By Godwin Amunde
The Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, has cautioned Nigerians against blame game on the rising issue of insecurity in the country, urging them to instead come to the reality that the security challenges facing the country today is the outcome of Extreme-Poverty instituted 35 years ago by the IMF Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) during the Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida military administration which divested interest in the business of the people.
Osita Okechukwu who made the position known in a statement recently in Abuja, said that SAP sowed the seed which gave birth to insecurity and calls for introspection and deep reflection on how Nigeria became the World Poverty Capital and how best to exit fast.
“Yes, we of the APC pledged to fix security in our dear country in every particular matter. That’s our pledge, and to be honest we are deploying billions of Naira and every material and human resources to contain it. However, we are confronted with Extreme-Poverty planted in 1986 by the IMF Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP). The day SAP was born was the day the gross economic inequality and insecurity in Nigeria was born. It has badly mutated since 1986.
“Economic inequality breeds extreme-poverty, hate, division and hostile insecurity, in countries wherever it is allowed to thrive throughout history. To be exact no matter how much trillions of Naira we spend on military hardware or how many times we change Security Chiefs, with Extreme-Poverty security will remain a mirage.
“Whereas am neither canvassing for Marxism nor Socialism; we must accept that ours is a primitive economy which requires primary solution,” he said.
The VON DG said “the primary solution is to return to Mixed Economy model; clearly stated in Section 16(2) (c) of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria inter alia, that the Economic System is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of Wealth and Means of Production and Exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group.
“We violently breached the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy of our Constitution. Regrettably, every day we widen economic inequality, because government owned enterprises we privatised like Electricity have failed. The Electricity Distribution Companies we privatised rather than improve electricity distribution still siphon billions from government treasury. The glaring result is the paradox of a nebulous economic system which produced the richest African and produced World Poverty Capital.
“Truly, Nigeria’s security problem is that we run an artificial economic model, where there is an ocean of poor people and island of rich people. The opaque system created banks which make billions of profit annually and operate poverty induced Shylock Interest Rates.”
He said rather than blame game, Nigeria should return to Mix-economy model; Dish out the nebulous economic policy that government has no business in business.
“Government has business in business because we the people are the business in a primitive economy like ours. As long as we live under the illusion of a developing country, so long our inequality widens, so long our poverty widens and insecurity widens.
“Indeed, unless we curb Extreme-Poverty in the land, insecurity will remain an existential challenge. Extreme-Poverty is the obstacle we inherited when in 1986 we embarked on IMF Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).
Asked whether Social Investment Programme and other poverty alleviation initiatives have not addressed his Mixed Economy model, Okechukwu answered that federal, state and local councils need to invest heavily more than is done presently in electricity, roads, railways, agriculture and social infrastructure like education and health, even if it entails more borrowing.
According to him, “We can forge national unity and progress out of the insecurity challenge, if we invest heavily in physical and social infrastructure and ensure that the means of production, exchange, profit and property are not concentrated in few pockets. This is the unsung inner minds of most aggrieved Nigerians.”