NIGERIA AT THE ADVENT OF BUHARI’S LEADERSHIP, A TWO-EDGED SWORD OF FIGHTING CORRUPTION AND ECONOMIC HARDSHIP, THE WAY FORWARD
May 28, 2016
By Comrade Ubong Etuk*
The geographical entity called”Nigeria”,(a name given by Sir Lord Frederick Lugard and suggested by his mistress) which lies in the west of Africa has existed for many years as separate autonomous ethnic groups identified by a common language and heritage. It appears the amalgamation in 1914, the agitation led by Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and his NCNC party which made the British to grant Nigeria an internal self-rule in 1951 and the struggle for the 1960 independence with Dr.Azikiwe as the first Governor-General worsened the situation of things as far as the vast ethnicity of Nigeria is concerned, in another postulation, the factor which many believe is responsible for our problem was the inability and lack of futuristic imagination of our leaders to properly harness the positive underpinnings of the 1914 amalgamation, though this was criticized then by many historical pundits due to the shortsightedness of the colonialist who did not care about the compatibility of the various ethnic groups aswell as their religious and creedal affiliation before they forcefully brought them together. Nigeria as it were, became a “variegated piece of cloth sewn by a demented tailor with many ethnical interest”. In this short piece, I will be exploring the positive advantages of president Buhari’s fight against corruption, his conviction behind A.P.Cs change agenda, and the reasons behind the current economic hardship Nigerias are experiencing.
His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, a man born and trained to believe in his convictions; probably known all over the world as a man of unbending principles ascended to the highest peak of his political career for the second time after winning the 2015 general elections, building up to the elections was his promises to Nigerians during his campaigns, which were founded on the principles of fighting corruption, combating insecurity and reviving the nation’s economy, it is generally believe that a man of actions is a man of few words, such attributes and virtues were the abiding articles that accorded the All Progressive Congress(APC) victory with almost fifteen million votes. For a party for the first time in 15 years to takeover power from the then ruling peoples democratic party(PDP) in Nigeria was a sign of formidable frustrations and disappointment they have had with their leaders. Immediately after president Buhari’s swearing-in to office, he met a lot of defining challenges that was stearing every Nigerians on their faces, such challenges were unemployment, insecurity,wholesale corruption, human right violations, economic instability and many other social and ethnic problems.
When the last administration of President Goodluck Jonathan came up with the economic jargon of rebasement which catapulted the Nigerian economy to the leading economy in Africa, we forgot to ask if corruption was also factored in as an economic index before they arrived at the alarming statistics that changed the course of our economic prosperity. In the estimation of Nigerians, the Jonathan government was very guilty of corruption and the statement by the erstwhile president that “his administration did not believe that jailing people would end corruption” did not also help matters. Since the establishment of anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria during the President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, the issue of corruption and the fight against it has become the scorecard upon which Nigerians determine the performance of each administration.
Although the Obasanjo government created the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the use of the agency to witch-hunt enemies of that administration did a lot of damages to the anti-corruption agency as it was widely seen as an attack dog of the president. In the administration of President Jonathan, the fact that the EFCC and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) could not make any significant prosecution of corrupt public officials, gave the agencies away that they were toothless bulldogs.
It was even speculated in different quarters that the decapitation of the anti-corruption agencies under the immediate past administration was deliberate, in order to provide some cover for senior government officials and friends of government who had compromised on the economy of the country. For far too long, Nigeria had been under the griping claws of corruption and, consequently, the prevailing political situation in the country had constituted an unpleasant jam jar and reached a proportion that Nigerians were beginning to lose hope and confidence in the country’s political leadership.Corruption has long been the bane of socio-economic cum infrastructural development in Nigeria.
It can also be rightly said that corruption is so pervasive in Nigeria because of a culture of poor wages, absence of effective policy that softens the effect of poverty, weak government institutions and absence of key anti-corruption legislations.
However, the new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari needs to understand that modern corruption has gone scientific, requiring scientific and institutional approaches in curbing it; there are many angles or dimensions to corruption.There are “political or government corruption,electoral corruption,legislative corruption,economic or financial corruption,and civil corruption”.
In all, it is shocking and alarming that those shouting “anti corruption” in Nigeria’s public offices as presently constituted are either do not understand its fundamental meaning or have chosen to use it to deceive and mislead Nigerians for the purpose of achieving cheap popularity and obtaining mechanical legitimacy.Freedom from corruption or fight against corruption connotes impeccability of character,sound morality and cleanest mindset. It is therefore important that the Buhari government should avoid corrupting its anti-corruption agencies and go to equity with clean hands. That is to say that President Muhammadu Buhari must live by firm example by not only being clean, but also seen to be clean.
It is no doubt cheering news that the new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has launched a renewed campaign against corruption,It is also cheering news that, there appears to be a kind of attitudinal reset in every government institution on the seriousness of the anti-corruption crusade, and again, for president Buhari’s government to succeed, the fight against corruption should not be targeted at the opposition political party, it should be all inclusive owning to the fact that majority of his political appointees were once members of the opposition peoples democratic party(PDP) and were subsequently adjudged to be corrupt, in doing this, Nigerians will not allow their primordial considerations to define their take on what the president is doing to combat the malady.
The wave of oil price slide currently sweeping across the globe, specifically among oil producing nations, has undoubtedly taken a toll on the economic standing of many nations, including Nigeria, which happens to be Africa’s largest producer and the world’s sixth largest oil producer and exporter.For several years, the global oil market had seen balanced activities, however, sometime in June 2014; the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries announced a plunge in the price of global crude, which was an offshoot from U.S. production of oil from shale, and rickety demand from Europe, China and the Middle-east,this has left nations like Nigeria standing on thin ice, as its biggest importer, U.S. discovered and began to explore shale oil and gas, causing lackluster demand and excess supply,for a country like Nigeria that relies largely on oil (over 85 per cent) as its major source of revenue, the slide, has hit various aspects of the economy like a thunderstorm.In view of this, here are 10 ways the current situation is affecting the nation’s economy:
1. DEVALUATION OF THE NAIRA: With the protracted slide in the global price of oil, the Central Bank of Nigeria has found itself in an uncomfortable position devaluing the naira against the dollar in an attempt to shield the economy from the effect of the massive shake-up. The oil crisis has undoubtedly stripped the naira of its worth and the Apex Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who announced the N13 devaluation at a Monetary Policy Meeting (MPC) in Abuja, admitted that the falling oil prices was making it hard to defend the value of the naira, as the divergence between the official and the parallel foreign exchange market rates broadened by almost 20 per cent.
2. DEPLETION OF THE COUNTRY’S EXTERNAL RESERVES: The oil crisis has taken a major toll on the country’s external reserves, which is beginning to see some downturn since its rise has been stagnated from plunging revenues. A nation’s external reserve is an accumulation of revenue from international trade involving the exportation of goods, and in Nigeria’s case; crude oil. As a result of the unsettled oil market front, the abysmal exportation and demand of Nigeria’s crude, generation of external reserve remains shaky.
3. DEPLETION OF FUNDS FOR FEDERAL AND STATES ALLOCATION: Issues are certainly bound to arise when states and local governments meet to share the monthly federal allocations, which will turn out to be insufficient, as the funds from the Excess Crude Account expected to augment shortfalls from the federal allocations, will be nowhere in sight. As one of the massive effects of the price slide.
4. DELAY IN THE PAYMENT OF SALARIES OF CIVIL SERVANTS As a result of the paucity of funds from the current economic state and depleting Excess Crude Account, it has been envisaged that the payment of salaries of workers(civil servants) in the different tiers of government; federal, state and local government is generally affected. In addition, this will inflict untold hardship of many Nigerians working in the public service.
5. POSSIBLE DELAY AND DEMISE OF INFRASTRUCTURAL PROJECTS: Major projects at the local, state and federal level will witness inevitable delay or outright cancellation, following the unavailability of funds in the federal government’s coffers to execute the projects. In other words, embarking on infrastructural projects like; road constructions, boosting water and electricity, in the face of the protracted oil price plunge, may become a wild goose chase.
- ABYSMAL ACTIVITIES IN THE CAPITAL MARKET: The nation’s capital market has had its share of the brunt of the global crude price slide, as foreign investors dashed out to safety to avoid the anticipated devaluation of the local currency, which eventually occurred. This has led to a dismal atmosphere in the capital market, exposing the failure of Nigeria’s economic managers to diversify away from oil revenues during the boom times, as they now scramble to respond to twin monetary and fiscal crises in the face of the of crude price slide.7. JOBS CUT AND PROJECTS DEFERRAL IN OIL AND GAS SECTORS: Oil companies are constantly exploring crude with large sums of money, which might eventually go to waste following the supply glut and dreary oil demand across the globe. That is to say that expenditure doesn’t match up with revenue, which will in turn lead to downsizing in order for the companies to stay afloat. Also, industry analysts have stated that if the slide in oil prices persists, it would affect the investment decision of the international oil companies planning to embark on huge offshore projects in the country.8. ECONOMY DIVERSIFICATION: Looking at the bright side, the current situation could play out well for Nigeria’s economy if the Federal government and the economy managers see it as an opportunity to diversify the economy, by giving room for other sectors to thrive and become massive money spinners, Perhaps, maybe even more attention will be paid to agriculture, which was the country’s first major source of foreign income before the advent of fuel.9. INCREASE IN THE PRICE OF FUEL: Although the protracted fall in the global price of crude has caused major harm on the nation’s economy, it might signal a new era for subsidized prices of fuel and other petroleum products as confirmed by the move of the Federal government on increasing the pump price of fuel from 87 naira to 97 naira per litre. If the plunge persists on the global front, there is the likelihood that the price of crude products in the country will be increase further.
10. INFLATION HITS: With the devaluation of the naira and the rise of the dollar from the crude crisis, foreign trade is not in any way favoring both consumers and traders, who are paying so much for goods they will ordinarily purchase at reasonable prices. To this end, traders are left with the problem of fixing and gaining little profit margin amid the spiking price of the dollar against the naira.
As precarious as the impacts of the oil slide might be on the nation’s economy, the government could take advantage of the little perks and help the economy rise stronger from this fall.
THE WAY FORWARD:
Nigeria, a country regarded globally as the centre piece for economic and African foreign policy has always set a pace for pan-African development, from the setting up of the African Union(AU) to the establishment of the New Partnership for African Development(NEPAD), we have always been leading and will continue to lead, we have for the past 55 years recorded tremendous achievements in almost all spheres of human endeavours, but much more are definitely still expected. The score card reveals progress in the nation’s political scenario as could be seen during the smooth transition of power in 2015 from one democratically elected president to another, the nation’s health sector has fared very successfully with the eradication of Ebola and other health diseases.
To effectively accommodate and provide the about 170 million people of Nigeria, a lot more needs to be achieved in all strata of public and private life. As a golden nation, the much orchestrated institutional reforms must not only be formulated and debated upon, but must be practicalized as is done in most of the democratic nations of the world.
The education system must now be standardized after the various confusing and inconsistent policies that is being experimented since after independence. To be enlisted among the 20 industrialized nations of the world, the energy sector must be declared”wanted”, “arrested” and “prosecuted” in a pragmatic state of emergency, Nigerians are tired of empty declarations, we need power to be empowered. Surely, if Nigerians are able to celebrate only one month uninterrupted power supply, then 2020 is too far for the nation to be fully industrialized.
In accessing president Buhari’s leadership under one year, let us necessary remember the beginnings when rather than oil; that agriculture was the main-stay of the nation’s economy. Our over-dependence on oil has brought untold hardships and portrayed us as a people in perpetual conflict, let us once again utilize our arable land mass for a greener tomorrow. By this, most of our youths who roams the street in search of jobs after graduation from schools may be gainfully employed. Nigerians must continue to arise as abiding compatriots that is ready to redeem some battered images of our Great nation within and abroad, to re-instate Nigeria as the giant, pride and heartbeat of Africa and as a people destined to be eternally happy and Great.
Happy Democracy Day, and Happy Birthday to Nigeria@ 56.
* Ubong Etuk is President, Pan-African Centre for Social Policy Reformation
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