FGN, are you there?
Going through the newspapers last week it looked like the Nigerian world was coming crashing down, ready to come down and bury us all. And it’s not like we’re strangers to bad news; We experience it every day, every week, and when there’s bad news it’s easy for people to ask, “What’s new?” But took the trophy last week. It was like the coming of the apocalypse, an Armageddon, some kind of tsunami.
Let us divide the news into three areas. First, the National Labor Congress (NLC) and its allies joined the ASUU national strike last week. The strike was going on for almost six months due to lack of solution from the government.
How can any government by name allow its tertiary institutions to be closed for almost a semester? This has never happened before in this country. And astonishingly, as the NLC threatened to join the strike in sympathy, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the Minister of Education, Mr. Adamu Adamu, to end the strike within two weeks, as evidence of action being taken. I am sure that the minister who knows that solving this is a matter of withdrawing a lot of cash, and does not put money in, would have laughed proudly at the impossible instruction.
Now this week the two week instruction has ended. Let’s wait and see if the minister will use his magical powers to end the strike. A nation that is interested in the race for development in the 21st century can’t sit back and let its education go to the dogs, and almost comes to a halt. It shows how insensitive nation we have become.
The second revelation that emerged is that our economy has faltered. The price of roti, rice, garri and yam had reached the ceiling as the price of petrol was already skyrocketing. Aviation fuel costs had also risen astronomically and airlines were threatening to shut down.
The airlines handling the situation told us that an economy class ticket would cost N75,000 for a 50-minute journey. And we were told that crude oil piracy continues unabated as corrupt petrol subsidies now exceed revenue from oil sales. And for individuals and companies who needed dollars for their imports and personal commitments such as travel, medical and school fees, it was a tale of mourning.
One dollar rose to N700 in the parallel market, the highest jump in our history. When this government came to power it was less than N200 per dollar. So for a country that is heavily dependent on imports, that is disastrous, especially when you consider that we are finding it hellish to pay off a lot of our debts.
You would think that with the high price of crude oil, we must have kept a surplus fund somewhere for the rainy season. No, we didn’t. we did not. That same week it was revealed that we reduced our excess crude account (ECA) through reckless consumption from $35.37 million to $376,655.09; Yes, less than $400,000 over $35 million dollars. So now that the rain has come it will beat us ruthlessly and we will have nowhere to take shelter.
The sad part is that as these pathetic figures were falling in the public place, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Ms. Zainab Ahmed dared to tell the Nigerians that our economy is now doing better than the previous governments under Buhari. has been ,
Why does he think Nigerians are interested in such a silly comparison between two dangerous insects, mosquitoes and flies? None of them are kind to mankind. He is paid to solve problems and not to make silly comparisons. He said this after a meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) last week. It further said that the ECA has not been funded for some time now. and you know what? That is his portfolio, finance, budget and national planning. Please add this to your information store.
As this minister was lying to the illiterate, lying to the illiterate, a man named Ahmed Idriss, who a few weeks ago was working directly under his nose as the Federation’s Accountant General on trial for the theft of N109 billion federal funds were. And he is not the one who reported this theft to the EFCC.
By the way, who invented this silly idea of hiring within a government, comparing its government’s performance with previous governments? Governments are a continuum. Every government that comes to office is there to solve the problems of the past apart from the problems that may arise while in office. The Chibok girls were kidnapped during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan.
APC campaigners told the whole world that if we voted for them, they would bring back the Chibok girls in one fell swoop. Today, more than seven years later, some of those girls are still in captivity. The government has moved ahead and its campaigners are not looking in that direction at all. So where is the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN)?
The third thing that stunned Nigerians is their insecurity. Last week, some officers of the President’s Guard were ambushed and shot dead in Abuja. It came in rapid succession in the Kuje Correctional Center attack in which many prisoners were freed.
Worryingly, terrorists are threatening to kidnap our President and Governor of Kaduna State, Mr. Nasser Al-Rufai, to carry on carpet-bombing in the jungles of Nigeria. They are also threatening to deal with Abuja residents. The dangers are real and should not be ignored.
The FCT minister has responded appropriately by directing that all schools in the area should be closed until the threat is over. No one should dismiss those threats as childish. He has proved many times that he has the ability to mix his words with action. They have attacked several police stations, several correctional centers, army cantonments, the United Nations Organization and even the police headquarters in Abuja. That is why he has made his words his bondage.
Appropriately members of the National Assembly were concerned last week about the utter helplessness of the situation. He has now given President Buhari six weeks to restore security in the country. Bukhari cannot secure the country within six weeks. This is a tall order. If he hasn’t secured it within seven years, what magic wand does he have to secure it within six weeks? The legislators are threatening to impeach Buhari if he does not meet that goal. They can’t even impeach him because Buhari strategists know what to do: attack the Central Bank and take out mint-fresh naira notes and dollars for legislators to stomach. After that, legislators will meet at the plenary meeting and say “Mmmmmmm.” And that would be the end of the story.
The National Assembly should do two things to help Buhari. They should check how the security fund sanctioned by them has been spent. This will let them know whether the money that was spent for their budget was spent on it or not. If the government took $1 billion from the ECA fund, what did it do with it? If such a huge amount was invested in our security infrastructure, the outcome should be equally, extremely positive. How was the money used or was it siphoned off by some authorities?
The second recommendation I am making is that the National Assembly should immediately legislate on the state police. Mr. Mike Okiro, former chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), told us a while back that out of 400,000 policemen, 150,000 are serving older men and older women and only 250,000 of them are available. Serve the common people of Nigeria. The National Assembly should immediately focus on setting up the State Police.
With the state police, which was recommended by the El-Rufai committee and approved by state governors, we can add a million armed men and women to our arsenal. How do we raise money to keep them? Four ways: (a) use a security vote (b) launch a Security Assistance Fund (SSF) in each state (c) reach out to Nigerians in the diaspora for support (d) friendly countries including foreign NGOs and Get help from international partners. After all, Nigeria supports other countries that need help. It recently donated $1 million to Afghanistan.
If the members of the National Assembly are serious about tackling the problem of insecurity, they should immediately act on the state police and not let Buhari detract from his vision of hegemony. No government can protect this vast country of 250,000 policemen. Impeachment of Bukhari is not the solution. This is a diversion.