this, I do not need to elaborate on the way that corruption and impunity have damaged our economy. But I would like to say more on what, I believe, should be your role as legal practitioners, in helping us back to the path of rectitude”.
President Buhari who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo concluded by saying that “allegations of judicial corruption have become more strident and frequent”.
Perhaps, embarrassed by the attack on the judiciary, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Mahmud Mohammed vowed that going forward, the National Judicial Council (NJC) would take strong disciplinary actions against judges indicted for issuing frivolous stay of proceeding orders on any criminal matters before them.
He reminded judges that the essence of the newly enacted Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015 was to prevent chances of accused persons taking undue advantage of interlocutory applications to frustrate their trial and ordered day-to-day trials of corruption cases.
Remarkably, the CJN did not just decide to do ‘house keeping’ in the judiciary without reminding the executive arm of govt accusing it of not being committed enough to the war against corruption that, “There is need for seasoned prosecutors to prepare and file charges before courts of competent jurisdiction so that criminal matters could be timeously determined”.
Continuing, the CJN pointed out that the “Quality of prosecutions must be improved upon, the quality of prosecutions presented in courts by our prosecutorial agencies must be improved upon, as they are sometimes of a standard that will never found a conviction on any court anywhere, yet, a well prepared prosecution can see to the determination of criminal matter within a month”.
The positive fallout of the latter part of the CJN’s policy statement above seem to be the guiding principle and kernel of Justice Olukayode Adeniyi of Federal High Court, Abuja’s decision on Thursday 21 July in granting bail to Abiodun Agbele, an associate of embattled Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose who was arrested and detained since last June 27 by the EFCC, beyond the constitutionally stipulated period of detention, without trial as provided in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
In giving his verdict, Justice Adeniyi advised the EFCC to conduct their preliminary investigations thoroughly before arresting suspects to avoid the situation whereby corruption suspects are easily released in court due to improper arraignment. Such professional decisions based on respect for rule of law may be deemed by hawks in the executive arm of govt as lack of commitment to the anti-corruption war by the judiciary which President Buhari might have been alluding to when he unbraided the judiciary in his recent speech to the body of benchers.
To serve as deterrent against prosecutors’ unpreparedness in future, Justice Adeniyi awarded N5m cost against the EFCC and if the immediate reaction of the anti-graft agency to the judgment is any thing to go by, the judge’s action is like pouring salt on an injury, hence the EFCC referred to the verdict as ‘shocking’ and signified intention to appeal against the decision and also seek stay of execution.
The CJN and judge Olukayode Adeniyi are not alone in observing that anti graft agencies in Nigeria are sloppy in prosecution.
Femi Falana, acclaimed human rights lawyer also in a piece in THISDAY newspaper commemorating one year anniversary of the present administration on May 29, 2016, pointed out the abysmal number of convictions against suspects so far secured by the EFCC.
Although the boss of the indicted anti-corruption agency, Ibrahim Magu has denied the low conviction rate of corrupt public officials as alleged by Falana who backed his claim with statistics, Justice Adeniyi’s verdict will certainly serve as a wake up call for the EFCC. The anti-crime agency must shake off the notion that seem to feed the belief that it has the mindset that since the courts are another arm of the establishment who should also be sucked into the corruption war, suspects should be adjudged guilty as charged, without going through the rigorous process of proof of being guilty or otherwise remain innocent.
If the onus of proof which in principle is on the prosecutor is not observed, it would definitely be a negation of the basic principles of justice and it’s administration.
Admittedly, the conventional wisdom is that the law is an Ass, but the legal process was deliberately made long and tedious, so that the innocent is not unjustly imperiled on the alter of haste.
As Magu already recognises, and so that l may not be seen as belittling the very tough job of anti-graft agencies, l acknowledge that being the head of EFCC is stressful, but somebody has got to do the job and that person must fulfill all righteousness of safeguarding the rules of law and order for the sake of posterity and sustainability of the system”
In conclusion, the phrase, history/experience is the best teacher, is instructive and rings true in this instance, hence I resorted to delving deeply into the archives to recall the moments that I personally raised red flags with respect to the foolhardiness of adopting war against corruption instead of war against poverty as the dissederatta or heart and soul of Buhari’s administration.
Whereas it served well as the party’s touch point or rallying cry during campaign, as it had a resonating effect on the masses, it is a no brainer for the APC leadership to figure out that it was never going to be a good component of a cardinal development agenda or policy plank.
Now, this piece is not written with the intention of chastising or lambasting the authorities. But it is aimed at cheering up the government in power simply because it is quite relieving that the nation and its economy now seem poised for a 360o change from autarkic policies to market forces and economic dynamics driven approach to governance, six years after the ascension of President Buhari and the ruling political party, APC to power.
Drawing inspiration from the aphorism, it’s better late than never, such an economic and development elixir coming less than three years to the end of his eight years tenure, may be rather late in coming , but it is still better than retaining the policy that has been discarded.
Nevertheless , President Buhari must be commended for yielding to a superior strategy at this point in time that tackling corruption which has been the administration’s trademark has proven not to be an efficacious solution. Rather, a catastrophe as evidenced by the slew of skeletons of graft jumping out of ministries, departments and agencies including the ones arising from the foremost anti-graft organ, EFCC to the chagrin and dismay of Mr. President.
I would argue that focusing on fighting poverty, which would amount to paying attention to President Buhari’s voters base from where he draws the majority of his much vaunted 12 million voters portfolio, would turn out to be more beneficial and complementary to his legacy than the anti-corruption hoax which had made Buharism appear to be synonymous with socialism and its globally documented negative effects on society.
Most importantly, it is poverty and maladministration in the past two decades or so that’s believed to have largely ignited and still fanning the embers of the religious insurgency and banditry in the north being driven by Boko Haram and ISWAP.
By implication, if poverty is reduced, and equity and justice prevail in every facet of Nigerian society, criminality in the form of religious extremism may ebb in the polity. And that would be to the relief of every Nigerian that currently can’t breathe freely, due to the debilitating effect of poverty or insecurity on their lives and livelihoods.
Onyibe is an entrepreneur, a public policy analyst, development strategist, an author and alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA as well as former commissioner in Delta State