Mr. President, Yes, At 60 Nigeria Makes No Sense, By Majeed Dahiru
In what has become a familiar pattern, the speech delivered by President Muhammadu Buhari to mark the sixty years anniversary of Nigeria’s independence was one that didn’t fit the purpose of the occasion of a country’s diamond jubilee. By far the worst Independence Day speech by any Nigerian leader in its recent history, President Buhari delivered to the Nigerian people a most detached-from-reality message, which was low on unity, peace, love, patriotism and hope for a better tomorrow and high on bitterness, disdain, half-truth and outright falsehoods was nothing short of a violent rhetorical assault on the sensibilities of Nigerians through verbal reinforcement of his leadership failure. A funeral homily would have been more cheering for mourners as the officiating minister would have comforted his bereaved audience with the promise of the eternal sojourn of the soul of the departed in the bosom of the Most High God than President Buhari’s Independence Day speech to Nigerians, wherein he was unapologetic in defending the worst ever economic policies of his administration as the very best possible for the Nigerian people.
In justifying the recent price hike in petrol from N145 to N162 President Buhari resorted to price comparison between what was obtainable in Nigeria and other countries. In a startling revelation that momentarily jolted the long suffering Nigerians from their agonising pain of the excruciating burden of very high and unaffordable cost of energy into bewilderment, President Buhari reeled out the cost of petrol per litre in a select number of countries. According to President Buhari, as against Nigeria’s pump price of N162 per litre, neighbouring oil producing countries like Chad, Niger and Ghana, sells petrol for N362, N346 and N326 per litre respectively. Not done yet, Mr. President embarked on a voyage of comparison “far afield” from sub Saharan to north Africa and the Middle East, when he revealed the pump price of petrol to be 211 and N168 per litre in Egypt and Saudi Arabia respectively. As though telling Nigerians to be grateful for high cost of petrol in Nigeria because it is still cheaper than some other countries, President Buhari hinted of a possible price increases in price of petrol when he declared gleefully that “it makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia.”
The president was right that it makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia. However, a lot more things make no sense in Nigeria if compared with Saudi Arabia that President Buhari did not state in his Independence Day speech. It makes no sense that Saudi Arabia has a higher minimum wage of 3000 Riyals, an amount equivalent to N306,326 as against Nigeria’s miserably low minimum wage of N30,000. Whereas, Saudi Arabia has ten functional refineries at home with combined refining capacities of 5.4 million barrels of crude oil a day, which guarantees it self-sufficiency in domestic petrol demand, it makes no sense that Nigeria’s four refineries with refining capacity of 445,000 barrels of crude oil per day are moribund, thereby making Nigeria, the largest producer of oil in Africa also the largest importer of refined petrol in Africa.
It makes no sense that NNPC, Nigeria’s state owned oil company, is a behemoth of corruption and tower of inefficiency, which has consistently recorded losses amounting to billions of naira, whereas Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state owned oil company has emerged as one of the most profitable companies in the world with revenues exceeding 300 billion dollars from its operations around the globe. It makes no sense that Nigeria’s NNPC has no functional refinery at home and no operations overseas, not even in West Africa but Saudi Aramco, in addition to its fully functional refineries at home, operates the largest refinery in the United States of America; the Port Arthur Refinery with a refining capacity of 635,000 barrels per day in the state of Texas. And it still does not make sense that Nigeria with a population of over 200,000,000 people has a GDP of about 500 billion dollars with a per capita of $2,465 but Saudi Arabia with a smaller population of 34 million people has a bigger GDP of $779 billion with a higher per capita of $23,566.
After five years of rudderless leadership and outright misrule, President Buhari has left Nigeria worse off in 2020, the 60th year of its independence than he met it in 2015. Underlined by acute provincial proclivities, his divisive tendencies, which he has demonstrated through his elevation of sectionalism to a near state policy, has left Buhari’s Nigeria most divided than any other time in its sixty year history as an independent country. Bereft of any shred of nationalist credentials, President Buhari has been a fantastic failure at the management of Nigeria’s ethno-geographic and religious plurality as clearly manifested in the policies, programmes and appointments of his administration. President Buhari’s sectionalism and divisive leadership style has limited his ability to evolve a national consensus that is firmly hinged on a Pan Nigerian agenda of an integrated strategy for socio-economic development of Nigeria.
President Buhari’s failure of leadership in the last five years has resulted in the far reaching consequences of having reduced Nigeria to a poverty stricken doldrums of socio-economic dislocation and a securitycull de sac that is tethering on the edge of state failure. It makes no sense for more than half of the Nigeria’s 200 million people to go bed hungry with their eyes wide open and waking up not knowing where the next meal will come from. Yes, Mr. President, as the poverty capital of the world and the third most terrorised country on planet earth, Nigeria makes no sense at sixty.