What began as a rumour or idle talk – whispers of a putsch – yesterday gathered a life of its own as state actors kept giving life to the notion, which is turning and turning in the widening gyre.
First was the pledge by the military that it would not overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general and head of state whose government has come under strident criticisms over growing insecurity in the country.
In a statement issued by Acting Director, Defence Information, Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu, the military said it has no intention of taking over power again in Nigeria. This, it said, is because it believes that despite tough times, democracy is the way to go and militarism is no longer fashionable. The army also warned politicians nursing ambition of ruling Nigeria outside the ballot box, saying it would continue to defend the country’s democracy.
“We shall continue to remain apolitical, subordinate to the Civil Authority, firmly loyal to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari and the 1999 Constitution as Amended. We shall continue to discharge our constitutional responsibilities professionally, especially in protecting the country’s democracy, defence of the territorial integrity of the country as well as protection of lives and properties of citizens,” the statement said in part.
This statement was in reaction to agitation by some secessionist and opposition figures for a restructuring of the government, coming two days after the Department of State Services (DSS) also issued same warning.
Immediately after the army’s pledge of loyalty, the Presidency, yesterday, raised the alarm, warning of a subliminal plot by some past leaders working with foreigners to forcefully sack President Buhari from office. However, it did not provide names of the leaders and their cohorts.
The Presidency predicated its conclusion on what it described as ‘unimpeachable’ evidence made available to it by DSS operatives. It, however, warned of dire consequences of such plot, especially where the citizens have opted for democratic rule, saying the only accepted way to change a democratically elected government is through elections.
In a statement issued by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the Presidency said: “The Department of State Services (DSS), on Sunday alerted on sinister moves by misguided elements to wreak havoc on the government, sovereignty and corporate existence of the country.
“Championed by some disgruntled religious and past political leaders, the intention is to eventually throw the country into a tailspin, which would compel a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership.
“Further unimpeachable evidence shows that these disruptive elements are now recruiting the leadership of some ethnic groups and politicians round the country, with the intention of convening some sort of conference, where a vote of no confidence would be passed on the President, thus throwing the land into further turmoil.
“The agent provocateurs hope to achieve through artifice and sleight of hands, what they failed to do through the ballot box in the 2019 elections. Nigerians have opted for democratic rule, and the only accepted way to change a democratically elected government is through elections, which hold at prescribed times in the country. Any other way is patently illegal, and even treasonable. Of course, such would attract the necessary consequences.”
In response to the salvo fired by the Presidency, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the allegation that some Nigerians were plotting a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership, as a resort to blackmail in the face of failure. The PDP, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, asked Buhari to look closely at his past before accusing it of plot to overthrow democratically elected government.
“Perhaps, the Presidency has forgotten that in 1983, Brigadier Muhammadu Buhari, as he was then known, led a military coup to truncate a democratically elected government thereby causing our nation a huge drawback on democratic governance.”
The PDP said rather than live up to the responsibilities of office by taking charge and securing the nation, “the Presidency is busy engaging in frivolous allegations against Nigerians.”
DESCRIBING the alarm as false and signs of a jittery administration pushing the panic button, a civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has asked Buhari to quit immediately if the “kitchen has become too hot for him.”
JUST IN: IPMAN Threatens Strike Action As Fuel Scarcity Looms
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) Suleja/Abuja Unit, on Sunday, threatened to embark on a strike action over alleged extortion by officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
It said members would be instructed not to load from Suleja depot in Niger State.
The Chairman of the Unit, Alhaji Yahaya Ahman Alhassan, made the disclosure during an interactive session with journalists in Abuja.
According to him, the association seeks an explanation as to DPR’s incessant demand for daily sales activities from filling stations.
“IPMAN has no other alternative other than instructing our members not to load from Suleja depot in Niger State to express our frustrations after all efforts to make DPR officials desist from unethical practices failed.
“These issues have to be resolved before we can commence lifting of products from the depot,” he said.
The strike action is expected to commence on Monday, June 21, 2021.
Data shows Nigerians are more miserable under President Buhari
Every May 29, Nigeria remembers the beginning of the end of decades of military rule and the start of democracy.
To many, democracy was long sought as the best model of governance that can lead Nigeria into political stability, respect for the rule of law and economic prosperity. While there has been political stability and just above average respect for the rule of law, economic prosperity appears to have eluded the country in the last 22 years.
Several macro-economic indicators provide a solid reference to gauging how the economy has performed throughout the last 22 years that have seen the country vote for 4 democratically elected presidents. GDP Growth rate, inflation rate, lending rates, population growth rate, unemployment rate, etc., are examples of macroeconomic indicators used by economist to ascertain how countries have performed. More importantly, is how these indicators have impacted the standard of living of Nigerians.
However, a more reliable metric is the misery indexwhich combines all of the macroeconomic indicators mentioned above. It accounts for insufficient jobs, expensive access to funds as a result of high lending rate, increase in the price of goods and services, and the reduction in consumption due to low growth rate. These are the main features that make up the core concepts that are measurable with regards to the misery index.
Furthermore, the 22-year democratic average GDP growth rate is 5.1%, in the last five years (2015-2020), the average economic growth rate was 0.68%, which is much below the average population growth rate of around 2.5% per year since 1999. There is increasing Misery as a result of this growing tendency for the population. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the unemployment rate grew to 33.3%, up from 3.79% in 1999.
According to the data, the misery index of Nigerians has been on a steady increase. Consequently, it would be judicious to examine each administration’s contribution to the misery level of Nigerians despite their campaign promises.
Misery contribution by political administration since the fourth republic
Using data gathered from Nairalytics, the research arm of Nairametrics, Nigeria’s misery index was the least (comparative to other presidents after him) during the 8 years presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007, and the misery level has worsened under President Muhamadu Buhari from 2016 to date.
The price of crude oil, Nigeria’s largest source of revenue, was high (averaging $91 per barrel) during the Jonathan administration but dropped significantly in Buhari’s tenure falling as low as $30 per barrel shortly after Mr Buhari took office. This has contributed in no small way to the lack-lustre performance of the economy under his leadership.
Olusegun Obasanjo, 1999 – 2007
According to data from Nairalytics, under Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s first democratically elected president since the return to democracy, economic misery stood at 29.8 index points in his first year of presidency. The major propeller of the misery index was high lending rate of 20%, low growth of 0.58% and inflation of 6.6%. In his final year as president (2007), the misery index had fallen to 18.39, GDP growth was 6.59% and inflation and lending rate were down to 5.38% and 16% respectively. Obasanjo’s presidency averaged a GDP growth rate of 6.95% during his 8 years in office, he also kept unemployment low at 3.6% from 3.8% in 1999.
During Obasanjo’s presidency, Nigeria experienced a relatively secure economy, with private sector reforms in telecoms, banking, and pension administration. His government also laid a formidable foundation for other market reforms carried out by subsequent Nigerian presidents.
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, 2008-2010
The late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua started office with a misery index score of 23.38 index point in 2008. Economic growth in 2008 was 6.76%. In 2010, it hit a peak of 9.13%, averaging 7.98% for Yar’Adua’s short time in office.
Although his presidency was characterized by rapid growth, he was unable to reduce the misery level of Nigeria. His administration was plagued with double digit inflation and an increase in lending rate which increased the misery score to 26.92.
During Yar’Adua’s administration, the country saw a significant commodities boom, a financial market meltdown in 2008 that largely spared Nigeria, and a reversal of the sale of NNPC refineries owing to a lack of sincerity in the process.
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, 2011-2015
Following the death of his predecessor in 2010, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan took over as President and was re-elected in 2011. With a GDP growth rate of 5.30% and inflation of 10%, the misery index score at the start of his term was 25.26 points. The highest growth rate was 6.22% recorded in 2014. Nigeria’s average GDP growth rate was 4.80% under his leadership, from 2011 to 2015.
However, a fall in growth rate and the relatively high lending rate led to the misery score increase at the end of his tenor to 27.55 index point.
During his presidency, he oversaw the implementation of reforms such as fuel deregulation, which was hampered by the “#OccupyNigeria” protests, as well as the successful completion of the first phase of Nigeria’s reforms, which saw the deregulation of PHCN assets into today’s GenCos and DisCos (transmission is still in the hands of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, which distributes the power to DisCos nationally).
Muhammadu Buhari, 2016-2020
On the promise of “CHANGE,” Buhari’s administration secured his leadership by defeating the incumbent opposition party, a first-time occurrence in Nigeria’s democratic history. The misery score stood at 41.12 index points at the start of Buhari’s term.
Under the Buhari administration, the economy has experienced rising food inflation and currency inflation which have seen Nigeria’s GDP per capita fall to the level it was 40 years ago. These stood as the major propeller of misery.
The administration has fallen short of its promises for a variety of reasons, even though it has performed admirably in social welfare schemes implemented under the National Social Investment Program (NSIP). The National Home-Grown School Feeding Program (NHGSFP), the N-Power program, which aims to create jobs for 1 million beneficiaries, the GEEP program, which will provide loans to an additional 1 million traders, farmers, and market people, and the Social Register, which will accommodate an additional 1 million households, are among these programs. TRADERMONI, MARKETMONI, FARMERMONI, MSME Survival Fund, and N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund are among the others.
Currently, his presidency is characterized by a high unemployment rate of 33.3% (Q4 2020) which neutralizes the 0.51% GDP growth rate (Q1 2021), a high inflation rate of 18.17% (March 2021) and prime lending rate of 11.24% in April. These placed the misery score at 62.2 index point.
What this means
The figures show that Nigeria has experienced an increasing misery level since the fourth republic and the nation is facing its worst hardship under the current administration. However, while some might be quick to point to democracy as the problem, it is important to note that the happiest countries in the world still practice democracy.
In conclusion, the persistent insecurity issues, nationwide protest of #Endsars and most recently, the #twitterban are not doing any favour to the current administration in elevation of misery in the country. Hence, a more inclusive approach should be taken by the government to reverse the current downturn.
Soldiers stop 73 Nasarawa youths going to Imo
Troops of 72 Special Force Brigade, Nigeria Army, Makurdi, have intercepted 73 young men headed to Imo from Nasarawa.
They were being transported inside five trucks with 47 motorcycles when soldiers stopped them at Agan Toll Gate within the Benue capital.
The vehicles also contained sacks of minerals loaded from Plateau State for delivery at a Port Harcourt-based company.
Benue Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu visited the Army barracks on Tuesday. He commended the military personnel for their vigilance and conduct.
Abounu said contrary to speculations and fear of attack, “no arms were found after a thorough search conducted by the soldiers.”
He advised the Army to thoroughly profile the young men to ascertain the actual mission of their trip and possibly fish out those who provide questionable responses.
Lt. Col. AD Alhassan, Commander of 72 Special Forces Brigade disclosed that his men acted on intelligence.
Alhassan confirmed that no weapons were found after the search conducted on the passengers, trucks and motorcycles.
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