By Muhammad Nazif Abubakar
Nigeria is facing several challenges that threaten its stability and prosperity. From economic struggles to political corruption, the country is at a crossroads and, come February, must take to the ballot and vote for competent leadership that can take actions to address these issues to secure its future.
Nigeria’s numerous economic challenges can be overwhelming in recent years, including declining oil prices and organised oil theft. The latter has significantly impacted the country’s economy, leading to billions of dollars in lost revenue for the government and oil companies and lost profits for businesses operating in the oil industry. This lost revenue could have been used to fund critical public services and infrastructure projects, exacerbating the adverse economic effects of crude oil theft. Moreover, the financial struggles in Nigeria have led to high levels of unemployment, particularly among young people, and have contributed to widespread poverty. In addition, the country has struggled with high inflation levels and a weak currency, making it difficult for people to afford necessities.
Political corruption is another major issue in Nigeria. Politicians and government officials are frequently accused of embezzlement and misusing public funds. Examples of this corruption, most of which were documented by Dr Nura Alkali in his book entitled When Stealing is Not Corruption: Nigeria Under President Jonathan, include the 2015 elections, which were marred by allegations of vote buying and the use of government resources to support certain candidates; the 2012 fuel subsidy scandal, in which billions of dollars in subsidies were embezzled by government officials; the 2010 Halliburton scandal, in which the company paid bribes to Nigerian officials to secure contracts; and the 2015 DasukiGate scandal, in which former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki embezzled public funds meant for military equipment. More recently, a former Accountant General of the federation was involved in over a 100-billion-naira scandal. Corruption has contributed to a lack of trust in successive governments. It has made it difficult for the country to address its many challenges.
In addition to these economic and political challenges, Nigeria is also facing several security threats. Before 2015, the country was plagued by violence and terrorism, with groups like Boko Haram carrying out attacks on civilians and government targets. This has destabilised the country and made it difficult for citizens, especially in the northeast, to go about their everyday lives. Attacks by members of Boko Haram have drastically subsided in recent years. However, Nigeria is struggling with increasing levels of banditry in its northwest region. This has included armed robberies, kidnappings, and attacks on communities and security personnel. These bands of criminals have caused widespread fear and insecurity in the region, especially in Katsina and Zamfara. In addition, they have made it difficult for people to go about their daily lives.
The root causes of this banditry are complex and multifaceted. Poverty and unemployment are major contributing factors, as many of these bandits are driven by the desire to make a quick profit. In addition, the lack of effective law enforcement and security in the region has made it easier for these criminal groups to operate with impunity. The government has attempted to address this issue by deploying security forces and implementing programs to address poverty, but these efforts have had limited success. It will require a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to effectively address the problem of banditry in Nigeria’s northwest region.
Nigeria has a large and diverse population and a rich history and culture. With exemplary leadership and policies, Nigeria has the potential to become a thriving and prosperous nation. However, this will require a concerted effort to address the issues holding the country back. This will require tackling corruption, improving the economy, and managing security threats. It will also require working to build a more inclusive and just society where all citizens have the opportunity to succeed and thrive.
Despite Nigeria’s many challenges, there is hope for the country’s future. This hope lies in the decisions made during the next election cycle. The person chosen to lead Nigeria must be capable of addressing the country’s problems. As former US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “The single most exciting thing you encounter in government is competence because it is so rare.” Competence is a rare quality in the Nigerian political landscape. Still, it is essential for the success and prosperity of the country. Therefore, we must choose a competent leader to navigate Nigeria’s challenges.
Muhammad Nazif Abubakar from Kaduna via firstname.lastname@example.org.