This week, talking like he’s always known to do, frankly, straightforward and fearlessly, President Muhammadu Buhari said that decades of neglect and resource mismanagement have led to the current state of poverty and insecurity in the country.
The president spoke at the State House in Abuja while receiving in audience the board of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated led by the Group Chairman, Mr Emmanuel Ikazoboh.
The president said, and he cannot be controverted, that if assets and resources available to Nigeria, and they are immeasurable, were properly managed, the country would be among prosperous and peaceful nations on earth.
In fact, in a plain and simple language, Nigeria, The president said, was not, until his current administration, working as it ought to or at a relative pace with its peers. In other words, many social and economic facilities are not working in the country and the political realm is unstable.
Known for the corrupt tendencies of its leaders since its independence from British colonial rule, Nigeria has hardly known to prioritise good governance. Yet, good governance is a sine qua non for economic, social and political development of a country.
Good governance, in fact, is nothing but the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social development. Good governance is judged by the extent of provision of basic necessities of life like education, health facilities, and other social amenities to citizens of a particular country.
It is also assessed by the peaceful co-existence of citizens and institutions, and the equitable distribution of government benefits.
Unfortunately, almost every successive government in Nigeria, with the few exceptions of the Murtala and Buhari’s military administrations, has been accused of profligacy, lack of accountability, and corruption.
Unfortunately too, the absence of good governance and corruption perpetrated by our so-called leaders are the immediate causes of the country’s underdevelopment.
In Nigeria today, like the president seeks to point out, our frightening and embarrassing level of poverty is closely associated to the failure of governance at the federal, state and local government levels.
Regrettably, the consequence of the prevalence of corruption in the country, which led to lack of transparency and accountability, has eroded the legitimacy of governments and contributed to the rise of groups that embrace violence and reject the authority of the state.
Little wonder that the youth in various parts of the country decide to take up arms and engage in criminal acts such as kidnapping, violence, armed robbery and banditry.
Though many people in the country had thought that with the advent of democratic rule in 1999, good governance would be entrenched, the 16 years old Peoples Democratic Party-led administrations, initially seen as a corrective mechanism, turned out to be even more corrupt than the past corrupt military governments of notably General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and General Sani Abacha.
The political leaders, from the days of the civilian rule of Olusegun Obasanjo, can easily and incontrovertibly be described as a crop of shady politicians, backroom barterers, corrupt and opportunistic wheeler-dealers, whose chief concern seemed to be self-aggrandizement and perpetuation of power.
Thus, it’s heartwarming to hear the president often say that his administration, in deviation from the past trend, remains committed to the goals of securing the country, ensuring inclusive economic growth and fighting corruption.
And when the president says that his government is not only determined to reverse the trend of squander-mania and mismanagement and it has made progress in some areas such as agriculture, the joy of patriotic Nigerians can only be imagined.
No doubt, this is the only way to make Nigeria, a country that is placed in a unique position as the most populous and resource-rich nation on the African continent, prosper, serve and protect its citizens and live up to its expectation as the giant of Africa.
Unarguably, Nigeria, blessed as it is, needs to harness its resources, engender probity and accountability in its management of affairs with a view to building prosperous and peaceful country.
However, the government alone should not do it. The task of rebuilding Nigeria is the responsibility of everyone. Hence, the president’s appeal to the Ecobank Transnational Incorporated to “institute a special fund to develop agriculture, which will cement your legacy as a bank that helped to transform this region’s economic fortunes,” must not only be reechoed but it must be embraced by especially corporate organisations in the country.
Presidential counsel to pipeline vandals
Also, this week, at a gathering where most Nigerian leaders would have chosen to put economic interest over everything else, President Muhammadu Buhari elected to prioritise welfare and healthcare of the citizens.
He said the destruction of oil facilities, mostly found in the Niger Delta area, by vandals who are, themselves, indigenes of the area, was hurting the host communities and the environment in many ways more than the government is affected through loss of revenue.
Receiving South-south Monarchs Forum (SSMF) led by King Edmund Daukoru, Mingi XII, Amanyanabo of Nembe Kingdom, at the State House in Abuja, the president called on the South-south elders to appeal to the vandals of pipelines to stop their illegal acts and think more of the health of the people and wellbeing of the environment.
Specifically, the president called on the royals to caution criminals within their midst to end pipeline vandalism in their communities, because it’s in their interest to do so.
The president told the traditional rulers who came to congratulate him on his re-election and discuss issues of specific relevance to the zone, that they were culturally and traditionally positioned to complement government efforts on enhancing security in the Niger Delta.
He charged them to educate the youth on the dangers their nefarious activities posed to the environment and the economy.
Speaking as a patriot and concerned person, the president urged the royal fathers “to educate the people that the destruction of installations is hurting the majority of the people,” adding: “If pipelines are blown and the waters are polluted, it affects both the fishermen and farmers. Even the fishes in the sea are affected. These people who blow up the installations are hurting the people more than they are hurting the government.’’
But, other than what the president said, vandalisation of petroleum pipelines is a major cause of pipeline fire disasters. However, except the number of deaths recorded, little information of the effects of such disasters on the environment is often reported in developing countries like Nigeria, and post-disaster remediation process is thus usually unmonitored or ineffective, if ever initiated.
Agreed, the authorities too neglect some of their roles and that is not pardonable. After all, some of the affected settlements are found within the pipeline corridor and pipeline vandalisation is encouraged by one or more cases of faulty and exposed pipeline and or deficient pipeline monitoring system on the part of the authorities.
However, in most cases, pipelines vandalism occur as result of sabotage and readily available markets for siphoned oil. These are situations that authorities can hardly help.
Therefore, like the president has admonished, the royal fathers should educate communities living within and around areas pipelines are laid of the ecological effects of fuel leakage into ground which include loss of vegetation resulting into problems in the air and streams, health problems (mainly abdominal pain) after they drank the well water and destruction of their crops and farmlands.
And, when oil starts mixing with water, it changes its composition and what is known as mousse this is a sticky substance that clings even more to whatever it comes into contact with. Unfortunately, marine animals do not know how to avoid slick and some fish may even be attracted to it because it resembles food.
In fact, there’s no aspect of marine or coastal environment that is not, some way, adversely affected by an oil spill, which tendency to occur is aggravated by activities of pipelines vandals.
These are just among so many other dangers that can be caused to the lives of the people living in the Niger Delta and their environment which the president seeks to highlight.
Regrettably, the vandals and their sponsors, probably until the president spoke, used to think that their nefarious activities harm the government more than their environment.
Of course, on this note, the president should be saluted for speaking like a statesman, not politician, and for particularly downplaying the revenue angle where lives are concerned.
On their part, people of the Niger Delta, especially leaders, should tow the path of caution and heed the president’s wise counsel.No tags for this post.