10 major problems Nigeria will carry over into 2017

Posted by News Express | 24 December 2016 | 3,361 times

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Niger Delta militants.

Year 2016 was expected to be better. But the myriad of problems facing Nigeria seem to be legion, many of them outlasting successive administrations and threatening the corporate existence of the country. Below, courtesy of Daily Trust, are some of the problems not solved in 2016, which will remain as part of the challenges to contend with in the coming year.

1. Recession
Before the August 2016 admission by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that Nigeria is in its worst economic recession in 29 years, Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun in July admitted that “When you have two consecutive quarters of negative growth, you are technically in a recession.”

This drew the ire of many who expect the government to take action, after months of denial, rather than the ‘technical recession’ seen as an excuse for the government’s failure to find solution to the dwindling economic fortune of the country.

According to the NBS the gross domestic product (GDP) report for the second quarter of 2016, Nigeria’s economy contracted by 2.06 percent to record its lowest growth rate in three decades.

In the first quarter of 2016, the NBS said the economy shrank by 0.36 percent to hit its lowest point in 25 years.

According to World Bank data, the last time Nigeria had this magnitude of economic decline was under the regime of Ibrahim Babangida, when the economy recorded consecutive decline of 0.51 percent and 0.82 percent in first and second quarters of 1987.

Speaking on the development the Lead Director of the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) Eze Onyekpere, said Nigeria can overcome the recession if the Federal Government can practically harmonise the nation’s fiscal and monetary policies and reinforce each to achieve macroeconomic stability and economic growth.

2. Boko Haram
Boko Haram was founded in 2002 by late Mohammed Yusuf to oppose Western education. Its objective has expanded to create an Islamic State in Nigeria. While it was not violent at first, it changed in 2009 when some of its members were arrested, sparking a riot as well as an armed clash with the Nigerian Army that killed 800 people.

Under the leadership of the bloodthirsty Abubakar Shekau, the sect carried out a massive kidnapping which drew worldwide attention, and outrage. Taken from school in Chibok, Borno State, the 276 school girls remained in captivity for well-over two years. Some of the girls were rescued and the military claim they are in the final push of ending the insurgency in Sambisa Forest and other enclaves of the sect.

While many security operatives and civilians were killed in suicide and other forms of attacks by the insurgents, the November 4 killing of Lieutenant-Colonel Muhammad Abu Ali, by suspected Boko Haram at a 119 Battalion Nigerian Army location at Mallam Fatori, northern Borno State elicited widespread reaction.

Ali led one of the army’s fiercest-ever battles with Boko Haram, in February 2015, culminating in the recapture of Baga town in Borno State.

It is apparent that the war on insurgency will be fought into 2017.

3. Niger Delta Militancy
Nigeria depends on oil as the sole income generator for the country, proving to be the bane of human and infrastructural development, underscored by the restiveness in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, which is dealing blows on crude sales, perhaps more than dwindling global oil prices.

The current conflict in the region first arose in the early 1990s over tensions between foreign oil corporations and a number of the Niger Delta’s minority ethnic groups who feel they are being exploited, particularly the Ogoni and the Ijaw. Competition for oil wealth has fueled violence between ethnic groups, causing the militarisation of nearly the entire region by ethnic militia groups.

The late President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2009 launched the amnesty programme with support and training of ex-militants. However the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and other militants continue to blow up oil pipelines especially after the 2015 presidential election, vowing to cripple the federal government.

Combined military and other security agents offensives have so far failed to arrest the violence in the region.

4. Kidnapping
The September 29 kidnapping of Mrs. Margaret Emefiele, the wife of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, along the Benin-Agbor Road, Edo State ranks among the highest-profile cases, projecting a worrisome phenomenon which has been spiking for the past two years.

While Mrs. Emefiele was lucky to be alive, late Col. Samaila Inusa, who was kidnapped on March 26 in Kaduna, was killed by a four-man gang led by one Emeka Okeke.

Many cases of kidnapping are reported on a daily basis, with victims including children and the elderly. Family members, and sometimes employers pay huge amounts as ransom. There are many reports which say the kidnappers run a massive, well-oiled operation with elaborate camps deep in dark forests around the country.

Security forces have made progress in a bid to cripple kidnapping, but much more remains to be done, as cases still come up regularly, even in rural areas where they are poorly reported,

5. Farmers/Herders Clashes
The perennial violent clashes between farmers and herdsmen across the country led to the Federal Government setting up a technical committee to tackle it. The committee is chaired by the Director General, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Professor Oshita O. Oshita.

Many lives have been lost to the violence, with additional thousands displaced. The majority of the clashes occur between Fulani herdsmen and Christian farmers, thereby worsening ethno-religious hostilities in the country.

The National Assembly voted down a proposal for a national grazing reserve which was described as unjust.

The Sultan of Sokoto and President Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, governors Nasir el-Rufai and Samuel Ortom of Kaduna and Benue states among others, have been at the forefront of finding a lasting solution to the incessant clashes, which still occur in small pockets.

6. Rural Banditry/Cattle Rustling
The scourge of rural banditry and cattle rustling is not limited to but mostly reported in Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna and Sokoto states. Hundreds of residents were killed and thousands of cattle stolen, with hundreds of houses and other properties destroyed in the wake of attacks on rural communities in the affected states.

There was however a new dimension to the banditry as many residents, especially farmers, were kidnapped and millions of naira paid to regain their freedom.

The Nigerian Army launched Operation Harbin Kunama in July this year in Zamfara State, apart from other special operations in many of the affected states, leading to drastic reduction in the crime, as many of the armed bandits were flushed out and thousands of cattle recovered.

There were renewed cases of violence especially in the states suffering the problem, an indication that the joint security operation may have been relaxed thus giving the bandits the effrontery to catch their collective breaths, re-group and unleash terror on innocents.

7. High-Profile Corruption Cases
Many Nigerians were excited when former President Olusegun Obasanjo set up the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), that the days of corruption were numbered. Thirteen years after, the anti-graft agency and sister initiatives seem to bark more than bite. There are many high profile cases involving 16 former governors, some of whom are currently in the National Assembly.

The other pending matters are related to oil subsidy scandal, money laundering and violation of the Public Procurement Act.

Some of the pending high-profile cases are those preferred against ex-governors Danjuma Goje (Gombe), Jolly Nyame (Taraba), Joshua Dariye (Plateau), Orji UzorKalu (Abia), Saminu Turaki (Jigawa), the late Abubakar Audu (Kogi), Timipreye Sylva (Bayelsa), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo), RashidiLadoja (Oyo), Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu), Gbenga Daniel (Ogun), AliyuAkwe Doma (Nasarawa), Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto), Abdullahi  Adamu (Nasarawa). The list, really, is long.

8. Babachir/Magu imbroglio:
Penultimate Wednesday the Senate asked President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend and ensure prosecution of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal, over alleged breach of Nigeria’s law in handling contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE).

The Senator Shehu Sani-led ad-hoc committee reported that Mr. Lawal’s company, Global Vision Ltd., is among the companies indicted for allegedly benefiting from inflated and phantom contracts – or ones not executed at all – awarded by the PINE.

Lawal’s firm was said to have been awarded over N200 million contract to clear ‘invasive plant species’ in Yobe State and that as of the time the contract was awarded in March 2016, the SGF was still the director of the company and only resigned in September. Yet, currently, he is the signatory to the company’s account.

Lawal has however denied any wrong-doing and accused the Senate of witch-hunt. The following day the Senate also rejected the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the EFCC.

The lawmakers said they could not okay President Muhammadu Buhari’s nomination of Mr. Magu, who has been in acting capacity, based on security reports available to them. The spokesperson of the lawmakers, Aliyu Abdullahi, made the announcement after the senators emerged from a closed-door meeting where Mr. Magu’s confirmation was discussed.

President Buhari has however ordered the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to investigate both cases.

9. Aviation Industry Woes
The crisis in the nation’s aviation industry has escalated from occasional crashes to perpetual flight delays and cancellations. The acute shortage of aviation fuel has worsened the situation with air fares jumping from N19,000 early this year for major routes, to as high as N80,000 this week.

The federal government notwithstanding said it would continue with the reforms in the sector and few days ago The Minister of State for aviation Senator Hadi Sirika announced that the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) Abuja would be shut down for some maintenance.

Nigerians are expected to have more sad tales to tell in 2017 as far as the sector is concerned.

10. Unemployment
Despite being a global phenomenon, unemployment has been a major challenge successive administrations contend with yearly. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says the country’s unemployment rate rose from 13.3 percent in the 2nd quarter to 13.9 percent in the 3rd quarter of 2016.

The NBS report stated that the number of unemployed in the labour force increased by 555,311 persons. According to the report, the underemployment rate rose from 19.3 per cent in second quarter to 19.7 per cent in the third quarter. The report said that unemployment covered persons (aged 15-64) who during the reference period were currently available for work, actively seeking for work, not finding any.

In March 2014, 16 people were killed in stampedes when 500,000 desperate job-seekers rushed to apply for under 5,000 vacancies at the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).

The Federal Government recently launched its Social Investment Programme (SIP) in five areas of select locations including N-power, Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF), Cash Transfers (NCTP), Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) and STEM Bursary Programme to tame the scourge.

Source: News Express

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