HARDLY any difference exists between the action of the World Bank and the social media platform Twitter. Both shut down President Muhammadu Buhari, the World Bank more directly.
The President told Nigerians that he had pulled 10.5 million of our compatriots out of poverty in two years as part of a Buhari agenda to rescue 100 million poor Nigerians in the next 10 years. Did you hear the deafening applause of the rescued?
Just like Twitter pulling down Buhari’s threat to continue the war against the South East, the World Bank plucked a major star from Buhari’s crown – his claim of being the redeemer of the poor.
The World Bank accused the President of inexactitudes. Buhari’s policies pushed seven million people into poverty in 2020 alone, according to the World Bank. Did the World Bank suggest the President lied?
President Buhari defends and promotes the truth. He is still Mallam Gaskiya to his thinning admirers who no longer shouts the plaudits from the roof tops.
“Food prices accounted for over 60percent of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated 7million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone,” said the bank’s spokesman, Mansir Nasir, cited the latest World Bank’s Nigeria Development Update (NDU).
Neither President Buhari nor the World Bank knows what poverty is. Their definition of poverty would not capture excruciating, revolving challenges people go through to get a meal, any meal. Some still do not succeed.
Unemployment is on the increase. Many who are employed are not paid. Pensioners are mere statistics. The minimum wage, if paid, cannot buy a bag of rice. All these have an impact on the future. The efforts to romanticise poverty, beckoning on statistics for support, are good only for the government and the World Bank.
Things are worse. Millions of Nigerians fall below the poverty line no matter how lowered the standards are. From inability to access education to housing, health, electricity, jobs, security, our poverty is glaring. More worrying is that there are no solutions in sight outside mouthing grandiose policies that end as words.
Some manifestations of our poverty are the injustices that reign in the land.
Kemisola Ogunniyi, 18, had a baby in a prison in Ondo State where she has been detained since October 2020 as one of those arrested during the #EndSARS protest. How traumatic could it be to have a baby at that age in a Nigerian prison? Ogunniyi was reportedly arrested on her way to a pharmaceutical store. Her protests of innocence were ignored. Which statistics report this type of poverty? There would be others like her. If they had the means to hire legal services would their plight not be different? Kemisola should be freed. Human rights lawyers should get her compensation, pro bono, for her illegal detention.
Marco Hernandez, World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the bank’s NDU, drew a long list of conditions which with “social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods and ensure a faster and sustained recovery.”
Buhari should give the World Bank the Twitter treatment. How can the World Bank imply that our President was breeding poverty?
His feeble attempts at saving lives grow poverty. Rural Nigeria has never been so unsafe. Bandits are kidnapping farmers. Those who survive the kidnaps have their farms devastated by Fulani herdsmen who act as if they have official mandate to despoil farms as they please. They have added arson and killings to their practices that result in food scarcity.
Simple cases our criminal laws should deal with have been so politicised that the official position is to skirt round them. Most of what is euphonically called insecurity centre on government’s partiality to herdsmen who the President explains are foreigners.
We need security to return to commercial activities like farming, social events that spawn economies, and the freedoms to think without fears and doubts that we could be offending President Buhari, who with his cohorts want to regulate our thoughts and associations.
If the President succeeds in abridging our freedom of speech we would be on a faster lane to a side of poverty that would defy definitions.
The President should ban the World Bank, for starts – it still uses Twitter.
WHAT explains First Lady Aisha Buhari living abroad? Is it official policy? Who funds her stay? Does she fulfil the duties of the Office of the First Lady, to which the President recently appointed a high ranking official? This matter is public. Nobody should say it is the President’s private affair.
TWO Presidents of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria have emerged. Tonook Okowa was elected in Abuja and Minister of Sports Dr. Sunday Dare swore in the Board Okowa leads. In Birnin Kebbi, 656 kilometres away, immediate past AFN President Ibrahim Gusau was sworn in by immediate past Sports Minister Solomon Dalung. Gusau had gone to court to protect his tenure which Dare disrupted with a Caretaker Committee. The Minister lost the case at the Federal High Court, Abuja, and the Court of Appeal. The Minister appealed to the Supreme Court where the matter is still pending. Dalung wondered if the Minister had no confidence in the Supreme Court. Why should he resort to self help by holding the election outside provisions of the 2017 AFN Constitution? The Olympics begin in Tokyo on 23 July 2021.
.Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues