North West and North East Nigeria are currently in the throes and stranglehold of unprecedented violent insurgency, banditry, terrorism and kidnapping. It is so bad that the Global Terrorism Index, a comprehensive study by the Institute for Economics and Peace analysing the impact of terrorism on 163 countries covering 99.7% of the world’s population ranks Nigeria as No 3 only after Iraq and Afghanistan with Syria, Pakistan and Somalia performing better than Nigeria. Although kidnapping started in the southern part of the country, it has together with banditry become an industry in the North, with villages having to pay communal ransoms. No one is immune. The ring of security around many high profile public office holders is so tight that they cannot be kidnapped. But their friends and relatives can be. The kidnappers know that they cannot kidnap the President, but they can kidnap his in-law and District Head of his home town with the hope of a large ransom. On the Abuja-Kaduna expressway, the fear of kidnappers is the beginning of wisdom.
As is typical of the Nigerian elite, rather than solving the problem, we try to escape from it. The mentality that makes us think that the answer to our power problem is a generator rather than investing in renewable energy such as solar energy, is the same mentality that makes top military men and top politicians to jump on the Abuja- Kaduna trains. If everyone abandons the Abuja- Kaduna expressway, the bandits and kidnappers will form armed gangs, stop or derail trains, raid the travellers and kidnap those whom they identify as, or look like good catches. Impossible? In August 1963, in what was then known as the Great Train Robbery in the UK, a gang of unarmed 15 men which included a retired train driver whose duty was to move the train to a designated location, and a specialist who knew how to rig trackside train signals, stopped a train by interfering with the signals and stole 2.6 million pounds about 55 million pounds at today’s value.
In April 2019, the Northern Elders’ Forum, complaining about Boko Haram, banditry, kidnapping and marauding youth gangs, accused President Buhari of not doing enough. In May 2019, the House of Representatives for the second time in less than one month summoned the President to explain the steps the administration was taking to contain the escalating insecurity. It is not possible to proffer a solution to a problem without knowing its cause. What is the cause? Is it religion or ethnicity? The answer is an obvious no, as the areas of operation have ethnic and religious homogeneity being predominantly Muslim Hausa- Fulani. Our ECOWAS brother Gambia, a tourist destination for many Europeans has a 95% Muslim population and is No 138 on the Global Terrorism Index .It has zero terrorism and they do not kidnap their tourists. We should therefore look at the socio-economic angle. Looking at other parts of the world with this kind of problem, Yemen, Afghanistan, one would see a common factor-poor education, extreme poverty, and lack of opportunities.
Consider the following facts and figures: The United Nations says that people are multidimensionally poor when they are poor in many respects- Education, health, access to potable water, nutrition, electricity, their assets, among ten indices. The United Nations Global Multidimensional Poverty Index published in 2015 has these figures for Nigeria on poverty rates:
South-West-19.3%,South-East-25.2%, South-South-27.3%,North-Central-45.7%,North-East-76.8%, North-West-80.9%. A sample from some States, Plateau- 51.6%, Katsina -82.2%, Zamfara -91.1%, Ekiti- 12.9%, Yobe-90.2%, Lagos- 8.5%, Anambra-11.2% and Edo-19.2%.The 2017 Oxford University Human Development Initiative Multidimensional Poverty Index is basically the same as the United Nation’s. Zamfara is 92%.
Now take a look at samples of literacy levels. Lagos, Imo, and Ekiti are 96% , Zamfara-19%, Sokoto-15%, Katsina-10% and Yobe-7%. According to the 2006 national population figures, Ekiti State’s population was 2,398,957, while Yobe was 2,321,399. Ekiti State’s average monthly 2017 FAAC allocation-N3.7 billion. Yobe State’s average monthly FAAC allocation-N4 billion. 2017 net annual allocation to Yobe N39.5 billion, while the net annual allocation to Ekiti was N25.6 billion. Annual internally generated revenue- Ekiti-N4.97 billion, Yobe-N3.5 billion. When you consider the fact that the 2017 FAAC allocation to Akwa Ibom State was N143 billion, Rivers State N119 billion, both Ekiti and Yobe are essentially poor rural agrarian States with the same population. However, take a look at the following 2015 figures. Number of primary school classrooms- Yobe-533, Ekiti – 7086. Percentage of teachers qualified to teach Yobe-22%, Ekiti- 90%. Multidimensional Poverty Index- Ekiti-12.9%, Yobe-90.2%. Literacy rate-Ekiti 96%, Yobe-7%. You can then see that the parts of Nigeria that have the worst incidents of insurgency, banditry, terrorism and kidnapping are also the parts that have the worst and pervasive extreme poverty and low literacy levels.
Again recently, it was reported that for the 2019 Unity Schools applications, of the 75,000 children that applied to sit for the Common Entrance examination, 25,000 applied from Lagos State, while just 59 applied from Zamfara State.
According to the 2006 population figures, Lagos was 9,113,604 while Zamfara was 3,278,873 thus Zamfara is more than one-third the population of Lagos. If only 59 children applied out of a population of 3.2 million people, obviously there is a problem. Among the thousands of those unfortunate children who did not or were not able to apply are those with the brains of professors, doctors, multi-billionaire industrialists, computer scientists and IT professionals. But when they are uneducated, unskilled, and poor, they have no opportunities and cannot create opportunities, they are the potential bandits, kidnappers and terrorists. It is not rocket science. When you compare Ekiti and Yobe, two States having the same population and virtually the same revenue profile, Yobe having some advantage, it tells you a clear story with regards to investment in education and poverty alleviation.
Having regard to the fact that Nigeria has had twenty years of unbroken democratic rule during which governance of States was by their governors and at least twenty five years of military rule with Heads of State mostly from the northern States, how can anyone blame President Buhari for the result of 40 years of governance in those States? Having regard to these facts and figures, does anyone need to summon the President to tell us what steps need to be taken?
CAUSES OF POOR GOVERNANCE
The principal causes of poor governance are corruption, diversion of resources meant for social services by politicians and public service elite (by means of institutional or structural kleptocracy) waste and mismanagement. The elite using their offices award themselves perquisites and allowances that they are not statutorily entitled to. The most popular example by many Nigerians are the allowances and funds for constituency projects allocated to members of the National Assembly. However, structural or institutional kleptocracy abounds in all the three arms and three levels of government. Recently, a very senior judicial officer was said to have been given N24 million for the purpose of undertaking just one foreign trip. A departing governor in one of the South-West States was said to have given himself an SUV costing his State N75 million. The so-called unaudited and opaque Security Vote which is not less than N100 million a month and reputed to be as much as N1 billion a month in some States is another example. All over the country, governors have been known to buy super luxury limousines many costing as much as N100 million for traditional rulers who are already entitled to 5% of their States’ local governments’ revenue. In the Civil Service, a Deputy Director could easily cost the government up to N4 million to undertake a foreign trip. Thus we the elites are simply using the funds for potable water, education and health to buy vehicles, pay for foreign trips and allowances etc.
According to a UNDP report, the lowest scoring countries on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) Somalia, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Yemen and Libya are all facing intense conflicts characterized by violent extremism, insurgency and terrorism arising from the sense of helplessness, hopelessness, injustice and inequity that pervasive corruption promotes.
To understand waste in Nigeria, go to the Federal budget (2018). You will see the proliferation of parastatals or MDAs some of which are moribund e.g. Public Complaints Commission- Budget- N4.2 billion mostly on salaries. Others are either unnecessary or performing the same functions with expensive bureaucratic paraphernalia of office-SUVs etc.
Examples -Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission-Budget N4.7b. Apart from the fact that we have the Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory AuthorityBudget–N7.3band the Energy Commission of Nigeria Budget N4.2b, while nuclear powers like Japan, France are shutting down their nuclear plants in favour of renewable energy, (Germany total shut-down by 2022) we are still budgeting to build a nuclear plant when we have not been able to contain terrorism. Other examples-National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism Development Studies and National Tourism Development Corporation. National Institute for Culture Orientation and National Council for Arts and Culture. National Film Corporation and National Film and Video Censor Board. National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion Abuja –Budget N1.39 b. National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure Abuja-Budget N4.8b .
Hydraulic Equipment Research Institute, Kano. National Space Research and Development Agency Abuja, N5.1b ,Centre for Geodesy and Geodynamics, Toro Bauchi State, Centre for Atmospheric Research Ayingba, Kogi State. Centre for Space Transport Propulsion, Epe, Lagos State, Centre for Basic Space Science Nsuka, Advanced Space Technology Application Laboratory, Uyo. As President Buhari starts his second term, he should take another look at the Oransaye report, scrap and merge many of these agencies, retrain productive staff so that the savings from these obvious wastes could be re-directed at investing in infrastructures, education and poverty alleviation all over the country. Developed and rich economies continue to reform .The UK abolished 130 and merged 18 of such institutions and agencies in 2010.