By George Onmonya Daniel
The Financial Times of London in Its December 22, 2020, article opined that Nigeria is a failing state. It started it’s write up from the kidnapping of over 300 school boys in Kankara, Katsina, ironically the kidnapping happened when the president was in Daura, Katsina State, a stone throw from where the boys were kidnapped from their school. Financial Times of London would define a failed state as one where the government is no longer in control. By this yardstick, Africa’s most populous country is teetering on the brink.
Boko Haram are on rampage in Borno despite President Buhari stating that they have been technically defeated. But that’s not just the problem today, the entire country looks like it is actually ungoverned.
From Kaduna to Abuja has become too risky to travel to on road. The same with Abuja to Lokoja. These are two major routes linking the North and South to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. Fulani bandits have successfully made Kaduna-Abuja road very difficult for motorists to travel to and daily there are cases of kidnaps and attempted kidnaps in Niger, Kaduna, around Abuja, and on Abuja-Kogi road. Boko Haram have made traveling from Damaturu to Maiduguri unbearable too and have not only kidnapped but have killed hundreds of people on the road.
Large areas in Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara are completely ungoverned, likewise Kaduna State, with wanton killings and kidnappings going on day by day in these places. Government practically seem absent. The sense of lawlessness give the outlaws Fulani bandits the energy and brazenness to continue with their wanton killings of Nigerians, armed robberies and kidnapping for ransom.
Human rights activist and convener of #BringBadOurGirls, Mrs. Aisha Yesufu talking to AIT in an interview on whether Nigeria is a failing state categorically stated that Nigeria is a failed state. A lot of Nigerians are disenchanted with the Buhari administration and there are calls for restructuring the country from the Middle Belt, South and Eastern part of the country with groups believing Nigeria as it is has failed.
On my trip from Kano city to Malumfashi in Katsina State recently, it is clear to see why pundits are saying Nigeria is largely ungoverned. Apart from the urban areas, the rural areas seem completely without any form of security and this mean any form of militia can attack the people and hold them to ransom. Immigration officials in the town of Malumfashi are not interested in who or what comes in and out into the country but one can clearly see them line up foreigners from Niger Republic and extorting them from N500 to N1000 and allowing them in and out of the country. It is the same in the Daura axis, the town of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Financial Times of London rightly stated that,
“Extortion is a potent symbol for a state whose modus operandi is the extraction of oil revenue from central coffers to pay for a bloated, ruinously inefficient, political elite. Security is not the only area where the state is failing. Nigeria has more poor people, defined as those living on less than $1.90 a day, than any other country, including India. In non-Covid-19 years, one of every five children in the world out of school lives in Nigeria, many of them girls.
“The population, already above 200m, is growing at a breakneck 3.2 per cent a year. The economy has stalled since 2015 and real living standards are declining. This year, the economy will shrink 4 per cent after Covid-19 dealt a further blow to oil prices. In any case, as the world turns greener, the elite’s scramble for oil revenue will become a game of diminishing returns. The country desperately needs to put its finances, propped up by foreign borrowing, on a sounder footing.
“In its three remaining years, the government of Mr Buhari must seek to draw a line in the sand. It must redouble efforts to get a grip on security. It also needs to restore trust in key institutions, among them the judiciary, the security services and the electoral commission, which will preside over the 2023 elections.”
University have been on strike for about a year with students out of school all the time. It is these students who woke up one day, tired of police brutality against them and killing of citizens and all sorts of impunity by the police that launched the #ENDSARS protest. But the underlining issues that galvanized the #ENDSARS protest isn’t just police brutality but total failure of governance and perception of incompetence of the Buhari administration, insensitiveness of President Buhari and frustration that stems perception that the country is adrift and lacks direction.
This frustration can be seen as young Nigerians (not the protesters) suddenly keyed into the protest and went berserk after the Nigeria army were seen on video shooting at protesters in Lekki. Ware houses with food meant to be shared to Nigeria because of the lockdown due to COVID 19, hoarded by governors and government officials were quickly broken into and food taken by angry Nigerians who felt it was their own anyway. Even up North where religious leaders and politicians painted the protest as plot to replace Buhari by a Southerner joined the looting of warehouses.
Gang of Northern youths, some of who were used by government to attack protesters and burn down businesses, were seen parading around Abuja, looking for warehouses to loot. They may not have participated in the protests but they highly participated in the looting.
There is a sense today and a belief in some quarters that the country is too big to be governed from the center and that has brought forth the debate for restructuring and state police.
The Nigerian government seem to be completely out of touch with reality of the common Nigerian and what is going on in the country where the people are completely disenchanted by a government who’s reality is Abuja and what they and share from Abuja and an Abuja who’s only interest seems to be oil revenue and what enters the pockets of the people controlling Abuja and their friends.
Is Nigeria a failing state or a failed state? If you ask this question and put it out there for people to answer, you wouldn’t get an answer far away from that of the Financial Times of London, that Nigeria is a failing state and many more would tell you that it is a failed state. Both of them would be right.