Buhari and his Problems

Nigeria Living on borrowed time

Nigeria Living on borrowed time; So much for the Buhari administration’s pathetic response to the spiraling tensions stoked by the pervasive insecurity; is there anything else there is to say of the administration’s astounding, itworld-record mismanagement of the country’s diversity? And now with the adds-on in the grim socio-economic indices so terribly revealing of how much we have plummeted on the human development scale, comparing the regression under Goodluck Jonathan with the meltdown – or if you like, the stasis – under the Buhari administration has suddenly ceased to be academic.

Talk of a country living on borrowed time. Six years and two cycles of recession after; and with nary fundamental changes in the sub structure of the economy, Nigerians obviously now know better than to judge the administration by its averments. For while the Jonathan administration may have been the ultimate spendthrift; the Buhari administration which in the guise of doing more with less resources yet is unmatched in its appetite for foreign loans with odious conditionalities might yet earn a place in the Guiness Book of Records for state-licenced impunity! Not that it matters anyway in the eyes of to the administration’s die-hards; issues bordering on transparency is supposed to come to nothing when a leader – Mai Gaskiya – who could do no wrong is involved!

Nigeria Living on borrowed time

 

However, if the administration’s waywardness seems somewhat forgivable given its modest effort on the infrastructure front, the economy, it must be admitted has not been exactly sparing. So much for the statistical fantasy of a lift by a fraction of one percent out of the recession zone, Nigeria has remained in every material particular in regression mode. The omens, far from good, is to put it mildly, highly disturbing. Simply put – the country is flat broke! No doubt, oil prices have remained largely stable; but then so also have global demand for oil yet to pick up. In a country where a whopping 40 per cent of entire forex outlay goes into fuel importation, and where manufacturing entities depend almost entirely on foreign raw materials, forex scarcity can only mean more troubles ahead. As for the implications for the feeding bottle federation, the omens are frightfully ill for the states in particular most of whom are no more than cash points for sharing their federally allocated revenue.

But then, as if this prognosis is itself not worrisome enough, the federal government has tended to gloss over a related but no less grave problem – the unprecedented surge in southward migration at a time ethnic tensions are at an all-time high. Such migrations, traditionally cyclical flowing with cropping cycles, have since acquired a feature of permanence in the wake of the collapse of the security infrastructure notably in the Northeast, Northwest and the North-central. Presently, it has since taken on the nature of desperation with truckloads of migrants ‘deposited’ daily in different state capitals in the south. This is of course separate from the notable invasion of vast forests in the south by roving bands of well-armed criminals posing as herders and whose activities have done much to stoke ethnic animosities in the country. What the trend bodes, not just for national security but for the tenuous inter-ethnic relations is something that the administration’s hierarchs can answer. For now, those at wrong end of the stick are simply urged to show tolerance or accommodation; or better still, to ignore the mass – a legion with neither discernable skills nor social ties to the community swarming their neighbourhoods – and the associated disruptions to their hitherto ordered lives, since, in the opinion of a certain Bala Mohammed and his ilk, the earth belongs to all and no one! With such potential anarchy being primed for the inevitable moment, trust me, it seems to me that the prize of political correctness might be far beyond what the Nigerian state could afford – and this in no distant future.

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Simply put, if terrorism qualifies for the Nigerian nightmare, the official approach to its many correlates quite typically perfunctory, is dangerously unnerving – to put it mildly. Six years after President Muhammadu Buhari spoke of “official bungling, negligence, complacency or collusion…”; and of how “Boko Haram became a terrifying force taking tens of thousands of lives and capturing several towns and villages covering swathes of Nigerian sovereign territory”, pretty little has changed in terms of acute understanding its complexities or in the management of its variegated fallouts. So much for its pretensions; those same words would certainly hold true if they were to be uttered today and that, sadly after billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money have gone into the defence sector.

Talking of the phenomenon of irregular migration, and given that their impacts on both the living environment and community cohesion and ultimately societal order are no less grave, those in the southwest for instance, I would argue, need no Sunday Igboho to alert them to the dangers lurking in their neighbourhood from the army of undocumented ‘strangers’ with neither fixed addresses or known abodes. The same I presume would apply to those parts of the country where ethnic tensions stoked by what appears to be an invasion is unrelenting. Here, the operative word is management a la best practices! While the northern governors may not have provided a perfect example by their forced repatriation of the almajiris to their home states, there has to be a deliberate programme to manage the hordes of migrants by the government. Yes, Nigerians belong to all; but then the very idea that some citizens can simply convert public spaces to shelters are not only criminal, they fly in the face of public policy.

Take for instance, a city like Lagos, where a simple regulation restricting the operation of commercial motorcyclists popularly known as Okada has been fraught with problems. Here, the problem, isn’t just the the herd mentality of those engaged in the trade when caught on the wrong side of the law, ethnic sentiments have tended to come into play. And then of course is the growing army of destitute most of whom are now found in street corners without homes or shelters.

This to me is where the call for a state of emergency makes eminent sense. By this I mean a different kind of emergency, where the federal government not only takes the lead in stemming the riotous migration with a clear programme of action, but in which the partnerships of the states are enlisted to address the looming time bomb. Presently, the federal government talks glibly of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty. Meanwhile, there is already, an unprecedented 23.19 million officially unemployed. Would this also include the vast army of migrants most of whom have neither the most basic of education or skills to operate in the market place? Will it be too much for the Bello Matawalles of this world – the self-acclaimed champions of northern interests, to come up with a programme to take their people out of their despondency?

Think of the alternative of the road not taken; only then would Nigerians realise the truth about living on borrowed time!

 

  •  Sanya Oni

By Olalekan Awodehinde

Olalekan Awodehinde is a seasoned investigative reporter.

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