By Vincent Kalu
Elders and leaders of the various socio-cultural organisations across the country have raised the alarm that Nigeria seems to be on a precipice, warning that unless the challenges are tackled immediately, the country might witness an economic disaster pretty soon.
Leaders of different groups from the North, South and Middle Belt, including Afenifere, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), the Ijaw National Congress (INC), the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), have warned President Muhammadu Buhari and other officials of the administration to address the current challenges head-on and save the country from collapse.
In the past few weeks, the nation has been bedevilled by a number of economic adversities beyond the security challenges afflicting virtually all parts of the country. The national currency, the naira, has suffered a hefty fall, while the nation’s foreign reserves have massively depleted. The debt figures have continued to soar. The aviation sector has continued to record assorted challenges, leading to cancellation and rescheduling of flights. A number of domestic airlines have announced the suspension of their operations. The high cost of diesel has led to some companies closing down and throwing workers into the labour market. The soaring prices of foodstuff have led to many families going to bed with empty stomachs.
In exclusive interviews with Saturday Sun, many of the socio-cultural organisations cried out that the country is on the precipice, and travelling on the road to a failed state.
Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr Jare Ajayi, said the situations that unfolded in Nigeria in the past few weeks have further confirmed that those piloting the affairs of Nigeria currently are far from the realities that Nigerians are dealing with on an hourly basis. “It is therefore not surprising that steps being taken do not touch the problems confronting us as a nation, and that is why the country is grinding to a halt.”
Acting spokesman for the ACF, Shuaibu Lili, said the situation in Nigeria is really unfortunate. Hear him: “Let me talk on behalf of the Northern Region, which is the food basket of the nation. How do you expect a farmer who bought a bag of fertilizer for N5, 900 last year to buy it for N22, 000 this year? So, what can he produce? And even if he produced, where are the factories? The factories are mainly in the South, in places like Agbara in Ogun State. What will you give them to manufacture. No, no, the problem is too much for Nigerians. To be precise, mayhem may soon take place in this country.”
Publicity Secretary of the Ohanaeze, Alex Ogbonnaya, pointed that what is happening are the consequences of nepotism. His words: “Any place where appointment is made based on ethnicity and religion as against competence, it is always like this. What keeps these advanced countries going is that they look at merit, the accomplishment of an individual before they appoint a person into a position of authority.
“Take the service chiefs as example. It is difficult to contain the level of insecurity in this country because most of them don’t have the pedigree in the area of security; almost all of them come from the same ethnic groups and religion. There is no way under this kind of arrangement that Nigeria will not come to a halt. Activities of government that are supposed to be moving clockwise are now moving anti clockwise.”
Also speaking, Publicity Secretary of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), Abdul-Azeez Suleiman noted: “We have said it earlier that we are not in a failing state, but in a failed state. A state that has lost control of its economy, lost control of its land borders, highways, seaways and airports; it is certainly a failed state. You can see these since the coming to power of Buhari and these things have escalated to the level where people find it hard to eke out a living.
President of Ijaw National Congress (INC), Prof Benjamin Okada lamented: “If you do a comparison between 2015 on the status of the Nigerian economy and what we have gone through in the last seven years, you know that we are on the fast lane of approaching not just the precipice of a failure, but of disintegration. It is not just the economy, though the economy is the foundation upon which other infrastructure, politics, social issues, religion, etc. rest. The economy is on a decline in a dastardly manner; that is why you see today the naira is climbing to as much as N710 to a dollar, which was about N190 in 2015. The prices of foodstuffs have quadrupled, and life in Nigeria is becoming meaningless. It is not a surprise that the Senate itself is contemplating the process of impeachment of Mr President. The universities teachers are on strike over poor infrastructure in the institutions of learning and the government says it doesn’t have money to do anything, but it is going ahead to take toxic loans; loans that impact only the pockets of the few. “The indices of a failed state are so demonstrated. If radical steps are not taken, in the nearest future, it will very difficult even to predict if there will be election in 2023.” The National President of Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Pogu said Nigeria was grinding to a halt, even as he expressed fear that things could get worse with Boko Haram and other insurgents getting bolder.
“This government has failed economically and failed in the security sector. Without security, there can never be economic development.
“So far, there is total collapse of governance and we are running as if it is not a country at all; we are running on auto pilot. Things have to change. Remember, all the short periods when the president left this country because of ill health, anytime the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo took over for that short period, there was a marked difference because he did the right thing when needed,” Pogu stated.
PANDEF President, Sen. Emmanuel Ibok Essien, noted that places like Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Syria, Afghanistan and many others started with insecurity, inflation and then hyperinflation and at the end of the day, they became failed states.
“I pray that Nigeria will not travel that road. How can the dollar rise to N710 in the parallel market? That is unimaginable. How can petrol go up to N200 per litre when we are producing the oil? As there is no road for anybody to travel, people resorted to air travel and now airlines are closing down. It means that people will not be able to move around in the country.
“The present government is driving this country into a failed stated. Sometimes they think that it is the ordinary people that would be affected by the things going on in the country. But what is going on may wipe out even the elite.