Nigeria at 56: “There’s nothing to celebrate”

Nigeria at 56: “There’s nothing to celebrate”

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A cross section of Nigerians, who spoke to NGOZI AMUCHE and ZAINAB ONI on their expectations from President Muhammadu Buhari, as the country marks her 56th independence anniversary celebrations, concluded that the Nigeria’s condition is pathetic. For them, with the level of poverty and hardship in the land, the citizens have “nothing” to roll the drums out for on the Independence Day.


MR. OPEYEMI AGBAJE, A FINANCIAL ANALYST:
“Can I tell you the truth, I am not expecting anything good from the President Muhammadu Buhari administration anymore. I have completely lost faith, and with what I have seen so far, things have fallen apart. As for the capital market, it can never recover when it lacks investor’s confidence. An economy is not run this way. The government must put its ass together towards a better Nigeria. They should, as a matter of urgency, begin to think of how to rescue Nigeria out of recession. They must begin to think of how to encourage the manufacturing sector; how to create jobs and local production.”

PRESIDENT, INDEPENDENT SHAREHOLDERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA, MR. SUNNY NWOSU:
“It is not a laughing matter; it is a serious issue. We, the shareholders group, are concerned about the capital market. The expectation of every investor is to have an impressive return on investment at the end of every financial year.
“The condition of the country is pathetic. Investors want a situation whereby recession will not transform into depression. We want a government that will create good investment climate and create jobs. Foreign exchange needs to be provided to manufacturers. How can one put religion first in terms of foreign exchange consideration? It is very important to note that during recession, government play vital role in finding out strategies to rescue the country. A 56-year-old man is no longer a child. If Nigeria at 56 is still the way it is, then something is wrong somewhere.”

OLISA AGBAKOBA, SENIOR ADVOCATE OF NIGERIA (SAN)
“I’m a little disappointed that at 56, Nigeria as an adult, has not done very well as our resources would have allowed us to. This is because the quality of our democratic leadership is very poor. Don’t forget that Nigeria got independence with countries like Malaysia, and so if you compare Malaysia and Nigeria, you will see the big difference in terms of development. Malaysia came to Nigeria and cut palm kernel to use in their country and they have a very strong leadership under Mr. Mahathir Muhammed, who understood that depending on oil was a big and fatal error.
“At the time that Mahathir was the prime minister, Malaysia was looking at the alternative income sources; Nigeria sat drinking oil and today we are in recession. I have not seen any cohesive plan on the part of the government to bring us out of the debt of recession. So, if you ask me, if I am happy with Nigeria at 56, I will say no, because I have been basically unhappy with Nigeria’s development from 1960 through 1965, 1966 when there was a coup, then civil war, then successive corrupt military governments, then further corrupt civilian governments and now recession. So I am very disappointed.”

MUDA YUSUF, DIRECTOR GENERAL, LAGOS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
“As we all know, Nigeria started as an agrarian-oriented economy; then we now found ourselves in oil wealth, which led to a kind of neglect of the agricultural sector. So, the boom that came with the oil sector came with the neglect of so many sectors, which has now made the economy vulnerable to developments in the global oil market.
“This is part of the consequences we are suffering today. So, we are here now because of over- dependence on oil faced with the challenges of how to sustain the economy due to the collapse of oil price. We’ve had some good times oil boom, which, unfortunately, we did not invest properly to build a strong and sustainable economy. So, we are at a point now where we are struggling to ensure that we stabilize the economy and also struggling to diversify the economy.
“I am not satisfied with the way the economy of Nigeria is. The fact is that we didn’t put the economy on a sound footing, especially at the time we had the money, we didn’t invest, especially in infrastructure because a country needs a very sound infrastructure for every other thing to happen, including private investment productivity competitiveness. All of these things depend on the quality of a country’s infrastructure, to a large extent.

FESTUS KEYAMO, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST AND LAWYER
“Firstly, if we look at the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, there have been areas of strengths and weaknesses. The areas of strengths bear on the issue of security in the Northeast. They have also made giant strides in fighting corruption but the economy has not scored very well because it is not doing so well. Overall, I will say ever since Nigeria gained independence, it has not gained its full potential as a nation. Our leaders have let us down and we are not where we ought to be in terms of the resources we have earned.
“A country like the United Arab Emirate has earned too much more than us, despite the fact that they only just started developing the UAE in the 1970s. Dubai that earned money like us, began to develop the country from the 70s and look at where they are today and compare it to where we are. Saudi Arabia and Nigeria earn money from the same source and look at how they have put their money to use. What has Nigeria done with its oil money so far?”

KENNY BAKARE, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, CIVIL LIBERTIES ORGABISATION
“Nigeria at 56, I will say we should thank God because Nigeria is still Nigeria and Nigerians are still Nigerians. Looking at the agitation for the Niger Delta Agitators, Biafra Agitators and even the Boko Haram issue, and we are still together, we should give thanks to God. At the same time, we have nothing to celebrate on October 1st because Nigerians are angry and the anger is at the top level. All we need is to pray. I will advise the Buhari government to implement some policies now; by next year I don’t know what will happen. It is just that both Christians and Muslims are prayerful; that is why we are still together now. It is not proper for the Federal Government to sell national properties. If we are looking for money to reconstruct, to develop Nigeria, they should look for it elsewhere. We have nothing to celebrate on October 1st because Nigerians are angry and the anger is at the top level.

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