Authored By; Christopher Okoli (Nigerian-American based Investment Advisor)
Ever since October 1st 1960, when Nigerian colonial master (Britain) left the shores of the country, impunity slowly crept in, took control of the country, divided the ethnic groups, murdered peace and rendered the country baffled and dejected. Many efforts to reclaim and redirect the country in the right growth trajectory have proven abortive. One of the major actors that fought in one of early battles never lived to tell the story; nonetheless, most Nigerians tend not to remember his effort, despite the definitive sacrifice he made for the country.
The first major battle to reclaim the country from impunity was launched by a group of fearless, unprepared but brave, ebullient, and courageous young soldiers led by General Murtala Mohammed. He usurped power from General Yakubu Gowon on July 29th 1975, and modestly assembled a team of other gallant soldiers to help him salvage the country. He successively put a formidable team that was aggressively restoring sanity and recovering some loot from Impunity, but unfortunately for Nigerians, Impunity fought back and on February 13th 1976, he was unexpectedly defeated (assassinated) and all his gallant soldiers went into hiding. Chronic corruption aggressively gained many more grounds and expanded quickly, enlisting many more Nigerians into the cabal arena.
The second battle took place from December 31st 1983 and lasted until August 27th 1985 when General Muhammadu Buhari assembled a team of courageous soldiers and usurped power from the democratically elected government led by President Shehu Shagari. The crop of President Shehu Shagari led government was blatantly extravagant and uncontrollably arrogant; unfortunately for Nigeria, the politicians quickly looted the treasury and the country was getting ready to approach IMF (International Monetary Fund) for more borrowing. It was an intense battle because Gen. Buhari and his team actually dealt and recovered so much ground from Impunity, but on that fateful day of August 27th 1985, while Nigerians were busy rejoicing on the winning war, chronic corruption took hold of some Nigerian promising soldiers and the dreams of a great country by many Nigerians came to an abrupt end, when the soldiers ousted President Buhari. Fortunately for Buhari and his gallant officers, they were only consciously and publicly isolated without death penalty and live incarceration. Impunity actually made a big mistake, because by labeling Buhari and his team as a lesser threat, all subsequent governments looted the country to its brokenness.
Nigeria is now stirring at a dreadful repeat of what happened from 1986 to 2000, when Naira was consistently devalued from official rate of ₦2.02 to $1 in 1986 to ₦85.98 in 2000. Based on historical trend, if Buhari is unable to complete his tenor, within a year of his exit, Naira will witness 100% devaluation. It happened in 1985, when he left office; Naira was being exchanged at ₦0.894 to $1 and in less than one year, the rate jumped to ₦2.02 to $1.
For many decades, chronic corruption grows unabated and majority of Nigerians were enlisted to climax impunity to a national consuming stage in 2015. The import-oriented economy of Nigeria that was grossly fueled by Crude Oil and Underground Economic activities continues to grow in-organically; therefore, preventing provisions for the surging population of the country. All the democratically constituted organizations to promote, check and balance governance were unsuspectingly converted to help spread and promote impunity to the climax. As God will have it, Nigerians finally realized that the sins of many decades of looting the nation’s treasury is fast approaching, hurriedly, they gather together to seek a way out. A decision was reached to take another whack at impunity, and history was made when the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan lost the 2015 presidential election to Muhammadu Buhari (maybe because of his tough stand against corruption in the 1980s).
The major difference in President Buhari’s effort to fight impunity this time around is the inability to show quick results because of constitutional constrains. In his first battle with chronic corruption, he had GUNS and Military decrees, but today, with Democracy and Constitution laws, a sane mind should not expect much from President Buhari. His hands are conspicuously tied with Mr. Constitution, and unless overwhelming Nigerians rise up in mass to support him, history is pointing to a ‘fail administration’ by 2017, and when that failure comes, no analyst can predict the outcome of the country by then.
Nigerians must make the painful decision to either support President Buhari and go through the pains of nation-building, or be fooled by another crop of ‘disguised impunity’ that would unleash untold financial terrors and agonizing pains to the masses. I am predicting an exchange rate of Naira to US Dollar at ₦1,500 within 5 years of Buhari’s exit. The currency Naira has been devalued from rate of ₦0.66 to $1 in 1973 to ₦199 to $1 (30,051%) in (2015), just in 42 years. Nigerians can no longer afford to accommodate chronic corruption this time around, because in the next 40 years, the exchange rate might be ₦30,000 to $1, going by the historical trend of corruptly induced devaluations.
Christopher Okoli (Nigerian-American based Investment Advisor) 12/19/2015