Dear President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR,
The National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity, NAS/PC, wishes to, on the occasion of your first Independence Day Anniversary as President, interrogate early steps of your administration in the face of the electioneering promises you made to Nigerians and suggest improvements to make life better for Nigerians.
We have taken note of the policies, programmes and pronouncements of your administration since assumption of office as President. We are aware of the inherited economic challenges from your predecessor, as well as the steps taken by your government to revive the comatose economy you met from the previous government of your party, to inspire hope by making economic and political adjustments to revive the ailing economy.
However, in spite of your best efforts so far to convince Nigerians that your administration means well for this country, the truth remains Nigeria on your watch is bleeding profusely. As an international human rights and social advocacy organisation, we must bring to your attention some observations pertinent to the survival of this country, on this Independence Day celebration.
Firstly, the general insecurity which you vowed to end still persists. Before your assumption of office, you had promised a “secure, prosperous and united Nigeria”, but so far this promise has been a mirage. On your watch, the insecurity that ravaged Nigeria under your predecessor has continued unabated. The hope rekindled in Nigerians with the change of the Service Chiefs has not been sustained. Insurgents and other non-state actors are operating unchecked across the country.
Data from SBM Intelligence and the Council on Foreign Relations National Security Tracker (NST) indicated that in just three months of your administration between May 29 and July, 2023 over 600 Nigerians have been killed while over 276 have been kidnapped. In August, 22 soldiers including officers were ambushed by bandits in Niger State. Reports in Nigeria media indicate that insurgents are in control of 23 local government areas in Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi states. In August eight prospective Corps members travelling from Uyo, Akwa-Ibom to Sokoto State for national service were abducted by kidnappers. These young Nigerians are still with their abductors over a month after their kidnap leaving their parents and family members in utter anguish. On September 22, bandits breached the security of the Federal University Gusau, Zamfara State and kidnapped 30 female students, who were rescued a few days later.
In the South- East, terrorists are on the loose, wreaking havoc on lives and property. A combined team of security personnel were on September 20 ambushed at Umualuku, Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State. They were killed and their bodies burnt. On September 21, gunmen attacked and killed two Mobile Policemen at Udi-Ozalla Road in Enugu State. The situation is no better in the South- South where oil theft is still rampant. Criminal gangs operating in Rivers State recently beheaded a Police Divisional Office. Kidnappings are rife in South-West while the campaign of terror by Fulani herdsmen is active in Benue and Plateau States.
Mr President, your economic policies so far have been catastrophic. Your decision to implement the fuel subsidy removal initiated by your predecessor without any clear-cut strategy to cushion the effects on Nigerians has been disastrous, pushing more Nigerians into poverty and destitution, adding to the 133 million Nigerians already in multidimensional poverty. Worse still, unification of the naira exchange rate has failed to stem the fall of the naira. While we acknowledge that the Central Bank of Nigeria you inherited was inefficient and tainted with messy politics, your hasty exchange rate unification policy has been ineffective. The double effect of high petrol prices and the free fall of Naira has pushed inflation up to an alarming level.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) latest data on inflation from the Consumer Price Index indicates that it is now 25.8%. According to the NBS, food inflation is 29.34%, unemployment stands at 33.3% while it is 53.4% among the youth. Hunger and poverty stalk the land; Nigerians are suffering.
In the midst of these woes, an agency under your administration, the Revenue Allocation Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission (RAMFC) is proposing salary increments for yourself, the Vice-President, lawmakers, and other public officers. Aside from being unjustifiable, this is certainly insensitive, irresponsible and reckless. Salary increments for the political leadership of a country, who should lead by example in receiving pay cuts, showcases a gross dereliction of duty and poor leadership vision.
Mr President, NAS/PC recommends that you take deliberate steps to crush insecurity. The unbridled insecurity ravaging the country especially in North-West and North-East has contributed to the worsening inflation in the country with many fleeing their farms.
We reiterate our previous demand for a decentralised policing system to tackle insecurity in Nigeria. The majority of Nigeria’s Police personnel are away from core police duty and guarding political leaders and other VIPs, leaving hapless Nigerians at the mercy of criminal elements. We believe it is imperative now that you summon the political will, mobilise the State governors and the National Assembly to amend the 1999 constitution for the creation of State Police.
It is crystal clear that extant strategies are not working therefore now is the time for the security agencies to drop their petty rivalry and work for the collective good of Nigerians by adopting new strategies to combat insecurity. The Department of State Security (DSS) should pay less action to ‘so called enemies’ of the government and provide the much-needed intelligence to smoke terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements, and their sponsors, from their hideouts. The new security strategy should involve personnel of the security agencies winning over the hearts and minds of locals in the bid to flush out undesirable elements tormenting innocent Nigerians. No security will work if it does to inspire confidence in the people prompting them to volunteer information. Nigerians have become weary of ineffective directives to security agencies, they demand protection from the onslaught of criminal gangs.
NAS/PC believes with the appointment of Mr Yemi Cardoso as the new CBN Governor, there is no more excuse for failing to rescue the naira and save the economy. We ask that the CBN Governor be given the necessary independence to restore the autonomy of the apex bank which is the cornerstone of central banking. Nigeria needs a CBN that is free of corruption and truly politically independent and efficiently professional. He should strike a balance between the fiscal and monetary policies which are needed to accelerate productive activities to help save the Naira.
More importantly, you need to galvanise the National Economic Council (NEC) to urgently seek ways to invest in Small Medium Scale industries, agriculture and manufacturing. This is why we are of the considered view that you need to unveil your plan to boost power supply in the country. Increased electricity supply is one of the missing links to stimulate growth in Nigeria’s economy.
Mr, President, these are urgent observations that require your swift action if indeed you are serious about hitting the ground running. We wish you all the best as you aim to surmount the onerous task before you..
Happy Independence Day Celebration!