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Op Ed

Vision and Myopia of the Fulani and What Other Nigerians Must Do

THE PUBLIC SPHERE with Chido Nwakanma

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Vision and Myopia of the Fulani and What Other Nigerians Must Do

The Fulani by their own attestation is the wisest of the ethnicities in Nigeria. They are so smart they assert imperiously that Nigeria is their inheritance, and her land space belongs to the Fulani to take when they desire. Fulani from all over West Africa and anywhere else are thus welcome to the geographical space called Nigeria.

The Fulani ethnic group, from available reports and assertions by their kin, is at war with Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Berom, Bachama, Tarok, Tiv, Jukun, Edo, Nupe, Ebira. They commit atrocities all over the land. They rape, steal, ransack territories, abduct, and kidnap. The abduction of school children for handsome ransoms is the latest trick in their bag. Travelling from Abuja to Kaduna was a breeze in the past. Now it is walking through the valley of the shadow of death, as are most roads in the country. If all these are true, as many think they are, what manner of humans are these with no respect for humanity?

It is part of their wisdom that in hundred years of dominating Northern Nigeria they did not negotiate to get a land space they could call Fulani land just as you have places for the Yoruba, the Tiv, Berom, or the Ijaw. There is no indigenous space called Fulani land. Rather than negotiate for or buy such spaces as other people do, they want to claim it by conquest. In the 21st century?

READ ALSO: Fulani Leaders Say Only 107 Herders From Oyo State Relocate to Kaduna

The Fulani are atavistic. In their wisdom, it is a matter of culture. While the world has moved on from walking cattle across the land to placing them in ranches, the Fulani insist that the old-fashioned way is the best. Well, climate change and urbanisation caught up with that lifestyle forcing modifications elsewhere. Not to the Fulani. Their response is to move their cattle to invade the farmlands and crops of fellow citizens. They kill where the owners protest such unwarranted damage. They have gone to bring their kin from across West Africa for the mission of despoilation and conquest of the lands of the various other ethnicities of Nigeria.

The Fulani would seem to have what William Shakespeare called vaulting ambition. “Macbeth: I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself and falls on the’ other”. The dictionary says vaulting ambition is “a strong wish to be extremely successful, powerful, rich, etc. and a belief that this is more important than anything else.” The Fulani are seemingly ready to sacrifice the country for their vaulting ambition.

Greed undergirds that ambition. The Fulani are so wise they did not hear the counsel in all the Holy Books to do unto others as you would want them to do to you. Wherever they gain power, they exclude others, as they did in the Central African Republic. In Nigeria, they have connived to place in their care all the military authority.

The Fulani need to hear the counsel of B.C. Forbes. “Any business arrangement that is not profitable to the other person will in the end prove unprofitable for you. The bargain that yields mutual satisfaction is the only one that is apt to be repeated.”

In the modern world, the Fulani can be as successful as they want. They have many bright stars, including the lady next in rank to the Secretary-General at the United Nations.

Somehow, when convenient, they delink from the Hausa-Fulani that we all knew. Maybe they should do that more often.

The Fulani should try to emulate the ethnic Hausa Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man. Dangote understands the importance of “the bargain that yields mutual satisfaction” as the one that would be repeated and sustainable. He manufactures and provides essential items to consumers in 16 countries and counting across Africa. Dangote strikes deals with governments everywhere. Dangote illustrates the conquest that is acceptable today, not the one obtained by brute force. Force begets the counter of force.

Yet the Fulani example shows in some of the business practices of the Dangote Group. Dangote Group recently canvassed that only firms with an active refinery license be allowed to import petroleum products. Their representative did not hide the motive: when Dangote Refinery is down, all others should not and cannot import to make up the shortfall! He also wants to shut off other players in cement and sugar businesses.

Note, however, that Dangote Group uses the law track in its quest for monopoly. He wants to persuade our National Assembly to grant him a monopoly in law, and not by force of arms. It is up to our representatives whether they consider the national interest or the Dangote interest.

The Fulani want to pull down the house if the rest of Nigeria will not consent to their kin’s banditry and violence. On the bandits, the Fulani have engaged deliberate incoherence and obfuscation. The “bandits are not criminals”, they say, although banditry is a crime. They declare that the bandits are non-Nigerian Fulani. When the rest of the country tries to push away these criminal foreigners, the homegrown Fulani rises to their defence. Are the criminal herdsmen one of yours or not? What are you doing to curb the criminality of those who give Fulani a bad name? When will the Fulani elite speak up against banditry and show that these people do not represent them?

Then the Fulani tried unsuccessfully to launch a starvation war against fellow citizens in the South. Cruel, inciteful, and brazen. The South would not budge.

The Fulani Grand Vision is to own Nigeria- land, people, and faith. Their elite and commoners believe it. The vison is bold but suffers myopia and astigmatism. They should think in win-win terms of collaboration. They cannot go it alone no matter how much force they appropriate.

READ ALSO: Samuel Ortom To Bala Mohammed: You Are A Terrorist

Moreover, the other ethnicities of Nigeria must show tough love. Sustain over 100 years of love to the Fulani. However, resist their imperialistic drive, firmly but fairly. Refuse to be dragged down to banditry and such animalism. Governors must grow a spine, legislate against open grazing everywhere and enforce the legislation. There are no “unoccupied public spaces” as of Bola Tinubu for anyone to allocate for ranching in the South.

The rest of Nigeria’s ethnicities must also deploy the law, advocacy, and civic resistance to this Fulani drive.

Citizens must engage better with the civic process. We should realise that farming out the responsibility to elected leaders will not work here. The sad news is that majority of them lack the moral fibre to withstand blackmail and intimidation when it comes to shove unless citizens provide the bulwark.

Other Nigerian ethnicities must help the Fulani see reason. With all their power and wealth, Fulani can make a statement of development with the Sambisa Forest and turn it into Fulani Wonderland. We shall applaud.

What a boring canvass a Fulani-Moslem-only Nigeria would be compared to the vibrant multiple colours now on display.

 

Op Ed

The Scourge of Ritual Killings in Nigeria By Dakuku Peterside

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The Scourge of Ritual Killings in Nigeria By Dakuku Peterside

Iniobong Umoren was a young woman in her early 20’s who lived in Uyo the Akwa Ibom State capital. She shared, on Twitter, her need for a job, and one Twitter user named Uduak Akpan asked her for a private chat concerning her application. According to police reports, Mr Akpan asked Ms Umoren to meet her at a particular location in Uyo.

When the unsuspecting lady got there, the sinister man raped her, killed her, and buried her in a shallow grave. Unfortunately for the serial rapist and murderer, the lady gave her friend the phone number of the person who invited her for an interview. This number led to the apprehension of the culprit after the lady was declared missing for days.

There were reports that Ms Umoren’s gruesome murder was not just a case of rape and murder but that it also involved ritual killing. Mr Akpan’s entire family is said to be involved in the barbaric business of ritual killings.

Two weeks ago, a report indicated that in Kwara State, a next-door neighbour allegedly murdered a groom-to-be for ritual purposes. According to the account in Vanguard, the deceased, who was said to be a devout Christian, did not know that his neighbour with whom he used to eat together was a serial killer and ritualist who has twice served jail terms. This wolf-in-sheep-clothing neighbour allegedly killed his victim, removed some sensitive body parts, poured acid on his remains for speedy decay to prevent it from fouling the area.

READ ALSO: Human Skulls Found In Possession Of Kaduna Ritualists

Last February in Port Harcourt, a suspected ritual killer was arrested while attempting to sacrifice a nine-year-old girl in the Ibaa community in Emuoha Local Government Area of Rivers State. According to a report in Punch newspapers, the girl’s parents had raised the alarm over her sudden disappearance after she went to dispose of refuse in a nearby bush. It happened that the suspect had taken the minor to an abandoned compound, tied her with white cloths, applied white clay on her body with a coffin already stationed for the ritual purpose.

He was in the process of performing the ritual when he ran out of luck.
In 2019, Port Harcourt made international headlines in ritual killings with the case of Gracious David-West, Nigeria’s most celebrated ritual killer in recent times. From July to September 2019, David-West killed at least 15 women, mainly in the Rivers State capital city. After his arrest, he confessed to at least 15 murders.

Official statistics indicate that there has been an increase in the number of missing persons all over the country in recent times. Some are found, while others are not. There is speculation that majority of those who disappear perpetually without a trace are often victims of ritual killings.

Incidents of ritual killings have assumed an alarming rate in Nigeria. There seems to be little or no effort by concerned government agencies to checkmate the trend. We expect that such cruel and barbaric act would no longer exist in our society given our level of exposure, enlightenment, and civilisation . Ironically, as our communities seem to be getting more religious given the proliferation of churches and mosques in all nooks and crannies of the country, it seems these heinous acts are increasing as the quest for filthy lucre pervades our society.

It is disheartening to point out that as developed societies invest in science and technology to keep abreast with a dynamic world, ours are still stuck in the mistaken belief that sacrificing human blood is the surest route to wealth, safety, and protection.

READ ALSO: Lawmakers To Debate Herdsmen Crisis

No doubt, ritual killings are performed to obtain human body parts for rituals, potions, and charms. Ritualists search for ‘human parts’ at the request of herbalists, who require these to make sacrifices or prepare various magical potions to give power and wealth to an individual. Some people engage in ritual killings to obtain charms that would make them invincible and protect them from business failure, illness, accidents, and spiritual attacks. Whether they succeed or not is open to debate. However, it is not easy to prove a link between such sacrifices and financial success or any type of success empirically.

Amongst a large group of Nigerians, including the well-educated and people from different faiths and social backgrounds, there is a strong belief in the supernatural and the effectiveness of rituals. This belief has a direct correlation to the prevalence of ritual killings. It is a well-known fact that some elite in society indulge in ritual killings. Some people apprehended for ritual killings, and witch doctors who perform the sacrifices accused politicians, government officials and wealthy businessmen as their sponsors.
They are said to use human beings for rituals to sustain their affluence and remain in positions of power.

Therefore, it is not surprising that there are usually increased cases of mysterious disappearances and ritual killings during elections. Some desperate, fetish and superstitious politicians always consult herbalists and native doctors during elections to help them overcome their opponents. These spiritualists usually demand human heads and other body parts to perform hedonistic rituals.

Given the rate of increase of ritual killings, no one is immune from becoming a victim. But some people are at greater risk. People with mental illnesses and virgins are unique targets as the ritualists allegedly believe that their eccentrics and purity make for a more viable sacrifice. Also, people living with albinism have equally become victims of ritual killings, fuelled by the belief that their ‘body-parts’ could allegedly make one wealthy or prolong one’s life.

Sometimes, it is difficult to understand the mind of the ritual killer. How can someone take another person’s life in the quest for wealth, protection, and power? More worrisome is that sometimes it is not just an issue of a depraved mind but also a depraved group of minds.

Sometime in 2017, Lagos State, the country’s commercial hub, was gripped by Badoo ritual killings. According to news reports, over 50 people were killed by a Badoo Boys group, who moved about with an air of invincibility until the Nigerian Police routed them.

The Vanguard newspaper reported about the activities of the group thus: “Before the raid and subsequent arrest of over 200 suspected members of the cult group by the Police with the support of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress, OPC local vigilante and the Neighbourhood Watch Corps, Badoo Boys had been unleashing an orgy of killings, during which they crush the skulls of their victims. Their modus operandi included storming victims’ residences while they are asleep”.

People suspected that they usually hypnotize their victims, as none of them had ever been conscious of their presence. After that, they would smash the heads of their victims with a grinding stone and use a handkerchief to clean the blood and brain before leaving the scene.

During interrogation, one of the suspects confirmed that “they sold each handkerchief stained with blood for N500,000. He further revealed that they were mere errand boys for rich politicians within and outside Lagos state. But in their case, the blood and semen-stained handkerchief were used to prepare the spiritual defence for some wealthy Nigerians.”

 

What are the root causes of ritual killings? How can society tackle this menace? What role should the government and relevant agencies play in ameliorating the negative impact of these dastardly acts?
Poverty and economic hardship in the land are reasons for ritual killings. However, these are not justifiable reasons to commit ritual murder. Impunity encourages ritualists to commit murders because they believe they will not be apprehended or punished.

Another reason for ritual murders is the collapse in our moral values, ignorance and superstition, and lack of an adequate punishment system. We should also consider poverty and unemployment as a significant risk factor. If Nigerians have equal opportunities to earn income legitimately, there will be a reduction in horrific crimes such as banditry, human killings for ritual, and terrorism.

Besides, the inordinate quest and pursuit of quick wealth are said to be driving some people to resort to the use of human parts for rituals. And some usual suspects include fake clerics and herbalists who carry out the ritual practices for their clients.

Some analysts have recommended that government should investigate suspected pastors and imams and checkmate their activities because what they do under cover of being religious leaders sometimes leaves much to be desired.

To curb the increase in ritual killings, the government should thoroughly explore the intelligence-gathering approach and prosecute arrested culprits. Timely arrest and prosecution of arrested suspects would serve as a deterrent to anybody contemplating perpetrating ritual killing. Record of successful prosecution of ritualist is not in the public domain. When there are not consequences for deviant behavior , it is incentivized.

For the public, commuters should always write down the identification markings of public conveyance vehicles they enter and make phone calls to loved ones to pass on the information. In the case of Iniobong Umoren mentioned earlier, the fact that she confided in her friend about the phone number of the person that invited her for an interview was instrumental in apprehending the culprit.
Most ritual murderers always wish to be unidentified. They want to kill people but do not wish to be apprehended. Once information about them has been exposed to someone else, it becomes difficult for them to remain anonymous and perpetrate evil.
Commuters should also assess public transport vehicles before boarding in order not to board vehicles occupied by hoodlums. I advise ladies to carry whistles on them to raise the alarm if there is an attempt to abduct them.

In addition to these, people should avoid staying in isolated areas where criminals can quickly attack without being noticed, and everybody should be conscious of their immediate environment.

The spate of ritual killings has become so problematic that our political leaders should declare a national emergency on the crises.
I call for stiffer jail sentences to deter potential perpetrators from engaging in ritual killings. Citizens should have trust and confidence to motivate them towards providing credible intelligence for security operators.

READ ALSO: Human Skulls Found In Possession Of Kaduna Ritualists(Opens in a new browser

We should also make good use of whistleblowers. These are invisible law-abiding citizens whose primary function is to disseminate information that provides details towards the arrest of suspected ritual murderers. They should be anonymous, and the law-enforcement institution should not reveal them as their link persons.

The fight against ritual killings and other menaces in our society is for all. We should not rest until we create a culture where we always uphold the sanctity of life at all cost and the safety of everyone is guaranteed irrespective of social status, religion, or ethnic background. This task calls for authentic leadership. We must swim or sink together . Our only option is to swim to survive the social disaster we are becoming as a nation because of the collapse of morality, ethics, and law.

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Op Ed

Lessons From Chad By Dakuku Peterside

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Nigeria can also learn from Deby that; instability in Chad may mean instability is nearer home than we thought; flawed elections are an invitation to anarchy

On Monday 19th April 2021, the world woke up to the news that the long-serving President of the Republic of Chad, Idriss Deby , had died. His death marked the end of an inglorious chapter in the history of political leadership in Africa and left loads of lessons for Africa and her leaders.

According to reports, he was killed by rebels following injuries he sustained during clashes with rebels in the northern part of the country . The late Chadian leader, aged 68, was said to be a poor herder’s son who scraped a living from the harsh deserts of northern Chad and rose through the ranks of the Chadian military to become one of Africa’s most despotic leaders of his time . He was a tall, imposing one-time military commander with a haughty mien, versed in cunny diplomacy, which helped him outwit his opponents or buy them over. He used fear to rule the arid country and cracked down on the opposition and perceived enemies whenever there was some threat.

Global superpowers, in their everyday politics of self- interest, saw the Chadian strongman as a political ally. Chad played host to military exercises conducted by the United States, which helped the Chadian army become one of the best trained and equipped in the semi-arid belt.

READ ALSO: Idriss Déby: Buhari Saddened Over The Death Of Late President

Deby came to power in Chad in 1990 after leading a rebellion that invaded the country from Libya and overthrew the government of Hissène Habré, another dictator,under whom he previously served as head of the army. Mr Deby was able to stay in power for three decades to a large extent because he could endear himself to the Western powers. He had close ties with France, Chad’s former colonial power, which considered him one of its most loyal allies, often turning a blind eye to his despotic antics, harassing opposition leaders, and suppressing dissent. In some instances, France did not hide its support for Mr Déby’s government as it deployed troops to Chad in 2008 and 2019 to help him repel rebels who tried to unseat him.

The United States saw in Mr Déby a vital ally in the fight against terrorism. The late Chadian leader endeared himself more to the Americans after taking frontline command of a military force that pursued Boko Haram and its splinter groups, including the Islamic State West Africa Province, an unconsolidated affiliate of the Islamic State. Like the West, in their hypocrisy, lent their support to yet another African sit-tight despot, they turned a blind eye on the repression of political opponents, accusations of human rights abuses and corruption. They watched as Mr Deby manipulated the political process in June 2005 in a referendum that eliminated a two-term constitutional limit, which enabled Déby to run again in 2006. In the subsequent election for President’s office, the Chadian leader won spurious 65% of the vote after opposition parties had boycotted the election.

In 2018, Chad’s parliament was arm-twisted by the President to review the Constitution to allow him to stay in office until 2033. Mr Deby on April 11 , was declared winner of what was generally considered a flawed election that would have enabled him to enter a fourth decade as Chadian President just before his death.

There are several lessons to learn in the Idriss Deby story. The most important , African countries need to realise that the Western powers are primarily interested in things that benefit their lands and their people. They scream about the importance of human rights and democracy when convenient for them but become willful accomplices to despotism, tyranny, and human rights abuses when the perpetrators are of strategic interest and profits their countries.

READ ALSO: Idriss Déby: 10 Facts You Should Know About The Late President 

In 2017, the U.S. Justice Department accused Mr Déby of having accepted a $2 million bribe from a Chinese company in exchange for oil rights in Chad. However, Mr Déby supported a Western-backed military operation against Islamist militants in neighbouring Mali in 2013. A year later helped to end a violent turmoil in the Central African Republic. Because of these seemingly good actions, Mr Deby’s failings and those of his government were overlooked mainly by Western countries. They embraced Mr Déby as an indispensable ally in a dangerous part of the world.

Analysts say he understood what was required to hold Chad together and knew what France, the former colonial power, and the West wanted – and he gave it to them. Emmanuel Macron was in Chad on Friday to provide Mr Deby with a royal funeral. This is despite the role of the departed leader in decimating democracy in Chad and perpetuating corruption and nepotism.

Mr Deby’s three-decades-long rule impoverished many Chadians. He was unable to turn the country’s vast resources into wealth that benefitted his countrymen. Chad became an oil-producing nation in 2003 with a $4bn (£2.6bn) pipeline linking its oilfields to terminals on the Atlantic coast. Currently, the country’s vast deserts cover untapped reserves of uranium and oil that is presently pumped at a rate of 130,000 barrels a day, generating much of Chad’s revenue.

However, Chad frequently featured prominently in the list of the world’s poorest and most corrupt countries as Deby squandered billions of dollars’ worth of oil wealth – and did not oversee any significant development in a country where poverty is rife. The adult literacy rate is at an abysmal 31.8 per cent. Life expectancy is shockingly at 54 years. Opposition leaders in Chad accused Mr Déby of squandering the oil wealth by pouring it into the military, which he has used to perpetuate himself in power, manipulate the political process and repress his critics.

Deby had severe health problems over the years. He is a regular visitor to hospitals in Paris to treat a persistent liver ailment. This was unconscionable for the leader of a country where the World Health Organization estimates that there are less than four doctors per 100,000 people.
Under Deby, Chad has never been a peaceful country. Just as he invaded the country from Libya as a rebel, militants intent on toppling his government have been a persistent feature of his three decades of dictatorship. There have been some assassination attempts, including an alleged plan to shoot down his aircraft.

In 2006, rebels were right outside his presidential palace lobbing grenades over the wall before French troops intervened to save Deby’s regime. In 2008-2009, President Deby had to supervise the digging of a massive trench and cut down all the giant trees lining the avenues around the Chadian capital city of N’Djamena to prevent advancing rebels from penetrating the city again. These incidents indicate a country that is a hotbed of instability. Sustainable development hardly takes place in this kind of circumstances.
Deby virtually turned Chad into a family enterprise. He had multiple wives and children, and his sons, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, brothers, brothers-in-law invaded all the strategic positions of the country in a system of nepotism associated with despotism.
This clannishness probably led to this current situation whereby his son Mahamat Idriss Déby, a 37-year-old four- star military general, has been appointed head of a military government . This action violates the Constitution, which specifies that the President of the national assembly, or failing that, the first vice president, should take over when a president die.

Most analysts doubt whether the new Chadian ruler can wield the kind of power and influence his father wielded, which enabled him to hold the country together. There are reports of a power struggle between Mahamat and one of his half-brothers, Zakaria, which would likely open the door to hostilities in a battle for succession.

The feud had been brewing for a while. In January 2020, when the late President was ill, he allegedly left the first lady Hinda Deby in charge of the government to prevent a confrontation between Mahamat and Zakaria. One does not need a soothsayer to predict that there is a likelihood that Chad will degenerate into crises soon.

For Nigeria, Deby’s death may have some implications, especially in the fight against Boko Haram. Chad had intervened severally to assist Nigeria’s military in tackling Boko Haram insurgents, especially when they took over swathes of territory in north-eastern Nigeria in 2015 and with insecurity spreading around other countries bordering Lake Chad. Déby is ever willing to send his battle-hardened troops into Nigeria when the country needs them.

READ ALSO: Buhari Receives Chadian Envoy, Says Nigeria’ll Always Stand By Chad

Nigeria can also learn from Deby that; instability in Chad may mean instability is nearer home than we thought; flawed elections are an invitation to anarchy; clamping down on alternative voices is an invitation to lawlessness and instability ; international friends’ help is limited; development is key to stability and not deprivation and accumulation of wealth for self ; and nepotism and its twin mediocrity can not help lift a country or secure a leader .

Lessons for African leaders abound in this Deby’s debacle: First, his long reign entrenched the opposition and merged the political opposition and rebellion from the north Into one . The president became a source of avoidable instability. Second, it is evident that leaders who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable; Third , his use by the west as an ally against terrorism in the sahel was a test for a defective foreign policy thesis. Simply, that thesis is that one strong man can keep a country stable and defend a region if supported militarily. What happens when the strong man is felled by his own foibles? Ask Saddam Hussein or Muammar Ghadaffi . The contrary position is the view canvassed by former President Obama that what Africa needs to progress are strong institutions , not strong men .

The eventual outcome in Chad will test this wager to the limits. Fourth, Idris Deby’s nauseating nepotism and power absolutism ought to instruct other African leaders that that leadership model has expired. Mobutu, Nguema, Abacha and others have proven that autocracy and rank corruption can only deepen Africa’s regression. Fifth, personal character of a leader matters and it is what determines the choices a leader make and it is also his greatest strength amidst insecurity and instability; Sixth , courage is an essential virtue of leadership and Deby had it , but it is not enough alone to achieve greatness as a leader.

Deby’s death marks the end of yet another African despot. He has left behind a country facing the threat of invasion by rebels, a population with most people in poverty and another sad legacy of absolute power, clannishness and “sit- tightism”. He presided over the affairs of Chad for more than 30 years. Still, he has been unable to institute sustainable democracy, leaving behind an unconstitutional government and a fierce battle for succession, which may tear the country to pieces. I doubt if history would be kind to him.

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Op Ed

A Ghetto of Misery and Discontent

THE PUBLIC SPHERE with Chido Nwakanma

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A Ghetto of Misery and Discontent

SOS to Prof Paul Collier. What you predicted in The Bottom Billion is unfolding and coming real concerning Nigeria. It is frightening for its socio-economic and geopolitical implications for Africa and the world.

In 2007, Oxford economics Professor Collier submitted that if the world does nothing to arrest the development stasis of countries housing a billion of the world’s population, they will form “a ghetto of misery and discontent”. He listed Nigeria among the suspect countries. In the present circumstances, we seem to hurry to get to the feared destination of “a ghetto of misery and discontent”.

How times, circumstances and outcomes revolve around leadership. Who still remembers when Nigeria ranked as the land with the happiest people in the world? The smiles have disappeared since 2015.  All the surveys now record Nigeria as a land of unhappy people.

The bottom billion are those countries where citizens have experienced little income growth in the 1980s and 1990s despite international aid and support. These countries suffer from a mix of development traps. They are “falling behind and falling apart”.

The countries of the bottom billion are those caught in one or more development traps. These include conflict, mismanaged dependency on natural resources, weak governance, economic isolation surrounded by impoverished neighbouring countries.

With 100million persons adjudged extremely poor, Nigeria accounts for ten per cent of the global bottom billion. We regressed since the publication of Collier’s book and the twin recessions we have suffered since 2015. The prognosis is looking even more dismal.

Take conflict. Conflict is one of the development traps. Its features include civil wars, insurgencies, and general instability. With Boko Haram and Fulani terrorists, Nigeria is a conflict zone. The thesis is that the longer conflict subsists in a country, the more the conflict entrepreneurs entrench and find more ways of extracting profits. Kidnapping is now the preferred trade of the Fulani terrorists that have replaced the traditional herdsmen Nigerians know over a century. Conflict is now a business.

Then there is the natural resource trap. Experts have for long lamented the curse of the Dutch disease and Nigeria’s obsession with crude oil. Even as the oil market is shutting down, the government is doing nothing about diversification and alternatives. Indeed, we cannot even implement policies to ensure the utilisation of the options in abundance in the land. Gas is one.

Nigeria continues to make pronouncements on gas without implementation while we continue to waste the asset through flaring. The Department of Petroleum Resources on 6 September 2020 created one of those audio pronouncements when it mandated 9000 filling stations to “commence the upgrade of their facilities to allow them to dispense gas to vehicles”.  It was ostensibly a step in the implementation of the National Gas Expansion Programme. Even the Central Bank stepped in by outlining a scheme to provide funding for the programme. Since then, nothing has happened, not surprisingly, as the DPR memo had no timeframe for the implementation.

Nigeria continues to play the ostrich on the matter of natural resource management. Indeed, as Collier and other development theorists observed, the discovery of natural resources such as gold, bauxite and others could also be an additional source of conflict rather than progress. “Paradoxically, the discovery of valuable natural resources in the context of poverty constitutes a trap. It often results in misuse of its opportunities in ways that make it fail to grow and stagnate”. According to a summary of Collier’s work, societies at the bottom are frequently in resource-rich poverty”.

Zamfara descended into a conflict zone since sundry local and foreign players commenced exploiting its gold deposits. There is no indication that the resource will be treated the same way as oil in the South and made available to the Federation Account.

Then there is the quality and effect of neighbouring states. Misery attracts its kind. A country surrounded by poor and poorly managed neighbours could fall into the law of attraction. At best, there would be no motivation to do better, like Ghana, two countries away, is forcing on our government. Our immediate neighbours do not appeal.

Developments in Chad could bear out this fear some more.

The worst trap is bad governance. Poor governance and policies could result in a quick downward spiral. Our trajectory since 2015 proves this point vividly. From being ranked as one of the fastest growing economies, we nosedived into the poverty capital of the world. The result of policies and governance.

It is also about choices. The Federal Government on Thursday 22 April 2021 affirmed that Nigeria is not averse to having officials who promote and extol terrorism and terrorists in its cabinet. Though Isa Ali Pantami, minister of communication and digital economy, admitted to promoting terrorism and hate against religions other than Islam, the Federal Government engaged in dissembling and muddying the waters to defend him. Spokesman Garba Shehu claimed that President Buhari “stands behind Minister Pantami and all Nigerian citizens to ensure they receive fair treatment, fair prices, and fair protection in ICT services.”

The talk about fair treatment and prices is disingenuous because it was not the issue with Pantami. The disclaimer by Pantami is also disingenuous. He made provocative statements allegedly based on the Koran. Is he now disowning the roots of the statement? He already had a first degree and was responsible enough to be appointed Chief Imam of a mosque. So what is this piffle talk about making the statements as an immature youth?  Now that half of the country does not trust him to be fair in the discharge of his duties, what point would he and the Presidency prove retaining him?

Decisions from the Presidency are like Supreme Court judgements as they establish precedents. The Pantami judgement adds to the decisions that are promoting discontent in the land.

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