The federal government yesterday lashed out at those it described as “jaundiced analysts and their lapdogs”, saying contrary to their position, Nigeria is not a failing or failed state.
The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who made the government’s position known, said the analysts were wrong in seeking to portray the country as a failing state due to its security challenges.
Speaking at a New Year media briefing in Lagos, Mohammed, who stressed that the gloomy prediction would not come to pass, added that the country would rise to become a more respected member of the comity of nations.
He said, “You would remember that for the past two decades or so, some pseudo-analysts have been predicting the country’s implosion. That has not happened, hence they have found a new watchword – failing or failed state!
“It’s all a ruse aimed at depicting Nigeria as being in a constant state of anarchy so they can achieve their nefarious objectives for the country”.
On security, Mohammed pointed out that Nigeria was fending off attacks on many fronts, not just from terrorists and bandits, but also from some human rights organizations and the International Criminal Court (ICC) which he said seemed to have colluded to exacerbate the challenges facing the country in the area of security.
He noted: “While our security agencies continue to battle these bandits and terrorists, the ICC and some international human rights organisations, especially Amnesty Internationals have constituted themselves as another ‘fighting force’ against Nigeria, constantly harassing our security forces and threatening them with investigation and possible prosecution over alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes.
“Unfortunately, a section of the local media has been parroting these organisations without weighing the impact of their constant threats on the security of the nation.
“The federal government frowns at this unbridled attempt to demoralize our security men and women as they confront the onslaught from bandits and terrorists. Nigeria did not join the ICC so it can become a pawn on the court’s chessboard. It beggars belief to see that a nation that is fighting an existential war against bandits and terrorists is constantly being held down by an international body which it willingly joined.
“Nigeria is a sovereign state and will not surrender its sovereignty to any organisation. ICC, Amnesty International and their cohorts should desist from threatening our troops and putting the security of our country in jeopardy.
“Enough is enough,” the minister declared, expressing dismay that “these organisations mostly rely on fake news and disinformation to reach their conclusions, as witnessed during the EndSARS protest when CNN – an otherwise respected global news network – went to town with fake news of a massacre. As it turned out, it was a massacre without bodies”.
Recalling that Nigerian government called CNN out and also petitioned the network, the minister said the foreign media outfit was yet to respond to the petition.
He said, “Though they acknowledged receipt of our petition, we have yet to hear from them on what actions they intend to take to prevent a recurrence of the fake news they peddled about Nigeria. I can assure you, gentlemen that the matter is far from over.
“Gentlemen, despite the antics of those who have constituted themselves to another ‘fighting force’ against our country, we have indeed made tremendous progress in tackling bandits and the terrorists of Boko Haram. Recently, some jaundiced analysts and their lapdogs have sought to portray Nigeria as a failing state, on the strength of its security challenges. But these analysts are dead wrong. Nigeria is not and cannot be a failing or failed state. Of course, you would remember that for the past two decades or so, some pseudo-analysts have been predicting the country’s implosion.
“That has not happened, hence they have found a new tag line: failing or failed state! It’s all a ruse aimed at depicting Nigeria as being in a constant state of anarchy, just so they can achieve their nefarious objectives for the country.
“If Nigeria was not a ‘failing’ state when a large slice of its territory equivalent to the size of Belgium was under the occupation of Boko Haram, which collected taxes, installed and deposed emirs, is it now that no territory is under the terrorists that Nigeria will be a failing state? If Nigeria was not a failed state when bombs were raining on towns and cities in Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Borno, Yobe, FCT and other states, is it now that such bombings have stopped that Nigeria will be described as a ‘failing’ state? If Nigeria was not a ‘failing’ state in those years that Christian and Muslim worshippers had to be screened to even enter their places of worship, is it now that the siege on places of worship has ceased that Nigeria will be described as a ‘failing’ state?
“It is sad that we have forgotten where we were in terms of the state of insecurity just a few years back. Let me mention some instances that will put things in a better perspective.
“Thanks to our security agencies, we have just celebrated another Christmas and New Year without a rain of bombs. Few would remember that in 2010, 2011 and 2012, Christmas eve or Christmas Day attacks left hundreds dead or injured. What about the attack on the UN Complex in Abuja in August 2011; the bombing of media houses in Abuja and Kaduna in April 2012 and the killing of about 40 students in Mubi, Adamawa State, in October 2012? Have we forgotten that over 80 towns and villages were attacked and razed, with casualties, by Boko Haram in Borno State alone?
“Have we forgotten the constant attacks on military and security formations like Giwa Barracks (Maiduguri), Mohammed Kur Barracks (Bama), Monguno Barracks (Monguno), Airforce Base (Maiduguri), New Prison (Maiduguri) and numerous police stations? The fact that these attacks and bombings have stopped is a testimony to the progress we have made in tackling terrorism which, by the way, is not like conventional warfare.
“The stoppage of the attacks didn’t happen by accident. It is therefore mischievous for anyone to discountenance the progress we have made in tackling insecurity, in building and upgrading infrastructure and in diversifying the economy, among others. The federal government rejects this characterisation of Nigeria as a ‘failing’ state, which is a combination of the wishful thinking of naysayers and the evil machinations of those who don’t wish Nigeria well”.
The minister assured that the federal government will sustain the fight against terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and other criminal elements across the country especially in the North East and the North West parts of the country.
He noted the recent swift response and rescue of the 344 kidnapped Kankara schoolboys in Katsina State from bandits attested to the government’s readiness to crush terrorism.
“The President has continued to provide all the necessary platforms on land, air and sea to support the fight against criminals and terrorists in the country,” he added.
On the Agriculture, Infrastructure and Power sectors, he said amid the challenges of insecurity, the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration is tackling headlong and the country has continued to make steady progress in many areas, including infrastructural development, agriculture and power.
Mohammed noted: “In agriculture, the federal government, within the period under review, inaugurated “The Green Imperative, which is a 10-year agricultural programme amounting to $1.2 billion targeting the creation of five million jobs and injection of $10 billion into the economy.
“The Green Imperative is a Nigeria-Brazil bilateral agriculture development that will be implemented over a period of five to 10 years and the funding will come from the Development Bank of Brazil (BNDES) and Deutsche Bank, The Initiative will lead to the reactivation of six motor assembly plants in the six geopolitical zones of the country for assembling tractors and other implements, with importation of the Completely Knocked Down (CKD) parts of about 5,000 tractors and numerous implements for local assembly annually for a period of 10 years.
“Also, through the Anchor Borrowers programme, more than N200 billion has been made available since the inception of the scheme in 2015 to support over 1.5 million farmers in the production of rice, wheat, cassava, poultry, soya beans, groundnut, maize, cotton and fish.
“Thanks to this scheme, Nigeria is now on the verge of attaining self-sufficiency in rice production. In the area of power, following an agreement with German company Siemens in July 2019 to boost power supply in Nigeria, the stage is set for the perennial power problem to become a thing of the past. Under the three-phase agreement, Nigerians will enjoy 7,000 megawatts of reliable power supply by the end of 2021 (phase 1), 11,000 megawatts by the end of 2023 (phase 2) and 25,000 megawatts in the third phase”.
Harping on infrastructure, the minister said, “The President this year virtually inaugurated the 326-kilometre Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail
line, which has suffered a setback in the last 30 years. It is expected that close to one million passengers and 3.5 million tons of freight will be conveyed along the rail line annually. Passenger service has also commenced on the Lagos-Ibadan railway, ahead of the project’s inauguration in January 2021. The Lagos-Ibadan rail line is a double-track standard gauge rail, the first of its kind in West Africa, and the first leg of the Lagos to Kano rail line.
“Block by block, President Buhari is reviving and modernising the country’s rail sector for a better conveyance of passengers and goods and in order to give the nation’s economy a shot in the arm. The Loko-Oweto Bridge over River Benue is now 90 per cent completed. The 1.8-kilometre bridge links the northern and southern part of the country across the River Benue, achieving a drastic cut in travel time.
“And the federal government is constructing or renovating 37 bridges across the country, including the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, the Second Niger Bridge, the Ikom Bridge in Cross River, the Murtala Mohammed Bridge in Koton Karfe, Kogi State, the Tatabu Bridge linking Niger and Kwara States, the Isaac Boro Bridge in Port Harcourt and the Tamburawa Bridge in Kano State. The federal government also completed and inaugurated the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu for scheduled flights. The rehabilitation of the runway and other associated work were executed in line with ICAO standard.”
The minister also said the current economic recession in the country will be short-lived.
He said, “Nigeria recorded positive economic developments in 2020, but these seem to have been overshadowed by the country’s economic recession. As you are all aware, Nigeria officially entered recession at the end of the third quarter (Q3), after the country’s Gross Domestic Product declined for the second consecutive quarter in 2020 (Q2 and Q3). That’s in line with the traditional definition of recession.
“The main reason for this is the Covid-19 pandemic. Nigeria is not alone. Dozens of countries, including economic giants like the US, UK and Canada, have entered recession, of course due to the global pandemic. Others include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia and Spain.
“But, like I said earlier, Nigeria’s economic recession has masked a lot of positive economic developments: According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the decline of -3.62 per cent in Q3 is much smaller than the -6.10 per cent recorded in Q2. The economic conditions are actually improving, with 17 activities recording positive real growth in the third quarter, compared to 13 in Q2. Also, 36 of 46 economic activities did better in the third quarter of 2020 than in the second quarter of the same year”.