Nigeria on the verge of a failed state –Mailafia

In this interview, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr Obadiah Mailafia said Nigeria has all the trappings of a failed state. The fiery economist told BABATOPE OKEOWO and ADEWALE MOMOH, that President Muhammadu Buhari is pursuing a Fulanisation agenda. He also spoke on the state of the nation and solutions to the myriads of challenges confronting the country.

What is your take on the current state of the nation?

Nigeria has been designated as a failed state. We may not say it is a failed state but it is certainly exhibiting the features of a failing state in terms of the kind of violence we are seeing, widespread insecurity, terrorism, the abuse of humanity, criminality, rape, killing, maiming, and destruction. We are a failing state, and the solution is nothing other than the need to give birth to a new Nigeria. It is clear that the constitution we have at present is a fraud. It is a fraud because it starts with ‘we the people, when in fact you and I did not sit anywhere to design this constitution. By that fact alone, it is based on a lie, it is based on a fraud.

But this constitution has been in use since 1999, what is the difference between then and now?

In the past, people could ignore that because Olusegun Obasanjo was a fair-minded man and he was a patriot. Umaru Yar Adua of blessed memory was a fair-minded man and a patriot. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was a fairminded man and he was a patriot. So, people could afford to live with a fraudulent constitution but now, we are seeing that a fraudulent constitution in the hands of people who have hidden agenda, who hate our country, who beholders to Niger Republic, Chad and other foreign countries. They have nothing to offer us. Therefore, on that basis, we must reject the evil we are seeing and we must demand the reengineering of our federation and for the restructuring of the country, so that we can have a new Nigeria anchored on social justice, fair representation for all the nationalities of this country and an open government based on transparency, justice and hope for all Nigerians and anchored on devolution of power. This is the way forward.

You alleged in your lecture that there is an Islamisation agenda going on, what are your evidence?

Well, I will tell you. In the North East alone, more than 3000 churches have been destroyed,more than 400 priests and pastors have been killed. And there is a pattern that is reserved only for Christians and that is beheading. Last year, the CAN Chairman of Adamawa was beheaded, even after a ransom was paid. We have been told that the so call bandits, who should not be called bandits because bandits do not bring down military aircraft. No bandit has the capacity to bring down military aircraft. No bandit has the power to attack Nigeria Defence Academy which is the premier institution for the training of armed forces. No bandit has the capacity to do that, only terrorists have the capacity to do that. We are being told that these terrorists are part of the insurgency because they did these kidnappings; they raise money in order to fund the insurgency. As General Abacha said that if insurgency goes for more than 24 hours, some people in high places know something about it. We are not going back for our demand for a new Nigeria. We are not going back on our demand in saying that the persecution of the church in this country is not acceptable. I am not speaking just as a Christian. Half of my family are Muslims. I love them just as much I love the other half. We are together in this. Muslims in the north have also suffered a great deal, especially the Hausa people. So, it is the agenda of Fulanization. It is an agenda of attacks and persecution of the church that has been ongoing. Look at the nepotism, look at the way the people who dominate all the strategic ministries, come from only one side. This is something that has never happened before in the history of our country. It did not happen under Balewa in the 1960s, it did not happen under General Gowon in the 1970s, it did not happen under Shehu Shagari in the 80s, it did not happen under Buhari in his first incarnation, it did not happen under Babangida. It is only today we are having a government that is based purely on nepotism, that where you come from is more important than what you know. It is an abuse of the very spirit of our federalism. Therefore, it is totally unacceptable. Those who have a conscience cannot live with this evil of the killing, the maiming of defenceless people. If you have a conscience, you can never accept that.

Do you share the view of Commodore Olawunmi (rtd) that government officials know the sponsors of banditry and terrorism?

Commodore Olawunmi was a Deputy Direc-tor at DIA. He said they arrested some people and had evidence but they were forced to allow them to go. He is not a small man. He is obviously very well-read. A university has actually given him a chair. You just don’t come as a fourstar General and become a professorial chair until you have something upstairs. I do not speak for him and I have never met him. But I have no doubt he is a man of courage. He is a patriot. He is speaking for all Nigerians. So, please they should leave this man alone, he is a patriot. He is a better patriot than those who are conniving directly and indirectly with terrorists to destroy our country.

Are you not afraid of being arrested by the government due to your constant attacks?

Actually, I’m not a career critic. I’m a development economist and I’m a very sober-minded personality. I don’t like to live the life of a critic and I’m not an activist. Where you will see my bad part, go and kill innocent children, women, go and kill unharmed elders who have done nothing to you. That one I have told God and the whole world that if I perish, I perish. On that, I can never turn my back. If they want peace with me, they must stop the killings of innocent Nigerians. That is my bottom line. It is not about being a critic, not about politics. This is beyond politics, it is about humanity and it is about the future of our country. That is my stand.

As a financial expert, how would you describe the continued dip of Naira in the foreign exchange market as well as Nigeria’s economic situation?

There was a time the naira was like N1 to $2 and it was at par with the pounds in the 60s and 70s. Today is like N520 to the dollar. So, obviously, a lot of things have happened: poor microeconomic policies, poor monetary policy, and poor physical policies. For the first time this year, actual revenue for debt servicing would reach something like 90 per cent. So, natural actors know that this economy is getting into a difficult threshold and because of that, it is impacting negatively on the exchange rate. And the truth of the matter is that if your economic management team or your economy is been managed by people that are not trusted, that people don’t believe are acting in the national interest, that lack of confidence will impact negatively on the exchange rate. If we continue with the bad policies we are doing and all these geopolitical tensions we are tolerating, it is going to affect the value of the Naira and the Naira will continue to go down and down into a bottomless pit. This is just a law of science and of economics. If we do the right thing, then we can reverse the trend and the naira will start improving. It is not quantum physics, it is straightforward demand and supply, inflation and natural expectation.

Do you think there is anything for Nigeria to learn with the Afghanistan situation?

That one is a big issue, it has to do with the way America has handled and mishandled the project of state and nation-building. Not only in places like Afghanistan but in places like Iraq, and Libya. The state-building project of the United States has failed woefully in those countries. They did not have enough understanding of the mindset of the Afghan people. Some people will even remind you that in fact, the Taliban was an American creation. They created the Taliban in the 80s as part of the cold war strategy to defeat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The Taliban understands America very well. So, America couldn’t approach them with sincerity and America lost ground. Our fear is they the Taliban is bad news not only for Afghanistan, but it is also bad news for the world, and for international security because they have inherited massive weapons. America spent more than a trillion dollars in Afghanistan, in fact, some people say two trillion dollars. They have left hundreds of planes and armoured tanks. Even though they said recently that they disabled most of them and they can’t be used. Some of the Taliban we hear have vowed that they are going to help their colleagues here in creating an Islamic State in Nigeria and throughout Africa. So, we are waiting for them to come. So everyone should get ready and defend their communities.




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