• Monday, April 15, 2024
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BusinessDay

Calling for a War Council and urgent action in Nigeria to end the siege

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Vice President Kashim Shettima told the nation on Tuesday that there were “forces hell-bent on pulling Nigeria down.” What is the Federal Government’s response to this existential threat against the country? Appeal for patience for the “painful reforms” to work.

According to Shettima, evil people, among whom he numbers opposition politicians and smugglers, are determined to pull the nation backwards and contribute to the present difficulties.

Nigerians agree with Shettima that the economic policies of the government and its efforts at reform have induced tremendous hardship that is more horrific than the instance 40 years back during the Mohammadu Buhari and Ibrahim Babangida SAP exercise.

Read also: FG uncovers 32 routes used to smuggle food out of Nigeria Shettima

Shetimma’s accounting of the problem at the Public Wealth Management Conference organised by the Ministry of Finance Incorporated points to a different direction for the issues and, more significantly, its solution. “Forces are hell-bent on plunging this country into a state of anarchy. Those who could not get to power through the ballot box, instead of waiting till 2027, are so desperate,” he stated.

However, the VP unwittingly pointed out the problem and its resolution in the next breath. He said the government intercepted and stopped 45 trucks of maize at midnight on Sunday as they sought to cross the border.

He said: “Just three nights ago, 45 trucks of maize were caught being transported to neighbouring countries. Just in that Ilela axis, there are 32 illegal smuggling routes. And the moment those foodstuffs were intercepted, the price of maize came down by N10,000. It came down from N60,000 to N50,000. So, some forces are hell-bent on undermining our nation, but this is the time for us to merge into a singular entity.”

MR VP unwittingly pointed to one of several solutions to the looming chaos in the country. The government should govern! Yes, govern.

Citizens need more effective governance. When border security roused itself to perform at the notorious Ilela border, they stopped the smugglers. The security agents identified and destroyed them, unlike the traditional tales of “spirits” taking things out of the country.

The laxity of the Nigerian government turned our country into both a dump and a source for illegal importation and exportation of items. We constantly lose revenue and more.

Items spirited out over the years of lack of enforcement include our crude oil, agricultural produce, premium motor spirit, and various consumables produced in Nigeria. The laxity of the Nigerian government turned our country into both a dump and a source for illegal importation and exportation of items. We constantly lose revenue and more.

As we pointed out in our recent front-page comment, Nigeria stands at a crossroads. Besieged by a multifaceted war – insecurity, economic turmoil, and widespread citizen disenchantment – the nation urgently needs decisive action. The time for incremental steps and fragmented approaches is over. We need a unified front, a War Council, to strategise and lead the fight for Nigeria’s survival and revival. There are many battlefields.

Read also: VP Shettima says forces hell-bent on pulling Nigeria down

Security is foremost. Boko Haram, banditry, kidnapping, and farmer-herder clashes have created a climate of fear and instability. Lives are lost, livelihoods destroyed, and entire regions destabilised. The situation affects food production and, thus, inflation. This war demands a comprehensive security strategy, improved intelligence gathering, better-equipped and trained forces, and genuine community engagement.

Economy: runaway inflation, currency devaluation, and rising unemployment cripple Nigerians. The cost of living skyrockets while wages stagnate, pushing millions more profoundly into poverty. This economic war requires bold reforms, diversification away from oil dependence, tackling corruption, and fostering an environment conducive to job creation and investment.

Disenchantment: apathy, frustration, and anger simmer among citizens. Broken promises, unaddressed grievances, and a perceived lack of leadership fuel this internal war. Rebuilding trust requires transparency, accountability, genuine dialogue, and demonstrably improved governance.

A War Council, composed of diverse and competent Nigerians representing critical sectors – security, economy, civil society, and faith-based groups – can be the answer. This non-partisan body, led by a respected figure, should develop a united strategy, coordinate efforts, mobilise resources, and communicate effectively.

The strategic thrust is that the multifrontal wars are interconnected. The War Council should craft a holistic plan with clear objectives, timelines and measurable outcomes. Someone should coordinate the efforts, break down silos between government agencies and ensure unified action.

Nigeria should mobilise local and international resources. Please show me your friends. Diplomacy is critical now to identify the true friends of Nigeria. We need funding, technology, and expertise to fight these wars.

Significantly, the Government must communicate effectively as one. It must inform and regularly engage the public to foster transparency, trust, and shared purpose.

Read also: Shettima inaugurates committee as FG eyes $2.5bn green economy opportunity

There must be coordinated efforts. Break down silos between government agencies, security forces, and civil society, ensuring unified action and efficient resource allocation. Resource mobilisation is critical. Seek domestic and international partnerships to secure funding, technology, and expertise necessary to fight these wars.

For immediate action, the government must convene a Security Summit involving all stakeholders to develop a comprehensive security strategy with clear lines of command and accountability. It must create a robust economic recovery plan that tackles the three critical economic rates of inflation, interest and exchange. It must also initiate dialogue and reconciliation, do away with finger-pointing and the blame game, and unite the nation. Finally, show through actions a transparent anti-corruption drive. It will rebuild trust.