The Wingless Eagle!

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By Oma Djebah

The eagle, often referred to as king of the birds, with expansive wings, remarkable sight, great soaring strength and Nigeria’s national mascot is  endangered. Like a character in Ansh’s poem, An Eagle Without Wings, whose theme deals with a flightless eagle, Nigeria is going through  rough patches.

At the heart of the country’s current political uncertainty are three factors. One, the jostle over 2019 polls. Two, the  ferocious attacks by Fulani herdsmen whose ferocity of attacks has continued to alarm many. Thirdly, the   endless  atrocities  by  Boko Haram . Although Boko Haram’s mischief has been largely degraded, the sudden emergence of Fulani herdsmen, with its barbaric, predatory killings ,(the blistering Benue Killing fields, etc) is a different kettle of fish.

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Thus, the eagle remembers with nostalgia  those good, old days-the 1960s and 1970s-until the rot started during the Shehu Shagari administration after it squandered a buoyant economy bequeathed by the Murtala/Obasanjo regime. The net result is an excruciating effects of long years of bad, defective governance which manifest in several ways: Nigeria is simply making motions without progress. Because the eagle hasn’t got the infinite capacity and soaring prowess any more.

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Curiously, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, recently issued a statement, attacking President Muhammadu Buhari(whom he earlier gave a flattering scorecard of incorruptibility in Not My Will– and backed against Jonathan in 2015) for manifold shortcomings in  governance, including nepotism and incompetence. As author of Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe wrote: ”…When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.”

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Nigeria faces severe fragmentation. It’s akin to what Emmanuel Ayandele described as “an atomistic society that is perpetually at war with itself.” Two books published within the last two decades  capture that mindset:  This House Has Fallen: Nigeria In Crisis by Karl Maier (2002) and Nigeria: Dancing on The Brink by John Campbell (2010). Yet, the eagle has shown remarkable salience – or indeed resilience — in the face of adversity and diversity. But why have more diverse nations thrived while Nigeria is frequently close to the precipice? It’s poor governance.

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Buhari must therefore move Nigeria to an untapped paradigm. He shouldn’t be just another Nigerian President! Yes, debris of the heinous  ruin inflicted on the Eagle litter the land! But as experts contend, in the next two decades, Nigeria along with other oil-producing nations within the West Africa “Oil Triangle,” might be more critical. How prepared are we? Today, Brazil, Russia, India, China and  South Africa are promoting a strong alliance of developed and developing economies to build a united front- the BRICS States given a new  EU, North America Alliance , Asia-Pacific zone, etc.

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Sadly, over the years, the country’s dependence on oil has created a political economy of distribution — distribution of oil revenue — rather than of production. Nigeria’s dependence on oil is terrifying:  oil accounts for  an estimated 95 per cent of her export revenue, 80 per cent of government revenue and about  10 per cent of gross domestic product. The perils of this over dependence haven’t been grasped.

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States (except Lagos)  show no commitment to generating internal revenue — in a reversal of the ethics of inter-regional competition before oil became the factor in our national fiscal politics. As the exporting giant of the “Oil Triangle” with estimated oil reserves of about 40billion barrels and accounting for over 60 per cent of the Gulf of Guinea’s oil wealth, ranking her the eleventh largest oil producing nation globally, we don’t give a damn about tomorrow. Nigeria has the largest natural gas reserves in Africa (176 trillion cubic feet) with a large dimensional LNG Complex in Bonny.

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Tragically, some cowboys, Oil herdsmen could rape Nigeria of $1.6 billion in a crooked Oil deal notoriously called SAA with Atlantic Energy!  Thus over the years, our Oil revenue have been fatally frittered away which raises the question: Where will Nigeria be in the next 10,  100 years? That is how great nations ruminate !

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.Djebah, a global journalist, policy analyst, pioneer NEPAD Board member  and former Delta State Commissioner for Information has served on the board on public and Private Sector initiatives including being UN Secretary General’s Panelist on Institutional governance in Africa. He is on the Visiting Scholar Program at Johns Hopkins University, USA

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