By Obi Nwakanma
These are most certainly troubling days in Nigeria. First, there are signs that Nigeria is broke. Under this administration, which inherited a very robust economy, Nigeria is now what people are calling “the hungry capital of the world.”
The administration came with an economic idea whose kernel was, simply put, the “almajirinization” of Nigeria. It aimed to equalize poverty, not create wealth.
The administration alienated the key economic drivers of the nation; and then embarked on a policy of “handouts” which it said was to “get millions out of poverty.” What did that mission look like? Well, here it is: in the first term, it sent the Vice-President, the siddon-look pastor of Aso-Rock, to various towns distributing what they called, “Trader Moni.” Soft loans, they said, starting with N10, 000 to N50, 000.
Skeptics of course saw through the entire laughable show. The money was a buy-off for votes, and since the elections, “Trader Moni” has come to a halt.
Even Osibanjo himself must have known that it was a joke. It was very unlikely that such pittance handed to a few people could start or sustain any business, or lift anyone out of poverty.
Trading with N50, 000? You cannot even buy a bucket full of peanuts to trade with that money. But the goal was frankly not to give people capital for a trade.
The goal was to take cash from the federal coffers and distribute to the poor of the North mostly. It was to give a large swath of hungry and impoverished Nigerians, mostly from the North, chicken feed to keep them barely alive and hopeful, and “ranka-dedeing” from sun-up to sun-down.
It is feudal economics in which the feudal lord hands out charity to the very poor who then go to the mosque to pray for more of where that comes from, and thereafter to the secret Pito bars, for a few rounds of millet beer. And the next day, back to the streets with their hands in the air panhandling. That is the administration’s way of lifting millions from the clutches of poverty.
To give them “Trader Moni.” It is the weaponization of poverty. Its strategy was to buy the conscience of the extremely poor who would kill for a bowl of rice anyway.
The sum effect of this administration’s economic policy was basically to suppress the economic vitality of the Igbo, destroy their political status, and reduce their capacity in the affairs of Nigeria.
The administration always detested the uppity Igbo: Folks who always thought themselves better than everyone else, and whom the President fought at war from 1967-1970. It does seem that nothing else mattered to the administration but to teach the Igbo, those catalysts of the South, some lesson.
Looking at it this way, the matter would be as simple as an ordinary, longstanding enmity. But it goes deeper than that. What is going on is a culture war.
Nigeria under this administration is engaged in a very deep cultural and political conflict. What the Igbo represent – “too much Bukuru,” or “education,” particularly what they call “western education,” is what this federal administration detests.
They think “education,” particularly the kind of education which the South, especially the Igbo of the South, embraced, is “haram.” Thus “Boko Haram.” Western education, and its purported values, set forth in the book by the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb, The America that I have seen, is abominable to this cadre because it is upsetting the cultural foundations of the Islamic North, still rooted in the 18th century Salafist mission with its Jihad led by a General of the Ottoman Empire – the Shehu “Othman” Dan Fodio. Salafist Islam’s call is for a global jihad; its transnational agenda is to resurrect the Ottoman empire and restore the Caliphate-age Sharia law.
Thus, indeed, the followers are organized in cells across the Islamic world fighting and subverting what they have described as the Jahiliya.
Even so-called apostate Muslims are fair game. Today, a corridor of terror exists between Syria, Turkey through Egypt and Libya, funneling arms and fighters to West Africa through Niger, Mali, Chad and Nigeria.
Nigeria is currently its operational base through which they intend to secure Sub-Sahara Africa because they have a friendly government in power. It is fruitless for this administration to deny this.
It is on record that Boko Haram chose President Buhari as their go-between with the Jonathan administration. It is on record that the President described the fight against Boko Haram by Jonathan as a war against the North.
It is on record that this administration has used amnesty programme to rehabilitate Boko Haram fighters. This is why many Nigerians are not surprised about the revelations that one of his key ministers, holding the strategic Communications Ministry, Dr. Isa Pantami, was not only a sympathizer of Al-Qaeda and ISIS in West Africa, but had preached loudly in support of Islamic terrorism both locally and globally. Buhari certainly knew this before he appointed him.
As a former Director of Nigeria’s Directorate of State Service, Mr. Amachree, quite clearly asserted that Pantami’s affiliations were made known both to the President and to the National Assembly.
They laid Pantami’s dossier before Buhari. It did not matter. So, what happened was not a failure of intelligence. It was rather the subversion of intelligence and a compromising of the national security of Nigeria.
The statement released by the Presidency through Garba Shehu just basically hogwashes Pantami, because it is a rather shitty statement, if y’all would excuse my French! Calling the push for Pantami to be accountable to his past as a move to “cancel” him is rather rich with both irony and bile, and, of course, it is hokum. And it fails to answer fundamental questions about Pantami’s affiliations and support for a global terrorist ideology intent on foisting strange values on Nigeria.
The fight is on, of course, and Nigerians must push, not only for the resignation of Isa Pantami, but also for the National Assembly to investigate this President, because as the saying goes, “there is no smoke without fire.”
What does Buhari know, and when did he know it, that is the question. It does seem that the corporate being of Nigeria is being subverted right from the very top.
The signs are there that Nigeria is approaching a reckoning, and this reckoning, if good sense does not prevail soon, is another civil war. I hate to say this, and I do not use these words carelessly. Nigeria is, under this President, fighting for its life.
There are hints that 2023 will not resolve our current imbroglio, because this administration is intent on foisting a national emergency situation, which might inexorably provide the National Assembly full of this President’s allies the excuse to assert the National Emergency protocol.
Under this protocol, if the nation is at war, as it has now clearly been forced to be, there may not be an election, and the President would be permitted to extend his administration ad infinitum, in so far as he comes before the National Assembly periodically to secure an extension of his emergency rule.
The unfolding of this picture ought to frighten and awaken Nigerians, but everyone is hiding behind political correctness, and some illusion that time will resolve everything.
The truth is we may long be out of time to salvage the situation. Part of this push to crisis is currently on to subvert and undermine Buhari’s strongest opposition, the South-East.