By Douglas Anele
Taking up the discussion from where we ended it last week, some local rice farmers are getting loans at lower interest rates than what the banks are offering to boost productivity. The United States department of agriculture reports that Nigeria produced 3.4 metric tonnes of rice in 2017, a marginal increase of 4% over the previous year. Still, the country remains a net importer of rice: the demand and supply gap is filled illegally by smugglers, and it would take some years of consistent increase in production before local demand can be met after which rice exportation can become a real possibility.
Unfortunately, local production of rice and other food crops generally is in danger as a result of incessant attacks by so-called Fulani herdsmen on farmers in Benue, Nasarawa and other food producing states in the middle-belt. Accordingly, Buhari’s optimism on increasing food production seems to be premature.
Now, consider the President’s remark that on power supply Nigeria has “achieved 5222.3 megawatts, representing the highest peak of power generated into the national grid and delivered to customers in December 2017.” This claim, strictly speaking, is inaccurate. To begin with, it is not based on information from a reliable independent source outside officialdom with demonstrated competence and professionalism in energy related matters. Instead, it relies on data provided from a daily briefing portal run by the Vice President’s office.
Again, Kingsley Onuoha, general manager of the control centre at the National Transmission Company, reports that the quantity of electricity actually delivered to customers was considerably lower than the amount stated by the President due to inevitable losses in transmission. Equally misleading is Buhari’s silence on the fact that his administration has not built any power generating plant: the increase in electricity supply he bragged about was generated from power plants some of which were built by previous governments of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) he and his diehard supporters have been excoriating from 2003 till date.
Meanwhile, his assertion that power is improving nationwide and that there are reports of decreasing usage of generators is a textbook example of cherry-picking and presumptuous selectivity. Whereas a handful of people I have spoken to confirm that power supply has improved where they live, work or do business, majority insist that there is no improvement in their areas – some even claim that the electricity situation has worsened since May 29, 2015.
The President’s statement that “for the first time, 30% of the budget was earmarked for capital expenditure” is false. According to available information, in 2008, 2010, and 2013, the budget for infrastructure was not below 30%, the highest being 37% in 2008. If one puts into consideration the current steep depreciation in the value of the Naira in relation to dominant foreign currencies such as the dollar, pound sterling and euro, the inevitable conclusion would be that no meaningful progress has been made by this government with respect to funding of capital projects needed for enhanced economic growth and wealth creation. Furthermore, there is no credible evidence for the disclosure that the federal government “has ensured proper funding at the basic education level with the disbursement of N42.2 billion UBE matching grant to 26 states and the FCT.” Here, as with most factual claims by officials of this government, due diligence is lacking.
The President did not ascertain first how many of the states he was referring to had actually accessed the N732 million allocated to each before praising his government for funding basic education. If he did, he would have known that as at August last year none of the states had met the criteria stipulated by law before they could get the money, namely, provision of counterpart funding and detailed account of how the money would be spent. Of course, the federal government should not be blamed for laxity by the states, but there is no reason to believe that the situation had changed by the time the President made his “democracy day” broadcast to warrant his optimistic pronouncement. Oriyomi Ogunwale of Eduplana Nigeria, a non-governmental organisation that focuses on education, affirms that there is no solid evidence to back Buhari’s remark concerning proper funding of basic education in the beneficiary states and Abuja: indeed, the number of states where the standard of basic education has improved as a result of UBEC funding arrangement remains critically low.
It is disconcerting, though not surprising, that President Muhammadu Buhari has been consistent in downplaying the murderous activities of Fulani herdsmen by his pronouncements and “body language.” The most recent example was when he described the horrific incidents as “herdsmen and farmers clashes in several communities,” thereby re-echoing the obnoxious trivialisation of the issue by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris. Perhaps Buhari is unaware that his claim of “belonging to everybody and belonging to nobody” is hollow and meaningless because of his decidedly pro-north, anti-southeast leadership style. After all, he proclaimed a strange nepotic doctrine of justice represented mathematically as 97% equals 5% shortly after the presidential inauguration which seems to be guiding his decisions and actions ever since.
But then, the increasing incidence of insecurity in different parts of the country has brought to light the flaw in Buhari’s northernisation of virtually all the security services and makes one feel that perhaps he is the President of the Republic of Northern Nigeria, not that of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Similarly, his tepid response to the killings and destruction by expendable foot soldiers of Fulani caliphate colonialists many of whom masquerade as cattle rearers, the provocative statements on the issue by top officials of Meyatti Allah and defence minister, Mansur Dan Ali, in addition to the swift violent suppression of Nnamdi Kanu and his group by the army and police – all this portrays President Buhari as a Fulani irredentist whose vision of a united Nigeria derives from the same atavistic parochial ethno-religious weltanschauung that motivate Boko Haram members.
Put differently, the extreme reluctance of relevant security and law enforcement agencies all headed by northerners to deal decisively with the murderous so-called Fulani herdsmen tends to corroborate the belief which might be true that, unknown to the Vice President and other naïve southerners in the current APC government, there is a covert plan by certain elements of the northern establishment to use Buhari to kick-start the internal colonisation agenda set forth decades ago by Sir Ahmadu Bello and Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. This issue should not be swept under the rug or dismissed off-handedly as the lamentations of a wailing wailer, as President Buhari’s media aides are wont to do, especially given that some prominent northerners have claimed publicly that the north has a divine mandate to rule Nigeria.
It is really astonishing, in a multiply plural country like ours, that President Buhari would so brazenly, in utter disregard of equity, fairness and justice, appoint over 90% of security chiefs from his own section of the country while outspoken harsh critics of previous administrations such as Prof. Wole Soyinka, Prof. Pat Utomi, Femi Falana and others who before the 2015 presidential election advertised a possible Buhari presidency as the next best thing after the invention of water closet toilet system now appear to have lost their voices. In my opinion, the President’s claim in his address about “degrading” Boko Haram is inconsistent with his avowed support for full implementation of sharia throughout the country and tacit defence of the terrorist group in 2014 when he criticised former President Goodluck Jonathan’s government for scaling up military attacks on the extremists.
Let us be forthright about this matter: It is unrealistic to expect that President Buhari and his closest lieutenants who believe that Nigeria is an internal colonial project of Fulani Islamic domination will sanction total destruction of Boko Haram since the sect is too useful for actualising the primitive vision of caliphate colonialists or at least serves as a preliminary test of what the actual implementation of late Sadauna’s vision would entail.
To be continued…