Assessment of Nigeria’s 59th independence anniversary – Part 2

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari signs a register during a ceremony to mark the 59th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence from England, on October 1, 2019 at the presidency in Abuja. (Photo by KOLA SULAIMON / AFP)

The quagmires of this situation led to the devaluation of Nigeria’s currency which is now N360 to $1 whereas after independence, the Nigerian Naira was stronger than the US Dollar. As a matter of fact, just last week, Nigeria under President Buhari again approached the World Bank for a $2.5billion loan which will help us meet our deficit budgetary provisions in which capital expenditures amounts to not more than 15%. Nigeria has failed to meet its own responsibilities as espoused by the United Nations and the World Financial Communities unlike some other countries are doing in Africa. We are incapable of meeting the expectations prescribed due to our reliance on external debt for the execution of internal expenditure rather than the product we sectors of our economy with the capacity to pay back the foreign debt. Nigeria’s foreign debt rose to $25,609.63billion compared to the figure of 2016 of President Jonathan’s administration which was $9.760billion. It would be remembered that Obasanjo and Okonjo Iweala were able to get our external debtors to cancel a large chunk of our foreign debt due to the World Bank and IMF.

Nigeria’s DMO office has again reminded the administration that most of the external borrowings are used for recurrent expenditures like salaries and allowances and also to refinance maturing obligations which will not grow our economy. The United Nations listed the Millennium Developmental Projects which Nigeria and other developing nations should urgently focus on. These are:  No Poverty, Zero Hunger,  Good Health and Well-being, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth,Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Reduced Inequality Sustainable Cities and Communities,Responsible Consumption and Production Climate Action,Life below Water, Life on Land, Peace and Justice Strong, Institutions,  Partnerships to achieve the Goal.

An analytical fact check by Nigerian experts maintained that for democracy to work properly, public figures need to be held accountable for what they say or do. Their claims should be publicly assessed with skills and evidence from institutions in economic, finance, technology, science, banking, universities, corporate institutions, media and industries in order to distill or sort out facts from fiction. The current performances of Nigerian institutions in the past 3 years and particularly in this 2019 are bedeviled by fictions and propaganda in the statistical realm and non-patrician analytical domain. As Nigerian’s we cannot appreciate where we are in order to improve on governance situations in the interest of our own well being. It is known that at the moment, Nigeria depends on a mono economic structure which is crude oil to the extent of about 80%. The non oil sector has not yet achieved its optimal capacity hence the current deficit budgeting. In fact the present administration in which the President is also the Petroleum Minister and in which the NNPC controls the production, the refining and the sale of our crude has been financially worrisome in respect of its very poor accountability. Nigerians are surprised to learn this year that we spent more money importing refined petroleum products from abroad than the amount for which our crude oil is sold to foreign entities. Nigeria’s NNPC is still employing the crude oil swap for imported petroleum products due to the inabilities of our own refineries. Indeed the NNPC under our President Buhari as Minister is spending trillions of naira on oil subsidy, a situation that is fuelling monumental corruption and unaccountable financial applications. Informed experts and IMF have urged the Federal Government to scrap the colossal funds involved in the corrupt subsidies payments so that Nigeria’s economy can urgently be rejuvenated and our system of governance should be constitutionally restructured through the urgent devolution of powers to the states or federating units where sovereignty lies.

The Nigerian-Benin border was recently sealed leading to very high rise in commodity prices yet there is still a clandestine smuggling through the borders at night and with motor cycles in the Northern borders. All these are in breach of the Agencies Free Trade Agreement just signed. It is hurting our own economy. In the last 2 months President Buhari’s government in a bid to start his first year of the 2nd tenure, made two proposals to the national assembly. One was for the control of the river sides and water ways in the country and the other was for the 774 local governments to be made autonomous financially and other wise and removed from the control of the state governments. These proposals are unconstitutional for a set up of true federalism which enunciates the truism that sovereignty belongs to the people at the grass root and therefore the residual and main constitutional powers should belong to the states which will cede some limited powers to the central government, to be able to execute some overall Nigerian factors such as immigration, defence, foreign affairs, some infrastructure etc. In the last two years, the Southern and Middle Belt leaders have been proposing a restructured polity since President Buhari rejected the implementation of the detailed resolutions of the 2014 Abuja constitutional conference convened by President Goodluck Jonathan, by consigning the reports to the archives and turning Nigeria into a so called ‘unitary federalism’ which is an unknown contraption in legal jurisprudence. With the state of the Nation today in such a deplorable situation, the Southern and Middle Belt and the Sahelian Upper Northern Areas of Nigeria’s 6 geopolitical zones should wake up from their slumber and make a final push for the realization of a new governance structure for Nigeria to move to greater heights.

An analytical and unapologetic observer in the social media last week said “All the Southern but accused slaves and other useful idiots in their regions should be recalled and placed on cognitive psychotherapy for total emancipation, freedom and redemption despite their height of delusion and narcissism”. The above may not be very farfetched from our present almost delusional situation, when as a matter of fact the end is very much at sight for Nigeria to end our current deplorable situation. A former USA Ambassador to Nigeria HE Princeton Lyman said a month ago during a Brown University Colloquium of Prof Chinua Achebe that “Nigeria is becoming a strategic failure to the world and Africa” A recent United States department analysis on our economic transparency submitted that “the defining moments of a clueless, despotic amalgam called Nigeria or Nigger-area has by its leadership truncated any definite movement of proper governance devoid of corruption, lack of transparency and accountability and normal developmental strides as a replica of its movement of growth from its self governance system to independence”. Such truths are of course, hurtful even though they can be remedies in our own interest!

To be continued tomorrow
Ikokwu (Omenife) a senior citizen of the NBA and Nigerian veteran.

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