The bad, the ugly and the Easter

nigeria-explosion-april-2014This is the time of year when Nigerians are flocking back and forth the villages and the cities after the Easter break. It is the time that Nigerians have come to view as the season of faith and the hours of restoration.
As our Easters goes, many will be reflecting on how well we have performed as a nation, or how poorly we have traded as individuals. Of course, the bulletins from the government spin doctors and official quarters have been spinning different tunes. The news of the GDP statistical revision temporarily brought some pleasing news though doubtful if it brought Nigerians more jobs. The update suggest that the nations GDP now hovers around $509bn, 89 per cent larger than previously stated for last year. The change was made by bringing forward the base year for calculations to 2010 from 1990, when the structure of the economy was very different and services such as banking and telecoms had barely taken off
However, the rebasing also serves to highlight the vast contrasts in opportunity and wealth that have resulted from the hydrocarbon-focused, rentier economy. More than 100 million people are due to enter the workforce over the next two decades, and unemployment amongst under-25s is estimated at more than 75 percent with much of the country remaining grindingly poor according to New World Wealth. In the commercial capital, Lagos, a gleaming new Porsche dealership is only a stone throw from creeks jammed with tumble-down shacks on stilts. And the glittering seat of government in Abuja is also a shouting distance from the Nyanya community.
A mix of party dance, the announcement of new GDP figures and the appointment of a new CBN leadership all brought with it a cynical breath of fresh air after all the baggage of controversy regarding whether the president has a right to sack a central bank governor.
Godwin Emefiele from Zenith bank plc must either been lucky or plainly good for not attracting dart and confusion in the polarized senate house when his name was put forward as the next substantive governor. Emefiele, 52, told the Senate in Abuja, that a devaluation of the naira would be “devastating” for the economy. “This is an import dependent economy and devaluation is not an option” he said.
The removal of Sanusi by Jonathan had prompted the currency to drop to a record low as investors worried that the independence of the central bank will be compromised. That increased speculation policy makers will devalue the currency by lowering the midpoint of the naira peg from 155 per dollar in the face of dwindling foreign-currency.
But it did not decrease the ominous signs by the discerning public when Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was suspended after being accused of financial mismanagement in a report produced by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria- an agency under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment. He was then replaced by his deputy, Sarah Alade as acting governor despite being indicted herself while the Zenith Bank Plc Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Godwin Emefiele was nominated and approved by the senate to succeed Sanusi as the substantive governor when his term officially ends in June.
But the matter did not end there. Reno Omokri, a special assistant on social media to President Goodluck Jonathan, posing as Wendell Simlin, then accused the suspended Mr. Sanusi of financing the terrorist Boko Haram group. The Department of State Services (DSS) while explaining the circumstance of the arrest and the seizure of Sanusi passport at a Lagos court recently said it was also investigating him for same offence of allegedly financing terrorism. And if that was not bad enough, it turned ugly as Boko Haram immediately killed 135 in three separate incidents in one day. Five at a teacher training college in the town of Dikwa and then 130 at two villages near the border with Cameroon
They followed with Nyanya bombing in Abuja and the kidnapping of over 200 school girls in Borno as worrying evidence that the militant group has its own mind and intending to expand its area of operation.
To some analysts, it seems attacks in the north-east are sufficiently remote to be ignored even though entire villages are being massacred, sometimes without any military response.
Though, the Nigerian government had been telling the world that the Boko Haram attacks were now confined to a small area of north-east Nigeria, the intensity of the Nyanya attacks and the kidnapping were telling.
Witnesses said they saw gunmen arrive in trucks and on motorcycles at the girls’ school and overpowered soldiers that had been guarding the school ahead of their yearly exams.
Officials said the gunmen killed a soldier and police officer and took off with the girls.
Inuwa Kubo, education commissioner for Borno state, said authorities were still trying to ascertain the exact number of girls abducted, as several students fled into the bush in the darkness during the attack.
A student, who did not wish to be named and managed to escape, said they were sleeping when armed men burst into their rooms at the school and asked to be shown the storeroom.
But as our Easter goes, the connective theme remains Jonathan, a second term, opposition parties and Boko Haram. Jonathan spokespersons and associates while in one breath, accused Sanusi of complicity in the Boko Haram attacks, and in another, pointed fingers at opposition parties. The PDP, National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh said the APC has never left the nation in doubt of its preference. “It wants a return to barefaced tyranny, to dictatorship as previously unleashed on the nation by a hue in its top leadership. But Nigerians have handed the party a shocker – we have crossed the red sea and shall never go back to Egypt.”
The APC, through its Interim National Publicity Secretary Alhaji Lai Mohammed was quick to respond. “We have continued to offer suggestions to this government on how it can tackle the insurgency that is now ravaging a part of the country. We have called for improved intelligence gathering, the aligning of military and political solutions, the need to de-radicalize the affected areas as well as to invest in research that will give more insight into the different aspects of Boko Haram, including its ideology, leadership structure, profile of members, internal organisation, sources of funding and weapons and links to diaspora.
“We have stressed the need to widen the scope of our response to include the sub-regional bloc ECOWAS and the continental body African Union, especially since Boko Haram has assumed a regional dimension. We have called for a Marshall Plan of sorts for the North-east, not the paltry N2 billion which the FG provided as recovery fund to the six North-east states, at least four of which are worse-hit by the insurgency.”
The last few days, have, however rekindled our Easter spirit with the APC presidential aspirant, Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, the PDP Jonathan Goodluck and the Borno women all suing for peace and calling on the Boko Haram to reconsider the fate of our school girls. That will be our breaking news when it happens.