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- By Adamu Dada

Published  August 9th, 2015

The much expected relay of baton from Jonathan to Buhari came; smoothly, dispersing hitherto perceived frictions but flaring a flame of expectations for a change in the discharge of Nigeria’s affairs. President Muhammad Buhari’s inaugural speech without doubt set the expectations aflame forming the core of almost all discussions and analyses within and without the shores of Nigeria.

Buhari’s speech portrayed an audacity to address an inherited legacy of youth unemployment, inadequate power supply, a crumbling economy, corruption and insecurity. Albeit dropping the hard earned high rank title of ‘General’ from his name, a couple of hours to the noon of May 29, 2015 saw a lone General literally standing before the whole world, in deep reflection of the trust vested in him by Nigerians in their millions, in emphases of the daunting tasks ahead but of most importance appending his signature signifying an undertaking to make good damages to norms and values and to the economy. In the same vein, seal leakages and cart away wastes; all within an earlier hinted four-year term.

Most other Nigerian politicians delivering Buhari’s speech could not have provoke enough interest to invoke a rejoinder because it would have been seen, heard and passed for a song of the moment which except for pokes, prods or beer parlour debates would naturally go with the wind – but the speech came out of a man, Buhari whose words are his banner. Time tested trust of the man denies the need to place his delivery commitment under the microscope, but his first salvo, a shot at Boko Haram raised a horde of questioning fingers. As urgent and as high the level of insecurity Boko Haram poses, Analysts expected a holistic and encompassing approach to the plethora of inherited problems on the premise that; they might though be counted separately as a Kilimanjaro, an Everest or Himalayas depending on their magnitude, they are intricately connected and are the product of a tattered system.

Along this line, it is worth highlighting the role of the Nigerian Immigration Service in the face of insurgency and youth unemployment. Sharp practices in the Nigerian Immigration service reduced the Nigerian borders to the most porous in the universe. Close to ten million employable and unemployable illegal immigrants reflecting over 30% of the officially quoted immigrants figure roam freely in Nigeria. Additionally, thousands of able bodied and qualified Nigerian professionals are rendered jobless through the crooked issuance of expatriate quota to foreign companies. The net effect, unemployment boost apart, is a ready source of faceless with zero-identity recruits for insurgency, political thuggery, touting and a host of other devilish engagements. This has transformed Boko Haram from a handful of disgruntled unheard of clerics to the present renowned guerrillas today; from a local skirmish with the Police to an international complex battle.

The battle would have been less complex if the office of the National Security Adviser had provided synergy within and between security-related agencies and also between the larger public and every other security agency. Counter measures adopted were mostly archaic, fruitless and remained stagnated while the insurgents engage timely and result oriented strategies by the day. For example, repeatedly, free commuting facilitated the disappearance of attackers into thin airs because every moving vehicle, with neither the due registration nor the approved State colour code could be a commercial vehicle going beyond Sambisa and every spot in the land could be a Motor Park or a Bus Station. Movement and monitoring, adopted only the unsightly barricades and checkpoints that were both ineffective and provocative to the public. Similarly, the compendium of security information and the state of the art equipment of the Department of State Security for inexplicable reasons were not effectively applied.

The Nigerian Police Force, to which accusing fingers point for ballooning the fight, hardly knows its exact personnel roll or its arsenal of weaponries. Their main role of maintaining peace and order and the protection of the citizenry, from lack of refresher training, divisions and dearth of incentives, has been reduced to the responsibility of protecting themselves from Boko Haram.

The combined effect of free movement, poor counter measures and borders porosity undoubtedly do less damage than the availability of hideouts. All three tiers of government seem to have no industry other than the indiscriminate allocation of plots of land; purportedly for housing but mainly for cronies to sell the allocation papers for easy money. Ultimately, the piece of land goes through several hands obscuring the ownership records with the authorities.

 A substantial percentage of these allocations remain for several years undeveloped only to dislodge the original inhabitants, mostly cattle ranchers and subsistence farmers, thereby creating a class of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Some of these allocations end up partly developed as several dots of abandoned/uncompleted structures everywhere with every turn of the eye, presenting a haven for insurgents/criminals. The rest are poorly developed and proliferate into shanty towns around the cities overstretching facilities.

Arbitrary conversions of every square meter of available land to residential plots also translate to depletion of agricultural land with its attendant negative effect of unemployment, urban migration and an overall fall in food and feeds supplies, decline in economic crops production and bloom in food import bills which amounts to a whopping N600billion in rice and wheat import alone annually.

Twenty years after Kwankwaso converted Zawaciki rice farmland to five thousand residential plots for Civil Servants, less than 30% of the plots are developed to date. The farmers who had lived their lives on tilling the land got less than twenty thousand as compensation and now pay to cultivate the same land. The picture is the same in most areas where farmers have been given the quit notice. While it can be argued that they are only subsistence farmers, the proponents of such logic should be reminded that the legendary groundnuts pyramids of Kano were the collective efforts of such farmers.

Didactic as the action on Boko Haram is, a simultaneous involvement of ward heads, the Immigration Service, the Civil Defence Corps and the Department of Security Service for the thorough combing of affected communities to smoke out insurgents will save a sole military action from fetching water with a basket.

Next along the long chain of inheritance is the power sector into which over a whopping $ 20b has been sunk with no light flickering at the end of the cables, a situation Buhari describes as a national shame. It is more shameful considering that Nigeria opts to be the prime importers of power generators in spite of the gifted resource persons,  rich sources for solar-wind hybrid, hydro, thermal and gas for the north, the west, the east and the south east respectively that nature endows Nigeria.

President Muhammad Buhari returns to power after thirty one years, a whole lifetime. Today, Nigeria’s population has more than doubled, slums, enterprises, electric powered gadgets from shavers, phones, grinders, just name them have touched the remotest hamlet implying a higher demand while Nigeria’s power supply has moved in parallax depending on the commentator. Every entrepreneur and investor must first attend to power generation before attending to his core business. Buhari however, needs to be prompted that the issue of power supply is a two-edged sword, sharp enough to shred his integrity. First edge is that, this is the second time he is promising Nigerians to fix the power palaver and the second edge is that power supply is the fulcrum of fixing all his other promises.

Employment, particularly youth employment to a large extent relies on the organised private sector and entrepreneurships rather than government. The private sector and entrepreneurship in turn rely on power supply. For example, Kano up to 1991 had five hundred Customs excisable functioning companies and over one hundred and fifty thousand factories not excisable both engaging over five million people in terms of work force and commercial activities, internally generated revenue apart.

 Power outage has certainly taken the lights off these engagements as well as dashed entrepreneurial hopes. That apart, factors fanning unemployment must first be revisited. Readily on mind are policies, access to funds, skills, urban migration, competition with immigrants, dislodgements, depletion of agricultural land and cultural decadence.

Adherence to policies, legislations and regulations are integral requirements for meaningful engagements and productivity. For example, the compromise on import regulations alone allows the influx of foreign goods and in concert with other indicators reduced the nation from a key player in the export of agro-based products to today’s multipurpose waste plonk of imported goods and also transformed yesterday’s entrepreneurs to today’s hawkers and promoters of foreign goods on the streets; at every traffic lights stop spot, at the corner shops and at every market place.

Discuss on entrepreneurship echoes the entrepreneurial development of China, the most populous country in the world that looked within to address its food demand by initiating a green revolution. It resisted imports, harnessed her resources and enhanced her cottage industries which blossomed to earn her a rightful place in the comity of industrialised nations today. Nigeria an over privileged nation endowed with human and natural resources discounted its potential and relied on foreign expertise, maimed her agricultural sector, choked her nascent industries and embarked on a comprehensive import revolution covering both used(mostly scraps) and new(mostly counterfeit) items.

The path Buhari chose to kick-start small and medium size businesses through funding is riddled with landmines that previously crippled such business. In the first instance, financial institutions rely on documentation such as statutory registration, Bank Account and the likes to release funds and the target group may not have the wherewithal to meet such documentation. The Nigerian financial institutions have thrown ethics to the wind and are hardly service oriented; serving only a handful few whose debit columns remain red in billions giving rise to the founded suspicion from the general public especially the target group of small and medium scale industries. In 2013, on a similar pedestal through a two billion Naira funding from the Federal Government, the First Bank Plc in collaboration with the Kano Branch of the National Association of Small Scale Industries (NASSI) fraudulently lured over ten thousand groups/individuals with a low interest loan. Each group/individual painstakingly paid a minimum ten thousand Naira for feasibility study (copy and paste) and met all the Banks requirements to open accounts only for the funds at the end of the whole struggle to vanish as mysterious as Adolf Hitler.

Buhari’s commitment is in the clear but unemployment remains a cancerous assortment of causatives and derivatives which unless sifted and remedied renders efforts geared toward addressing the issue an attempt to fill up a bottomless pit. One of Buhari’s goodwill gestures was the bailout for outstanding salaries which would have gone down well but for the sordid fact that a substantial percentage of the released funds would end up in some rogues’ pockets some of whom collect, on a monthly basis, the salaries of fifty ghost workers while graduates languish for years in search of jobs. Such frustrating inequity may explain the mushrooming and wide spread drug addiction afflicting both genders, most families, rendering employable youths unemployable today. Mind controlling drugs are peddled everywhere and by everybody right under the nose of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency.

Entrepreneurship or employment also requires skills that need to be developed through workshops and training over time. Skills acquisition may enjoy prominence in addressing unemployment particularly that local institutions of learning hardly equip graduates with applicable knowhow. To embark on entrepreneurship without the prerequisite skills is to put the cart before the horse.

The frightening rate of suburban-urban migration is attributed to dislodgements, depleting land for cultivation and for animal grazing coupled with lack of skills which in turn diminishes free enterprises. The three tiers of government are party to dislodgements through haphazard developments. A case in point requiring Buhari’s immediate rescue operation is the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The original design concept was an administrative city which at some point became distorted and its environs became chaotic. It took the courage of Mallam Nasiru El-Rufa’i to painstakingly restore it. Today, the situation is worse than ever; against all the principles of Environmental Protection and without recourse to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or to any input from the Environment, Agriculture and Mines and Power Ministries, 90% of the total land defining the FCT has been recklessly plotted and allocated for ‘development’ or simply put, converted to a land buying and selling market.

 The aim of relocating the Capital from Lagos to Abuja is now defeated; facilities have since exceeded their yielding point; power and water supplies are a distant cry from being adequate; traffic and human congestion is in full force so much so that in spite of expanded roads to and fro the city, sometimes it takes over two stressful hours to cover a 5Km distance. It is more like the hustle and bustle that was Lagos have found permanence in Abuja. Officially produced shanty towns surround the main city stretching to bordering States. In the very near future the rare fauna and flora would be extinct.  The tranquil and beautiful landscapes of hills, valleys and lush will be lost to rusty roofs, smoke and noise.

Official recognition for inhabitants of the area representing Abuja is accorded the Gwari alone who still enjoy the paltry benefits of compensation for economic trees before any developments on their confiscated lands; but before the Abuja map, it was a Fulani settlement and for decades a massive cattle range. The Fulani in perspective are the most hit in dislodgement because they predominantly live in the outskirts with their most cherished pastime and possession - the cattle. They lack both formal education and entrepreneurial skills and hardly cohabit with other tribes. The Fulanis, on dislodgement migrate to neighbouring States with shrubberies that can support their herds; but these shrubberies are often farmlands and consequently their activities ignites the Fulani-Farmers fatal clashes which leave  indelible scars of human, cattle and farm produce loss boosting the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The danger lies not in the drubbed farmers migrating to the shanty towns around Abuja but the culture shock to which their children are exposed.  The greater anger is that a handful of the Fulanis, short of any other occupation to recoup their loss; resort to kidnapping, robbery and cattle rustling.

The new administration of Buhari is making giant strides in recovery of looted funds, curtailing pipe vandalism and resuscitating refineries but the tired shoulders of the oil sector must enjoy some relief from agricultural; a sector on which alone, the nation can depend.

Previous administrations had run round and round the circle of fertiliser procurement and distribution hoping to diversify the economy by boosting agriculture. But the whole issue of fertiliser is now a scam; an avenue for stealing, for enriching cronies, for creating middlemen and for enslaving the real farmer.

Buhari may find the elusive panacea of diversifying the economy in creating Agencies capable of revenue and employment generation under the Ministry of Agriculture. Fisheries could stand alone exploiting the fishing potentials of Nigeria’s territorial and inland waters in addition to small and medium scales fish farming.

Nigeria imports over 70% of the meat, milk and eggs consumed; cattle are sourced from the Niger Chad Cameroun and Burkina Faso republics. Milk comes from almost everywhere including diverted UN relief materials. An Agency for Animal Husbandry and Poultry could meet internal demand; generate employment and revenue from export.

 No excuse exists on the surface of the earth for Nigeria neglecting her potential in oil palms, cocoa, rubber, teak, tamarind, Morella and Shea each of which can provide external revenue and meet internal consumption including industrial and pharmaceutics demands. So also would cotton, Sesame seeds, groundnuts, soya and cowpea. Buhari would do well to save Nigeria from being the dumping ground of all sorts of soft/juice drinks and the huge amount incurred in import by a little push in the direction of orchards, pineapples et al; all groups under a Forestry and Crops Agency that would also check deforestation.

Idle periods in seasonal and subsistence farming open the window for urban migration making farming a pastime or a part-time business and this constitutes one of the major pitfalls to previous agricultural drives.  An Agency in conjunction with the Ministry for Water Resources providing the prerequisite for an all engaging and all seasons farming through rain harvest, dams, irrigation channels and relevant Infrastructures would recreate that old class of enduring farmers and solve part of the problems. There are volumes of Research done in almost all aspects of the broad term called Agriculture and there are competent Scientists in the land but a green revolution requires contemporary laboratories and in spite of several Institutes of Agriculture, Nigeria does not have a single one.

Nigeria quotes an enviable population figure but hardly any administration explores its potentials, the large population becomes a burden. Buhari’s five thousand naira allowance to the unemployed and the proposal in respect of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) are likely to generate an exponential counter productivity. The alternative is to direct the energy, intellect and interest of the youthful Corps members to Agriculture. They have the capacity to translate theoretical research works to the practical farmers, they are the most likely to acquire skills and the ability to transfer same as extension workers and of most importance is the likelihood for them embrace agriculture as an occupation.

Internal insecurity is certainly one of the biggest drags to economic activities, foreign investments and societal well being and unsurprisingly amongst the tops of Buhari’s to must-do list. If governance is about the protection of lives and property, it is apt to say that governance has for years gone on leave. Life in Nigeria has lost its value and death has no price. The agency responsible for the safety of the citizenry, the Nigerian Police Force has outlived its usefulness. The concept of security to the Nigerian Police has been redefined to mean the protection of the Police by the Police from insurgents and the protection of elected/public officers from the populace; the electorates.

Traces of free service to the people by the Police still exist but money mostly dictates what the Police offers. In light of budgetary approvals, one would expect that insurgency, car snatching, arm robbery and kidnapping would nudge the police to go the extra mile and employ surveillance choppers and equip their personnel with communication gadgets but police funds have been diverted to private pockets to the extent that members of the Police Force buy every bit of their uniforms, opening the window for impersonation. To sight fully armed Policemen shoddily dressed in jeans and T-shirts wearing beach slippers at designated points is common place. It will not be paradoxical if one quips that the Police themselves seem to be impersonating criminals. The smartly dressed Policeman with reflective shoes from polish is long dead and buried. Secondly, the Police are rented to provide protection to individuals and organisations that can afford. Gossips are equally rife that even their firearms, which are obviously not catalogued, could be rented. The Police are known to be a friend but seemingly the Police have extended that friendship even to those not people-friendly. Thirdly, the Police made no attempt to customise their operational vehicles given rise to fake Police vehicles with the entire siren and distress lights paraphernalia.

Recruitment into the Police Force, incentives, refresher training, logistics, capacity build up and equipment leave much to be desired. It is noteworthy that the Police scenario bears little or no difference to the other security agencies in the land.

Buhari may have an arsenal of strategies to deal with insecurity issue but no doubt the primary step is the revocation of all and all and without exceptions of every gun license issued to individuals in the country followed immediately by a thorough mop up of all firearms buttressed by a supportive law against possession of firearms. The safety of the citizenry rests squarely on Security Agencies, the Police in particular. The authority to issue license to possess arms has been grossly abused in terms of the calibre of guns the law allows and the purpose for owning a gun. There are no records of licenses issued and no category of individuals.  Also, Police and military vehicles should be customised, specially made vehicles for security agencies alone like the Indian jeep or the American wrangler for patrols and American Police cars for surveillance and other operations. Textiles industries and shoe factories were producing uniforms until it became a contract, a big import business.

On corruption, all agreed and all disagreed that Buhari will keep his promise not to go after those that had personally offended him in the past. Buhari’s unrepentant anticorruption stance drew the battle line between him and the equally unrepentantly corrupt. The convolution is that most of those who pained him are at the other side of the divide; were amongst those who once basked in the victory of toppling his government and are of those responsible for squandering the fortunes of Nigeria.

Buhari’s anticorruption crusade is unknown to persons born forty years ago and could account to over 100million or 60% of Nigeria’s population. A paradigm shift from a business-as-usual to a sane society is a herculean task likely to set Buhari running pole to pole arduously fighting corruption at one end and fixing damages at the other; in between, sifting old scores from official scorn.

Buhari lost his seat as a military Head of State and won the Presidency after three attempts; all on the same theme -the fight against corruption. He is therefore an established authority, a sort of Professor in the field of anticorruption, yet one is tempted to send Buhari two vital alerts, not the sort he gets when looted funds are recovered but a gentle reminder on his integrity which precariously hangs on the line if he fails to tackle and subdue corruption.

First, Buhari has no excuse to fail either him or the millions that hoped on him. Secondly, the times have changed so the strategies must change.  The EFCC should be seen a minor in the fight against corruption on the premise that the omission and damage must have been done before the matter reaches the commission to manage – a fire brigade approach.

Buhari’s most logical method statement is first to establish a system that eliminates corruption tendencies. In this light, the import of Buhari’s call to Labour Unions and organised private sector cannot be over highlighted in the delicate art of moderating and fine tuning Transportation, Medicare, Housing and Education rates to fit into remunerations and tariffs.

Secondly, and likely most important is to clip corruption at its budding stage. Public office is today the license to stupendous wealth which explains the shameless scramble for political, public including corporate positions in the country. High positions make the Clients to become the Contractor, the Assessor and payment authoriser. Budgets are produced as mere desirable figures, contracts are inflated, projects are either abandoned or poorly executed while the Professionals luckily employed are sidelined and professional bodies remain toothless. In spite of all the tiers of government undertaking $billion worth of projects, moral destitution in the country renders professionals jobless.

Toward this end lies the need for every professional to be registered, licensed and appended an ID Number by his/her professional body from the student to the Fellow membership. Government should delegate discipline and monitoring through legislation by empowering professional bodies to discipline their members, protect their rights and revoke practice license in cases of compromise of ethics and negligence. Similarly, prohibition of private practice by government employed professionals through legislation. Also a law compelling every contracting company must engage licensed professionals as a prerequisite to qualify for contracts.

One can claim that because Buhari was once in power, had been working close to power and with his iconic audacity he could fix Nigeria’s problems; but on a final note, it would do well to quote one of Abacha’s statements at the Defence House (Lagos) on his assumption of power “I have been close to the corridors of power long enough to know Nigeria’s problems, but now I know different, everyday comes with a new shock”.  

Adamu Dada, Kano, Nigeria

adamudada@yahoo.com ; +234 803 427 3251



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