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Nigeria must secure its future today

At no time has the need for Nigeria to secure its future been more urgent than now. The country is groaning under the heavy weight of insecurity and bleeding from injuries sustained from mostly avoidable socio-economic injuries. The bleeding must stop to avert what daily looks like a bleak future.

To put it bluntly, Nigeria is on life support and that calls for urgent action by its leaders who, curiously, live in denial of the dire socio-political and economic situation in which the country finds itself.

Though the most recent economic growth figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that the economy grew by 5 percent in the second quarter of 2021 and the rate of inflation is slowing, market realities and household experiences belie those claims.

President Muhammadu Buhari in an opinion article published on 15 August in the Financial Times, noted that Africa, and indeed Nigeria, need to do more to help itself. This is instructive coming from the leader of Africa’s most populous nation and the continent’s self-acclaimed largest economy.

According to the president, building infrastructure, connecting remote regions and providing jobs are part of what the continent needs done. These, he believes, will strengthen the continent’s defences against a myriad of problems such as insurgency, secessionism, banditry, hunger, and poverty.

“What we need above all is investment in infrastructure. Transport and freight lines can spread opportunity across nations unequal in economic strength,” the president noted in his article. We agree totally with this.

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But we wonder the urgency with which these will be done since the country, and Africa, is embroiled in one problem after another. Buhari pointed out that Mozambique is merely the latest African state in danger from terrorism. The Sahel remains vulnerable to Boko Haram, 20 years after its formation, and other radical groups. Somalia is in its second decade fighting the equally extreme al-Shabaab.

Many African nations are submerged under the weight of insurgency and nothing could be truer than this. It is a continent at war with itself and we are of the view that, in Nigeria, the situation is worse.

From armed robbery during Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime to militancy in Umaru Yar’Adua’s tenure, Nigeria under Buhari’s government has metamorphosed into a den for kidnappers, terrorists, bandits, murderous herders, and violent insurgents.
This is why we find every sense in the view expressed by The Economist that Nigeria is “the crime scene at the heart of Africa”, noting that “when violence erupts, the government does nothing or cracks heads almost indiscriminately.”

We find it incongruous that a government that came into power on a three-pronged agenda—fighting corruption, insecurity and turning around the economy including bringing the Naira at par with the US dollar— could appear so intolerable of criticism and so aloof in the face of rising insecurity and sinking economy.

The Economist says Nigeria under Buhari has become a crime scene of destructive magnitude, adding that terrorists and armed bandits are running wild because the president has failed to do anything but render lip service following every deadly attack.

The newspaper, however, believes that Nigeria’s insecurity could be curbed if President Buhari focused on the nation’s unemployment crisis by cutting government waste, and other practical economic measures.

We share this view and see in it the next best step for the country to save itself from doomsday. It’s time the handlers of Buhari stop playing to the gallery, feeding the president with false impressions about the state of the economy and the psyche of the polity.

To secure the country’s future today, the leadership of the country must get itself out of self-delusion which praise-singers and traducers in the corridors of power have walled around it.

“We must not complacently assume that military means alone can defeat the terrorists. If Afghanistan has taught us a lesson, it is that although sheer force can blunt terror, its removal can cause the threat to return,” the president wrote in his FT opinion piece. For us, that is a logical argument.

But the question that immediately comes to our mind is, ‘What is the government doing alternatively?’ There is no urgency to get a grip of before the situation gets out of control.

Words are insufficient. We can only believe this when we see somebody doing something that ignites hope and has capacity to solve the problem at hand.

We agree with the president that “what Africa needs most from the US is a comprehensive partnership to close the disparity between our economic and demographic growth. That despite having six of the world’s top 10 fastest-growing economies, my continent’s gross domestic product gains are insufficient to provide for burgeoning populations.”

We need to see the Buhari-led government, acting with a sense of urgency, setting example for other African countries, investing in its human capital, attracting capital to build industries and construct infrastructure that connect communities, improving intra and international trade and commerce, and, above all, creating jobs and reducing unemployment. These, coupled with political will, the future of Nigeria is assured.

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