Nigerian Government: The Machinery of State that 'Kills' the Masses

In the twilight of the the 2015 presidential elections, I was at the forefront campaigning for Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) who is now the President of my dear country, Nigeria. The change agenda was successfully sold to me and I bought it wholeheartedly without negotiating the price. I spent ample time gathering up facts and figures daily to back up my views that Buhari's candidacy was superior to the former president, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. I would freely win arguments citing strong lapses of the previous administration namely youth unemployment, political corruption, epileptic power supply, poverty, Boko Haram insurgency and others to successfully drive home my points and it worked like magic.

My best friend Uche, who supported Jonathan based on tribal inclinations called me for a private talk after series of heated debates. He asked; "Do you believe Buhari can change Nigeria for good?"
I boldly replied ''Yes''
Then he responded cynically, ''Don't be deceived, the key to the development of Nigeria is not in the hands of anybody. Buhari will come with his own agenda and after 4 or 8 years, his chapter is closed''

He went on furnishing me with a narrative of how successive administrations in Nigeria, both military and civilian have bamboozled the masses with different developmental ideologies that only benefited a few rich people attached to them. Now, I wish to close Uche's chapter here and maybe uphold his claims with my observance about President Muhammadu Buhari's first year as Nigerian president amidst a few other political issues emanating from the previous administration.

I am a staunch supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari's anti-corruption campaign not because I find it sensational that the opulent are being emasculated but because a few people have eaten away the future of millions of Nigerians who now live in penury with their hopes in the church/mosque in affirmation of Karl Max's orientation of religion. They have invariably destroyed the country to the extent that the only sector working well is 'corruption' while they give their children and other family members a life of possibilities in countries where their own leaders toiled and laboured to build.

Frankly, Buhari's anti-graft war has embarrassing loopholes that even the blind can see and the lame can feel. The war has been described as a 2019 general election grand plan to decimate the main opposition party, People's Democratic Party against the doctrines of democracy but that's a topic for another day. My concern is how Buhari's administration has been 'killing' the voiceless and the poor that fought lawfully with their votes to put him in power in order to pursue their humble interests.
In all sincerity, the wealthy class never wanted Buhari. They were already benefitting from the bazaar sponsored by the PDP in the last 16 years of legendary impunity and 'fantastic corruption'.
The masses were Buhari's major supporters and even his wife, Aisha Buhari confirmed this at a two-day Citizen Outreach and Town hall meeting in Kwara state with Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed in March, 2015.

Now here is my question, how well has President Muhammadu Buhari's administration of 'change' under the banner of the All Progressives Congress being able protect the masses since its advent?

Firstly, Buhari's administration has accommodated and tolerated the employment racketeering and other recruitment illegalities in the public service by previous administrations. Under Buhari's vigilant nose, the Central Bank of Nigeria, secretly hired 91 (and reportedly 141 more) Nigerians against the standard ethics of publicizing the jobs on newspapers, following the federal character principle and creating a level playing ground for applicants regardless of their status or that of their families in the society. This act of corruption was prominent in 2014 and a report from Daily Trust newspaper showed that about 909 'privileged children' have benefitted from the illicit act in the last 2 years. CBN haphazardly responded to the media allegations that it applied for a waiver not to advertise the vacancies to prevent a repetition of the Nigeria Immigration Service recruitment mishap and the heinous crime of marginalization of the masses was closed under Buhari who promised to govern Nigeria differently.

The beauty of corruption is that it spreads like the Ebola Virus. Once an organization is practising it successfully, another adopts the act to selfishly enrich its top officials and gradually, it becomes a norm in the society. It becomes a force that fights back with a massive arsenal when you approach it for correction. Since all media agitations fell on the president's infected ear, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS under the Chairman, Babatunde Fowler decided to follow suit by engaging in a clandestine recruitment of 349 members of staff on inexplicable grounds. When the leadership of the PDP raised this alarm on the 4th of April, 2016 via its Twitter account as an indictment on some unnamed APC chieftains, I felt they were crying foul until Sahara Reporters published the names of the beneficiaries. The news seems to have fallen on Buhari's infected ear again despite the medical expertise of his United Kingdom hospital medical practitioners.

Unconfirmed reports have it that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps have also been immersed in the cesspool of illegal employment overtime unquestionably.
One day, we the Nigerian masses will wake up to the bitter truth that this country is not for us but belongs to the 2% affluent class that owns 90% of deposits in Nigerian banks according to a report by Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC.

The ruling elites have continued the culture of strategically sharing the juicy jobs in Nigeria and throwing the N-power teaching jobs through which a graduate unsustainably earns a paltry monthly salary of N23, 000 over a period of two years. This initiative that will provide jobs for over 500,000 is a reproduction of Jonathan's SURE-P scheme full of inadequacies. No illustration can paint the desperation of Nigerians for survival as much as the internet prominence of the N-Power portal.
The site recorded over 35 million hits in less than 3 days with over 400,000 job applicants to tell you how bad Nigerians simply want their daily bread to see the next day. As at the 21st of June, 2016, the site was ranked 72 on Alexa due to the magnitude of traffic received for the slavish remuneration it entails. Some top Nigerian news sites are yet to achieve that ranking in years of existence.

The 10,000 police jobs have also been thrown at the masses with about 843, 000 people falling head over heels for employment opportunities to be decided by the same ruling class with tainted hands.
The honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed mocked Nigerians by also assuring the masses of the provision of 1,000 masquerade jobs. A terrifying career he will never want to see his children engage in even in his worst nightmare.

The quest for progress and human development in Nigeria reeks of futility to the extent that a PhD student in Port Harcourt, Rivers state was forced to carry a placard to publicize her unemployment not to talk of the numerous holders with brilliant certificates sharing their resumes on the streets like pamphlets. To add salt to the fresh injuries, over 1.5 million Nigerians have lost their jobs in the last one year due to the economic downturn. Certificates are almost useless if you are not connected with ruling elites. Hard work in school has been shamed as our President has even failed to present his Secondary School Certificate. Instead, he went through the rigorous and expensive legal procedure of hiring 10 prominent Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs and 13 counsels to thwart the case at the High Court challenging his educational qualification as the president of Nigeria. This prompts me to conclude there is something mysterious about Buhari's certificate. Is this a case of using corruption to fight corruption? At least he who comes into equity must come with clean hands.

Another pressing issue is the biting crises of militancy in Nigeria amidst secessionist motives. An average resident of the South-south geopolitical zone believes the northerners founded the Boko Haram sect to frustrate the governance of the former President, Jonathan. At least, a former militant leader, Asari Mujaheed Dokubo has unguardedly affirmed that claim.
At the exit of Jonathan, several militant groups were bracing up to continue the vicious cycle of 'economic terrorism' to initiate the unpopularity of Buhari as a payback. Buhari ignorantly played into their hands by scraping the Nigerian Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta state and also cutting the amnesty budget by 70% with a set expiry date of 2017. A former militant leader, Israel Akpodoro alleged that in January, 2014, he had a meeting at the Government House in Bayelsa state with Governor Seriake Dickson, Kingsley Kuku (the former Amnesty Programme Director General), High Chief Government Ekpemupolo popularly known as Tompolo, Asari Dokubo and other Niger Delta 'warlords. According to Akpodoro, someone at the meeting raised a motion that should Jonathan lose the election, they should make Nigeria ungovernable for whosoever emerges by blowing up oil installations. If his words are to be believed, its safe to conclude there was a plan in the pipeline for an economic sabotage.

The faceless Niger Delta Avengers have lived up to the bidding of the saboteurs by reducing the daily oil production of Nigeria from 2.2 million barrels to a decade low of below 1 million barrels through the indiscriminate bombing of oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta region.
Another disturbing report from the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force (JNDLF) states that some senior military officers have reportedly urged the rampaging Niger Delta militants to intensify the bombing of oil facilities in the South-south region as a way of stirring up crisis which will facilitate a coup to oust President Muhammadu Buhari. All the agitations by various aggrieved groups can't be separated from politics.

Founder of the Independent People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, capitalised on the debatable apathy between the Igbos and the northerners as shown in the results of the 2015 presidential election to undemocratically break his people out of Nigeria through a scripted list of problems that are not even peculiar to the South-easterners alone.
One factor is common among these three groups; which is a political overtone. There is a group(s) or political cabal funding the operations covertly. The embattled 'former' National Chairman of the People's Democratic Party, Ali Modu Sheriff has been heavily linked to Boko Haram which started in his home state during his tenure as governor. Jonathan has also been weakly linked to the Niger Delta Avengers and a couple of South-eastern leaders have been linked to the drum beats IPOB dances to.
A confirmation of my political overtone claim is the request by some South-south governors for a halt of the anti-corruption campaign as a condition for peace in the Niger Delta region during their meeting with the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo earlier this year. The Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force (JNDLF) had the effrontery to list the release of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki who is currently being tried over a $2.1 billion arms deal scam including other individuals that were indicted in the previous administration.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission also allegedly froze the accounts of 3 of Jonathan's close allies over suspected funding of the Niger Delta Avengers militant group according to an intelligence report shared by the Directorate of State Security, DSS as reported by Leadership newspaper. When two elephants fight, the grass suffers violence and the grass in this case represents the masses. The execution of developmental projects that will benefit the people are being massively hampered, material and human resources also wasted as a result of the surge of these political and economic terrorists managed by non-state actors with looted public funds.

Furthermore, according to the political theories as propounded by political thinker and philosopher, Max Weber; he stated that a state could be said to ''succeed'' if it maintains monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within its borders. When it is broken, they very existence of the state becomes dubious and the state becomes a failed state.
He advocated on the essence of the monopoly of the use of force which is necessary to suppress saboteurs like warlords, paramilitary groups and terrorists acting against the general will of the state. This leads us to the rampage by AK-47-wielding Fulani herdsmen across the geopolitical zones in Nigeria who have been freely maiming, killing residents of host communities as well as destroying their properties without respect for the rule of law. The herdsmen's bitter tales will be better told by the people of Agatu in Benue, Taraba, Nimbo in Enugu, Ondo, Abia, Plateau, Edo, Delta, Ogun, Rivers, Imo, Bayelsa, Anambra and other areas. Buhari's body language seems like an encouragement to the herdsmen and his failure to address the issue on his May 29 democracy day speech virtually replicates his indirect support for the group rumoured to be infiltrated by the fleeing Boko Haram members from the north-eastern part of the country.

According to a report released by the Igbo Youth Movement, 710 Nigerians have died in the hands of the herdsmen (excluding the Agatu, Benue massacre) also rumoured to be foreigners in the first 10 months of Buhari's administration. I wish to remind the President that one of the major essences of government according to the social contract theory of Thomas Hobbes is to protect the lives and properties of the people rather than facilitate their massacre through ineptitude and negligence.
This administration has also being rated low on the protection of human rights with reference to the lingering Shiites massacre in which the Nigerian army has been accused of killing about 705 Shiite members over an alleged assassination attempt on the Chief of Army Staff,  Lt Gen. Yusuf Tukur Buratai in Zaria, Kaduna.
The agitating IPOB members have also been greeted with stiff intolerance as security operatives have been accused of constantly opening fire on protesters basically armed with placards. The incessant reports on the killings of pro-Biafra protesters have been repeatedly swept under the carpet thereby threatening the fragile unity of our homogeneous state.

I have always argued that the death of the Nigerian currency, naira should be blamed on our leaders and not the masses. They lead the race in a high pace and we follow suit. The last presidential election saw the immediate past president, Jonathan orchestrating a 'dollar rain' in the South-western part of Nigeria during which he allegedly distributed $250,000 amongst top traditional rulers and $10,000 amongst lower chiefs in return for a political endorsement which went awry. Other politicians also changed the naira into the U.S dollars to reduce its bulkiness and boost the attractiveness all for nefarious operations.
They also contributed immensely to the over N1 to N3 billion lost by Nigeria to medical tourism annually. What about educational tourism? That's worse. Previous administrations have pledged a lip-service allegiance to the growth of the naira by the procurement of locally-made goods. I appreciate the #BuyNaijaToGrowNaira advocacy by the Chairman of Silverbird Group and Bayelsa East Senator; Ben Murray-Bruce but again, his epic hypocrisy was exposed when he printed a book on ‘Nigerianism’ in the United States of America. What an irony!
Buhari, the front-liner of the APC's change agenda is not left out of the rot. The President has rubbished the Nigerian medical system two times by travelling to the United Kingdom within the space of one year to patronize his most trusted United Kingdom doctors. This same President allocated N3.87 billion to the upgrade of the State House clinic in the Aso Rock Villa which supersedes the entire allocations of 16 teaching hospitals belonging to it by a staggering sum of N787 million.
If the president that swore to protect the naira doesn't trust the best Nigerian doctors with one of his ears, then what is expected of those with major diseases such as kidney problem, heart problem, cancer etc.? Well in my country, its crystal-clear the death of the poor is just mere statistics for the media and a tool of political brickbats by politicians.

On a lighter note, during a plenary session in the Nigerian senate of the 8th assembly which was focused on amending the procurement laws in Nigeria to favour the naira growth, Senator Dino Melaye of Kogi West cracked a strategic joke which was an indictment on the outgoing Edo state governor, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole who is married to a foreigner. Melaye advocated for the patronage of Nigerian ladies. Majority of us found those comments spurious but believe me, he knew where he was driving at. Three House of Representatives members namely Hon. Mohammed Garba Gololo (APC, Bauchi), Hon. Samuel Ikon (PDP, Akwa Ibom), and Hon. Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue) who are married men with children have been accused of desperately soliciting for sex from foreign women while on invitation for the International Visitor Leadership Programme in the United States of America. The desperation of those lawmakers can be likened to the fire than burns around the waist of a male prisoner that just served a 10-year jail term following the tone of the petition written by U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle to the lower chamber Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara.
Today, the naira has crashed in our faces with an option of devaluation that will further boost the hyper-inflation rate of 15.6% without a direct increment in the salaries of workers. Did I just say salaries? That word is becoming uncommon like the return of our Lord Jesus Christ in rapture as several state governments in Nigeria are begging for bail-outs upon bail-outs amidst the massive rape of the treasury without justice. The economic brouhaha seems to be the best civil way of killing the masses by the government.

I have observed this administration is more focused on 'obtaining' from the people rather than making provisions and I will explain. The minimum wage of civil servants in Nigeria still remains at a minute sum of N18, 000. The civil service is like the El Dorado of the average Nigerians due to the chances of self development, ease of work, job security, accommodation of family constraints and health issues which might not be tolerated in the private sector due to its sole focus on service delivery and profitability. The population of federal civil servants in Nigeria is over 89,000 as at October, 2015 while the country has a population size approaching 180 million. The private sector whose responsibility is to employ labour has been found wanting due to the inability of the government to create suitable business environment for growth and development. Small and medium scale enterprises, SMEs have limited access to bank loans due to stringent conditions and collateral security attached to it. Businesses in Nigeria are starved of the infrastructural facilities like good roads and power supply for smooth operations. Security of lives and properties still remains a challenge. The failure on the part of the public and private sector has given birth to the massive unemployment and under-employment rate in Nigeria today.
The present day government rather than develop austerity measures to douse the economic hardship has been collecting from the poor through the 45% increment in the tariff of 'darkness' and not light. Fuel has also experienced over 60% increment through deregulation. Tax officials steadily harass companies who are not convinced of the essence of payment of taxes due to the perceived neglect by the government. With the tactical devaluation of the naira through the Central Bank of Nigeria's flexible policy, the market which officially opened on Monday, 23rf of June, 2016 closed with the naira being exchanged at the rate of N282 to a dollar. It is hoped that the value of naira will further improve with more availability of the dollar in the forex market. The failure of the dollar to crash will compound the inflationary problems of Nigeria further since we operate an import-based economy.

The irony of this is that the minimum earning of civil servants (N18, 000) remains the same while inflation reduces their purchasing powers. How bad can it get again under the watch of the Nigerian government?
In Nigeria today, this accounts for the common response you get when you ask a colleague or friend for financial assistance.
The person reacts like;
''In this Buhari administration?'' but personally I think it’s unfair to hold Buhari responsible for the economic squeeze. The former military ruler only inherited age-long budding issues that matured adversely during his time.

The fact that over 80% of oil blocks in the South-south of Nigeria are owned by northerners is a point of concern to me. The oil blocks have been politically shared by past military and civilian administrations with no sense of social responsibility to the people. When Senator Ita Enang (Senior Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly matters - senate) presented the report on oil block ownership at a plenary session, I was stuck between supporting the Federal Government and the Niger Delta militants. But again, war or violence is never an option in modern day politics. Decades of oil exploration and spills have destroyed the natural environment in the Niger Delta. Basic social amenities are not evenly distributed with the people living under conditions detrimental to their health due to the inhalation of poisonous chemical compounds, facing fire hazards, infected plants and the contamination of their water. The great activist, Ken Saro Wiwa in 1995 and 8 others were unjustly executed in their quest for a better treatment of the Niger Deltans by the Federal Government.

Billionaires have been made out of the region. The goose that lays the golden eggs has been inhumanely starved of basic cereals. TY Danjuma sold the oil block given to him by the late military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha for a whooping sum of $1.5 billion dollar and rumours have it that the billionaire immediately ran short of ideas of how to expend the funds due to the size. The Niger Delta region is unfortunate to be cursed with insincere representatives who have negated the positive effects of the 13% derivation principle, the establishment of the Ministry of Niger Delta, Amnesty programme and the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC by enriching their pockets at the expense of the livelihood of the people. Successive administrations in Nigeria including that of their son, Jonathan who was supposed to feel his pains of the people was only concerned about 'killing' them by stuffing the mouths of the prominent leaders with wads of money. The beneficiaries in turn observed table manners by not talking while 'eating' till Buhari came to withdraw a large chunk of the food from the dining table.
A lasting solution is a strong and well-monitored development plan for the region. The flag-off of the Ogoniland clean-up is a landmark achievement that should be followed up with strategic plans to give the downtrodden people a sense of belonging. They are also Nigerians who should be given a royal treatment since our economy survives at their expense and discomfort.

Corruption which is more prominent in the political sphere of Nigeria and also earned us an international 'accolade' from the foul-mouthed British Prime Minister, David Cameron is an elaborate issue that has crippled Nigeria and killed more masses than any other political machination in the history of Nigeria. According to Dr. George Oboh, a highly controversial anti-corruption crusader and security expert who exposed the N1.3 unremitted funds allegedly diverted by the former acting Chairman of the anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in the person of Ibrahim Lamorde; the over N78 billion and other ostentatious properties recovered by Buhari's one-year war against corruption is a mere teaser. He revealed during an interview on Channels television that he traced N324 billion loot in just 27 days when hired for the Federal Government by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
As at 2012 alone, Nigeria was estimated to have lost $400 billion to corruption since independence. This excludes the monumental corruption cases of Sani Abacha and others during the military regime including the Goodluck Jonathan's administration of 'sarcastic honesty'.
Another mind-boggling report from Punch Newspaper reveals politicians, civil servants, army generals have stolen a gargantuan sum of N38 trillion in 17 years. The psychologically-damaging figures with elements of credibility continue as far as you can research.
So when you wake up in the morning and there is no power, curse the looters! When you drive into a pothole, curse the looters!! As you are unemployed, lacking water, proper healthcare, formal education and other basic entitlements, simply curse the looters!!! They made money out of the state at the 'death' of the masses.

Finally, I wish to criticize the N93 billion appropriated for the first phase of the Home Grown Feeding Programme for primary school students as well as the N500 billion earmarked as social security for 'vulnerable' Nigerians in which they will be given a pitiable sum of N5, 000 monthly. I have observed that the All Progressives Congress is suffering from the psychological effect of being christened 'All Promises Cancelled' by the Ayuba Wabba-led faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress during the nationwide industrial strike action which was echoed by the opposing People's Democratic Party and their supporters.
 APC is blindly following a path that can't be sustained just to score cheap political points ahead of the 2019 general elections. Election campaigns are over; playing politics should be paused to focus on governance. My concern is based on the sustainability of the welfare programmes especially in an austerity period like this when our one-way economy has taken a nosedive. Ekiti state has bluntly backed out of support for the home-grown feeding programme and you will not apportion blames to the governor, Ayodele Fayose as the project mayn't cope with economic realities in his state which already owes workers four months salaries.
The Federal Government should be sensibly focused on equipping the poor with the hook for fishing and creating water bodies rather than easing their hunger temporarily with pieces of fish without educating them on the means of sourcing for the fishes.

Nigeria is a country where the demanding poor will never stop coming back for financial assistance as far as the source is active. A better clue can be drawn from state governments living on bailouts which has been purposely mismanaged and diverted rather than being used to boost the economy of a state for the betterment of the people. N5, 000 palliatives will never better the lives of the poor. It will only slow down their pace of 'death'. At times, a policy-maker has to be dynamic and liberal so as to deal with ideas that can't cope with the realities on ground. Nigeria needs investments that would yield returns and productively engage the teeming population.

Share on Google Plus

About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on Phone number: +2347053302356.
    Blogger Comment
    Facebook Comment


Post a Comment