By Olawale Ajimotokan
The federal government has thumped its chest, boasting that the assumption of power by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 after 16years rule by the opposition has saved the country from becoming a failed nation.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had weekend warned that Nigeria was fast drifting to a failed and badly divided state adding that only self-deluded people would claim that all is well in the country.
In a speech he delivered at a dialogue of Nigeria’s sociocultural, political organisations Obasanjo said, “economically our country is becoming a basket case and poverty capital of the world, and socially, we are firming up as an unwholesome and insecure country.”
The former President had said “these manifestations are the products of recent mismanagement of diversity and socio-economic development of our country. Old fault lines that were disappearing have opened up in greater fissures and with drums of hatred, disintegration and separation and accompanying choruses being heard loud and clear almost everywhere.”
In an aparent reaction the warning, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a statement Sunday, said that Buhari assumed office at a time that a swathe of the country’s territory was under occupation, and many cities, including the capital city of Abuja, were a playground for Boko Haram insurgents.
Mohammed, who riled the leadership of the opposition as ”rapacious and rudderless”, said that until now the nation’s wealth had been looted dry, with little or nothing to show for the nation’s huge earnings, especially in the area of infrastructure.
The minister descibed as cruel irony that those who frittered away the country’s resources at a time of financial buoyancy and planted the seed of insecurity in some parts of the country, were the same people now lashing at a reformist government.
”Nigeria today faces a lot of challenges. But whatever situation the country has found itself in, things would have been much worse but for the deft management of resources, unprecedented fight against corruption, determined battle against insurgency and banditry as well as the abiding courage of Mr. President in piloting the ship of state.
”Nigeria today is not a failed state, but a nation that is courageously tackling its challenges and building a solid infrastructure that will serve as the basis for socio-economic development, a nation that is unrelenting in battling insecurity and working hard to ensure greatest prosperity for the greatest number of people,” Mohammed said.
The minister noted that inspite of declining revenue at 60 per cent less of national income, the Administration had made progress on all fronts and set the country on the path of sustainable growth and development, adding no government in the history of the country had done so much.
He scorned opposition for hyping the instances of insecurity in the country, insisting the country could have been overrun by insurgents and bandits had President Buhari not rallied regional and international allies to retard the insurgents who at a time controlled an estimated 20,000 square miles of the nation’s territory and were recklessly bombing many targets without check.
”They tout the downturn in economic fortunes without putting things in context. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a global shutdown and a drastic fall in global oil demand, Nigeria lost 60 per cent of its earnings, yet the Administration has ensured that not a single worker has been retrenched, has paid salaries as and when due and has continued to build infrastructures like roads, rails, bridges and power, among others, that will serve many generations,”
Mohammed accused the opposition of aggravating the national fault lines with angry rhetorics, failing to realise that when national challenges are amplified at a time of dwindling economic fortunes, it is the kind of responsive and responsible leadership being offered by President Buhari that is needed to foster peace and unity rather than reckless elocution.
He insisted the country is on the road to greatness, despite several hiccups, citing the hard push towards food sufficiency; the modernisation of the rail system; the nationwide construction of roads and bridges; the reform in the oil and gas sector; the unprecedented anti-corruption battle, the diversification of the economy and the renewed effort to ensure a steady power supply, anchored on a three-phase project that is expected to deliver 25,000MW of electricity in the next few years.
He lauded Nigerians for their perseverance and understanding, especially against the backdrop of the stifling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, and appealed to them to continue to support the Administration, as it seeks to lift 100 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years.
”In one of the most difficult moments in the nation’s history, Nigeria is fortunate to have at the helm a leader who is not only dedicated, selfless and patriotic, but one who is globally acknowledged for his discipline, integrity and vision. Those who genuinely love Nigeria will support, rather than subvert, this committed leadership,” Muhammed said.