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Opinions of Sunday, 25 April 2021

Columnist: Reno Omokri

Is Nigeria still the giant of Africa?

The 2019 xenophobia attacks in South Africa, for which President Muhammadu Buhari visited South Africa on Thursday, October 3, 2019, was the defining proof that the rest of Africa needed to see, to convince them that Nigeria, under Muhammad Buhari, has become a paper tiger, whose bark is worse than its bite.

Come to think of it. How can Nigerians be attacked in unprovoked xenophobic outrage in South Africa, and it is the Nigerian President who goes to grovel to the South African leader, a neophyte, like Cyril Ramaphosa, nonetheless?
It beggars belief. Obasanjo would never have done that, and former President Jonathan did not do it.

Nigerians may recall that on March 4, 2012, South Africa deported 125 Nigerians over Yellow Fever Certificates. The very next day, then-President Jonathan ordered the retaliatory deportation of 84 South Africans.
Two days later, the South African government apologised and reversed the deportations.
That is a leader. Not this wet blanket called Buhari! The fact remains that South Africa knows that we do not have a leader. We have an old Stone-Age despot without vision.

There is nothing wrong with a Nigerian leader paying a state visit to South Africa or vice versa. However, there is everything wrong with a Nigerian leader going to South Africa after Nigeria has been wronged by South Africa.
It shows feeble-mindedness. And sadly, Nigeria’s prestige has deteriorated under Buhari. That may even be an understatement. Our continental standing has nosedived.

Consider again that in 2020, the now-deceased Chadian President, Idris Deby, personally led his troops on a battle formation against Boko Haram insurgents. After dealing them with a decisive defeat, he spoke derisively about Nigeria.

In a now-viral video, Deby said:
“This place will be our zone until Nigeria sends its soldiers. Stay with them for about a month. Do not let them free captured weapons or any Boko Haram terrorists, they will return to Chad, and this will just hurt us.”
Speaking further, he said:

“The 10 percent that are left are running everywhere. Some have drowned and some ran to Niger, some to Nigeria but they will never come to Chad again. Chad is no place for Boko Haram.”

And our fall from grace on the African continent is hurting our economy. Our nation is in a shambles. We are now officially the world headquarters for extreme poverty and out-of-school children because we have a leadership that only patronises Nigeria when they need money and power.

When Buhari needs healthcare, he ups and goes to London. So he has no need to improve the healthcare sector. It does not concern him.

When his wife, Aisha Buhari wants to shop, she travels to the United Kingdom. When she wants to escape from her bully of a husband, Muhammadu Buhari, she goes to Dubai and takes up residence there. But when Aisha wanted to launch her books, she came to Nigeria and gathered 12 billionaires and received donations. Then her husband sealed the deal by making the author of her book an ambassador.

And as a result of their laissez-faire attitude to governance, the nation has deteriorated.

Nowhere is safe in Nigeria. Absolutely nowhere. Not even Aso Rock. Because Aisha left because of the insecurity she and her family encountered there during their power struggle with the cabal. So we had an Aishexit or hijra to Dubai.
To show the level to which governance in Nigeria has plummeted to, consider that in response to the menace of killer herdsmen, the Republic of Ghana issued a shoot-on-sight order in January 2018 against any herdsmen encroaching on farmlands or engaged in clashes with farmers.

As a result of that order, the menace has been curbed in Ghana.

Contrast this with Nigeria, where on July 4, 2018, the Nigerian government officially responded to the killer herdsmen menace by saying (this is a quote. This has not been made up) “giving land for ranching is better than death”.

Now, if you are a foreign investor, where would you invest between Nigeria and Ghana?

The Nigerian government headed by Muhammadu Buhari banned #Bitcoin and other #Cryptocurrencies, because they claimed #Cryptocurrency is used to fund terrorists.

Now, since that is the case, why has Buhari not sacked Dr. Isa Pantami, a minister who is, without doubt, a terrorist sympathiser? It does not add up!
It is these types of policy inconsistencies that have made Nigeria under Buhari, an economic pariah.

On Wednesday April 21, 2020, Amazon announced that it had chosen South Africa for its African headquarters.

Nigeria lost Twitter to Ghana
Nigeria lost Microsoft to Kenya
Nigeria lost Facebook to South Africa
Nigeria lost the African Continental Free Trade Area secretariat to Ghana
Meanwhile, firms that have been domiciled in Nigeria even before this administration ascended to power, like Shell, ExxonMobil, Shoprite Nigeria, and others, are voting with their feet and divesting from Nigeria.

Other than the alarming rise in crossdressers, what sector has improved in Nigeria under Muhammadu Buhari?

Nigerians who are complaining that they lost investments from Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, the ACFTA and so on should ask themselves why these companies will invest in Nigeria when our President invests in English healthcare for himself and UK education for his children, while his own children invest in Dubai for their family homes?

If you as a President do not believe in your own country, why should a foreign investor believe in your country? Nigeria was the number one destination for foreign investment in 2013, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Is it a coincidence that this was under a President (Jonathan), all of whose own children schooled in Nigeria while he was President? I do not think so.

Little things like that may be lost to the masses, but they are not lost to foreign investors. It is part of their due diligence. A leader who does not show commitment to his nation’s economy should not expect foreigners to commit to that nation.

And what do we even say about security? As I was writing this, the United States government issued a travel advisory to its citizens, warning them not to visit 14 Nigerian states, including Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states due to terrorism and kidnapping, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, and Zamfara states due to kidnapping, and Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, and Rivers states (except for Port Harcourt) due to crime, kidnapping, and maritime crime.

The United States ended the advisory with the following “Violent crime – such as armed robbery, assault, carjacking, kidnapping, hostage taking, banditry, and rape – is common throughout the country.”

Obviously, I am not happy to write this. Nigeria is my country. But if we do not address our challenges, if we bury our heads in the sand like the ostrich, the Muhammadu Buhari junta will destroy the entire labours of our heroes past.

In fact, the other day, I was heartbroken to read in the news that security officers in Kaduna had rescued stolen cows. Is this not the same Kaduna that has not been able to rescue abducted school children?

Is not the same Kaduna celebrating the liberation of cows when the oppression of human beings has not been arrested? Is this not a bit insensitive? And things are now even so bad that abductors have now graduated to abducting undergraduates. If Kaduna puts the efforts they invest in cows on rescuing those children, they could have been rescued.

The situation in Kaduna is so bad that nobody in Kaduna can sleep with two eyes closed.

Four weeks ago, multiple schoolchildren were abducted in Kaduna. Three weeks ago eight members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God were abducted in Kaduna. On Wednesday April 21, 2021, university students were abducted at their campus in Kaduna. The very next day, bandits abducted two nurses right from their hospital in Kaduna.

Is there actually a government in Kaduna? Or is it only when it is time to demolish political opponents’ properties that we will see that Kaduna has a government?

What a country! What a country Buhari has turned us to. The question needs to be asked. Are we still the Giant of Africa, or have we lost that pole position because we have the worst tyrant in Africa?
I leave you to be the judge.

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