By Okey Muogbo
Ungoverned spaces: One of the reasons why Nigerian voters should entrust their electoral preference in this forthcoming presidential election with Mr. Peter Obi is because he appears to be the only one among the presidential candidates who has all it takes to to close up all the ungoverned spaces (UGS) in Nigeria. UGS operationally is defined as areas and issues of governance where the State has lost control and authority of influence and control to non-state actors through outright incompetence, negligence and compromise. In the build to the 2015 presidential election, UGS was expressed in terms of geographical areas where Boko Haram (BH) had taken over almost of the whole of Borno and Yobe and Adamawa states. Not only that, BH began to expand influence outside the two northeastern states exploding bombs with reckless abandon in Abuja, Niger State, Kogi State, in fact, wherever they wanted. Fear gripped everybody, everywhere in Nigeria on the dangers of the ragtag army and guerrilla terrorists overrunning the country.
The regime of President Goodluck Jonathan (GEJ) responded by pushing the insurgents out of Abuja and indeed territorially restricting them to only 27 local government areas in parts of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states and, shockingly, effectively prevented them from disrupting conduct of elections even in the areas controlled by the BH. Anguished voters from the troubled territories supplied substantial part of the votes that ousted the GEJ administration.
The eight years of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration saw Nigeria recovering 25 out of the 27 local governments that were under the control of BH. Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, confirmed in early January this year that there are currently two local governments under the control of Boko Haram terrorists in the state, namely: Guzamala and Kukawa, both in Borno North.
As the APC regime rounds up its second term, more territories have been lost to UGS and now under the firm control of violent non-state actors who have multiplied in types and groups to include ISWAP, UGM, armed herdsmen, ESN, etc., all wrecking havoc in the expanded territories they control. Geographically speaking, UGS presently include: many local government areas in Borno, Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Niger states. Other UGS are: all the major and minors roads in Nigeria, all the thousands of kilometres of railway lines, all the forests and bushes and farmlands in Nigeria, where these terrorists do, at will, come and kidnap people and boldly call family members of their victims for ransom. Even the Internet space has been lost to hackers, fraudsters, and their ilk who divert ICT for criminal activities. When you make a mental picture of UGS in Nigeria today, you would be in no doubt that Nigerians have lost their country to evil people. These are the major reasons why there is so much poverty in the country.
But why won’t there be acute poverty when traders are prevented from moving freely from one pace to another, when farmers can’t go to cultivate their lands, when internet hackers would make your money in the banks unsafe? UGS under GEJ was highly small and restricted and that probably explains why Nigeria under APC went from frying pan to fire.
This is where the Peter Obi factor and magic wand come in. Nigeria needs a man who has no proven relationship with the old order that failed to stop insecurity in the country. It is an undeniable and incontrovertible fact that the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate has not been involved or corrupted, contaminated or compromised by the suspicious management of the Nigerian security crisis. Such a fresh hand is what Nigeria needs to have an undistracted fight against evil and violent non-state actors in Nigeria. Peter Obi cannot be compromised, either by threats or at the offer of trillions of naira. He has demonstrated this in all his dealings both as a private businessman and as a state governor.
It is incontrovertible too, that there are dubious, bogus and questionable dealings regarding the handling of the security crisis in Nigeria. There are also many conspiracy theories about the insecurity in the country that have refused to wane despite all attempts to wish or wave them away.
For instance, why was a former Chief of Army Staff, General Onyeabor Ihejirika unceremoniously bundled out of the Nigerian Army despite his visible successes against BH? Were the collateral damage his method against BH not infinitesimal compared with what we have lost in human lives and resources to the insurgents? Why is it that all the chiefs of army staff and indeed any brave and courageous military officer who showed determination to end the reign of BH ended tragically? Why is it that alerts from civilians/communities on imminent terrorists’ attacks usually not responded to in good time by the military? Why would a service chief remain in office if after one year he does not show meaningful push against the terrorists? Why would a ragtag army of insurgents put the entire Nigeria and Nigerian military perpetually on the run instead of the reverse?
Only a President who cannot be threatened or compromised can provide answers to these and similar puzzles and such answers would end insurgency in a matter of months, not years. Other presidential candidates either do not have the liver/proven competence or are too close to the current rot that they would not offer the hard stance needed to wipe out these terrorists.
Away from geo-territorial UGS are myriads of administrative UGS. Like stated at the opening of this piece, government has little or no influence and control these UGS either due to incompetence, collusion, omission or compromise.
There is the N3trn annual petrol subsidy payments. The entire petroleum sector in Nigeria is as opaque as the Zuma Rock. It is a classical example of the popular saying, “the more you look, the less you see.” It has degenerated to a level whereby one billion barrel-capacity ship could be used to steal Nigeria’s crude oil and taken abroad without detection. How we came about paying N3 trillion as subsidy for petrol consumption in just one year remains a mystery. It is doubtful that Nigerians could consume that much of premium motor spirit (petrol) in one year. There have been cases of over-invoicing, which has characterized the management of the petrol subsidy. It is equally doubtful if the subsidy would be more than half of that amount but because too many powerful people are benefitting from the rot, Government has never been serious with ending the stealing through petrol subsidy.
Of all the serious presidential candidates, it is only Peter Obi that has proven strength of character to resist the filthy lucre that comes from this scandalous subsidy regime. It is one of the sources through which top Federal Government officials and their collaborators in the private sector milk Nigeria dry.
Other public sector areas where Obi’s well-documented scrutiny would help reflate Nigeria are: the N6trn import and tax waivers, the N1.2trn CBN Anchor Borrowers Scheme, the N1trn NPower/Public Works Programme, the 900,000 barrels of oil theft despite Niger Delta Amnesty and the N1.5trn CBN Ways and Means currency infusion. Yet there are the others such as: the N1trn National Assembly Budget Additions (Padding), the N2trn MDAs items duplications, the IPPIS N109bn AGF diversion, the Trillions of discretionary unremitted funds from NPA, NNPC, Customs, FIRS, the N44trn debt overhang and the N1trn maintenance for multiple presidential jets.
In deed, the non territorial UGS generated the haemorrhage that brought Nigeria to her knees in the last eight years because there were incompetence, complacency, connivance and collusion from the APC administration. Those who have discerning eyes in Nigeria know that the country lost much of her revenue to non-state actors and organized criminals. Knowledgeable and patriotic Nigerians like Chief Afe Babalola know where Nigeria’s problems are and they know that of all the presidential candidates, it is Peter Obi alone who can recover Nigeria. Hear Babalola: “Unless you are part of the old system that has brought us to where we are, there is no way you will oppose a young man like Mr Peter Obi, an untainted, young, educated man with ideas from being the president of Nigeria,”
Unless you are part of those who destroyed Nigeria, there is no way you won’t vote for Peter Obi.”
Babalola, Founder and Chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, insisted that the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, (LP), Mr Peter Obi is the most qualified person to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.
Where the APC is leaving Nigeria in May 2023 is such a terrible and precarious situation that if the UGS are not blocked, anything could happen to the country. But if Obi wins the presidential election of 25th of this month, the principalities Babalola mentioned above would would run away from Nigeria’s public administration and public funds before the handover on May 29th, 2023. The evil groups will leave Nigeria alone. It happened in Anambra State when he took over as Governor. Obi has the track record because he is not swayed by money that would be offered him by the criminals.
• Muogbo ([email protected], 08072000079) is an Abuja based journalist.