By Davidson Iriekpen and Dike Onwuamaeze
The presidency yesterday dismissed an editorial in Financial Times, an international daily newspaper based in Britain, which described Nigeria as a country that is gradually inching closer to becoming a failed state.
Reacting to the editorial following a THISDAY inquiry, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina, said: “Who makes Financial Times a ruler and judge over us?”
In the editorial, The Financial Times said Nigeria is going backwards economically and plagued with terrorism, illiteracy, poverty, banditry, and kidnapping.
It advised that if things don’t take a drastic turn, the country risks becoming a failed state soon.
In the editorial yesterday titled, ‘Nigeria at Risk of Becoming a Failed State,’ the FT urged President Muhammadu Buhari to draw the line in the sand and strengthening his grip on the country’s security in order to be able to stem the tide of insecurity in Nigeria.
The newspaper, which said the abduction and subsequent rescue of over 300 schoolboys in Kankara, Katsina State, revived memories of the 276 Chibok schoolgirls abducted in Borno State in 2014, warned that Nigeria would become a problem far too big for the world to ignore if nothing is done to redress the country’s economic, security and population challenges.
According to the newspaper, while the government’s claim that no ransom was paid to the abductors of the schoolboys remains doubtful, other acts of criminality could not be overlooked.
The editorial read in part, “The government insists no ransom was paid. Scepticism is warranted. In a country going backwards economically, carjacking, kidnapping and banditry are among Nigeria’s rare growth industries. Just as the boys were going home, Nigerian pirates abducted six Ukrainian sailors off the coast.
“The definition of a failed state is one where the government is no longer in control. By this yardstick, Africa’s most populous country is teetering on the brink.”
The newspaper also questioned the claim by Buhari that Boko Haram had been technically defeated.
It said contrary to the government’s claim, Boko Haram remained an ever-present threat.
The Financial Times stated: “President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 pronounced Boko Haram technically defeated’. That has proved fanciful. Boko Haram has remained an ever-present threat. If the latest kidnapping turns out to be its work, it would mark the spread of the terrorist group from its north-eastern base.
“Even if the mass abduction was carried out by ‘ordinary’ bandits — as now looks possible — it underlines the fact of chronic criminality and violence. Deadly clashes between herders and settled farmers have spread to most parts of Nigeria. In the oil-rich, but impoverished, Delta region, extortion through the sabotage of pipelines is legendary.”
The newspaper said security is not the only area where “the state is failing”.
The editorial also highlighted Nigeria’s standing as the country with the highest number of poor people in the world that live on less than $1.90 a day and the country’s fast growing population that is estimated to reach 400 million in 2050.
The newspaper stated that as oil continues to lose its value, Nigeria’s economy would worsen.
It said: “Extortion is a patent symbol for a state whose modus operandi is the extraction of oil revenue from central coffers to pay for bloated, ruinously inefficient political elite.
“The population, already above 200 million, is growing at a breakneck 3.2 per cent a year.
The economy has stalled since 2015 and real living standards are declining. This year, the economy will shrink 4 per cent after COVID-19 dealt a further blow to oil prices.
“In any case, as the world turns greener, the elite’s scramble for oil revenue will become a game of diminishing returns. The country desperately needs to put its finances, propped up by foreign borrowing, on a sounder footing.”
The newspaper said Buhari, who has less than three years left in office, must use the remainder of his term, to redouble efforts at improving security.
It advised the government to restore trust in key institutions, among them the judiciary, the security services and the electoral commission, which will preside over the 2023 elections.
The Financial Times said the #EndSARS protests led by Nigerian youths, signaled a glimmer of hope for Nigeria’s teeming youth population.
The newspaper also called for an urgent need for Nigeria to restructure its political system and concentrate on security, health, education, power and roads.
The Financial Times also warned that Nigeria is in a desperate need to put its finances, which are propped up by foreign borrowings, on a sounder footing.
The newspaper, however, observed that the country has an opportunity to achieve a generational shift in its leadership by exploiting the broad coalition that found political expression this year in the #EndSARS movement against police brutality.