A stork on its stilts of a leg staggered as it opened its wings in a treacherous wingding to break its landing on the even surface of the lush plush of the nicely manicured green lawn,in a trace it was go
Often times I hear Nigerian people ask where is the “Change” promised by the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari? They were right to question the promises made by the President before the 2015 elections, afterall, they are the masters, and the President their servant, holding the highest and most exalted office in the Land on trust for the Nigerian People.
This write-up will attempt to answer the question of “Manifested Change” witnessed first hand this evening by the author at the Hotel Millennium UN Plaza in New York when the President arrived. Before the President arrival, we were gathered at the Hotel to welcome the President alongside some embassy officials, I was with couple of friends, former course mates from the Nigerian Defence Academy, with some of our seniors in the Military, stationed in the Nigerian Mission and the United Nations respectively, they were at the hotel since about 7pm when the President flight touched down in New York, and I was in my hotel room somewhere in downtown Manhattan on the 25th street by Broadway to be exact , and another friend, an Embassy employee (Awwal Umar Idris) called me and asked “Aliyu, where are you? We are all gathered here, you are the only one missing”, I responded that I was going to catch the subway from the 28th Street to Grand Central, Awwal said no, you can’t make it in good time, you have to get a cab and hurry up, don’t miss the President arrival,” I quickly switched off the TV and grabbed my jacket and headed out, flagged the first yellow cab I saw, the driver was an Indian, I said hurry up to 44th Street by 2nd Avenue, we zoomed up amidst some traffic jam, meanwhile Awwal kept calling all through the way.
Before reaching my destination right on the 44th Street was another jam of black people, i thought it was the Nigerian crowd that extended there, I alighted from the cab after handing a 10 dollar bill to Mr. Kumar the driver, I headed straight to the crowd only to discover it was another hotel where the Senegalese President was going to stay, there was merriment, singing and I decided to stay and see the arrival of the Senegalese President and his delegation, I was lucky, 2 minutes after, the Presidential delegation came, and I counted over 50 people coming out from a long que of vehicles, I thought the delegation was rather huge for a small country like Senegal and I murmured something like I am sure our President delegation will at the very least double that of the Senegalese President.
After they all entered the hotel, I proceeded to my destination couple of blocks away, there I met my friends to their delight, and other Nigerians who came to have a glimpse of President Muhammadu Buhari, we waited for about 5 minutes, and the President convoy arrived, it was only 4 vehicles, the first car to pull was a saloon car which the the President and his ADC was in, the second car was a black wagon bus and a third car following behind while the 4th were American FBI. The President alighted from the first car, the wagon bus has Femi Adesina, Bayo omoboriwo (the President’s photographer), Abba Sarki (SSA Domestic) with 2 journalists (Adamu Sambo of NTA & Gloria Ume-Uzoke of Channels TV) and their cameramen along side 3 DSS Officers. The third car has the NSA, Major General (Rtd) Babagana Munguno and 2 of his officer, these were all the President arrived with. Of course at the hotel with us already were some Governors and Ministers, I saw Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, Deputy Governor Bala Banter of Kaduna State, there was Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibrin, and the State Minister of Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed.
I was amazed by the small size of the President delegation, I quick remembered some years back precisely in 2013 during former President Goodluck Jonathan Administration when Sahara Reporters had a media war with the then Presidential Spokesperson, Mr. Reuben Abati over the size of the Nigerian delegation which was about 600 people as confirmed by the then Nigeria Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Bashir Wali. This year’s delegation is by fa the lowest of all the member Countries. A friend of mine, part of the Saudi Arabia delegation was with me, and he jokingly asked if Nigeria was still in recession, I responded with ‘no, we are out of recession’, he asked asked again that why then is your delegation so small this year, and I answered him that this is CHANGE as promised by our President Muhammadu Buhari, who is not only modest by life style but intends to cut all Government waste and plug all the loopholes that public officials usually exploit . My exchange with him prompted me to write this piece. If this is not “Change”, then I really do not know what is “CHANGE”.
Aliyu Abdullahi writes from New York.
“I forgive you” said and meant from the heart and witnessed by Allah and His Angels, is one of the greatest gift any person can give or be given.
Yes, that I have resolved not to be amongst those who will stand with you before Allah on the day of Judgement laying claim for retribution, nor be a reason that Allah will say to you, “I came seeking and you turned me back”. Is not out of fear or weakness but out of great inner strength and an ever increasing need to be closer to Allah.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever suffers an injury and forgives (the person responsible), God will raise his status to a higher degree and remove one of his sins.” Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 998
Indeed, a Heavy burden I have taken off the forgiven if they but knew, and no greater love, compassion, mercy and brotherliness can be shown to anyone, no greater display of courage than that of the forgiver, for it is hard to forgive, to let the pain, anguish, humiliation, ridicule and much more all go, but then the peace that comes with it knows no bounds, the rewards are without horizons.
Yes, I forgive you and bear no grudges and Yes, you did not ask for it and probably do not care for now if I do or not. Yes, it was not easy and Yes I am at peace with myself, more focused and trusting that Allah will reward me bountifully, so much richer I am in self-esteem and honour for I found myself giving for the sake of Allah, not minding you and your antics.
“Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant”(1) [Quran 7:199 Yusuf Ali Translation]
(1)[Allah comforts the Prophet and directs his mind to three precepts: (1) to forgive injuries, insults, and persecution; (2) to continue to declare the faith that was in him, and not only to declare it, but to act up to it in all his dealings with friends and foes; (3) to pay no attention to ignorant fools, who raised doubts or difficulties, hurled taunts or reproaches, or devised plots to defeat the truth: they were to be ignored and passed by, not to be engaged in fights and fruitless controversies, or conciliated by compromises.]
I do not know what tomorrow holds but I know Allah who holds tomorrow.
Indeed Allah has said “Let not those among you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen those in want and those who have left their homes in Allah’s cause: let them forgive and overlook: do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful” [Quran 24:22 Yusuf Ali Translation]
So Sir, Madam, Leader of mine, friend of mine, you who has chosen me as your enemy, you who took out your frustration on me, you who cheated me, extorted & lied to me and yes you who was hypocritical and back biting towards me, all of you and those who might feel I did not mention their crimes and trespasses done to me knowingly or by error, I Forgive You!
Walid S. Moukarim
Some events in Nigeria never stop to baffle me. Where were all the South East governors when the self-acclaimed leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and his cohorts were engaged in activities that are against national and social mores?
The South East governors did not make any conscious attempt to call the self-acclaimed “paradigm” of the IPOB to order. Their sane red caps never functioned well at those points but rejuvenated when Operation Python Dance swung into action to subdue the situation.
Kanu has inveterate struggle for Biafra and he got it all wrong by allowing his fellow Biafra agitators to lunch attacks against innocent Nigerians and their property. He has put the Biafran cause in an irredeemable position by instructing his ardent loyal boys to engage in activities that are aberration. If Kanu and his cohorts do not abjure the Biafran cause, it will continue to pose a serious threat to the unity of Nigeria.
One of the problems of fighting for a cause without anticipating positive and negative outcomes and making impact-driven consultations through amicable means is that one gets blindfolded by selfishness which makes one to be bereft of socio-economic and political acumen. This is the exact position Kanu has found himself in.
The government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will never accede to Kanu’s demands of disintegrating Nigeria for the establishment of Biafra. A lot of experts in Peace and Conflict Resolution foreshowed the federal government of the national security threat Biafra cause poses.
Kanu is only using the Biafran cause for self aggrandizement. He truly does not have the interest of the Igbo at heart. If he really does, he would not have allowed violence to be a “component” of Biafra.
Since Kanu is not an amenable person by nature, it is likely that he will continue to engage in activities that will provoke more Nigerians and make him become anathema to Nigerians. Many people in support of Biafra expect Kanu to receive approbation for the break of law and order he has caused in some parts of Nigeria, but most people see him as antithesis to peace.
Most of the IPOB agitators who have engaged in various destructive activities were beguiled by Kanu. He has brainwashed them with his “selfish philosophy” to commit calumny against President Buhari and anyone who opposes Biafra.
From all indications, Kanu will not fervently have compunction for the wrong he has done to Nigerians through his actions. He has shown how recalcitrant he is by refusing to even be receptive to the advice of those who truly care about the Igbo and Nigeria as a nation.
Trying to establish a sovereign nation by force can never work in our present world. Kanu is an enlightened and educated person who is supposed to be abreast of the realities of the fast-changing world and should not use obsolete means to abstain sovereignty.
If Biafra must be established, it has to be through dialogue, referendum, legislative delegation and peaceful movement. Anything short of these will make the cause to be abortive and recent actions by Kanu and his cohorts have already placed it on that line.
Many people have believed that the amalgamation of the norther and southern protectorate is a fraud by the British, the call for the restructuring of the country is because the current structure have failed on many fronts.
The argument that the current structure does not support true federalism us not entirely true, every ethnic group is well represented in the legislative and executive branch of our democracy. It is imperative that we challenge the current structure due to some reasons, some of which are due to the fact that Nigeria’s population is not what it was few decades ago. By 2030, Nigeria is expected to be among the top five most populous countries of the world with an estimate of over 350 million people. Currently we have a population of approximately 180 million persons, but the current structure was not considered for such population.
An example is on the issue of security and the Nigeria police. The Nigeria police force is one of the failed institution in this country. Personally, I have concluded nothing can change from this particular canker worm. From illegal detention to extortion to intimidation, there is no evil the Nigeria police isn’t capable. Too many of them are attached to private citizens and politician who can provide personal protection for themselves and their families. The current structure in the Nigeria police is centralized, it has to be “order from above”. The DPO reports a situation to his area commander, area commander relays the situation to the zonal commander who then reaches the state commissioner to pass on the situation report. The commissioner also relates the incident to the Inspector General of police who then finally gives an order. Now can you see how screwed up we are in this country?
It cannot be quid quo pro when it comes to ensuring the safety of lives and property of Nigerians. I have not understood fully all the variables in the state policing issue, but if we won’t have a state policing system, the current structure should critically be examined and restructured. With the current size of the police at about 30000 personnel, it is quite worrisome for a country of over 170 million citizens. Many of them are on private protection duty, some of them are on the road intimidating and extorting motorist. Our policing system need urgent and thorough restructuring.
On education, the Nigeria education system is in absolute sham, from primary to the tertiary level. In 2017, the Nigerian education is still using teaching methods and aids of the post-colonial era. No surprise when it comes to innovation, Nigerian students are seriously behind their counter parts from other countries, except for a “microscopic few” whose parents have sent to highbrow colleges and high school where teaching methods of the 21st are being deployed. The teaching job is now considered as a last resort job or a job to keep to the body and soul together. Once you graduate and the “dream” job haven’t come along yet, you can always settle for teaching, at least half loaf is better than none. Go to private primary schools and check out some of their teachers and you will be dumbfounded at their level of ignorance. They have succeeded in shattering the fabrics of foundation of education.
The government owned schools are even worse, when I was in secondary school, the only time we ever had full titration practical was during our WASSCE final exams. We had to settle for the alternative to practical option instead, because every time we hear different stories of how we do not have enough reagents to perform the experiment. Go to the science laboratory of government owed universities, it is the same situation. The current education budget structure is a mess, it has failed and cannot work.
Nigeria education system needs a total and complete restructuring at all level of the government.
A former president of this country commented that what we need is to restructure our minds, to him that is the only restructuring we need. The former president should know that our minds have been restructured to accept that the government have not successfully convict anyone of rape in this country in the past 20 years. Our minds have been restructured that to get adequate security, health, education for our children and ourselves, we have to provide by ourselves. We must not rely on the government.
One thing Nigerian politician do not get is they have relinquished the right to provide solution to Nigeria’s problem; they are the problem.
I understand that there can never be a perfect structure, but when the current structure has failed the Nigerian people on all level, there is need to join the call for restructuring. #OurMumuDon.
In mid 20009, a misguided cleric, Mohammed Yusuf was killed while in the hands of a police with no conscience beyond its pockets. This gave rise to the unprecedented insurgency, which began in 2010 in the northeast with a level of destruction in both human and material never seen in these parts of the woods. It is estimated that well over twenty thousand lives were lost in this madness.
All because of the stubbornness of a semi-illiterate preacher; the ill-informed decision by community leaders to allow such miscreants thrive among their communities; the passivity and docility of the ordinary citizen and the cold complicity of the government of the day. What started, as a local bushfire quickly became a conflagration that nearly consumed the whole of the northeast. For almost seven years now, all commercial and productive activities around the zone have been grounded to a halt.
What Mohammed Yusuf started in Maiduguri engulfed the whole of Borno, Yobe and the northern parts of Adamawa states. The three states suffered the indignity of being placed under state of emergency for three years – at a point of time there was no even telephone connection with the outside world. While the Goodluck Jonathan “locked-up” the states from civilization Yusuf’s disciples, now under the leadership of a megalomaniac had a field day killing, maiming, raping, looting and generally destroying the zone. When the government decided to lift the emergency, the rest of the world were shocked to discover that during the emergency period, the insurgents had gained control of twenty seven local governments in the three states. The northeast may take another thirty years and a miracle to get back its pre 2009 status.
This introduction is necessary for us to begin to understand how those who court trouble and those who give succor to brigands may end up destroying what they spent a lifetime building. I have condemned the invasion of Mohammed Yusuf’s compound by the military in Maiduguri in 2009 and his subsequent killing by the police. I have also condemned the behavior of the local community for allowing itself to be cowed by jobless youths under the influence of an attention seeking man ready to play Russian roulette with their lives. The biggest culprits in my opinion on the macabre dance that the insurgents have been putting the northeast in these years are the community leaders, the late Mohammed Yusuf and the local community in this order.
Yusuf, never in his wildest, dreams ever believed that he would be executed like a common thief by the same authorities that have been hands-in-gloves with him. The youth whom he gave hope to, scattered in to the jungles and wilderness of Sambisa to become fodder for a maniac’s delusions. Their host communities paid and are still paying the price of their folly of being tacitly complicit by keeping quiet while the insurgents were building their arsenals. While their able bodied men were killed or maimed, their women were either killed, abducted into slavery, including sex slavery their young ones were maimed and sent to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.
The Nnnamdi Kanu drama in the southeast is giving one a sense of déjà vu. Much as my humanness is telling me everybody is wrong about what is unfolding in the southeast, my practical self is urging me towards condemning the Igbo intelligentsia in egging this reincarnation of Mohammed Yusuf into taking the zone to the brink. Those behind him may be thinking they are playing politics with what is happening in the zone, but are we all ready to live with the consequences of the acts of provocation going on right at this moment in some states of the southeast?
A confrontation between the military and followers of Mohammed Yusuf during a funeral procession by the sect lead to the unending insurgency we are going through in the northeat with all its attendant consequences. In their imprudent ways they believe thy can dare the military and go scot free. Their miscalculation led us to where we are. Under president ‘Yar Adu’a the military was given the matching orders to bring Yusuf down. Miaduguri never witnessed the kind of bombardment that visited this commercial town in its entire history.
I see Mohammed Yusuf’s parallel in Nanmdi Kanu and Maiduguri elders in the Ohanaeze – the main difference is that those Borno elders did not come out to support Mohammed Yusuf like the Igbo leadership and intelligentsia are doing. I see an analogy between the funeral procession in Maiduguri that triggered the troubles in the northeast and the confrontation between the military and IPOB in Umuahia. With the on-going insurgency in the northeast, which still manifest in form of suicide bombings, the people of the southeast will be well advised to rein-in Kanu and his bunch of brigands.
The fire lit by his followers by attacking northerners in the Oyigbo community of Port Harcourt on September 12th, 2017 portends grave danger to the zone. The Igbos, being itinerant, may bear the wrath of their host communities and this may have ripple effects. The innocent may be the only ones who will suffer while those who stoke the fire are cocooned in their comfort zones.
Part of the current face-off with the military in the zone is the presence of the military on the streets of ‘Igboland’. So what is new? Ihejirika and Minimah turned the whole north into one big garrison for four years between 2011 – 2015 and no one raised a finger from any part of the country to condemn the militarization of the northern society. Gun totting, trigger happy military personnel molested the populace with abundance in these four hardy years. But it all came to pass and no one called either Jonathan or his two military chiefs names. Houses were searched in the dead of the night for illusive weapons.
The futility of the threats and ultimatum issued to the military appear lose to those who issue such threats – if the military refuse to vacate the streets what then? Raising the decibel of your whining? Playing to the gallery while the lives of people is on the line is callous, no matter from what prism you are looking at it.
Can you ever learn from history?
At least for now, the gale of political implosions within Donald Trump’s White House and trading of diplomatic salvos between Washington and Moscow have taken the back seats. Attention has been hijacked by nature’s unpalatable visit to mankind and the attendant testimonies of woes by those directly affected.
Hurricanes, curried with some sweet names as Harvey and Irma, swept through parts of the United States and the Carribeans leaving behind unimaginable carnage and historic devastations. From Florida to Houston, Cuba to Bahamas, thousands were displaced as authorities tried – sometimes with little success – to limit the damage in the face of unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe. At the last count, more than 4,000 were sheltering in makeshift abodes in Texas alone.
Perhaps, 2017 would go down as an assertion of the fact that the marriage between man and nature has gone even sourer, despite evident denials of the realities of climate change by some powerful individuals. Although western media helped to magnify the environmental disaster just foisted on the Americas; still, similar harrowing experience had been the lot of people in other parts of the globe in recent times. China, India, Pakistan, Italy have all suffered thousands in human casualty from floods, monsoon rains, and earthquake respectively, all in 2017. And in Africa, mudslide buried more than 400 souls in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in a fell swoop back in August.
As elsewhere in the globe, Nigeria is not immunized from nature’s angst, though hurricanes and earthquakes rarely transgress this land. Notwithstanding, Sun does shine not always, even here. Benue State, which prides itself as the ‘Food Basket of the Nation’, has suffered greatly in the past two years. From deadly clashes between Fulani herders and indigene farmers to politically-related assassinations of top government officials, the crises appear endless – I mean those manufactured by humans. Latest in the upheavals to hit Benue is the flood disaster of September 1, 2017, creeping into Makurdi life a thief in the night.
Although the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) had forecast unfriendly weather this year, ‘prophesying’ doom in 28 States of Nigeria, yet no one dreamt the magnitude of the tragedy currently playing out in Benue.
While Florida State Governor, Rick Scott seems to be in the know on how to reduce the resultant effects of Hurricane Irma by making sure that affected residents are provided with basic needs – in the time being -, same cannot be said of an apparently overwhelmed Samuel Ortom who, once again, had to beg Abuja to come to the rescue of Benue in the aftermath of the flood. Of course, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) got a marching order from Aso Rock to intervene in the crisis, nonetheless the displaced have continued to lament the hardship in their market-turned IDP camp in Makurdi.
That gravity of the situation calls for the usual intervention of international humanitarian bodies like the Red Cross, Red Crescent, Medicine San Frontieres (MSF) etc, which have become key actors working with the United Nations in emergency situations. The ability of the agencies to swiftly react to cries from Benue may have, sadly, been corrupted by recent suspicion raised by development elsewhere within Nigeria.
On August 11, 2017, in a theatrical garrison expedition, Nigerian soldiers raided a facility belonging to the UN in Maiduguri, on the pretext that it may be a hole for arms being used by suspected Boko Haram members. This incident, no doubt, ruptured the hitherto working relationship between the Army and the UN. Many feared that, not minding the fence-mending effort of Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, the event poses longterm negative implications, especially for the IDPs in the northeast region.
More than once, embarrassing news had emanated from Maiduguri depicting how soldiers and policemen openly engaged in gunfight over who takes what in the sharing of foodstuff originally earmarked for the displaced.
To add to that, NEMA is at the moment caught in the web of controversy directly related to the alleged mismanagement of a whopping 13billion naira Ecological Funds. It is alleged that a larger proportion of the fund was shared by public officials who smile to the bank at the expense of wretched locals. Nigerians also watched in awe as the Sani Shehu-led Senate Committee on Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE) opened a can of worms detailing how the now suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal got involved in the infamous ‘grass-cutting’ scandal in Adamawa State.
And that brings us to importance of corporate bodies and individuals in responding to the Benue calamity. Music star, Innocent Idibia (Tubaba) had spent time with the flood victims while actress Tonto Dike also launched an appeal for donations from fellow compatriots – towards the same purpose. Just as the likes of Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner and co raised more than $60m through ‘We Are the World’, to help Africa escape famine in the 80s, it is hoped that Tubaba and his likes would seize this moment to have lasting impact on the affected.
Moreover, governments across board should be alive to the critical function of safeguarding people’s lives against dangers, both anticipated and unforeseen, through more accountability in public spending. Resuscitating that dearth or inactive synergy among key public establishments i.e NIMET, NEMA, and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) is equally pertinent in this direction with intensified social campaigns and sensitization of the populace to the inherent dangers in habits which degrade the environment.
And in the end, man’s sense of circumspection must be activated to appreciate that his lack of obedience to nature’s red lines can only be overt invitation to an inescapable apocalypse, which will ultimately blows no one no good.
*Ajala, a journalist, writes via firstname.lastname@example.org and tweets @ajalatravel07
After the commission of Africa’s biggest hatchery and feed mill constructed by Olam Grains Nigeria and the kaduna state government Recently, No doubt, Agricultural practice are the integral force for the economic development and advancement of any nation, many industries defends on agro product to survive.
Here in kaduna the company, constructed at 150 million dollars, consists of feed mill, hatchery and breeder farm that the company would process 180,000 tonnes of corn and 75,000 tonnes of soya beans annually on feeds production, and would produce 360,000 tonnes of animal feeds yearly, which will also employ also employ about 600 workers directly.
A total of 1.6 million day-old-chick will be hatched every week, and that the company has a 50,000 tonnes of on-site storage and had outsourced similar storage volume.
The rural dweller are the main driving force behind the success of farming practices all over the world, because they consider it as the basic occupation which they could engage upon their livelihood. In Nigeria about seventy percent of it population engage in one form of farming or the other.
Also the total number of 1.6 million day-old-chick will be hatched every week, and the company has a 50,000 tonnes of on-site storage and had outsourced similar storage volume. the company was also engaged in the training of farmers to increase yields and profitability as well as provide employment, with I believe it will yield positive results at the end of the day.
In view of this, the federal government and some states interested, embarked on several policies in other to improve the quality of farming practices to the world standard. Lastly We most commend the effort effort of Governor El-rufai and Kaduna state government. Long live kaduna state, long live Nigeria.
Abdullahi Addau Turawa is from Zaria. @Bababah_
A journey to Europe in the middle of August via the desert, its follies and plans for a good life that went awry.
The optics of sneaking out of a 15-month recession apart, a 0.55% year-on-year GDP growth is hardly anything to cheer for Africa’s biggest economy. But as the NBS data reveals, the Q2 2017 growth is an improvement, even if marginal, on the GDP performance recorded in the preceding quarter (-0.91%) and the corresponding quarter of 2016 (-1.49%). Beyond the numbers, however, questions persist about the long-term economic recovery prospects of the nation. Questions that demand that all post-recession celebrations be suspended until further notice.
27 months into the Buhari administration, the patience of the Nigerian masses on the state of the economy and general standard of living is wearing thin, and understandably so. Inflation rate dropped for the fifth consecutive month in July, but the prices of goods and consumables which skyrocketed during the recession remain exorbitantly high. In reality, the recession persists for the economically dis-advantaged demographic of Nigeria’s 170 million population.
Nigeria’s path out of recession is lined with commendable efforts in improving the ease of doing business through the Presidential Enabling Business Council (PEBEC). Chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo. the Council implemented a 60-day National Action Plan on Ease of Doing Business and was able to tackle some of the critical bottlenecks and bureaucratic constraints that had hitherto defined the ordeal of doing business in Nigeria.
Osinbajo, who assumed the role of Acting President while President Buhari was away in the United Kingdom on medical leave, issued executive orders on port operations heralding a much-needed improvement in the operational efficiency of the nation’s airports and seaports. He also signed two critical bills on improving access to credit, a major stumbling block for businesses in Nigeria. As the NBS data released yesterday show, Nigeria came out of recession the same quarter the implementation of these reforms started.
The recession has also proved pivotal to Nigeria’s drive for revenue diversification and a rebalancing of the economy’s over-reliance on the oil sector. The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for example recently revealed it generated N2.11 trillion as revenue in the first six months of 2017 and is on course to meet the N4.94 trillion revenue projection for the year. Similarly, the Nigerian Customs Service generated N486 billion as revenue in the first half of the year, surpassing the N385 billion generated for the same period in 2016.
On the part of the Nigerian Ports Authority, reforms like the implementation of a Revenue and Invoice Management System has gone a long way in blocking revenue leakages and improving ports operations through the exclusion of unnecessary human interface in doing business at the ports. As a result of this and other reforms, the agency was able to surpass the N16 billion revenue projection for the first quarter of 2017, raking in N118 billion.
Progressive reforms in the monetary policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, notably the introduction in April of a special foreign exchange window for investors and exporters have been instrumental in the journey out of recession and its sustenance is important for further economic recovery. The special forex window grossed about $2.2 billion of trade in the first six weeks of its introduction and its impact on the market capitalization of Nigerian Stock Exchange – which jumped from N8.748 trillion in April to N11.463 trillion in July – is undeniable.
All these notwithstanding, the perennial issues of corruption, public sector bureaucracy and the high cost of running government remains. The duplicitous arrangement of line items in Nigeria’s 2017 budget berates hope of its ability to shape any lasting change in the life of the common man. Businesses still face the hurdle of multiple taxations coupled with the obdurate challenges of power and bad roads.
A good number of Nigeria’s 36 states are broke, largely dependent on monthly revenue hand-outs from the federal government. The bulk of these monthly federal allocations, in turn, go into servicing the salaries of civil servants with little or nothing left for the execution of capital projects and provision of social amenities. Yet some of these states offered subsidies for religious pilgrimages this year alone up to the tune of N50 billion.
President Muhammadu Buhari, whose campaign was built around his anti-corruption stance, has set about recovering funds looted under past administrations with resounding success. Critics, however, berate the former dictator for unlooking the corruption going on within his own administration. It took some weeks longer than necessary for President Buhari to suspend a high-ranking member of his government after he had been indicted for tampering with funds allotted for the care of those displaced by Boko Haram insurgency.
With the negative impression of an economy in a recession now dispensed with, the Nigerian government must keep its focus on providing an enabling environment to attract more investment and for businesses to thrive. Talks, for example, of reviving the defunct national airline, should take into consideration the huge drain on public revenue that South Africa’s romance with the same venture has been.
Bukola Ogunyemi, a media entrepreneur, writes from Lagos. This article is syndicated via AfricanLiberty.org