In the past week, Nigerians have been treated to the vicious trading of accusations and counter-accusations by political stakeholders, in the wake of comments made by the spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who called southern politicians clamouring for the 2023 presidency as lazy.
Also in the week, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami recanted on his promise of letting Nigerians know the real sponsors of terrorism in the country by saying doing so would jeopardize the investigations.
We covered these and three other stories that got the polity afire. Enjoy!
1. Baba-Ahmed and the ‘lazy’ southern politicians
On September 21, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) stirred the hornet’s nest when he branded southern politicians clamouring for the 2023 presidency to be handed to their region as lazy.
Baba-Ahmed, who spoke during an interview session on Arise TV, challenged the governors to instead work towards it, as the “north has as much right as the south to present a candidate for the presidency.”
“You can’t compel us to be in the background…We won’t allow that when anyone irrespective of the zone can contest. Nobody is a second-class citizen,” Baba-Ahmed had noted.
Why it matters
The on-going debates over power rotation, and or zoning, continue to highlight the weaknesses in the country’s leadership recruitment processes that tend to focus more on the primordial sentiments of ethnicity and religion, rather than competence, character and capacity.
The conversations are also a sad reminder of the debilitating issues of injustice and inequity which seem to heighten mutual suspicion between and among the federating units.
Expect political tensions to remain high as long as the issue of power rotation remains unresolved ahead of 2023.
2. Senate’s loan defence
On September 22, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriation, Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, heaped the blame on Nigeria’s debt burden on past governments, specifically those of Olusegun Obasanjo, Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.
Adeola had argued that the criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government for plunging Nigeria into debt was unfair and uninformed.
“The accumulated borrowing you are talking about did not come from this administration alone. It is an accumulated loan. It is not a loan that says that it is the current administration of President Buhari that has borrowed.”
Why it matters
While experts have argued that there may be nothing wrong with borrowing for development, the unanswered questions bother on how sustainable these loans are, especially as the country’s Revenue to GDP ratio bites the dust, and cost of debt servicing hits the roof at almost ninety percent.
Indeed, the objective conditions clearly show that despite the usual government claims, the sad tales of hardship remain unchanged.
3. Naming sponsors of terrorism
On September 22, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, explained why the Federal Government decided not to expose sponsors of terrorism in Nigeria at the moment.
“As far as terrorism funding and financing is concerned, we have succeeded in identifying those that are allegedly responsible for funding same and we are blocking the leakages associated with the funding… For the purpose of investigation, I would not like to be pre-emptive in terms of making disclosures that will have effect of undermining the successes we are recording,” Malami said.
Why it matters
The shroud of secrecy around alleged sponsors of terrorism continues to cast doubt on the sincerity of the Nigerian government to expressly deal with the matter.
Indeed, what this suggests is that the government may be lacking the political will to dig at the root with all the seriousness it deserves.
Until it does, it may be safe to assume that the answers to the country’s insecurity challenges will be never be found.
4. Sanusi’s verdict on Nigeria’s economy
On September 24, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, lamented that Nigeria’s economy was on the verge of total collapse.
He said, among others: “For us in Nigeria, the enclave economy that we have, the so-called goose that lays the golden egg is about to die. There will be no eggs. The future is not in the carbons. We are having difficulties selling Nigerian oil. So, not only are we having problems producing, even when we produce, the market is not there.”
Why it matters
Sanusi’s verdict on the state of Nigeria’s economy should be a cause of concern for the government and its economic policy managers. It speaks truth to power, and it is an invitation to government to look at itself in the mirror.
It further underscores the fact that the President Buhari-led administration must come up with favourable economic policies to reverse the trend that has left the country as the poverty capital of the world.
5. The third-force blueprint
On September 21, the ex-Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, teamed up with former presidential aspirant, Prof. Pat Utomi, and other politicians to launch a third-force known as the Rescue Nigeria Project (RNP).
At the unveiling of the group in Abuja with the mandate to provide an alternative political platform to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the RNP said:
“We want to salvage this country and see how we can fix the mess. We want to set a template that leaders must have before they can attain any political position,” the group said.
Why it matters
The ‘Third-Force’ movement underscores the need to further open up the political space and deepen the democratic culture through decentralization of views and competition for power.
It also lends support to the clamour for independent candidacy in the country’s leadership recruitment process.
How far the group will fare will, of course, depend on its staying power defined by the commitment of its members to disrupting the statusquo.