NIGERIA: Hunger & Leadership Question-Editorial
BY EDITORIAL BOARD
AFRICA’S Most populous nation in the world, Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari is presently facing one of the greatest ‘litmus tests’ since assumption of office going by the variety of vicissitudes of problems, daily challenges facing Nigerian masses who voted overwhelmingly for the retired Daura-born army general from Katsina state.
As a matter of fact before President Buhari was elected 29 May 2015 under the platform of All Progressives Congress, APC, he had made some sterling promises encapsulated in his manifestos been his commitment to the people. These promises attracted the attention of Nigerians desirous of ‘imminent-change’ which led to massive voting support from the people.
Under a title ‘My Commitment to Nigeria’, President Buhari swore to uphold his Oath of office after his election and promised the following issues during his manifesto: “I will fully enforce the Freedom of Information Act l so that government held data sets can be requested and used by the public and then such data sets be publish on regular basis, Establish a well trained, adequately equipped and goals driven Serious Crime Squad to combat insurgencies, kidnapping, armed robbery, ethno-religious and communal clashes, nationwide; Restore financial confidence in the citizens and the world, by putting in place a more robust monitoring, supervising, and regulating of the financial institutions. As at 1999, Nigerian rate of unemployment stood at about 8%, today it is estimated from official statistics to be close to 30%, Create a Social Welfare Program of at least Five Thousand Naira, N5000, that will cater for the 25 million poorest and most vulnerable citizens upon the demonstration of children’s enrolment in school and evidence of immunisation to help promote family stability.
“I will embark on vocational training, entrepreneurial and skills acquisition scheme for graduates along with the creation of Small Business Loan Guarantee Scheme to create at least 5 million new jobs by 2019. Modernize the sector and change Nigeria from being a country of self-subsistence farmers to that of a medium/large scale farming nation/producer; Generate, transmit and distribute electricity on a 24/7 basis whilst simultaneously ensuring the development of sustainable/renewable energy, by 2019 and assist Nollywood to fully develop into world class movie industry that can compete effectively with Hollywood and Bollywood in due course. I will support the creative and performing arts with the necessary environment where by our great entertainers do not end their lives in abject poverty as is currently the case.”
Unfortunately, only two of these lofty promises stated above by Nigeria’s President that was fulfilled to the people, which are: “paltry payment of N5000 as Social Welfare Program to jobless Nigerian youths and adequately equipped goals driven Serious Crime Squad to combat insurgencies.” The routing of majority members of Boko Haram from their hideouts in North east Nigeria that led to the latest freedom of 21 Chibok girls from the terrorists’ enclave now seen as rare accomplishment by Nigeria’s President government.
As at today, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, NBS, in its latest report said 1.5 million Nigerians are unemployed in the first quarter of 2016. In this unemployment and underemployment report NBS stated that “the country’s unemployment rate grew from 10.4 percent in the last quarter in 2015 to 12.1 percent. In the third and fourth quarter of 2015, Nigeria saw about the same number of people become unemployed. The economically active population or working age population (persons within ages 15- 64) increased from 105.02 million in Q4 2015 to 106.0 million in Q1 2016.”
This report revealed that in “Q1 2016, the labour force population i.e. those within the working age population willing, able and actively looking for work increased to 78.4 million from 76.9million in Q4 2015. This means an additional 1,528,647 economically active persons within 15-64 entered the labour force, were able, willing and actively looking for work between January 1 and March 31 2016.”
There are so many Nigerian graduates roaming the streets of the nation in search of a job that is none existent. And the few lucky ones that secures employment are owned salaries by their employers who heap blames on Nigeria’s downward economic recession.
Lots of hunger in Nigeria presently. Action Against Hunger, a non-governmental organisation in their latest report declare the nation as an emergency zone suffering food and nutrition shortage. The report says “An estimated 617,000 children in northeast Nigeria are suffering from acute malnutrition, 250,000 of them in Borno alone. In Nigeria’s northeast Borno State, intense conflict has left people totally cut off from humanitarian assistance. The Nigerian government has issued a food and nutrition emergency there, and because of this—and some success reclaiming areas previously controlled by militant group Boko Haram—humanitarians are just now getting some limited access for the first time in nearly two years. Conflict, high food prices, inflation, and major disruptions to livelihoods and farming due to fighting have altogether left northeast Nigeria crippled by food insecurity.”
The hunger and joblessness in Nigeria lead most female undergraduates into the trade of prostitution, to the extent that when the day is dusk-to-dawn as early as 7:00pm, these college ladies occupy every streets on highbrow Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Allen Avenue in Lagos and Maitama area in Abuja where they charge various sums of money ranging from N300 for sex exchange on ‘short time’ and N800 till day break, all in a bid to survive. It is crystal clear by the trend that there is so much hunger in the land, high crime rates, insecurity, graduates’ joblessness and tension in the polity.
How did Nigeria get into this state of bleak and feeble leadership? From every intelligent economic experts in Nigeria and those abroad made on Nigeria’s government leadership, ineptitude has been aptly captured as the hallmark that showed that the only achievement so far attain by President Buhari’s administration is ‘fighting corruption,’ condemned by opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party-PDP, as ‘selective graft war on corruption.’ Nigeria has become the cynosure of all eyes globally as it remains to be seen how the Buhari government confronts the leadership question.