Nigeria: 2019 and the Grand Conspiracy

12 December 2018

Wednesday letter1

There is a grand conspiracy. A plot hatched in the pits of despair and agony. There are three conspirators involved in this plot - the Nigerian people, top business executives and the international community.

In this thrilling "scheme", the Nigerian people are providing the hammer and the nail; business executives are providing the brick and mortar, while the international community is providing the moral and logistics support to seal the fate of an incumbent president.

This is a grand conspiracy! But why?

The mass movement against President Buhari was expected. Nigerians are easy to please, but they are deficient of patience for incompetence. No doubt, the "locus classicus" of the Buhari administration is arrogant incompetence. It is "generally agreed" that the government is rudderless. Even Aisha Buhari, wife of the president, attests to this. The government has failed on all counts, and has even worsened the yoke of citizens. The economy is floundering, the naira is tottering on the brink of further depreciation and external debts are piling up. Some 30 million Nigerians are unemployed and 13.5 million children are out of school. And there is no hope on the horizon.

Nigerians are dissipated; after expending so much hope and promise on the current government, they are now at their wit's end. They want a breath of fresh air.

Also, businesses have not been impermeable to the Buhari hex. Companies are folding up; many of them are laying off staff and many more of them cannot pay salaries. Some top business executives say "Buhari is not good for business". This has become a code phrase in the business circle.

An influential real estate developer in Abuja told me that the second coming of Buhari disrupted the market negatively, and that the sector has remained in suspended gloom since his administration.

As it is, the international community now longs for a Nigeria without Buhari as president.

In November, Priti Patel, a member of the UK parliament and former secretary of state for International Development, asked investors to be wary of investing in Nigeria. The lawmaker cited specifically the flagrant disobedience of court orders by the administration as the reason for her charge.

She also described the fight against corruption as a "smokescreen".

Hear her and be shocked:

However, the Nigerian government has continued to flout international law and convention, and it refuses to respect the various court decisions.

Investors must consider this long-running scandal and weigh this obstinance against Nigeria's mishandled economic potential.

Let us not forget that Nigeria is the only member of OPEC that is dependent upon petrol imports to keep the country going. Nigeria is ranked 145th in the world for its ease of doing business, which demonstrates the risks of investment into Nigeria.

Despite the President's public anti-corruption platform, Transparency International has not seen any reduction in corruption since Buhari took office. In fact, the precise opposite has happened, with Nigeria falling 12 places between the 2016 and 2017 rankings.

President Buhari currently faces serious allegations, which include staging show trials of opponents of a regime that is accused of corruption and graft, while simultaneously shielding his own party members and inner circle.

We should all welcome international efforts to attract international investment into developing economies. However, to do this successfully Nigeria must seriously tackle corruption, rather than use it as a smokescreen. It must honour its obligations to companies like P&ID. Until then, investors inevitably will be very wary of investing in Nigeria.

Just yesterday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) alleged that Nigerian security forces committed crimes against humanity. I fear some people may even go to jail. The intractable herdsmen killings, which some top officials in the West believe this administration has deliberately allowed to fester, and gross human rights violations, which are all documented by Amnesty International, are some of the grouse of the international community against President Buhari.

But how does one expend all goodwill in three years?

Really, the 2019 presidential election is between the Nigerian people and Buhari.

Déjà vu!

Fredrick Nwabufo,

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