Nigeria Is At Crossroads – Abdulsalami - THE ENCOUNTER NEWS


Thursday, January 20, 2022

Nigeria Is At Crossroads – Abdulsalami

ABUJA - Nigeria is facing many challenges on multiple fronts and unless government muster courage to unite her sundry ethnic nationalities, the country will continue to struggle to realize its potentials, former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd) has said.

The former Head of State who chaired the occasion particularly called on the leadership of the country to listen to voices of reasons that often point the way out of the challenges being faced by the nation.

He said: “Nigeria is once again at a crossroads. Insecurity remains the single most difficult challenge for our country today- the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, banditry in the North-West, violent secessionist agitations in the South-East, kidnappings and abductions of travellers across many states all continue to fester in the land. Ethnic, religious and communal conflicts are rearing their ugly heads again in many parts of the country. All of these have greatly challenged and overstretched our security forces.

“Whatever we discuss and agree today, we hope that the authorities will take it in advisement in good faith and work with it. In my own experience as a leader, I have found that collective wisdom is all better than individual ability.”

Lamenting the state of affairs in the country, particularly the challenge of insecurity, the ex- former Head of State noted that over the past few years, Nigeria has lost a lot of human and material resources.

“These challenges have caused thousands of deaths and millions of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs,  in Nigeria over the past 13 years. According to the Global Conflict Tracker compiled by the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, CFR, some 350,000 persons have been killed and three million displaced directly or indirectly in the conflict in the North-East since 2009.

“A report by Beacon Consulting, a Nigerian security risk consultancy here in Abuja, Nigeria, recorded 574 cases of kidnappings and 431 confirmed fatalities in security incidents that cut across 29 states and 96 local government areas in December 2021 alone.

“About 75 per cent of the kidnappings and 57 per cent of the fatalities occurred in the North-West. This is clear indication that the epicenter of insecurity in the country has shifted from the North-East to the North-West.

“A major cause of the insecurity in Nigeria is the proliferation of all calibre of weapons in Nigeria in particular, and in the West Africa sub-region generally. For example, the 2018 small arms survey estimated that there are over six million of such weapons in circulation in Nigeria. This has certainly exacerbated the insecurity situation we face in the country.

He did not stop there as he lauded federal government for doing relatively well  on the economic front, regretting however that the impact have been minimal.

“In the past three months or so, economic growth rates and inflation have improved somewhat. The economy grew by between four and five per cent, since June last year, continuing the recovery from the near economic collapse of 2020.

“Inflation figures have also dropped to 15.4 per cent from a four-year high of 18.17 per cent in March 2021. All of these figures are contained in the 2022 budget breakdown and highlights presented by the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning early this month.

“But the impact of these numbers on the lives and wellbeing of the ordinary Nigerian is suspect. Unemployment and underemployment remain at the record levels, and over 80 million Nigerians are still caught up in needless poverty.

“All of these tend to have negative effects on security. In fact, Nigeria now faces a food security crisis that is compounded by the COVID-19 global pandemic and banditry in many states of Northern Nigeria. Both of these have disrupted the fragile value chains across the country and negatively impacted the ability of Nigerians to produce, process, and distribute food. The result is a continuing rise in the prices of food items beyond the reach of many Nigerian families.

“On top of all these, fuel prices are expected to rise significantly in the coming months as announced last November by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. When this happens, as the government has planned, it will push many millions deeper into poverty.

“Young people and women are the demographic groups most affected by the country’s dire economic outlook. For example, estimates by the National Bureau of Statistics shows that while the national unemployment rate stood at 33 per cent by the end of 2020, unemployment for young people between ages 15 and 34 years was 10 per cent higher at 42.5 per cent,” he added.

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