Nigeria’s underdevelopment repels

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May 27, 2018

Chris Odinaka Nwedo

Nigeria’s slow pace of development is repelling considering that she is bequeathed with some of the world’s most prized human and material resources. An objective consideration of the predicaments cannot but censure the roles played by the nation’s imprudent elites and incompetent leaders. The socio-economic and political instabilities that are the basis of the problems are the devices of the unreasonable ruling classes and the phony acolytes. Nigeria’s economic hardship, social problems and political confusion are direct impacts of the disparaging attitudes of politicians, pitiable government policies and mismanagement of funds and opportunities. It is glaring that the terrific security challenges of today are the artifices of some horrible groups of elites who are benefitting directly and\ or indirectly from the plights of the victims of the man’s inhumanity to man. What we have in Nigeria today is an abominable scene where blood thirsty individuals are invading surreptitiously and slaughtering men, women and children for incomprehensible reasons. The vast arrays of the Nigeria’s security establishments have not convinced anyone that they have practical plans to stem the horrendous tides. It cannot be validly argued that the establishments are overwhelmed because it is not known that they are truly prepared for any action against the evil murderers, thus the speculations that they provide logistics to the killers.

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The unwillingness of the government and its vast agencies in stamping out the alleged Fulani killer-squads is perfidious, a situation stridently condemned by well-meaning Nigerians across the board. Recently, a General of the Nigeria Army and Former Defence Minister, Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, “spat fire by calling on Nigerians to rise and defend themselves against attacks by marauding herdsmen in some parts of the country, or continue to suffer casualties”.  Danjuma charged Nigerians and indeed the victims saying, “you must rise to protect yourselves from these people; if you depend on the armed forces to protect you, you will all die. I ask all of you to be on the alert and defend your country, defend your states”.   According to Danjuma the unnecessary killings, which are akin to an act of ethnic cleansing being perpetuated against the people of Taraba, specifically, and Nigeria, at large, must stop. It was evident to the retired Gen. that Nigerian military authorities are “complicit in the violent incidents by providing protection for the killers. This ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba, and it must stop in Nigeria. These killers have been protected by the military; they cover them and you must be watchful to guide and protect yourselves because you have no other place to go”.

The victims of this sacrilegious wickedness are wailing uncontrollably as the massacres have continued. The method of massacres and the victims suggested that the securities agencies in Nigeria are infiltrated and compromised. The ways the invasions and the massacres occur suggested that the awful acts are taking place with active supports of the security chains of command. There are vitriol attacks on Buhari government’s reluctance to stop the killings that are progressively becoming accepted as genocide.  The denunciation of the government came against the backdrop of the wild violent attacks by killer herdsmen.  “In the first ten weeks of 2018 alone, over 1351 people lost their lives, largely, as a result of violent killer herdsmen attacks.” The killings have continued with mounting numbers of causalities. This is the first time in Nigeria that the heads of all security agencies are managed by Muslims from the north, ‘coincidentally’, it is the Christians that are massacred without compassion on routine basis. The massacres have all been planned and executed on the days and places considered sacred. The invasions have taken place in churches where both priests and the congregations were murdered in cold blood.

For so many Nigerians, the unrestrained and bestial slaughters of the citizens showed how profoundly the security apparatuses in Nigeria were compromised. The security establishments in Nigeria seemed substantially disparaged by the inability to contain or proffer workable solutions to the upsetting slaughters of Nigerian citizens in the comfort of their homes by common criminals.

For instance, we have Police Force that is at the lowest ebb in terms orderly comportment. They fight citizens disreputably; they are deceitful, incriminate and clash routinely among themselves. The police has demean image. The Force has generally not proved potent instrument of order. Many Nigerians have distasteful narratives about the police. The members are corrupt, can incriminate anyone for the purposes of extortion. Reports abound of high-level police officials who embezzle staggering sums of public funds meant to cover basic police operations.

 

Extortion, embezzlement, and other corrupt practices by the Nigeria’s Police undermine the nation and the citizen. The police habitually extort money from the public at taxi stands, in marketplaces, or from people going about their daily lives. The police stations are extortion camps.   “Even victims of robbery or other types of crime pay “homage” before their cases are handled. Popular for its check-point activities, most extortions occur at police roadblocks, ostensibly put in place to combat crime. These checkpoints are lucrative ventures for the police who routinely demand bribes from drivers and passengers alike. Series of reports suggested that the most corrupt public establishment in Nigeria is the Police Force. Police officers are the public officials to whom bribes are most commonly paid in Nigeria.  In 2005, former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Tafa Balogun was imprisoned for swindling the Force. He stole and diverted N17.7 billion from the Force for personal use. He pleaded guilty to eight of the 56 count-charges of corruption and criminality. And in 2016, a former Director of Police Pension Fund expropriated N24 billion in conspiracies with others. The Nigerian Police dossiers on corruption are never-ending narratives of iniquity and felonious duplicity. The fact is that Balogun and the director are not the only ones who have lived scandalously in corruption but their cases are known because the national fraudulent of system decided to make them exceptions for chastisement by exposing them. The police is intensely corrupt. The ranks and files are bedraggled by corruption, hypocrisy and criminality of various sorts. Often the Force suggests it is a reservoir of people of criminal inclinations. No police of rank can be exculpated from the criminality that ravaged the Force.

The corruption and expropriation funds are compounded by impunity in the Police Force. The current IGP’s name is synonymous with incompetence, imprudence and disobedience. The senate in May 2018 declared the IGP, Ibrahim Idris, an ‘enemy of democracy,’ who is not fit to hold public office in Nigeria and abroad for his persistent refusal to honour invitation by the senate in view of the out of control security challenges in the country.  The IGP’s latest defiance is the latest in a string of stand-offs by appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari against the National Assembly. A stalemate between senators and the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, ‎ occurred months ago when the lawmakers asked a retired colonel, to wear Customs uniform, to conform to tradition of the institution he represents, whenever he is billed to appear before them. Mr Ali rejected that demand.

Idris thinks Nigerian senators as people trying to blackmail him into perverting the course of justice, this is a pretext for his uncivilized approach to calls for situation report by the national law makers. He said the senate’s invitations were deliberate plans to blackmail, witch-hunt and to mischievously hand-twist” him “to pervert the course of justice in a felonious and serious offenses” relating to Dino Melaye. Besides, the Senator Melaye’s narratives the IGP refused to honour two previous summons by the Senate.  On the contrary, there is the growing perception among Nigerians that the IGP is incompetent and unfit for the position. He is not only in conflict with the victims of insecurity, he is reviled by the House of Representatives. The House has called for an immediate sack of the IGP. While, the Benue State caucus in the House demanded for immediate resignation of the Force’s Public Relations Officer (FPRO), CSP Moshood Jimoh. The House said it has lost confidence in Idris to lead the Police in curbing the rising tide of crime and violence across the country and therefore asked President Buhari to sack the IGP immediately for incompetence and appoint a replacement.

We have this denigrating situation in every sector of the polity. For instance, the national economy is de-enervated by financial fraud and expropriation of tens of billions of dollars. In May 2018 Nigerians were puzzled, once again, by an audit report that more than N8 trillion was diverted from the economy through non remittance to the national treasury. According to the National Economic Council, NEC, report, eighteen Federal Government’s revenue generating agencies failed to remit N526bn and $21bn into the Federation Account between 2010 and June 2015. The unremitted funds were discovered in an audit carried out by KMPG on all Revenue-Generating Agencies (RGAs). Though the discovery was a shocking phenomenon but Nigerians have counted this report as another distraction ahead of an election that is imminent. The irony is that Nigerians are becoming progressively less perturbed and intensely skeptical of the truthfulness of the government. Nigerians are progressively more suspicious that the development may end up a device to incriminate and re-gag opposition members and supporters by a government that is increasingly jittery and desperate to hang on to power come 2019.  The limiting of the inquiry to 2010 and 2015 is deeply suspicious. The ‘discovery’ is actually revealing that so much are criminally withheld and that there are many more that are continuously and fraudulently diverted, consequently the physical condition of our national economy is in a cavernous shambles. My presumption is that while social stability and peaceful co-existence were given in concession to the depraved and the violent, the economy was given to felons to mismanage. There is this subterfuge in the way the economy is handled. Economic policies are slanted in interest of sections and groups in a way that authentic entrepreneurs are frustrated by the criminals manipulating the system. The right to peaceful co-existence of the Nigerians of all tribes, cultures and faiths seemed to have been purchased by religious fanatics and the so called herdsmen. The religious fanatics dictate rhythms for violence. They set the time and the intensity, while, the ‘Fulani herdsmen’ invade communities at will simply to cause grief, kill and destroy. The so called herdsmen basically freelance terror. Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom recently gave a gloomy picture of the security situation in his state, saying about 18 of the 23 local government areas of the state are under the siege of attacks by Boko Haram and herdsmen.  According to the governor, the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore is responsible for the killings; for the mercenary work that is going on in Benue State.

The rationale for bad politics in Nigeria is that the integrity of the national political culture is significantly low, without conscience and morality, compromised by unprincipled political ‘godfathers’, ‘godsons’ and hoodlums who snatch power with lethal weapons every four years. It is now graphically clear that the election of Muhammadu Buhari as Nigerian president by the victory of All Progressive Congress, APC, in the 2015 is an unpardonable miscalculation. The events in the last three years of the APC’s government, the power motivated war of attrition in  both  Senate and House of Representatives, the scandalously corruption cases involving cabinet members, the miscarriages of justices, the flagrant prosecution of opposition members, the re-introduction of nepotism, sectionalism and favoritisms, the use of state institutions for sectional agenda, the incompetence of those at sensitive national positions, the ravaging insecurity etc demonstrated that Nigeria is rapidly becoming a lawless and a failing country. Recall that recently thugs walked into the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly and carried the mace, a symbol of authority in the highest law making institution of the land. Daily herdsmen invade and slaughter the citizens without challenge, in Dapchi terrorists invaded a school and abducted estimated hundred and twenty female students, and after collecting millions of dollar ransom they triumphantly returned the some girls freely without confrontation. The conducts of APC congresses nation-wide have exposed the danger, the plight and degrees of desperation among the members of the ruling party.  The way the intra-party elections were concluded cast intense doubt on the prospects of peaceful 2019 general election.

Rivers state’s APC congress was a show of shame as there were allegations and counter allegations of who sponsored violence and attack on the All Progressives Congress (APC) Secretariat in Port Harcourt shortly before the fracas. Supporters of Senator Magnus Abe were said to have vandalized the property at the secretariat of the party as a reaction against what they perceived as highhandedness of the leadership in the state. There was parallel congress in Bauchi where factional agenda invalidated the whole processes.  The controversies have continued to trail the conducts of ward congress of the ruling party in the State as a faction loyal to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara conducted a parallel election across the state to elect leaders of the party.

In Imo state, Rocha Okorocha, the governor, was outmaneuvered by more treacherous members of his party. They out schemed him and he lost out in the ward congresses. In desperate confusion he hurried to Daura, Katsina State to plead for help from President Muhammadu Buhari over what he considered infractions that characterized the congress in Imo. The felonious politicians in the ruling party resorted to the impunity and lawlessness that delineated politics in Nigeria and profoundly besmirched the exercise in twenty-eight states of the Federation. In fact, Protest, boycott, and parallel voting marred the APC congress countrywide.

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The masses of this country are like appendages, they have no stake and gain nothing as co-heirs to the wealth of the nation. Our common patrimony has been hijacked by the wrong and strong unchallenged. The nation’s groups of pest are obstacles of enormous scale to Nigeria’s integral development and stability. There has never been any people oriented programme in Nigeria that has ever worked. Each programme is customised with conduit pipes for sabotaging and channelling funds away. On January 1st 2012, the defunct government of Jonathan announced deregulation of petroleum sector of economy. By this measure, the government removed about 8billion dollars it used to subsidise importation of fuel. The principal reasons adduced by the government was that the subsidy has so far not worked as targeted and that it had the effect largely negative on the economy, development and efficiency of national oil industries. The subsidy programme ended-up as a scam with the diversion of billions of dollars invested as palliatives to suffering Nigerians. The idea of the subsidy was that it is irrational that Nigerians should pay so much for fuel when the nation is a net producer. Moreover, the dissuading energy crisis made PMS indispensable for businesses. No viable business in Nigeria can depend on frustrating epileptic power supply so the price PMS was reduced as a substitute to electricity that is not always available.  The subsidy programme like every other ended in greasing the insatiable appetite of the nation’s narcissistic economic criminals.

With this subsidy bastardised and gone, majority of Nigerians were forced into greater hardship arising from high costs of transportation and invariably the prohibitive commodity prices. The removal of subsidy by the federal government was seen by many critics as a collective punishment to the already hard-hit Nigerians who cannot justifiably shoulder the responsibilities for the government’s programme that never worked because there are ‘offshoot’ government agents who sabotaged the programme with active support of some compromised politicians.

It is a herculean task to convince an average Nigerian to continue to make unending sacrifices and swallow without a limit, the bitter economic pills that are not natural consequence but an inevitable effect of a corrupt system.52 Since corruption made survival a very expensive endeavour in Nigeria, many desperate youths took consolation in 99 percent risky escape to Europe through lands of the dead. It is traumatising to think of thousands of young Nigerians that perish in Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea to escape treacherous rulers at home.  These made no impression to the tyrants who contentedly wreck the havoc and impenitently strategise to keeping ruling or passing rulership over to siblings in defiance.

christonwedo@gmail.com

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