*CHARGES PRESIDENT BUHARI TO APPOINT SUBSTANTIVE CHAIRMAN FOR EFCC:
A Statement By The Pro-Democracy and Leading Civil Rights Advocacy Group-: Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) on The Importance of President Muhammadu Buhari Deploying The Best of Ideas To Revive What is Left of the Economy and The President’s Foot-Dragging on The Necessity of Rescuing The Waning Anti-Corruption War, Which is Destroying Local Economy and Exposing Nigeria to Global Disrepute.
Nigeria has the potential to build a prosperous economy, reduce poverty significantly and provide the health, education, and infrastructural services its population needs. However, available evidence indicates that these resources have not been judiciously used to meet the need of the population in terms of human capital development because of high level of corruption in the country. The current set of federal executive Council of Nigeria are perhaps the most corrupt set of Nigerians who are after their pecuniary pursuits and have shown no capacity to help Mr. President rebuild the battered and fast collapsing national economy.
According to the recent data sourced from the National Bureau of Statistics, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria decreased by –6.10%(year-on-year) in real terms in the second quarter of 2020, ending the 3-year trend of low but positive real growth rates recorded since the 2016/17 recession.
When compared with Q2 2019, which recorded a growth of 2.12%, the Q2 2020 growth rate indicates a drop of –8.22% points, and a fall of –7.97% points when compared to the first quarter of 2020 (1.87%). Consequently, for the first half of 2020, real GDP declined by –2.18% year-on-year, compared with 2.11% recorded in the first half of 2019. Quarter-on-quarter, real GDP decreased by –5.04%. Furthermore, only 13 activities recorded positive real growth compared to 30 in the preceding quarter.
Again, Nigeria’s unemployment crisis is becoming more worrisome and exposing Nigeria to global disrepute. The recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics, after a 20-month interval on the nation’s unemployment rate, indicated that unemployment rose to 27.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 from the 23.1 per cent recorded in Q3 2018.
Although the decline was largely attributable to significantly lower levels of both domestic and international economic activity during the quarter, which resulted from nationwide shutdown efforts aimed at containing the COVID-19 pandemic, several studies have been appraised and they reveal that the level of corruption in Nigeria over the years has significant negative impact on economic growth in Nigeria.
The report is particularly damning for the administration of Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari, which rode to power on the crest of promises to deliver economic policies to drive growth and create jobs. Sadly, the unemployment rate has more than tripled since Buhari first took office in May 2015.
In the first four years, under the watch of President Buhari, Nigeria overtook India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty. About 87 million Nigerians, or half the population, live on less than US$1.90 per day.
Economic growth has been lackluster since his election in 2015 and has continued since his re-election in 2019. The country went into recession in 2016, with a negative 1.6% growth rate. There was a rebound in economic growth of about 2% in 2018. Still the IMF forecasts that growth will remain anemic at an annual average of about 1.9% from 2019 – 2023.
There have been recent barrage of credible sources and analysis pointing towards a near collapse of the Nigerian economy imminently.
According to reports by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s capital imports plunged 78.6% in the second quarter year-on-year to $1.295 billion, as lower oil prices push the country’s economy towards recession.
Nigeria; Africa’s top oil exporter, has suffered its worst crisis in decades as low oil prices triggered by the coronavirus pandemic caused the economy to shrink in the second quarter, slashing government revenues and weakening the naira currency.
As have been observed by the World Bank in its latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update, the global spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent collapse of international oil prices are destabilizing Nigeria’s macroeconomic balances and its expected to plunge the Nigerian economy into a severe economic recession, the worst since the 1980s.
In the report titled “Nigeria In Times of COVID-19: Laying Foundations for a Strong Recovery,” the World Bank estimated that Nigeria’s economy would likely contract by 3.2% in 2020.
According to analysis, this projection, which assumed that the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria will be contained by the third quarter of 2020, added that if the spread of the virus becomes more severe, the economy could contract further.
Additionally, Before COVID-19, according to the World Bank, the Nigerian economy was expected to grow by 2.1% in 2020, which means that the pandemic has led to a reduction in growth by more than five percentage points.
With the uncertainty of the long-term economic impact of the global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, a new economic analysis says the speed, quality and sustainability of Nigeria’s economic recovery will be determined by the effectiveness of its government’s response.
Without bold reforms, strong fiscal and monetary policy actions, the World Bank report warned that the macroeconomic implications of COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 will be severe including the loss of life, and the possibility of five million more Nigerians being pushed into poverty even if Nigeria manages to contain the spread of the virus.
Expectedly, in the midst of these pointers, a proactive President would have deployed the best of ideas available to revive what is left of the economy, create wealth and the enabling environment for the local economy to pick up through manufacturing, large scale farming and construction of infrastructure by making use of the revenues derived from different sources externally and internally to stave off the imminent mass hunger that won’t augur well for the sustenance of constitutional democracy, but the reverse seem to be the case as no visible sign of an action plan is being implemented by the current administration.
Public debates recently in Nigeria have centred on the increasing rate of corruption resulting from inappropriate public finance planning and implementation mostly in some of the developing countries, Nigeria inclusive which in turn reduce the level of economic growth in the country.
Corruption has given room for diversion of the limited public funds, undermined economic progress and impeded policy changes required for development. On the whole, corruption has impeded growth and also eroded the already established economic value systems in the country. The President has not helped matters by appointing persons whose roles in the immediate dispensation were unsalutary and unenviable following multiple accusations of their deep involvement in corrupt practices to the tune of hundreds of billions of United States Dollars.
OUR POSITION AND WAY FORWARD:
President Buhari’s reform agenda probably faces its greatest threat in the form of lack of political will and corrupt, old-school politicians within his own All Progressives Congress (APC) party and it has become imperative for the President to deploy the best ideas in saving what is left of our economy.
The recent groundswell of accusations against the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; Ibrahim Magu, and the alleged scale of corruption issues with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) under the supervision of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs; Godswill Akpabio are testaments of how the devastated effect of continuous corrupt practices in Nigeria has gone so bad.
In 2015, Akpabio; a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State was allegedly arrested by the EFCC over an alleged theft of N108.1billion of Akwa Ibom funds. He defected from the People’s Democratic Party to the President’s Party; the All Progressives Congress and same man is Minister and the result is instantaneous with massive scale of alleged corruption and the President is playing hanky-panky with the war on corruption and hoping for magic to allow the economy grow which is a mirage.
We wonder why the President is foot-dragging on the necessity of rescuing the waning anti-corruption war if indeed the government is not just playing hide and seek with Nigerians. On both the economic sector and crime fighting aspect, the Buhari-led administration is not committed or has not shown patriotism in the war against corruption and this is why the economy is about to collapse.
The economy cannot grow fast without zero tolerance to corruption. We recommend that the activities or programmes of the anti-graft agency; the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) should be reorganized and strengthened without much ado by appointing competent professional outside of the Nigerian Police to lead that law based fight against economic crimes which are destroying the local economy and exposing Nigeria to global disrepute.
Nigeria is currently grappling with security challenges and no one will be willing to invest in an insecure environment. The growing insurgency, banditry and kidnapping should naturally frighten any serious government.
According to The Nigeria Security Tracker, run by the Council on Foreign Relations, in 2019, 25,794 Nigerians might have died in violent crises in the first four years of the President Buhari. On the other hand, Amnesty International in its latest report estimated that between January and June this year, bandits have killed 1,126 villagers in Nigeria. This is disturbing and ought to provoke the government to take decisive measures to curb the trend but all to no avail as Boko Haram Terrorist and Armed Fulani Herdsmen are being giving soft landing.
The mass hunger in the land, mass povertu and mass unemployment are unambiguous indicatators that have made professionals doubt this administration’s capacity to attain higher GDP growth to achieve massive job creation and turn around the economy.
The current economic policies marred by scale of corruptions are not delivering desirable outcomes and this is why the administration of President Buhari has to fashion out more robust and effective fiscal and monetary strategies to save the day. The President recently set up an economic advisory team made up of some of the finest economic and policy scholars. However, it is unclear if truly Mr. President is implementing the far reaching economic reforms and measures being suggested by these individuals because we are shocked at the speed with which the Central bank of Nigeria devalues our national currency. Mr. President should task his ministers especially that of Finance, Power, Humanitarian Affairs and such vital revenue generating agencies such as the NNPC, the Federal Inland Revenue Services, The Nigerian Customs Services, The Nigerian Immigration Services, The Nigerian Ports Authority to be transparent and accountable because there are too many leakages and corruption going on within these strategic ministries and extra ministerial institutions to the detriment of the economic wellbeing of Nigeria.
We are by this statement reminding the President; His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) that on his campaign catch-phrase was “Next Level”, which gestured his determination to build on programmes he claimed his administration initiated in the first term. Therefore, having re-elected him despite his unimpressive economic performance in the first tenure, Nigerians are giving him a second chance. The President must stop the mass hunger, mass joblessness, insecurity and instability that are tearing Nigeria apart. Mr. President must stop his cabinet level appointees from working at cross purposes and committing outrageous economic crimes against the Nigerian people and above all, Mr. President should stop mortgaging Nigeria into servitude through dubious debts from China which plans to take over Africa by hook or crook. President Muhammadu Buhari must search for ‘a black goat now that it is still daylight and make hay whilst the sun shines. ARISE OH COMPATRIOTS AND SAVE NIGERIA”.
*COMRADE EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO:
*Miss. Zainab Yusuf:
DIRECTOR; National Media Affairs.
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).