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Seven Issues That Will Make Or Mar Nigeria By 2023 (II)

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While we continue to cling to ethnic and religious identities at the expense of national cohesion, the reality on the ground speaks differently. Over the years we have become too interrelated across all fields of life that it amounts to gratuitous self-injury to continue to carry on in this manner.

The more we try to rely on ethnic and religious factors for our perspectives in a sense of belonging, the more the objective situation on ground points otherwise. It is a factor of the natural laws of social development in complex societies like ours which we ignore to our peril.

Another critical issue that has reared its head and continues to gain traction especially in the past few years is the call for secession by some motley groups of individuals.

These calls centre on the revanchist but ill-digested perspectives on the amalgamation of 1914 and issues surrounding it, the allegations of marginalisation especially under the present administration of President Buhari.

On critical examination of the issues behind these calls by the people and groups canvassing for it, one sees that there is neither conviction nor even the capacity to carry out the threat.

Apart from noisy, emotional campaigns mainly through biased and sympathetic and uncritical media with the eye for boosting circulation, and some ineffectually symbolic acts like designing and waving of flags, anthems and computer-generated currencies all of which are for optical effect, there has not been anything to attach seriousness to these calls.

The critical questions pertaining to the secessionist calls which have not been answered is do they want to go about it through constitutional methods or outside of it? If they want to go about it through the former then it should be left to elected representatives in a process starting from the local, state and federal levels.

While the street demonstrations and media campaigns we have so far seen may be regarded as a prelude to that, there can be no sidetracking the real process of achieving that without the involvement of the elected representatives of the area if the constitutional means is desired.

If, however, secession is to be achieved through unconstitutional means, then its champions must be prepared for the consequences of their actions when it comes to the nitty-gritty.

The state of our economy also features prominently among the issues staring us in the face to 2023. The question to ask is do we even have an economy worth the name? We rely on revenues from oil which exploration, drilling, refining and pricing we do not control.

We rely on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank for ideas to determine both our internal and external economic interactions and policies.

The crude oil we export abroad to earn revenues comes from so-called joint ventures with international “partners’’ who run the critical technical aspect of the operation.

We have found out this “partnership’’ is actually a massive rip off in terms because our lack of technical capacity in the joint ventures gives the upper hand to the “partners’’ to charge for anything from a cup of tea or coffee taken by expatriate staff of the “partners’’ to the cost of hiring an exploration rig all at prices determined and charged exclusively by the “partners’’.

We are being led to believe that the cash calls accruing from the joint venture and the massive subsidies we incur to sustain the availability of petroleum products are responsible for deficits in our public finances. But no one talks about the massive revenues which dwarf those that we lose to our joint “partners’’ through opaque accounting of their technical operations.

Our wholesale reliance on foreign ideas to determine our economic policies is also one of the banes of our country. We have over a hundred universities with departments and faculties dedicated to the study of economics as a discipline. In addition, we also have numerous private and public research institutes on economics.

Yet with a surfeit of these, we still have to rely on the IMF, World Bank and other International Economic consultants on how to run even the most basic of our economic policies and interaction.

The danger in all this has now been ruthlessly exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected both our oil-based revenues and the fallacy and contradictions on relying on economic ideas from so-called independent foreign economic policy experts.

With the coming of the pandemic, we have witnessed how countries from where those ideas emanate, turn their backs on those same ideas in trying to shield their economies.

For all practical purposes, we are left now in the lurch with the double whammy of dwindling oil revenues and overreliance on economic ideas that do not reflect our present economic realities.

Our military is now battling insecurity issues and the country is now paying the price of its successes in Liberia and Sierra Leone and its hard-earned sterling reputation as a global peacekeeper and enforcer.

At one point our military was regarded as one of the best infantry forces in the world and we were rated as being the fourth in peacekeeping/enforcement.

Our successful exploits in Liberia and Sierra Leone came to the notice of certain foreign powers with vested interest in the continued exploitation of Africa which led them to devise strategies to keep our military, which was demonstrating a potential and capacity to be our regional and continental power projection force.

Out of this crystallised the idea of infiltrating our country with hybrid internal security challenges that will keep our military internally occupied and out of regional and continental engagements.

And internally too our military is under relentless propaganda intended to prevent it from playing its role in emergent security threats perpetrated by civil society groups sponsored by foreign interests to destabilise the country.

Another issue of concern which we will do well not to keep our eyes off are the activities and postures of countries regarding our internal affairs.

Such countries who assume an undeserving posture as guardians of human rights and morality in view of their historical antecedents have always sought to disguisedly appear as conscientiously motivated.

But in actual fact, they are pursuing their strategic interests which are often at variance with ours. Having seen the negative effects of such interference elsewhere we will be foolish to allow such in our country.

With these issues all rearing their heads and assuming greater traction as we head to the 2023 round of elections, our country no doubt faces interesting but uncertain times.

We will need statesmen of uncommon vision, courage and strength of character to navigate successfully through these challenges and save the country.

SOURCE: DAILY TRUST

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