A former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof Charles Chukwuma Soludo has warned that Nigeria was drifting towards a failed state under the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Soludo made the statement on Thursday in Enugu, while calling for the restructuring of the country and one where it does not matter where the president comes from.
He noted that though President Muhammadu Buhari inherited a floundering economy, the “administration only made matters worse”.
He said the country was not just in a recession but had degenerated to economic compression, to the point where it has become “a fragile state with a failing economy”.
Soludo spoke as the former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, cautioned that except something happens urgently, the nation would slide to a pathetic state of “anything goes”, acknowledging that Nigeria is a big nation with great potential, the country now reasons like a small nation finding it difficult to earn the respect of the world.
He said for the nation to exit this embarrassing path, it must carefully plan its development, which he said would not occur by happenstance.
The two leaders spoke at a policy debate organised by the African Heritage Institution, Enugu, tagged the Big Ideas Podium with the theme: “Nigeria: A Prognosis of 2017.”
Other guest speakers at the event included a former Chief Economic Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Prof Osita Ogbu, and a member of the Presidential Economic Advisory Board, Prof Akpan Ekpo.
Participants were drawn from the civil society, labour, academia, private sector and media, among others.
The former CBN governor said Nigerian now competes at the same level with countries such as Afghanistan and Syria, with failed states status, moving from 17th position where it used to be to 13th at the moment, adding that anyone still talking about a recession would merely be trivialising the issue at hand.
“It will be a miracle, in the event that this administration stays for eight years, for the economy to be returned to where we met it in 2015, let alone bettering it.
“At the moment, politicians are still playing yesterday’s game with the same rules and they hope to get a different result.
“Buhari is fighting corruption and insurgency, yes. The government inherited a bad situation but has made it several times worse. Enough of the blame game. Nothing will happen if we continue this way.
He advocated a citizens’ activism to rescue the nation from the slide, saying: “It will be a luxury for anybody to say ‘I’m minding my business.’ We must unite as citizens because we will not get the leadership that we deserve, rather we will get the leadership that we demand for.
“If political parties implement only 25 per cent of their promises, this nation will be better. Check all the three major parties – PDP, APC and APGA – and tell me the difference between them. They are all the same, doing the same thing.
“Time has come for us to get them to account. We need peaceful agitations, which must be encouraged in the country. These agitations call to attention the imperfections of the system.
“Recall that APC promised to restructure the country. It was the cardinal plank upon which they were given power. But after the elections, the party won 23 states and the centre, but did we hear about restructuring again?
“They control almost two-thirds of the country to restructure the country but expectedly, nothing is happening. Unless we rise, Nigeria is not going anywhere.
“Nigeria is not working in anybody’s interest, except a privileged few. The obsession today is Igbo presidency, power rotation and all that, as if they mean anything, but they are simply an unnecessary distraction from the problems we have now.
“You can have the president, vice-president, senate president, speaker of the House of Representatives and all that from one village (political party), and yet the lives of citizens of that village will not move from Point A to Point B.
“The north has governed Nigeria for about 40 years and yet poverty in Nigeria is a northern phenomenon.
“In the last regime of President Goodluck Jonathan, the South-east headed almost all the economic and financial institutions – the Minister of Finance, Deputy Senate President, Deputy Speaker of the House, SGF, etc., yet not a single motorable federal road exists in Igboland.
“We want a new Nigeria where it will not matter where the president comes from. We need a system where a citizen has guarantee of his security and prosperity. All these obsessions are games for the elite.
“No change is ever given, it is a struggle.
Nigeria got independence despite the pervasive poverty. How many graduates did we have then, yet it was achieved.
“The whole army in the world can never stop a determined people, literate or illiterate. We have to demand for the change, we have to agitate for it. Nobody will give it to you. Citizens must get back the confidence and consciousness in them to know that they are the change agents.”
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