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30 Reasons why Nigeria should get rid of Yar’adua

August 2, 2009

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff mission to Nigeria simply confirmed what Nigerians already know; “Nigeria entered the global financial crisis from a position of strength”. However, it is significant that within two years of Umaru Yar’adua’s government, such economic advantages have not only been largely wasted but Yar’adua’s authority as president has withered.

Nigerians have lost faith in the ability of President Umaru Yar’adua’s government to govern in their interests. "The collapse of the architecture of governance means the government has lost its moral authority to hold things together”
The violent crises in the Niger Delta and the North-Eastern part of the country illustrates that Nigerians have lost faith in the ability of President Yar’Adua to govern in their interest and thus are resorting to self-help.

Evidence that Yar’ Adua’s authority as president has withered showed itself last week Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting. As many as eight ministers reportedly flouted a standing presidential order that ministers whose memos were discussed and approved at the weekly meeting should stay back and address the media.

As Ochereome Nnanna noted: If ministers had always complied with the order until Yar’ Adua traveled out, it only means that these ministers do not have much regard for the delegated authority of the Vice President. On the other hand, if ministers feel free to disregard instructions of the President, it means the man at the top is not fully in charge.

30 Reasons why Nigeria should get rid of Yar’Adua Now!
These are the hard facts – gleaned from respectable Institutions like the Financial Times and NASDAQ -  about the Nigeria reality today that should either make Yar’adua wake up from his deep slumber or make Nigeria wake us from slumber and get rid of Yar’adua:
1. Under Yar’ Adua’s watch, Nigeria’s authority and influence in the international arena has so weakened that his regime is begging to be invited to international fora.
2. Whereas The reforms of the Obasanjo years “paid off handsomely with oil savings, high international reserves, and a well-capitalized banking system, preventing the type of economic crisis that Nigeria has witnessed too often at the end of earlier oil price cycles”, the IMF said.  Since the new government took office in 2007, the federal government has run an average deficit equivalent to 0.3 per cent of GDP, despite the fact that the average oil price has been 50 per cent higher. In effect Yar’Adua administration is saving less than the former Obasanjo administration, which ran an average federal budget surplus equivalent to 7.1 per cent of GDP in the three years to 2006. Lower oil revenues have further driven the fiscal accounts and balance of payments into deficit.
3. Due to a lack of further investments in the Oil and gas sector and security-related disruptions, fresh oil exploration has ground to a halt.
4. Nigerians have lost faith in the ability of President Umaru Yar’ Adua’s government to govern in their interests.
5. President Yar’adua is not fully in charge of his government. People will flout directives whenever they feel they can get away with it. If his ministers’ feel free to disregard instructions of the President it is further evidence that Yar’adua’s authority as president has withered.
6. There is widespread perception the Yar’adua is a weak president. This weakness at the centre is partly a reflection of Mr Yar’Adua’s own restrained style of rule – dogged by rumours over hishealth.
7. Against this perceived weakness, Mr Yar’Adua has struggled to muster the political strength to overcome the nexus of special interest groups blocking reform. His announced declared war against the fuel mafia, the power mafia, generator mafia, crude oil mafia, and all other mafia has failed to take off.  further evidence that his administration is beholden to entrenched interests.
8. Nigeria should be producing upwards of 3m barrels a day; instead, it is Angola, with a third of the reserves that has taken over as Africa’s leading oil producer. Yet, Nigeria, the world's eighth largest oil producer, doesn't know exactly how much of the black gold it churns.
Petroleum Minister Rilwanu Lukman put the figure at about 1.5 million bpd, less than half of the nation's capacity. But experts put the current estimate between 1.3 and 1.4 million bpd."
9. Nigeria’s population – 40 per cent of which is under 15 – will grow from 140m in 2005 to more than 200m by 2025, according to the United Nations. Even today, only a fraction has access to clean water, adequate housing or healthcare.
10. The collapse in world oil prices has further exposed how dependent Nigeria remains on energy exports. Standard Bank projects real gross domestic product will grow by 4.2 per cent this year and 6 per cent in 2010, compared with 9.4 per cent in 2008.
11. Nigeria’s oil industry has been crippled by a campaign of bombing and theft conducted by militants demanding, and increasingly taking, a greater share of oil wealth. Amidst uncertainty over broader policy, fresh exploration has ground to a halt.  Not since the late 1960s has onshore output fallen so low. Nigeria is exporting less than half the crude it did in 2008 by some estimates and selling at about half the price. Moreover, most production is now offshore where the state has far less lucrative terms.
12. A new-found unity among the inhabitants of the Niger delta – South-South governors, Delta students, Ijaw leaders, Joint Revolutionary Council and the Militants - are threatening to scupper the president’s plan of a general amnesty for delta militants with daily stipends to persuade them to lay down their arms. This might bring a pause in the violence. But a far more ambitious approach is needed if the Niger delta is to be persuaded of the federal government’s good intentions.
13. The failure to complete prosecutions of former governors charged with looting hundreds of millions of dollars has reinforced the impression that Mr Yar’Adua remains captive to powerful vested interests, thus deepening the perception that Yar’adua’s government is beholden to and has remained skewed towards perpetuating elite interests.
14. The stark reality that despite its oil and gas riches, Nigeria faces huge development challenges made more difficult by the global economic slowdown. Far from leading an African economic renaissance, the country from which one in five black Africans hail is hovering close to the brink of economic disaster.
15. The system of patronage perpetuated by decades of military rule and amplified by 8 years of Obasanjo mini-dictatorship is now matched now by parallel criminal networks, such as those exporting oil illegally, corporate insider trading, kidnappings, armed robbery, and bank liquidation – these are eating away at the state.
16. With oil production in decline, the funds with which government could create a system in which power stations and refineries function, businesses thrive and services are delivered, are in dwindling supply.  Sad so say, our sickly president has a laissez faire attitude to governance that is as frustrating as it is infuriating.
17. This is better illustrated in his approach to workers strikes that have almost paralyzed the country. Before the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Non- Academic Staff Union (NASU) and Senior Staff Union of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) embarked on indefinite strike last month, they had gone on warning strike for one week.
Right now, Strikes have grounded education in public universities. Many schools are bound to alter their academic calendar by the time the strike is over.
The Radio, Television and Theatre Art Workers (RATTAWU) Nurses and Midwives Association of Nigeria (NMAN) Medical and Health Workers Union (MHWU) and Staff of Federal Capital Territory Abuja embarked on indefinite strike over the non-payment of their monetization benefits, introduced by the immediate past administration thereby grinding the nation a halt.
18. In the 26 months since President Umaru Yar’Adua took office, his promised 7 point agenda in energy, power, Niger Delta, Security and infrastructure have ended in frustration. Faith in his government’s ability to deliver has all but evaporated.
19. Nigeria is in very serious crisis, portending a huge catastrophe that you will imagine Yar’adua and his advisers are brainstroming on how to reverse the ugly trend. On the contrary, they were brainstorming in Owerri but for a different reason: how to turn Nigeria into a one-party state so the PDP could be in power for the next 60 years!
20. Yar’adua has watered down proposals for his electoral reforms designed to restore Nigeria’s democratic credentials following the 2007 polls, which were so marred by cheating and violence.
With the political class gearing up for general elections in 2011, the risk of another mayhem and sponsored politcal violence– even the most ebullient of Mr Yar’Adua’s ministers acknowledge time is running out.
21. The Financial Times quoted Remi Babalola, minister of state for finance as saying: “we continue stagnating.” Nigeria has survived repeated bouts of political and economic crisis since independence in 1960. This is a tribute to its people’s resilience: yet there is a sense today that the country is teetering on the brink of disaster.
22. As I write the refineries are down, starved of crude oil supply as pipelines go up in flames and get twisted every now and then; our oil exports contracts are not funded. Our thermal plants have no gas which we have an abundant reserve as power generation hits its worst in recent years.
23. The violence from the Islamist sect at the heart of the disturbances, known as Boko Haram had not taken the government by surprise. "These people have been organising, penetrating our society, procuring arms, learning how to make explosive and bombs … to force their beliefs on the rest of Nigerians. while this violence is going on, Yar'adua -like Emperor Nero that fiddles while Rome burns- jetted of to Brazil.
24. In fact, the radicalization of a minority of Nigeria's 70 million Muslims, roughly half the population, can be traced back to the decision in 2000, by 12 of the 36 states in Northern Nigeria to more strictly enforce sharia law. Yar'adua championed the implementation of Sharia as governor of Katsina State. The effects are still being felt.
25. More prosaically, entrenched poverty, unemployment, official corruption and injustice have also alienated many in the relatively poorer north, making them easy targets for hard-line preachers such as Yusuf. What did Yar'adua do to lift northerners out of poverty and give them western education as governor of Katsina State?
26. These developments foreshadow a further weakening of Nigeria's role as regional economic engine, already badly damaged by falling oil production caused by Niger Delta unrest; they could in turn bode ill for West Africa as a whole. With the country's crude exports reportedly running at less than half the 2008 level, and with the oil price almost halved, too, analysts say the central government could struggle to fend off further assaults on its authority from whatever quarter.
27. Hard facts show that t but for executive inaction and negligence of the security community, current critical security problems in the North Eastern part of Nigeria would have been averted. The acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ogbonnaya Onovo, admitted that he had detected and read 14 comprehensive security reports filed by the State Security Services (SSS) Headquarters to his predecessor, Mr. Mike Okiro. Why did this government fail to take action to nip this crisis in the bud?
28. Under this government, corruption and widespread looting of the commonwealth has continued unabated.
29. Experts predict that the market power of the very few oil-producing countries that hold substantial reserves of oil would increase rapidly as the oil crisis begins to grip after 2010. Nigeria needs a strong leader not only because the country needs to take radical action to end the oil crisis, but also to position Nigeria to play a stronger role in the emerging scenario, not least because the period after might witness an era of a lessened importance of oil in global politics as a result of a possible development of green energy.
30. Umaru Yar’adua is a willing accessory in the maddening PDP scheme to turn Nigeria into a one party state. Imo State governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, and three governors had crossed the carpet from their party to the ruling PDP: Governor Saminu Turaki of Jigawa State, Governor Aliyu Shinkafi (Zamfara) and Governor Isa Yuguda of Jigawa. And more “political prostitutes” are still planning to join the band-wagon.

Yet Yar’adua is lucky. Nigerian long-suffering masses are a docile lot. Whereas an increase of 10 kobo in the price of Maize, could spur devastating general riots in an East African country, an increase of 50 Naira in the price of Petrol would invite tepid strikes from just the Labour groups in Nigeria, after which the authorities will skim off 5 Naira, and go back to the originally intended price, and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) will live happily ever after.

Yar’adua should wake up from his deep slumber, or Nigerians should wake up and get rid of him, before it is too late.

Daniel Elombah is the Publisher:
(A Nigerian Perspective on world affairs)

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