Dysfunctional government

by | December 27, 2017 2:17 am

The conclusion is now unavoidable and inescapable-Nigeria’s current government led by President Muhammadu Buhari is not just incompetent and derelict in its functions and duties, but worse-there is a fundamental dysfunction at the heart of the government that renders it incapable of performing the basic roles of a government.
I’m writing this on Christmas day with many Nigerians stranded at petrol filling stations. Most people who wished to travel for Christmas have had to endure long queues at filling stations; paying exorbitant prices for petrol; and some who can’t afford the steep costs of scarce petrol or skyrocketing transport fares are stranded in different parts of the country and have had to shelve their plans to travel. An acute fuel scarcity has once again crippled the whole country and spoilt the Christmas celebrations for most Christians. The level of mutual suspicion, sectarian and ethno-religious division is so palpable that many Christians believe it’s a deliberate design to undermine the Christmas celebrations! Igbos who typically travel for Christmas also suspect it is targeting their ethnic group! Both CAN and Ohaneze Ndigbo, the national Christian and Igbo ethnic umbrella organisations have issued statements alleging that the Buhari government deliberately orchestrated the fuel crisis to subvert their members!
Such statements would have seemed extreme and far-fetched in other times, but now, no one can be certain of anything! The Buhari regime is so unpretentious about its sectionalism, sectarianism, parochialism and its quest for Fulani, Northern and Islamic hegemony that anything in that direction is no longer inconceivable! Those Christians from Adamawa and Kaduna who escaped the fuel problem are being slaughtered right in their homes and villages by so-called “Fulani herdsmen” on Christmas day! The government has completely ignored the murderous activities of the herdsmen who carry AK 47s and kill at will across North-Central and the rest of Northern Nigeria; and most Nigerians have carefully avoided the subject. Everyone, including the herdsmen, understand that under Buhari nothing can be done about them!
Recently we have had episodes of security agencies of the same government fighting each other! Officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Department of State Security (DSS) recently drew guns on each other when EFCC agents attempted to arrest former DSS Director-General Ita Ekpeyong! Someone told me if DSS allowed Ekpeyong be arrested, some information he might reveal may be quite inconvenient to the current occupant of the office! So he must be prevented from arrest by the same government that constituted the DSS! There is in fact a worse precedent also related to the two agencies, that strikes at the very notion of the existence of government in Nigeria-President Buhari has twice nominated Ibrahim Magu to the Nigerian Senate as EFCC Chairman. On both occasions, Lawal Daura head of DSS appointed by the same Buhari has written letters to the Senate countermanding his boss and urging the Senate to refuse to confirm Magu! Daura, as his name suggests, hails from the same provincial Daura town in Katsina State as President Buhari! Magu now occupies the office illegally and in defiance of the Nigerian Senate!
The Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu has publicly revealed that he doesn’t have access to his full minister who is also the President, and that his subordinate, the NNPC Managing Director disrespects him and ignores him in the running of the critical oil industry. In those circumstances, it is not surprising that we are queuing for petrol all over the country. The problem in the sector is obvious to any intelligent person-the budget does not make a provision for petrol subsidy but oil prices have risen and a subsidy estimated by the NNPC MD at N27 per litre has thus emerged. NNPC may have been internally subsidizing petrol consumption, but that is evidently unsustainable. The common sense solution is to deregulate the downstream industry, but (just like with currency values) until Buhari, who doesn’t understand a word of economics understands and agrees, we would have to continue queuing!
One minister, Aisha Alhassan otherwise known as “Mama Taraba” has publicly declared her loyalty to an opposition presidential candidate, former VP Atiku Abubakar, who has left the ruling APC for the PDP, but she remains in Buhari’s cabinet, as does all other ministers originally appointed by Buhari in November 2015 performing or non-performing, healthy or unhealthy, loyal or disloyal! The governments spent over 50 percent of its revenues in both 2016 and 2017 on debt servicing, and is working very hard to increase its borrowings in 2018! Several top government officials-the Senate President included and the president’s own wife have alleged that an unelected “cabal” has seized control of government, but the so-called cabal remains firmly in place!
In Lagos, traffic movements have been obstructed by a long queue of trailers right from the Apapa Ports in all directions to Ojuelegba, Carter Bridge, Orile-Iganmu etc. on fragile bridges and roadways. We have had the ports in the same location for decades and such queues have not been seen until this year, but everyone acts as if there is a mysterious development that has occurred at the Ports! Apapa itself has essentially been destroyed as a residential and business community! Many Nigerians are urging the police authorities and government to abolish SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) saying that their activities are worse than those of the armed robbers they were set up to combat. Meanwhile one prominent Senator has been accusing the Inspector General of Police himself of collecting bribes from his own senior officers in order to secure “lucrative” postings! The Senator making the allegations, Isa Misau is a former Assistant Inspector-General of Police!
In short, governance is collapsing or has collapsed in Nigeria under Buhari! It boils down to Buhari’s capacity or lack thereof for governance and his deficiencies-economic, administrative, political and his acute provincialism and sectarian worldview, and his lack of a modern, progressive vision for Nigeria!


Opeyemi Agbaje