Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Nigeria On The Brink: A Nation that Negotiates with Terrorists Will Cut A Deal with Kidnappers By Francis Adewale
“We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....” –Martin Luther King Jr. "Beyond Vietnam"
There is a scourge loose in Nigeria, this scourge is aided and abetted by an incompetent State headed by some of the most educated elites that have ever ruled our land. I wrote elsewhere that there is nothing wrong with Nigeria that can’t be cured by what is right with Nigeria. But sometimes the level of incompetence in Nigeria truly beggars belief. Administering a state in this century is definitely not rocket science but the current Nigerian leadership in Aso rock may have turned their ineptitude into an art form. The entire apparatus of governmental administration in Nigeria is farcical in appearance and reality. Every component of the regime in Abuja seems to be steeped in colossal failure. Even they themselves know it but would rather live in denial so as to continue to milk the country dry while the entire state governance goes to the dog.
The Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s administration may go down in history as the most incompetent in terms of application of the massive resources available to it and its sheer incompetence. We are almost four years into the GEJ administration’s effective control of the levers of powers in Nigeria and one cannot point to any positive achievements in any strata of Nigerian’s society. Here is a government that came loaded with so much promise, and yet abysmally succeeded in frittering away every opportunity to advance Nigeria in the comity of nations. The carcasses of its missteps are everywhere to behold; power generation and distribution, road construction, infrastructural developments, oil subsidy imbroglio, failed banks, stock and financial management meltdown and most important of all inept security management. Yes, I readily agree that some of the problems may have been caused by forces beyond the reach of the administration but then consider the inept response that GEJ has made to address some of the problems.
It is not as if the administration is short of funds or hampered by inability to borrow funds. In fact under GEJ, the “Federal Government has borrowed a total of N2.57 trillions… The Federal Government’s debt profile rose from N4.18 tn as of June 30, 2010 to N6.75 tn as of June 30, 2012, ” as we learnt recently from Punch Newspapers. From the moment Jonathan was sworn in as the elected president on May 29, 2011 to June 30, 2012, the debt profile of the country rose by 61.48 percent!
It is not as if we have massive infrastructures to point to as fruits of all these expenditures, we’ve got zilch! Zero! Nada! To the contrary, more people in Nigeria are mired in poverty at this time than at any other time in the history of our country. According to a report by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics widely publicized by BBC in February 2012, the number of Nigerians living in poverty rose from 54.7 % in 2004 to 60.9% in 2010 and is still growing. I agreed that the same report shows the Nigerian economy grew exponentially during the same period. So what gives? The truth definitely lies in between. Most of the economic gains we had went to a very select few in the top echelon of the country. These are politicians and their contractors who can afford to send their wives to Western hospitals in Europe and America.
Their children also go to schools in well heeled colleges and universities abroad. Even though Nigeria gets a huge windfall from high crude oil prices and better than previous increased production, GEJ’s administration has saddled this country with more debt than any other administration. The administration currently plans to borrow N633.85 billion from the domestic debt market in 2013. The intentioned use of the borrowed money remains illusory. In 2012 alone, GEJ earmarked N560 billion for domestic debt servicing. When you consider the fact that some of the politicians running our government own some of the banks we are borrowing from, one can see the inevitable conflict of interest. In fact, the irony of a coordinating minister of the economy who championed the nation’s exit from foreign debt between 2004 and 2006 and now leads the charge to send the country to a future laden with debt is not lost on anyone.
The saddest part is that there are hardly any feel good stories coming out of Nigeria since this current administration got the reins of governance. Increased terrorism in the northern part of the country ensures that half of the country remains on lock down for a long period of time, even though the government spends more money on intelligence and security than tertiary education. The lack of viable opposition ensures that our National Assembly remains at best toothless bulldogs, if not a substantial contributor to the national malaise. Our financial sector is in doldrums, the power sector that would have provided an elixir has been hijacked by powerful interests in the ruling People’s Democratic Party. Impunity reigns supreme in Nigeria. If politicians steal millions from the coffers without any prosecution, it surely instill in a terrorist’s and kidnapper’s subconscious that they could get away with any nefarious acts they could imagine.
What this breeds is an increased state of lawlessness. Whenever and wherever people lose hope in their government, increased brigandage, kidnapping, brazen acts of terrorism, and brutalization of innocent citizens by law enforcements inevitably ensue. Someone once said that “a society is judged by how well it cares for those in the dawn of life, the children. By how well it cares for those in the twilight of life, the elderly. And by how well it cares for those on the edge of life; the poor, the sick and the disabled.” You can pick up any Nigerian news daily and find news on how someone somewhere brutalized Nigerian children, the elderly, poor, disabled and the sick. You do not even need to look far; the fact that a nonagenarian mother of our Coordinating Minister on the Economy could be brazenly kidnapped in broad daylight and her family had to pay ransom to rescue her speaks volumes on the ineptness of our security agencies. The fact that the president’s own wife and brother had to be flown abroad for emergency hospital services speaks to that ineptness too. What is more, the majority of the children of our government officials in Nigeria attends schools abroad!
Of course, I expect some folks reading this piece will say that government cannot fix all the problems that ail our nation. Well, what have they fixed lately? And is it too much to ask that police patrol the street of our nation to keep people safe without demanding bribes? After all, as Edmund Burke once argued, representative government is a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants and men have a right that these wants should be provided for by this wisdom. Effective leadership as Peter Drucker once said is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.
It is high time our mainstream media start holding GEJ and his administration to task for the inanities of its realm. The sideshow about the fall out between President Jonathan and his godfather, retired General Obasanjo, should not merit the front page of any well meaning newspaper in our country. Let’s focus on the million dollar contracts the GEJ (and OBJ administration before it) awarded with little or nothing to show for it. Who got these contracts? Why are we borrowing money to put our great grandchildren in perpetual slavery to creditors? Let’s save our country from a disastrous future.
Spokane, WA, USA
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters