Reporting from Abuja-Nigeria-
Wednesday June 9th, 2016
I had some very interesting high level meetings in Nigeria on my recent ten-day visit. One thing is certain and all parties in the divide agree that we are going through some major challenges in nationhood. The Naira is on a continual slide in the parallel market. Sectarian violence and demands especially in the North East, South East and South South appear not to be ebbing. On June 9th, 2016 the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Dr. IbeKaichukwu announced further disruptions in oil supplies to compound the announcement he made on May 17, 2016 that Nigeria’s crude oil production has fallen by almost 40 per cent to 1.4 million barrels per day due to militant attacks on oil production facilities in the Niger Delta. The price of oil has fallen to historical lows and now with more disruptions in our supply line oil industry analysts are saying that Iran is poised to fill the gap created by the inability of Nigeria to meet its OPEC quota.
Despite all these, the resilient spirit of the Nigerian is on the rise!
From Lagos to Port Harcourt to Awka, to Nsukka and to Abuja, stops I made on this trip- you could see clearly that despite all these challenges, you cannot kill the entrepreneurial spirit of the Nigerian. People are innovating and coming up with new ideas to confront these new challenges. Agriculture- Farming and Agro processing is on everybody’s lips. The very interesting thing is that banks are innovating and willing to lend to new agricultural ventures because the Central bank is willing to refinance those loans. Solar- energy is the new reliable source of power supply and solar power vendors are smiling to the banks. Impunity in Government and high level corruption for once is being questioned. I emphasized to top officials I met during my trip that convictions of those on trial are necessary to serve as a deterrent to those who want to abuse their office and public trust in the future.
It is a turbulent time, but like I told some of the young men I met in Eastern Nigeria, division of Nigeria and the realization of a Biafra State is hardly a solution. We need to work with each other first. Look at the deep divisions in the Ohaneze, look at the deep divisions in almost every Igbo organization even in the Diaspora, Who is going to join us in the realization of Biafra, certainly not the South South- after tasting power and their historical distrust of Igbo domination! How will a landlocked Biafra fare with enemies on all sides?? We need to discuss the devolution of more powers from the center to the federating units in Nigeria and less intrusion of Government in everyday life in Nigeria. Government as it is in today’s Nigeria is too overreaching and powerful and that is why the power contest and retention is a do or die affair- because government dispenses all the goodies!!!
We need to tackle the huge divide between the rich and the poor and the glaring inequalities in Nigeria. We need to repair the deteriorating roads and other infrastructure, our decaying educational and health institutions. The recent report by the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation that 90% of Nigerian Bank Deposits are held by 2% of the population is unacceptable.
In an interview with the Honorable Minster of Youth & Sports-Federal Republic of Nigeria- Barrister Solomon Dalong, the Honorable Minister agrees with me that the reported 64% Youth unemployment in Nigeria is a national embarrassment caused by years of rot in our educational system and an over emphasis on paper qualifications as against acquisition of skills that can make our university graduates -self-reliant investors and entrepreneurs.
His Ministry he said is working hard on youth reorientation and has started pilot programs aimed at equipping the youth not just to seek for hard to find jobs but to create jobs and wealth for themselves. We need to create more opportunities for people all over Nigeria as a way of reducing crime and sectarian violence and tensions. Most of the ongoing crises in Nigeria could be traced to lack of economic opportunities, poverty and perceived injustice especially in wealth distribution.
It is not yet Uhuru, but I know that the darkest part of the night is just before dawn…