In 2015, as Nigerians prepared for a general election, the outcome of which was predicted to split Nigeria, a UK-based news magazine, The Economist, in its editorial supported the opposition candidate at the time, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, against the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, who represented a party that had been in power for 16 years.
Although the 178-year-old magazine wasn’t happy with Buhari during his military junta between December 31, 1983, to 1985 for having blood in his hands, it said it was supporting him because Mr. Jonathan’s administration was corrupt and utterly inept.
“A former dictator is a better choice than a failed president,” The Economist says in its February 5, 2015 editorial titled, “The least awful”
In another editorial, the news magazine described Goodluck as, “Bad luck for Nigeria” and lampooned him in a series of editorials before he was eventually booted out of office at the polls.
Six years have gone and The Economist has come out to level the most devastating allegations, which are seemingly a reflection of what Nigerians can see, against Buhari who promised “change” Nigerians had been dreaming of.
The London-based news magazine in its October 23, 2021, editorial titled, “The Crime Scene at the Heart of Africa” doesn’t only accuse the regime of Katsina-born semi-democrat Buhari as inept, it also revealed how some Nigerian soldiers under Buhari leadership sell weapons to the terrorist group Boko Haram and other criminal elements to disorganise Nigeria.
The Nigeria Army has described the editorial as evil and aimed at destabilising Nigeria, but when The Economist supported him before the election and praised the victory of Buhari at the polls in its April 4, 2015 edition, “Three cheers for democracy” the present ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) was elated that it got an international “endorsement”.
How the Allegations Against Buhari’s regime by The Economist May Affect Investment
At InfomediaNG Business Solutions, we summarised the strong allegations against the government Buhari after dissecting the editorial into 15.
The allegations are:
- Ethnic grievances
- Abuse of Human Rights
- Wasteful government officials
- Poor economic management
- Gangs of kidnappers in Northwest
- Unlawful killings across Nigeria
- Disobedience to court orders by DSS
- Failure to setup state police
- Secessionist violence Attacks in Southeast
- Jihadists carving out territory within Nigeria
- Robbery by Nigeria Police Officers on highways
- Sales of equipment by Nigerian soldiers to terrorists
- Migration of Nigerian youth because of uncertainty
- Disaster in waiting
In the last Doing Business Index by the World Bank, Nigeria wasn’t among the top 20 not because there were no resources neither lack of investment opportunities, the rising insecurity across the country is a strong deterrent to investors.
Not just that, the data released by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that only 11 Nigerian states received foreign investments in 2020. The reason wasn’t solely because of the pandemic, insecurity is a huge distracting factor.
The Ijaws are not happy, some parts of Yoruba are complaining while the entire middle belt is complaining of political subjugation despite being under the Northern hegemony.
Which investor would take their monies to Abia or Imo at this time when attacks on government facilities and killings are everyday news which seems to be no news again?
Since 1999, no politician from the Southeast geopolitical zone has ever ruled Nigeria and the political wave of the 2023 election doesn’t look favourable to the region that is already burning. Clamour for the State of Biafra continues to rise.
Abuse of Human Rights
The Economist isn’t the first to accuse Buhari’s government of abuse of Fundamental Human Rights, Amnesty International and several Civil Societies have made similar accusations.
Each time anyone does, Lai Muhammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Information would come on national TV to describe it as a lie.
Those who have been following events in Nigeria saw how security men nearly killed Uber driver on October 20, at the one-year memorial march of the #EndSars protest.
Journalists were also harassed and dehumanised, some of them were arrested and wrongfully detained.
Violation of human rights deters investors. A country that wants to encourage foreign investments must respect human rights. The decision of Twitter to cite its African headquarters in Ghana, despite having the highest user base in Nigeria, is driven by a total disregard to human rights. A few companies closed shops in Nigeria and relocated their investments to Ghana because of many economic factors including security.
Wasteful Government Officials
Under Buhari, Nigeria has accumulated more debts than all Nigerian presidents since 1999 combined, he says Nigeria’s debt is manageable. He also shows interest to take more loans, even from countries that are poorer than Nigeria in terms of mineral resources.
Nigeria’s external debt at the time Jonathan left office on May 29, 2015, was $7.3 billion, but Buhari’s regime borrowed more to make the external loan reach $28.57 billion in December 2020. It means Buhari’s regime borrowed an extra $21.27 billion between 2015 to 2020
Yet, government officials including Buhari, his ministers, gluttonous members of the National Assembly are not ready to cut their parasitic spending.
It shows poor management. It shows that the lawmakers and the executives may not make any effective policies that would translate to economic benefits, rather, they would continue to look for ways to cover up their tracks of economic mismanagement.
Poor Economic Management
Severally, Buhari boasted of lifting Nigeria out of recession, his ministers equally did the same when the opportunity arises.
Sadly, The Economist says Nigeria’s “Economic troubles are compounded by a government that is inept and heavy-handed.”
The news magazine also accused Buhari of turning an oi lshock into a recession, “by propping up the naira and barring many imports in the hope this would spur domestic production. Instead, he sent annual food inflation soaring above 20%.”
Indirectly, it means poor management of the economy. Nigerians may have been fed with non-existent or cooked economic data to justify the government’s economic poor policies, a government that is currently boasting of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty when economic indices show that more Nigerians are being impoverished.
Gangs of kidnappers in Northwest
According to the magazine, kidnapping which has become an everyday occurrence in the Northwest is making part of that zone ungovernable.
In that part, where farmers can’t go to their farmlands, would a foreign investor have the courage to invest there?
Failure To Setup State Police
Before now, there had been calls to have state and local government policing as the over-stressed Federal Police are incapable of security over 200 million people, but Buhari and his ministers say it was a call aimed at dividing indivisible Nigerian state.
Highways are no longer safe, average Nigerians can no longer sleep with their eyes closed because of fear of invasion by criminal gangs who could strike any time.
Sales of Equipment By Nigerian Soldiers To Terrorists
The devastating of them all is the accusation that some members of the Nigerian Troops sell ammunition to terrorist group Boko Haram, which has killed more than 20,000 Nigerians and displaced close to 2million others from their homes.
“…many of its soldiers are “ghosts” who exist only on the payroll, and much of its equipment is stolen and sold to insurgents.”
This is the biggest allegation that would make Nigeria lose the confidence of foreign investors.
While The Army says the allegation was aimed at destabilising Nigeria, a lot of Nigerians may not be convinced by the rebuttal considering what they’ve seen played out in the last two years.
Terrorists shut down Nigeria Airforce fight jet, military barracks were overrun severally by the criminal groups and other atrocities may leave the Defence Headquarters to fight for ways of gaining the trust of Nigerians which they never had.
Disaster in Waiting
In the concluding part of the editorial, The Economist posited that Nigeria may slide into a chaos that may consume the “cosseted political elite—safe in their guarded compounds and the well-defended capital.”
The poor value of the Naira at the foreign exchange market is also a reflection of the Buharinomics spearheaded by the governor of Central Bank (CBN) Godwin Emefiele.
With the disobedience by the dreaded DSS to court orders, secessionist violence attacks in the Southeast, and migration of Nigerian youth because of uncertainty here, it means local and foreign investments are being lost every day, the inept political officeholders may find it difficult to curtail the awaiting chaos.
Really, things do not have to fall apart before Buhari and his team do something urgently.