Nigeria’s challenges as a nation, in recent times, have assumed an uncomfortable dimension. It is not that we are the only nation on the surface of the earth that is passing through tough times. Most other nations have their peculiar discomforts. In the Western world, apart from the challenges of terrorism, which has, now, become a global phenomenon, their next problems would be revolving around commerce – in terms of trade balances, or economic – in terms of Per Capita Income and Gross Domestic Product (GPD) related matters. Issues of international politics have never been a one-nation headache. Thus, one cannot say that Russia or America have domestic challenges with the war going on in Syria. The war is solely and basically a Syria issue. So, whatever interests the United States of America, Russia, or any other country may be vesting in that war could only be a matter of international politics.
Nigeria is not just going through rough and tough times. The coming on board of President Muhammadu Buhari, following his victory at the April, 2015 Presidential elections, has been seriously misunderstood, misrepresented, undermined, traumatized as well as jeopardized. Nigeria’s present challenges cannot be accommodated in the singular pocket of economic recession alone. As much biting as the times are; and as much disturbing as the seemingly intractable inflation menace continues to soar and rage, almost every facet of the nation’s life appears to bear a fair share of malaise.
Security wise, the Boko Haram insurgency continues to pop up new devastating suicide bombing strategies. Fierce confrontation with security operatives and intense battles with the Nigeria military continue to rage. Almost on daily basis, news of disastrous suicide bombing hits the Nigerian media. But these have been going on for close to ten years and counting.
One other devastating armed eruption against the Nigerian state is the new wave of militancy that has engulfed the creek areas of the Niger Delta region of the country. It is on record that this region had, in the far past of Nigeria’s history of political development, been the trouble spot of armed struggle and agitation for self determination. The late Major Isaac Adaka Boro had, in the early sixties, taken up arms against the nation, when he fought to declare an independent Republic of Niger Delta – mostly for the purpose of ‘liberating’ his Ijaw people from the ‘domination’ of Federal Republic of Nigeria. Now, that struggle has been revived and revitalized in the metamorphosis of the deadly militant group, Avengers, which has unrelentingly plagued the oil resources of the nation, thereby weakening and causing adverse effects to the revenue base.
For the past six months, the militants have, almost on daily basis, blown oil fields and pipelines. The destructive activities of the militants are largely responsible for more than 50% of the nation’s current economic woes.
Closely related to the foregoing is the renewed energy for pro Biafra protests by groups in the South East zone, who advocate for an Independent Republic of Biafra. Those protests which easily turned very bloody, sometimes, with records of large number of energetic and unarmed Igbo youths losing their lives at the hands of security operatives is, to say the least, a big distraction to the government at the center. There was also the case of cattle rustling in the Northwest, mostly in Zamfara state.
Niger state, in the North Central region, had more than its fair share of armed groups against the security operatives and the Nigerian military in the wake of an unclearly defined ethnic and sectarian disturbance. In Benue state, the nomadic Fulani continued to pillage and devastate a tiny ethnic nationality of the Idoma group known as the Agatu people. This was closely coming on the heels of the outrageous mayhem and human slaughter committed by the same Fulani cattle grazers and herdsmen against the Guma people of the Tiv natives in Benue state. The atrocities being committed by the nomadic herdsmen in Plateau state seem to have no end in sight, despite all peace moves by the elders and leaders around there.
The constant report of violence and wanton negation of life in Rivers state remains another worrisome situation. There have been cases of killings, assassinations, and murder in the state; and such are easily explained away as politically motivated. Loss of life through violence should never be an issue to be toyed with. All over the world, life is held sacred and most government laws abhor its deliberate termination outside the prescriptions of justice. During the past one year, the Nigerian nation has lost the lives of its citizens through violence and wanton destruction in such alarming demographic projection.
However, the above are not the only areas that inform our season of anomy. It has become conspicuously clear that the victory won by the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the April, 2015 general elections, which produced President Muhammadu Buhari as the head of government might not have been managed well by the ruling party. Apart from the shocking revelations of the Executive Governor of Imo state, His Excellency, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, who, equally, doubles as the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors’ Forum, to the effect that the ruling party had not managed their electoral victory well, the protracted intra party disagreements, debacles, lack of trust, greed for power, selfishness, egocentrism, and leadership inconsistencies have been of more headache to the government than the opposition could bring. The All Progressives Congress (APC) has only affirmed what the PDP has been taunting them with: that they are mere strange bed fellows who have neither political party discipline, clear cut leadership principles for Nigerians, nor strong stings or bonds of comradeship binding them together. The recent market place naked dance exhibited by the self acclaimed leader of the APC, Ahmed Bola Tinubu and the National Chairman of the party, Chief Odigie John Oyegun speaks volume. It would not be out of place to assert that the real political challenges confronting President Muhammadu Buhari is not what or how to handle the opposition, but what or how to handle the hydra headed intra party eruptions seeking to destroy and crash the ruling party.
It was also an offshoot of such intra party machinations that resulted in the devastating rumbles arising from a remotely orchestrated plot to destabilize the leadership of the nation’s House of Representatives in the recent past. Honourable Jibrin Abdulmumin, now suspended, was an easy and willing tool at the hands of those evil plotters whose aim was to make mockery of the Lower Chambers with the ultimate goal to remove the Speaker.
The above incident had taken place inconsiderate of the fact that, for quite some good while, the Nigerian Senate has witnessed a lot of leadership challenges right from the time when the leadership of the 8th National Assembly was elected. The emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as the President of the Nigeria Senate, against a ‘preferred’ candidate of certain power brokers and larger-than-life self acclaimed leaders of the ruling party was the cause of the lingering crisis and seemingly irresolute Code of Conduct Bureau Tribunal case trying the Senate President for a case of ‘falsified’ asset declaration.
Not done with the ridiculous arraignment of the Senate President before the Code of Conduct Tribunal – an ‘offence’ that had, in a similar case involving an ex- governor in the past, been declared ‘no case’, the unrelenting power- greedy and ambition- obsessed elements scooped up Senate Rule forgery case against both the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President. That move had raised so much dust in the Nigerian political space with the Deputy Senate President writing an alert letter to the United Nations, alleging plot to sabotage and destabilize democracy in the country.
The leading opposition party in Nigeria has not been spared of protracted intra party troubles. The fight for the control of the party which has raged between Ali Modu Sherrif and Senator Ahmed Makarfi has done the party and spirit of opposition no good at all. Every peace move to restore peace and tranquility so as to perform the duty of political opposition properly has always failed. The intra party fight in the PDP is really killing the soul of opposition in Nigeria.
Most worrisome in our season of anomy is President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelations, recently, to the effect that he almost abandoned his office as President of the country after he was sworn in. Really, President Muhammadu Buhari could have said that on a lighter mood, but Nigerians are not taking it that simple. One, leadership is a serious business and not to be taken for jokes. A leader who deliberately volunteered to serve his people should have a laid out plan for whatever awaits him at the office. Most importantly, Nigeria is not a banana republic where leadership could be reduced to a joke. We were all aware of the campaign slogans and statements dished out by then opposition to the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) regime to the effect that the then government of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had ruined the Nigerian economy with bad economic policies which had seriously devalued the naira currency.
It was on the note of this revelation that President Muhammadu Buhari, then as the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), had promised to revive the economy and restore the value of the naira to equate with the dollar. Nigerians were all awake to such promises made to curry the support and win the vote of the electorate. So, with such revelations that President Muhammadu Buhari almost abandoned office due to the enormous challenges he discovered, one wonders what he thought he was going to do in Aso Rock, in the first place.
For a statesman of President Muhammadu Buhari’s status, having seen it all in Nigeria through all the turbulent times of our chequered history, such statements coming from him leaves much to be desired. Having sought to be President of Nigeria for quite several occasions and having contested for the post many times and on different political party platforms, would President Muhammadu Buhari claim ignorance of the Nigeria challenge? The test of leadership ability and capacity to deliver is in being equal to the task.
The controversy trailing the refusal of the Nigerian senate to approve the loan of close to 30 billion naira is a demonstration of lack of synergy between the Executive and the Legislature. There ought to have been an establishment of some sort of understanding with the Upper Chambers before the request for the loan was sent. This attitude whereby the ‘falcon refuses to hear the falconer’ is very much unhealthy for the nation at this point in time. Attempts should be made at discouraging such manifestations that tend to ridicule governance as well as send wrong signals to the masses.
It could be remembered that President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of Aides and Ministers had drawn a lot of controversy from the Nigerian Public. Among the issues raised in resentment of his manner and style of appointment were: either he was acting very slowly with it or he was being sectional.
The south east and south- south where the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) still held sway blew their tops in condemnation of what appeared like an exclusionist agenda. The explanation from the presidency was that the President was taking his time to appoint people so that he would not make the mistake of putting square pegs in round holes.
Again, when President Buhari eventually appointed his cabinet, he made bold and proud statement of having fixed square pegs in square holes. We have been inundated with allegations of attempted bribery of some judges by some first rate ministers in his administration. It is yet left for the relevant authorities as to the veracity of such claims. However, recent happenings where suspension and rumours of sack threats are flying around some of those appointments are significant in this season of anomy.