In an editorial on Tuesday titled, ‘Nigeria at Risk of Becoming a Failed State’, the Financial Times of London has described Nigeria as a country going backwards economically and plagued with terrorism, illiteracy, poverty, banditry, and kidnapping and risks becoming a failed state if things do not take a drastic turn.
The UK-based newspaper said the abduction and subsequent rescue of over 300 schoolboys in Kankara, Katsina State, revived memories of the 276 Chibok schoolgirls abducted in Borno State in 2014.
According to the newspaper, the government’s claim that no ransom was paid to the abductors of the schoolboys remains doubtful and other acts of criminality could not be overlooked.
The editorial read in part, “The definition of a failed state is one where the government is no longer in control. By this yardstick, Africa’s most populous country is teetering on the brink.”
The newspaper also questioned the claim by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, that Boko Haram had been technically defeated. It said contrary to the government’s claim, Boko Haram remained an ever-present threat.
If the latest kidnapping turns out to be its work, it would mark the spread of the terrorist group from its north-eastern base.
“Even if the mass abduction was carried out by ‘ordinary’ bandits — as now looks possible — it underlines the fact of chronic criminality and violence. Deadly clashes between herders and settled farmers have spread to most parts of Nigeria. In the oil-rich, but impoverished, Delta region, extortion through the sabotage of pipelines is legendary.”
The newspaper said security is not the only area where “the state is failing”. It added that Nigeria has more poor people than any other country even as Nigeria has the highest number of out of school children on earth.
The newspaper stated that the Nigeria’s population, already above 200 million, is growing at a breakneck 3.2 per cent a year. The economy has stalled since 2015 and real living standards are declining. This year, the economy will shrink 4 per cent after COVID-19 dealt a further blow to oil prices.
“In any case, as the world turns greener, the elite’s scramble for oil revenue will become a game of diminishing returns. The country desperately needs to put its finances, propped up by foreign borrowing, on a sounder footing,” it said.
The newspaper therefore advised President Buhari, who has less than three years left in office, to use the remainder of his term, to redouble efforts at improving security.
It also advised the government to restore trust in key institutions, among them the judiciary, the security services and the electoral commission, which will preside over the 2023 elections.
The Financial Times pointed out that the #EndSARS protests led by Nigerian youths, signalled a glimmer of hope for Nigeria’s teeming youth population.
It added, “The broad coalition that found political expression this year in the EndSARS movement against police brutality provides a shard of optimism. At least Nigeria has a relatively stable democracy. Now Nigeria’s youth — creative, entrepreneurial and less tainted by the politics of extraction — should use that system to reset the country’s narrative.”
In conclusion, the newspaper said that it was time for Nigeria to restructure its political system and concentrate on security, health, education, power and roads
It also warned that at the present trajectory, the population will double to 400 million by 2050. Therefore, if nothing is done, long before then, Nigeria will become a problem far too big for the world to ignore.