• Friday, May 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

The signs are ominous: Nigerians prepare for a rough ride!

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Those who know me or who read my writings will agree that I am very optimistic about this country. I believe in the resilience of the country and its ability to withstand centrifugal forces trying to tear it apart and abort its destiny of leading Africa and the black race. But I must say that I am worried with recent developments in the polity. The signs are ominous and troubling.

First, the onslaught of the terrorists is not abating. The terrorists are bombing and killing themselves and many innocent Nigerians. They are also capturing and occupying territories in North-east Nigeria, precipitating the highest level of internal displacement of Nigerians since the civil war. Many Nigerians are truly troubled with the apparent difficulty our security forces are having in halting and dismantling this vicious rebellion. To put it mildly, Nigerians feel despondent and helpless and are wondering what next we need do to resolve this seemingly intractable national challenge. It was suggested we should seek international help and I believe we have had American advisers for a while, some of whom survived a recent helicopter crash landing in Yola. For me and for many, all that we can do now is to pray harder for our security forces and for the suffering Nigerians. God, please save us!

Second, all of a sudden, the price of crude petroleum has been dropping and hell seems to have been let loose. There is an economic fever spreading all over the nation. Indeed, there is some panic in the air. I am afraid that this panic is causing serious injuries to the economy. The Federal Government has announced some austerity measures and the MDAs are in a state of ambivalence. Some state governments are almost declaring ‘force majeure’ and declining or are unable to meet their commitments. Unpaid salaries and contractors’ bills are beginning to pile up. The stock market is in a downward trend as equities lose value and there is some divestment and capital repatriation. The naira exchange rate is under pressure and a devaluation is being predicted. The stable macro economy we have had over the last few years seems to be under threat. This calls for the best of our economic management skills and an effort made to calm the pervading panic.

READ ALSO: What Trump or Biden presidency means for Nigeria’s economy

Third, we hear of the political rumblings in Ekiti State. The APC legislators in the state have determined that Governor Ayo Fayose will govern alone, with no commissioners and no aides. Just as was done when the Ekiti Eleven wanted to employ the judiciary to stop the swearing-in of Fayose as governor after what was a convincing win, which led to the mishandling of a judge in the state, the PDP has used its minority members in the house to approve the governor’s request and to impeach the speaker, Adewale Omirin. Oladele Olugbemi of PDP has been installed by the minority and Governor Fayose has recognised this travesty.

I have been worried about Ekiti since Ayo Fayose came from the ‘dead’ to beat sitting Governor John Kayode Fayemi. The loss was unexpected and has been seen as a big slap on the face of APC leaders, especially the Asiwaju. And it seems to me that what APC could not get from the ballot box, they are determined to get by other means. Now with their majority in the house, they have determined to lock down Fayose’s government. They will not approve his list of commissioners and advisers and may never approve his budget proposals or other bills. That seems to have encouraged or “forced” Fayose to take the laws into his hands. The parliamentary rascality we saw in Edo recently where the minority PDP members tried to take over the Edo house seems to be repeating in Ekiti, perhaps with more dangerous dimensions. This situation must be halted. My counsel is that Fayose must show exemplary leadership by finding ways to reach out to and accommodate the APC legislators.

The strong-arm tactics he seems to be adopting in what is truly a great challenge to him may only yield temporary results that are not sustainable. He cannot govern the state that way and succeed.

On the other hand, all well-meaning Nigerians must appeal to APC and its leadership to learn to respect the wishes of the majority of the people of Ekiti, no matter how ‘stupid’ they think the people are in choosing Fayose instead of Fayemi. They should allow Fayose to run the government for the good of the people of Ekiti State. If they blatantly refuse to cooperate with him, the only party that will suffer are the good and ‘foolish’ people of the state. If governance is about the people, then all the obstacles on Fayose’s road to good governance must be dismantled by the APC and its legislators. I recommend that they should spend their time and energy more on strategising for 2018. Four years run quickly and they could return to the staple. But if they continue to prevent Fayose from governing, they may actually be hurting themselves as Fayose could win the people’s sympathy.

Then when we thought that we had seen the height of political rascality, our sensibilities were badly assaulted by the spectre of parliamentary brigandage we watched at the National Assembly a few days ago. Right in our eyes, we saw ‘honourable’ members of the house scaling fences, somersaulting and pushing down gates. Then we saw them and a motley of others running helter-skelter as the police threw teargas at the ‘invading’ crowd.

Then we saw the Senate president being hassled as he entered the chambers of the representatives, perhaps to calm the nerves of the members who had literarily fought their way into the chambers. The reps were highly agitated and tempers were roof-high and palpable. There was shoving and finger pointing. Indeed, some fisticuffs were exchanged and some ‘honourables’ took off their shirts ready for fight. It was like a free-for-all brawl. I was shocked by the unfolding drama.

I could not believe my eyes. I was downcast and I cried for my country. What was all this about

The police in their ‘wisdom’ decided to lock out the members of the National Assembly for security reasons. They said they had intelligence report that hoodlums were about to invade the National Assembly.

All well and good. How I wish they used more of this ‘intelligence’ expertise to stop Boko Haram bombers from destroying the North-east. Now if the police had this information and they were shutting the gates in good faith, why did they not find a way to send information to the members of the National Assembly alerting them of this plan of hoodlums and advising them to stay away until the threat is cleared.

Why not ask each member to identify himself or herself so we can separate the wheat from the chaff. How much will that have cost them and the nation

Can that cost be compared with the disruption of the polity that we saw on Thursday (November 20) and the ripple effect that would last many months, leading to a further destabilisation of our nation?

If the police were wrong in taking this precipitous action of locking the gates against the members of the National Assembly without due notice, the action of some members of the house who climbed the gates to force entry was also reprehensible. Two wrongs can never make a right. If those representatives were honourable and law-abiding as we expected them to be, then they could not have resorted to self-help that made them look like miscreants and militants. And some of these are parents! What could they possibly be teaching young Nigerians? What message could they be passing to those on the fringes of society, those who are angry with Nigeria, those who are looking for opportunities to express their anger against the country (the ‘dishonourable’ members inclusive)? If a privileged class (over-indulged, some would say) as members of the National Assembly can descend so low and promote deviance and violence, what do they expect most of the other ‘angry’ Nigerians to do? Is it any wonder that this nation is gradually becoming a violent nation? If gold can rust, what will iron do?

In my recent commentary on Tambuwal, I had indicated that I was going to watch how far this ‘cunny’ man would go with his cunning. Something tells me that all the brouhaha and ‘roforofo’ that we just witnessed and may yet witness a lot more are all about him. Maybe he does not care much about Nigeria, just as the Boko Haram insurgents and their sponsors do not care. What is important to him and his ilk is to take political power, employing every trick available. If he cares for this country’s survival and peace, if he believes that nobody’s political or economic ambition is greater than the survival and peace of this nation, then he should save this country from this avoidable cataclysm. If he is noble, then he should do the honourable thing: resign his position as speaker of the House of Representatives, because he has moved from a majority party to a minority party in the house, and allow peace to reign. He cannot eat his cake and still have it. The democratic right he has to switch from one party to another without blinking an eyelid is the same right the majority party in the house has to elect the speaker. He must stop being a dog in the manger. That way he will show his love for this nation, regain his nobility, receive the gratitude of most of the ordinary people of Nigeria who are not politicians and who just want to have a peaceful nation to work, live and die. These ordinary Nigerians are the ones making sacrifices and bearing the brunt. They pay the taxes that maintain the politicians in office.

Many predictions have been made about the challenges facing Nigeria as we head to the 2015 elections. Inasmuch as many of us do not believe in those projections and ‘prophecies’, I think it is wise for our political leaders not to write off those projections with a wave of the hand. My leadership training tells me to hope for the best but to be prepared for the worst. In which case I would be careful and sensitive. I would refrain from doing anything that will make the worst to become a reality. In addition, I will resist any temptations to play into the hands or circumstances that may promote the worst. What am I saying? Our political leaders, starting from the president to the ward councillor, must not light any fire that could burn the nation or any part of it. They must also not stoke any destructive fire, no matter who lights the fire. My counsel is that it is the leadership’s responsibility to calm every situation. Yes, leaders can be provoked, insulted or humiliated, but they must not allow themselves to be drawn into baits. I am convinced that there are people in this country today (Boko Haram et al) who do not care a hoot about what happens to this nation. I believe the Tambuwal matter is a booby trap. Let us be wise to jump and pass. Let us use constitutional means and legal methods to resolve it and other such matters. Resort to self-help will only imperil our nation. I believe that everything decent and right must be done to protect our democracy and the peace and orderly development of our nation. No sacrifice will be too much. A word is enough for the wise.

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa