Celebration of 61st Independence Anniversary is a charade, says HURIWA

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“Not too long ago, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Harvard Kennedy School in the United States said in a report that Nigeria as a nation is at the point of no return, having shown all the signs of a failed nation. Upon giving examples of other failed states in the world, the Report added: Each lacks security, is unsafe, has weak rules of law, is corrupt, limits political participation and voice, discriminates within its borders against various classes and kinds of citizens and provides educational and medical services sparingly. Most of all, failed states are violent. All failed states harbour some form of violent internal strife, such as civil war or insurgency. Nigeria now confronts six or more internal insurrections and the inability of the Nigerian state to provide peace and stability to its people has tipped a hitherto very weak state into failure”.

Provoked by the above and as Nigeria marks her 61st anniversary of independence, the foremost civil rights advocacy group; Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has berated the woes and disaster brought upon Nigeria by the incompetence, ineptitude, insensitivity, high-handedness and nepotism of the political class over the past many years since independence.

The group said the current administration has lowered the bar of good governance and has abandoned Nigerians to the vagaries and uncertainties of conflicts entrepreneurs,  arms smugglers, terrorists and the Rights group said the President made the mistake of a lifetime by surrounded himself with ethnic warlords such as his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Alhaji Garba Shehu who is working to advance the selfish and pedestrian interests of his Fulani and Islamic groups and affiliations using Public platform and resources.

HURIWA has also challenged the President to initiate concrete, genuine and deep national reconciliation and dialogue and check the rising Ethno-religious vendetta and diatribes being stoked by Garba Shehu and other Ethno-religious warlords embedded in his government.

In a statement, signed by the National coordinator; Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA carpeted the nation’s political class for their collective and classical lack of leadership acumen and capacity to manage the country’s diversities just as the rights group highlighted the gross incompetence of cabinet ministers in handling the complexity of modern governance coupled with their overwhelming and overbearing toxic clumsiness in grappling with the sophisticated challenges of development and their feeble approach to complex dynamics of global politics contributed into plunging Nigeria to her current gulf.

“It is an axiom that Nigeria is richly endowed by providence with human and material resources critical for national development and advancement. However, the experience of Nigerians since 2015 has been piercing. Before then, Nigeria was the third fastest-growing economy in the world next to China and India with a growth rate of close to seven per cent. The economy contracted immediately after the swearing-in of President Buhari who took more than six months to constitute his cabinet and sadly the cabinet ministers are mostly opportunistic cash guzzling politicians with zero commitment to Nigeria’s national economic revolution and advancement.

“Growth rate collapsed to less than two per cent. Since then there have been two economic recessions, with the dollar value of the naira dipped as inflation and cost of living went to the blues. The inability of the Government to arrest the decline has led to the loss of confidence in the government, which has been overpowered by an unprecedented security challenge that made insurgency, kidnapping, bloodletting and sophisticated criminal activities daily characteristics of a struggling nation.

“Thus, Nigeria has continued to meander the path befitting failed, weak and “juvenile” states. A state that had very great prospects at independence and was touted to lead Africa out of the backwoods of underdevelopment and economic dependency, Nigeria is still stuck in the league of very poor, corrupt, underdeveloped, infrastructurally decaying, crisis-riven, morally bankrupt and leadership-deficient countries of the South. Rather than become an exemplar for transformational leadership, modern bureaucracy, national development, national integration and innovation, Nigeria seems to be infamous for whatever is mediocre, corrupt, insanely violent and morally untoward”, HURIWA noted.

Hence, HURIWA posited that Nigeria is a victim of poor leadership and convoluted systemic corruption, which in the rights group’s analysis has become pervasive and cancerous in the country’s national life while adding that several pundits have identified the inexorable nexus between leadership crisis and corruption in the country as the continued reason for Nigeria’s inglorious economic throes, political convolutions and national underdevelopment.

Continuing, HURIWA averred that it is disturbing to note that while Nigeria is the third most terrorized country in the world, next to Afghanistan and Iraq, Federal Government actions presently are centred on cows in such a way that Cows are more secure in Nigeria than Nigerians just as the herders are armed to the teeth to the knowledge of Government authorities.

“Security challenges have gotten to the highest level in Nigeria with bloodletting becoming normal. Insurgency, kidnapping and sophisticated criminal activities are daily features of the terribly stressed citizenry. In the past few months, about 2000 Christian lives have been lost in various theatres of “war” in the country.

“Between December 2020 and March 2021, gangs of bandits seeking lucrative ransom kidnapped a total of 769 students from their boarding schools and other educational facilities across northern Nigeria in at least five separate incidents. Leaders take sides with cows than with Nigerians”.

Also, HURIWA revealed that Nigeria’s public debt stock, which has reached $84billion with debt service costs gulping about 80 percent of the entire government’s revenue, Nigeria’s external debt increased by 117.4 per cent from $12.6 billion in 2015 to $27.4 billion by the end of 2019.

Furthermore, the rights group expressed worries that between March and June 2020, a total of $10.26 billion new debt was approved by the National Assembly while other approvals for more loans were also given this 2021.

“These have ominous economic implications particularly with intangible evidence of what these funds are being invested in. With the low productivity of the Nigerian workforce, the Federal Government has no repayment plan that will not be very hurtful to the unborn.

“As such, the burden is already very heavy. The recently published 2021 budget implementation report stated that the Federal Government spent a total of N1.8 trillion on debt servicing in the first five months of the year, representing about 98 per cent of the total revenue generated in the same period. These are indicators that the current leadership in Nigeria suffers from extreme moral depravity and attitudinal debauchery.

“Of the four administrations who have led Nigeria since her return to democracy in 1999, the current administration holds the worst record in terms of economic growth. Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime from 1999 to 2007 had an average growth rate of 6.9 per cent. His immediate successor Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua did even better in his two years with an average growth rate of 7.6 per cent while Goodluck Jonathan delivered a 5 per cent growth rate in his six-year term as President that ended in 2015.

“However, Nigeria’s GDP per capita declined by 0.02 per cent, 4.16 per cent and 1.78 per cent in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, it declined by 0.68 per cent, 0.38 per cent and 4.57 per cent. Six years of contracting per capita have wrecked grievous pain on businesses and households”, HURIWA explained.

Relatedly, HURIWA also used the occasion of the 61 independence celebration of Nigeria to call for the cessation of conflicts and attacks in the South East of Nigeria so dialogue can be embraced.

“It has been over 50 years since the civil war resulted in over a million deaths. There is a need to reflect on such brutality by citizens against each other, and the reasons for the resurgent agitation for the state of Biafra five decades after the war.

“There is a need to know the roots of the agitation, understand the claim of unequal treatment in terms of federal appointments and infrastructure development, and allegations of victimhood and poor responses from the government.

“These issues have to be discussed by the government and stakeholders in the region. The government should create a forum for discussion on what needs to be done for Igbos to feel that they belong and are not alienated in Nigeria”.

“Those who howl against agents of secession without acknowledging reasons for such agitations are not sincere. There is no arguing the fact that incalculable harm has been inflicted on the national psyche. Nigerians should use the opportunity of the 61st anniversary of independence to introspect. Where did the rain start beating this once-promising country? This should be a time for stocktaking.

“What are the prospects of pulling the country back from the brink? Can Nigeria rediscover itself? These are the questions that should concentrate all minds. As 2023 signals, there must be a concerted effort to walk away from the despicable subway vision of nepotism and this general anomie of despondency.

“Conscious effort must be made by all to build a nation around a vision that promotes the common good. Fairness, equity and justice must be the pivot around which any agenda to save Nigeria revolves because sustenance of the Nigerian Federation demands a union of equals”, HURIWA advised.

Conclusively, HURIWA called for the strict enforcement of the suspension of the insane Monday’s sit at home order as well as the United Nations for intervention and the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. HURIWA is appealing to all aggrieved youths in Nigeria not to embrace crimes or banditry but to strive resolutely to empower themselves with whatever life skills they can lay their hands on and busy themselves with mobilising their peers for the coming polls so the political transformation we all seek may be attained when the youths decide to reject cash for votes approach of the current political class and elect credible persons who will govern Nigeria in the fear of God. We appeal to the aggrieved youths of the South East of Nigeria to avoid all kinds of violence and attacks against strategic national security assets in the South East and to protect the South East of Nigeria from the attacks of the so-called unknown gunmen.