Sunday, September 13, 2020 10:20 pm
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo again came out smoking, arguing that Nigeria is becoming a failed state. He threw that bomb on Thursday, 10 September 2020 while delivering a speech at a consultative dialogue entitled Moving Nigeria Away from Tipping Over. Obasanjo said he had never seen Nigeria this divided and accused Muhammadu Buhari of dragging Nigeria to the precipice of a failed state. The All Progressives Congress and Lai Mohammed, the Information and Culture Minister replied him.
As Obasanjo put it: “I do appreciate that you all feel sad and embarrassed as most of us feel as Nigerians with the situation we find ourselves in. Today, Nigeria is fast drifting to (becoming) a failed and badly divided state; economically our country is becoming a basket case and poverty capital of the world, and socially, we are firming up as an unwholesome and insecure country. And these manifestations are the products of recent mismanagement of diversity and socio-economic development of our country. Old fault lines that were disappearing have opened up in greater fissures and with drums of hatred, disintegration and separation and accompanying choruses being heard loud and clear almost everywhere.”
However, Lai Mohammed, said President Muhammadu Buhari’s assumption of office in 2015 prevented Nigeria from becoming a failed state, after a long stretch of rapacious and rudderless leadership. In a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday, the Minister said President Buhari came into office at a time that a swathe of the country’s territory was under occupation, a period when many Nigerian towns and cities, including the capital city of Abuja, were a playground for insurgents and a moment that the nation’s wealth had been looted dry, with little or nothing to show for the nation’s huge earnings, especially in the area of infrastructure.
He said it is therefore a cruel irony that those who frittered away a great opportunity to put Nigeria on a sound socio-economic footing, at a time of financial buoyancy, and those who planted the seed of the insecurity in some parts of the country today, are the same ones pointing an accusing finger at a reformist government.
”Nigeria today faces a lot of challenges. But whatever situation the country has found itself in, things would have been much worse but for the deft management of resources, unprecedented fight against corruption, determined battle against insurgency and banditry as well as the abiding courage of Mr. President in piloting the ship of state,
”Nigeria today is not a failed state, but a nation that is courageously tackling its challenges and building a solid infrastructure that will serve as the basis for socio-economic development, a nation that is unrelenting in battling insecurity and working hard to ensure greatest prosperity for the greatest number of people,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
He said no government in the history of the country has done so much with so little, as the Buhari Administration is doing presently, adding that with 60% less national income, the Administration is making progress on all fronts and setting the country on the path of sustainable growth and development.
The Minister said while naysayers are hyping the instances of insecurity in the country, they have conveniently forgotten that the country could have been overrun by insurgents and bandits if President Buhari had not rallied regional and international allies to tackle, headlong, the Boko Haram insurgency that saw bombs going off like firecrackers before his assumption of office, and an estimated 20,000 square miles of the nation’s territory occupied by insurgents
”They tout the downturn in economic fortunes without putting things in context. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a global shutdown and a drastic fall in global oil demand, Nigeria lost 60% of its earnings, yet the Administration has ensured that not a single worker has been retrenched, has paid salaries as and when due and has continued to build infrastructures like roads, rails, bridges and power, among others, that will serve many generations.
”They aggravate the national fault lines with their angry and unguarded actions and rhetoric, forgetting that while national fissures are amplified at a time of dwindling economic fortunes, what is needed to foster peace and unity is not reckless elocution but responsible and responsive leadership, the kind being offered by President Buhari,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said Nigeria is on the road to greatness, despite the challenges confronting the nation, citing the hard push towards food sufficiency; the modernization of the rail system; the nationwide construction of roads and bridges; the reform in the oil and gas sector; the unprecedented anti-corruption battle, the diversification of the economy and the renewed effort to ensure a steady power supply, anchored on a three-phase project that is expected to deliver 25,000MW of electricity in the next few years.
The Minister thanked Nigerians for their perseverance and understanding, especially against the backdrop of the stifling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, and appealed to them to continue to support the Administration, as it seeks to lift 100 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years.
”In one of the most difficult moments in the nation’s history, Nigeria is fortunate to have at the helm a leader who is not only dedicated, selfless and patriotic, but one who is globally acknowledged for his discipline, integrity and vision. Those who genuinely love Nigeria will support, rather than subvert, this committed leadership,” he said.
Also the All Progressives Congress (APC) has also joined the fray. This was in a statement signed by Yekini Nabena, Deputy National Publicity Secretary and released on Sunday, 13 September. APC said Obasanjo, Atiku and the People’s Democratic Party lack do not have moral right to pontificate. This is because Obasanjo and Atiku, as APC, put it “midwifed and institutionalised national rot, corruption, impunity.”
APC went further: “
It is baffling that the same political actors that midwifed and institutionalised the national rot, corruption, impunity and eroding of our value systems are the same characters posing as voices on the way forward in our national life. How ironic!
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo could start with telling us where the electricity is despite $16billion he spent on the power sector. Obasanjo’s deputy, Alh. Atiku Abubakar should account for the privatisation exercise under his watch which saw national assets sold off to friends and cronies with no benefit to the country. Successive Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administrations can also start by accounting for the trillions stolen from our national coffers in the guise of a fraudulent fuel subsidy regime.
While it is well within the rights of these political actors to write skewed letters, spew empty, hypocritical, tongue-in-cheek and two-faced economic magic models in line with their Dubai meeting strategies, this administration is walking the talk with verifiable projects and people-centred interventions that is uplifting Nigerians.
These political actors probably only listen to their own voices because Nigerians have long stopped taking them seriously as they simply lack the antecedents and moral credentials to guide Nigeria and Nigerians to the path of prosperity and progress.
Instead of the “do or die” lingo Obasanjo and the PDP introduced to our electioneering, votes are beginning to count as our elections improve steadily. Their abandoned projects which constituted drainpipes on national resources are being completed by this administration. The brazen culture of impunity and corruption which they institutionalised is being replaced by strong and accountable systems. The culture of round-tripping and the rested subsidy regime in the petroleum sector has been replaced by a deregulated and accountable petroleum pricing template. Instead of plotting how to sell off national assets, particularly the NNPC to friends, this administration is reforming public sector operations to ensure optimised service delivery.
We are gradually eating what we grow. Our national emergency health response has earned global accolades and recognition as displayed by our COVID-19 response. Our defence capacity to respond and contain emerging security challenges is now tested and proven. How did Nigeria achieve this? A strong, people-centred and focussed leadership which the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration provides.
Genuine patriots, reputable groups and organizations who are making honest contributions on the deregulation of electricity and petrol prices already see the decision as inevitable and the way to go.”
As it stands, Nigeria will save as much as one trillion naira ($2.6 billion) following the deregulation of the petroleum sector, the Petroleum Minister of State Timipre Sylva has stated.
Nigerians trust that the freed-up cash will be accounted for and be judiciously invested to develop other critical areas such as infrastructure, health care, education among others.