More than anything else, the lingering insecurity in the country and its negative impact on the economy as exemplified by the upward swing in prices of foodstuff, high cost of living amidst widening inequality are the features that currently define Nigeria. For one, the North whose inhabitants are predominantly farmers because of the availability of large expanses of arable land is witnessing a downward slide in the occupation due largely to the ravaging effect of banditry, kidnapping and other forms of criminality as well as farmers/herders’ clashes. All these gory activities have given rise to the displacement of many farming communities.
Even as the region has, since Independence, been consistently producing persons in the nation’s leadership cadre for a cumulative period of more than three decades, the North has nothing concrete to show in terms of development. Sadly, all the major indices of development are skewed against the region.
In the South as it is in the North, the threat to security of lives and property is effervescent with the rising spate of killings by perceived unknown gunmen. Fundamentally, Nigeria is fraught with insecurity challenges in the midst of an alarmingly high level of unemployment and poor power supply that have contributed significantly to stunting industrial growth and hamper efforts at job creation.
It is pedestrian to note here that no economic activity thrives in an atmosphere devoid of peace and security. In this regard, the Nigerian economy, in spite of the projections and patently flawed reports being bandied around, is choked.
There is no gainsaying it that Nigeria is in dire straits, with the citizens struggling hard to contain the worsening insecurity, rising unemployment and deplorable infrastructure in the midst of an intolerably high-level of official corruption and rampant abuse of office.
Sadly, in our opinion, the education sector appears to be the worst hit by the raging insecurity characterized by the abduction of school pupils, a situation that has forced most schools in flashpoint areas to shut down. As a fall out of the threat to security, education, especially in the region where schools are not safe, is wobbling. As if that is not bad enough, schools are grappling with decaying infrastructure.
We recall that the current All Progressives Congress (APC) administration assumed leadership of the country at a time the economy was perceived to have been battered, corruption was notoriously high and threat to security of lives and property occasioned by the activities of the terror groups, Boko Haram and ISWAP, were assuming a worrisome dimension.
Without a doubt, the need to halt the seeming total descent of the nation into a nadir informed the decision of most Nigerian voters to reject the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). However, years after the change of government and from all indications, the nation is still battling with endemic corruption endemic just as the economy is in bad shape and insecurity remains the major albatross.
Nevertheless, in the face of these challenges, Nigerians, on a daily basis, are being inundated with talks about 2023. The practice of liberal democracy in Nigeria is overshadowed by the clamours for political zoning and other power-sharing arrangements as mechanisms for ethno-regional balancing.
Though the 2023 presidential election is about 20 months away, subtle permutations for the polls, especially struggles for the presidency, has begun in earnest with the agitation for zoning the presidency to the South gaining more traction.
To the extent that there is the need for ethno-regional balancing, the idea of zoning may not be well out of place for a culturally diverse nation like ours. In our considered opinion, if well handled, zoning or power rotation is capable of sustaining peaceful political order. But this must be done without sacrificing competence.
In the face of the current travails that have continued to stifle growth and development in the nation, there is an overarching need for a focused leadership that will frontally address the raging challenges of insecurity, unemployment, decaying infrastructure and a host of other issues currently stalling Nigeria’s march to greatness. There is no contesting the fact that the nation’s daunting challenges have worsened in the last couple of years, further underscoring the need for competent and dynamic leadership.
As a newspaper, we believe that the search for a post-2023 leader in Nigeria must focus on competence, vast knowledge of the economy with practical and hands-on experience on how to manage diversity. Fundamentally, there is the need for an all-inclusive government that will bring on board, knowledgeable and patriotic Nigerians who have vast understanding of the dynamics of economic growth and development.