NIGERIA: Halting The Slide Towards Anarchy – By Zarephath Aid

(Being a press release by Zarephath Aid on the current economic crisis)

 

  1. On the front burner and on headlines in Nigeria presently is the economic crisis that is gradually snowballing into a major catastrophe. On every street and corner; in every home, office and community, from far-flung hamlets in the North to coastal islands in the South, in defiance of partisan and religious loyalties, one can hear a singular refrain; there is hunger in the land.
  2. The hunger component in Nigeria’s lexicon of challenges took on an exacerbated dimension in the aftermath of the present Government’s twin economic policies of the removal of the subsidy on petroleum products and the floating of the exchange rate. Prior to this, insecurity that comprised of extreme banditry, kidnapping for ransom and outright terrorism had held major parts of the North and middle belt States by the jugular with the effect that large swathes of agricultural farm lands and agrarian communities are presently under the control of criminal gangs and kingpins levying taxes and extracting loyalty from these beleaguered peasants.
  3. In near unanimity, Nigerians agree that Ex-President Buhari’s Government was a blight on our landscape. Discourse about his 8 years in office elicit different reactions ranging from compunction to bewilderment. With glee Nigerians reminisce on the pre-Buhari years of relative economic stability and growth in a sense akin to the famous song, ‘By the Rivers of Babylon’; a song adapted from a portion in the holy book.
  4. With cautious expectation, the Tinubu presidency was ushered in to, at least, stabilize the slide that the Buhari Government had triggered in our economy.  But just like a man seized by a sudden fit of megalomania, President Tinubu, during his inaugural speech on May 29, 2023 declared that subsidy on petroleum products had been yanked off; a declaration, which like a volcanic eruption, has disgorged molten magma all around its circumferential space. And Nigerians are daily tinkering with options to survive this raging economic lava.
  5. Within the past 4 weeks, prices of goods and services have tripled; the Naira is on a free fall and food inflation is furiously galloping. The scourge of insecurity is digging deeper into our fabric and for the first time in decades Nigerians wake up daily with a sense of foreboding about what might befall them and their families. With patience running thin, protests have erupted in different parts of the country while ethnic and religious leaders have warned of the danger of mass revolt especially in the North.
  6. And as if the situation is not critical enough, Nigerians wake up daily to reports of mismanagement of funds and outright corruption by Government officials. Few days ago, an official memo wherein President Tinubu approved a N1bn (with a start-up tranche of N500m) request for a Government minimum wage committee mainly made up of State Governors was leaked. Even more sadly, a Government spokesperson was more interested in how the memo was leaked by the ‘moles’ of opposition parties in the civil service than why a committee should have such obscenely large amount for its sittings; and what with the committee being made up of Governors who can pick their bills on the one hand and many of whom have not paid the minimum wage in their States on the other hand.
  7. It is crystal clear that the present situation in Nigeria is quickly spiraling out of the control of this Government. The coming days might find the Nation on thin ice if the present situation is not handled with sincerity of purpose and sacrifice especially on the part of the leadership.
  8. In the circumstance, we suggest the following;
    1. That president Tinubu shear himself of political partisanship and ego-tripping and reach out to experts in the economic sphere for immediate consultation. It is not a secret that Nigeria is blessed with globally acclaimed authorities in this area.
    2. That more than anything else, Government officials at every level should lead from the front in this critical moment by making clear and visible sacrifices. For instance, the overbearing cost of running the Government at all levels is no longer sustainable and should be drastically trimmed. The biggest challenge facing this Government and those before it is the total lack of trust on the part of Nigerians. If the trust of Nigerians is secured, their support will not be wanting.
    3. Tangible emergency measures that will assuage the sufferings of the people have to be implemented with a sense of urgency.
    4. That the days of playing politics with the anti-corruption fight be brought to an end. The current situation is already dire enough and continuing to shield clearly corrupt persons from the law will definitely aggravate the situation. It is not a secret that many Government officials at different levels are daily cashing out in this calamitous period of our nationhood. Wherever such people are found, they must not be shielded.
    5. That the Federal and State Governments concert action to arrest this slide. Any Government appointee that does not match his remit should be shown the door without sentiments.
    6. That ordering security agents to disperse peaceful protests could be counter-productive. Autocracy and liberalism are not ad idem.
    7. For the umpteenth time, we state that issue of securing Nigerians should be kept outside of the chessboard of politics. Nigerians are hurting, bleeding and dying in the face of insecurity and this Government should rise up to the occasion. A state of emergency should be declared in this area immediately.

 

  1. In conclusion, we state that times like this demand statesmanship and fatherhood, not partisanship and lilliputianism. Ex abundanti cautela, let our leaders for once be shorn of political avowals and spearhead a quick-fire recovery mission. Mr President, the buck stops on your desk.

 

E-Signed:

Ben Abraham, Esq

Founder, ZAREPHATH AID

www.zarephathaid.org

 

ZAREPHATH AID (ZA) is a dynamic Non-Government, Nonpolitical and Nonprofit Organization with a vision for Criminal Justice reforms via Legal aid, prisoners’ welfare and rehabilitation.


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