62 Years Independence Anniversary:  Our nation not better politically, economically — Nigerians react


…Gasp for breath amidst economic strains, insecurity challenges

…Corruption, political violence wax stronger in 62 years

…Fear over rambles of protest reflections of strained nation

…Economic indicators worsen compared to 1960 …Aisha Buhari tenders apology to Nigerians over economic woes

By Moses Adeniyi

Comparative indications over the State-of-the-Nation seems Nigeria is not better off than it was for the Country when she gained independence.

From political to socio-economic conditions, the Country seems more to be turbulent and in much turmoil presently than the situation as of independence, reflecting as the Country advance in age, her troubles apparently worsened than the year of independence.

…Economy  suffers steady decline

Analysis of the profile of the economy, with key indicators, reflects worsened conditions of economic realities. Although Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product stood at N45trillion in the second quarter of 2022, key indicators as inflation, and the value of the Naira, show troubles for the economy.

The Nigerian currency has over the space of six decades, suffered devaluation before hard currencies. While as at 1960, Nigeria’s Naira exchanged with a stronger value against the dollar, and still  about 90 kobo in the 70s and 80s, Dollar to Naira parallel market exchange rate now hovers between N721.5 and N740 with an average of N731.06 as at yesterday, 30th September, 2022. Although official rate stands at N432.349, scarcity of forex has put the local currency at stronger value disadvantage.

Records or inflation rate has not been much pleasing. Nigeria’s headline inflation rate increased to 19.64 per cent on a year-on-year basis in July, against the 5.44 percent in 1960.

Experts have further projected a rise in inflation rate, though the Central Bank has continued to struggle with Monetary policies to cushion the effect of inflationary trend.

The Bank last Tuesday had announced it has increased the benchmark of Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), also known as interest rate, from 14 per cent to 15.5 per cent as a way of tackling inflation.

The increase, disclosed last Tuesday,  forms the third hawkish move by the apex bank in 2022.

Reacting to the development, in a chat with Nigerian NewsDirect, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Dr Muda Yusuf, said CBN’s decision will not tame inflation, rather it will hurt investors and businesses because commercial banks will have their loans/debts reviewed.

He added that this is not the best time for CBN to review interest rates upward.

Muda advised government to consider reviewing its foreign exchange policy, address insecurity, energy cost and others as viable solutions to Nigeria’s economic quagmire.

According to him, “What I feel is that the decision of CBN is going to hurt many investors indebted to banks, because banks are going to review their interest rate. This is not the best time considering the foreign rate, energy cost and other challenges businesses are facing, especially as this will not tame inflation.

“We saw interest rate increase in past months, it didn’t change anything. The inflation in Nigeria has continue to increase,” he said.

He submitted that, “The solution is for Government to look at factors of foreign exchange policy, insecurity, financing fiscal deficit and energy cost,” not interest rate.

He noted that the Nigeria foreign exchange policy is creating more harm to the Naira.

The only advantage of this decision is that Money market returns will improve, fixed income market also, but the stock market will be penalised,” he stated

Over reliance on oil has been a major problem for the Nigerian economy, since the Country shifted channels to focus largely on oil, shunning attention to other critical sectors as agriculture which has been a major stay before the 1970s when oil exploration gained attention to become the honey pot for the nation.

The corruption ridden oil & gas sector has left Nigeria with a monocultural economic system contributing over 70percent to  the GDP. Corruption in the sector has not translated into economic development, despite the depth of oil and gas exploration in the Country.

…Worsened insecurity with interlocking impacts

Recently,  security has been a major woe for Africa’s giant. Reports show more than 2,600 civilians were killed by armed bandits in 2021, while between January and March 2022, no less than 360 people were killed by bandits in Kaduna State alone, while on 10 April more than 100 people were reported killed in attacks on several communities in the Kanam Local Government Area of Plateau State.

More than 35,000 people have been reportedly killed in northern Nigeria since 2009 when Boko Haram launched its insurgency aimed at overthrowing Nigeria’s secular government and establishing an Islamic state. There are at least 1.8 million internally displaced persons in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states while health services and education have been severely disrupted.

Recently, bandit operations have shackled activities in farming, while disrupting academic sessions across the Country. Schools, even at the Federal Capital Territory, have experienced closure over security threats recently. Security have worsened with clamours over fear and panic. Secessionist movements in the South-East have worsened insecurity records. While the South-south is threatened with agitations, the South-west is troubled by localised threats of bandits and kidnapping.

…Political culture still clustered

Politically, the Country seems not to have fared better. Attributes of political violence, electoral aggression, corruption, non-ideological party based politics, among others are still much resounding. The much clamoured restructuring and constitutional amendments to give keen reflection to true Federal structure still suffer hostilities. Issues of State Police amidst fears of insecurity have not found favourable attention by the resistance to devolution of power.

The structure of over concentration of power at the centre still remains a force to contend with, though recent realities demand more realities of devolution of power to address pressing realities. Drumbeats of secessionist movement have become more resounding than ever.

That the Federal Government is under cause of alarm over intending protest on the independence anniversary celebration early, speaks volume.

Such may not be far fetched from disappointment over expectations making indications of protests as a way of commemorating the 62nd independence anniversary against national felicity.

Issues of woes of the economy, insecurity, national disintegration, disunity, self determinism and secessionist campaigns, among others are troubles confronting the country.

Such reflections are incongruous troubles confronting the nation 62 years after independence.

…Fear over rambles of protest reflections of strained nation

Fears over planned protest in strategic locations across the Country indicate the depth of grievances over  State-of-the-Nation.

Ahead of fears of planned rally in the Lekki area of Lagos State, the Lagos State Police Command on Friday took over the Lekki Tollgate on Lekki-Epe Expressway.

The Police had embarked on a show of force exercise around the tollgate with men of the Rapid Response Squad and Lagos State Taskforce.

The deployment of armed policemen is coming after a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos State on Wednesday, ordered the Labour Party and its supporters not to converge at the Lekki Toll-Gate for its planned rally.

On Friday, policemen were sighted heavily armed, and have practically taken over the Lekki community in a bid to forestall any planned rally in the area. During the show of force, Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), patrol vans and black maria were stationed at the tollgate vicinity.

Spokesperson of the Command, SP Benjamin Hundeyin in one of his tweets had said, “In continuation of its routine convoy patrol of the metropolis as directed by the Lagos Commissioner of Police, CP Abiodun Alabi, Commander RRS, CSP Olayinka Egbeyemi is presently leading RRS team and Lagos Taskforce on convoy patrol of the city.” In a statement, Hundeyin said no form of rally whatsoever will be allowed at the Lekki Toll gate on Saturday, October 1, 2022.

Panic over protest march on independent anniversary is an indication into facts that the nation is unhealthy at 62.

Sectoral performances of the economy speak volume of these realities. The woes of the economy recently have left sour distaste with grievances among majority of Nigerians.

On the disappointments over the State-of-the-Nation,  the First Lady, Dr. Aisha  Buhari, on Friday tendered apologies to Nigerians over the woes of the economy with harsh realities and insecurity experienced under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.

…A lot of hardship, difficulties in education, health, other day-to-day activities – Aisha Buhari

The First Lady who spoke during the 62nd Independence Day Special Juma’at prayer and Public Lecture themed “Shura: The Islamic Foundation of True Democracy” at the National Mosque Conference Hall, Abuja, said, “The regime might not have been a perfect one, but I want to seize this opportunity to seek forgiveness from the Ulamas and Nigerians in general. We all need to work together to achieve a better Nigeria.

“As you may be aware that this government is making its exit and perhaps witnessing the last anniversary of the regime, I ask Nigerians to pray for a successful election and transition programme.

“The regime might not have been a perfect one, but I want to seize this opportunity to seek forgiveness from the Ulamas and Nigerians in general. We all need to work together to achieve a better Nigeria.

“Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, it is also noticeable that our Naira is being evaluated and the foreign exchange rate has affected our economy, causing a lot of hardship and difficulties in terms of education, health and other day-to-day activities of our citizens.”

The indicators reveal the Giant of Africa as at 1960, now seems to have waned in its strength and unhealthy, six decades and two years after independence. The call is for concerted efforts to salvage the Country from the path of woe.