Assessing Nigeria: An introduction

By: Umar Abu Ammar Bin Ahmad

Nigerians went to the polls in 2015 and elected Muhammadu Buhari as the new President. There were high hopes that the former Military President would develop the oil-rich nation. His campaign mantra of ‘change’lifted the spirits of most Nigerians, who hoped for change after going through the nightmare of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s sixteen years rule. Like all Presidential contenders, Buhari made a lot of campaign promises with fighting corruption and diversifying the economy at the forefront of his agendas. After almost three years in office without witnessing any improvement, Nigerians have become disillusioned with the regime. This is despite the much trumpeted fact by the government that it has made arrests based on corruption charges and recovered ‘looted funds’; but Nigerians are yet to reap the benefits.

In addition, as the administration spent the majority of its tenure blaming the past Governments for Nigeria’s ailments, Nigerians were severely suffering from poverty and high price inflation as the economy sunk into recession – caused by the global fall of oil prices and the bombing of oil/gas pipelines by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDAs). Despite having ‘successfully’ fishtailed out of recession, poverty levels and high unemployment rates still dominate – which were present even before recession. For many years, Nigeria’s economy has been steadily growing as oil revenues flood into the country’s account while poverty increases. The economy has grown to become Africa’s largest but at the same time one of the poorest countries in the world. This is beside the fact that it is a growth built on a massive debt. The pace at which Nigeria’s debt profile is increasing is simply dizzying.

For many years, Nigeria’s economy has been steadily growing as oil revenues flood into the country’s account while poverty increases. The economy has grown to become Africa’s largest but at the same time one of the poorest countries in the world. This is beside the fact that it is a growth built on a massive debt. The pace at which Nigeria’s debt profile is increasing is simply dizzying.

Boko Haram continues to carry out intermittent attacks in the North-East as the herdsmen dilemma rages on. Despite the weakening of the insurgent group, the humanitarian crisis has disrupted the social and economic life in the affected areas. It will take a great deal amount of money to revamp those areas – assuming stability is fully restored. The Government claims Boko Haram has been totally defeated, but the people of Maiduguri will surely differ, as attacks are still carried out. The Nigerian Government faces a huge challenge ahead in this regard, though the insurgent group is now weak. The existing humanitarian crisis remains a major issue.

The herdsmen attacks in Benue have caught media attention for sometime now. As human blood is been spilled as a result of social organization failure, the issue seems to be politicized in the usual Nigerian way. One report said “Atiku is a grand patron of Miyetti Allah”[1]. The focus of discussion has been diverted from settling the dispute to political blame games. Moreover, at the root of all this is tribalism, as was forged and left by the Western Colonialists.

Restructuring the Federal system has been suggested as the political and economic solution for Nigeria. Being a multi-ethnic nation, Nigeria has grappled with tribal clashes. Some political activists, including Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), believe the country’s decades’ long problem and others can only be resolved by restructuring[2]. Buhari’s administration begs to differ; stressing that national unity is ‘paramount’. Clearly only referring to geopolitical integration – as there was never an established unity in the country.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo suddenly decided to launch a Coalition for Nigeria(CN) movement. In a special press statement published by Premium Times titled ‘The Way out: a Clarion for Coalition for Nigeria Movement’; he suggested that President Muhammadu Buhari should not contest for another term. He cited the Buhari administration’s failure to address basic problems, pointing out that it instead aggravated them. Whilst Obasanjo’s claims are true, it should, however, be noted that Obasanjo himself failed to address the same issues in his eight year tenure.

Whilst Obasanjo’s claims are true, it should, however, be noted that Obasanjo himself failed to address the same issues in his eight year tenure.

Election time in Nigeria always receives significant attention as global powers – Britain and the United States in particular – strive to influence the outcome. This is due to the strategic and resourceful importance of the country. 2019 election campaign has somewhat already started; the President will be focusing on being re-elected, which means giving less attention to the country’s problems. It is likely the Government will claim its project for ‘Change’ cannot be completed unless it is elected for a second term. In Assessing Nigeria 2019, we look at Nigeria’s situation under the current administration as the 2019 election edges closer. We also look at the proposed solutions and assess their efficiency. In the end, we present a clear and fitting solution for Nigeria.

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