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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Letter to President Buhari

YOU became president six months ago, and Nigeria recently celebrated its 55th birthday. Unlike past administrations, I have hope that you will do good things during your term. Currently, I am 15 years old, and by the time I’m 50, Nigeria will be very different than it is right now, especially its population. By 2050, if nothing is done about Nigeria’s population growth, Nigeria is expected to have a population of 397 million, which would put us at 4th place behind the USA, which would have a population of 398 million. President Muhammadu Buhari, you are in the unique position in which you can build the foundations to improve Nigeria. I have five suggestions to give to you and your administration on the biggest issues that are facing Nigeria and what to do about these issues.

The first one would obviously be terrorism. From Boko Haram to the Niger Delta rebels, any form of terrorism in this nation all has one ultimate goal: the division of Nigeria. You can’t let that happen, or else you won’t have a job. So obviously we’re both on the same page: there must be the total destruction of these rebellious entities, because no matter how small they are, they are a threat to the country as a whole. If they manage to carve out a nation for themselves, Nigeria will collapse because of the confidence other ethnic groups would gain. Soon they would declare independence and fight for it as well. Terrorism in Nigeria needs to be destroyed to ensure Nigeria’s survival.

Corruption is also a big problem that Nigeria is currently facing. Corruption is what hinders the development of any specific entity, whether it’s a country or a business. You are not new to this, as you said that corruption is “the greatest form of human right violation”. Unfortunately for Nigeria, corruption is rampant and has been that way since the be- ginning, and even expanded since the discovery of fossil fuels in the 1970s. According to Transparency International in 2014, out of 175 countries, Nigeria ranked 136th place in the corruption index. This would make Nigeria the 39th most corrupt country in the world right? Not really. Since many countries that are the worst often get identical rankings, Nigeria is actually the 27th most corrupt country in the world. The year before in 2013, Nigeria was the 25th most corrupt country in the world (ranked 144th out of 177 countries). That is a pitiful improvement. And Nigeria is still in a disgusting rank for such a great nation. And thinking about that rank, it can be seen in all of the institutionalized corruption that can be seen in the government. To prove that you’re a new hope for Nigeria, you need to aggressively reduce corruption in this country. Many people are weary about you because you were a former military dictator, but you must prove them wrong. You control Nigeria. You have the power to make this country better or worse for this term. So please, do not hesitate to fight corruption in Nigeria. Another issue that needs to be faced is oil, or just the petroleum resources in Nigeria in general. Nigeria currently has 37.2 billion barrels of oil, giving it 10th place in number of oil reserves. If Nigeria exports at its current rate, and doesn’t find any more sources of oil, the oil in Nigeria will last for another 45 years. But in reality, oil is the problem. You may wonder: why would oil be a problem? Oil is a blessing to Nigeria. Actually, in Nigeria, oil is more a curse than a blessing.

Nigeria is one of the many countries that suffered and are still suffering from what is widely known as the resource curse. The resource curse is the term for when an abundance of resources or a specific resource negatively affects a country. Because of oil, Nigeria is suffering from Dutch Disease. Dutch Dis- ease happens when the growth of one sector of an economy (mainly from a natural resource) decreases another sector of the economy. In Nigeria, the growth of the oil sector has caused the agricultural sector to rapidly decrease. So even though 95% of Nigeria’s land is arable, many tons of food is imported into the country every year, which we can grow ourselves. Thankfully, the agricultural sector of Nigeria is gradually going back to what it once was.

Unfortunately, another effect of the resource curse is armed conflict. The cause of armed conflict is the unequal distribution of resources to that specific area or a conflict for control of these resources. In Nigeria, an example for fighting for resources is none other than the Nigerian Civil War. Biafra wanted to secede, but the Hausa-Fulani and the Yoruba ethnic groups fought Biafra in the hope of reuniting the country. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? But that’s not 100% true. Oil in Nigeria was discovered in the Niger Delta in 1956, and nearly all of Nigeria’s oil is in the Niger Delta area. And if Biafra seceded, it would claim all of the Niger Delta. That’s why the rest of Nigeria fought so hard, because if Biafra was successful in its objective to become independent, that would be the end of oil of Nigeria. To the rest of Nigeria, that is unacceptable. Oil could be the main reason for armed conflict in the Delta region. Since the profits of oil revenues have barely reached the Nigerian population, there have been many violent uprisings throughout the history of the nation to se- cede from the country. Secessionist sentiment is still present because of the lack of the equal distribution of resources.

To make matters much worse, Nigeria has become a rentier state. A rentier state is any state that has an economy run on exporting its natural resources to outside clients. So weirdly enough, resource-poor nations do better than resource-rich ones. Rentier states often have poor democracy and human rights records; they also tend to have poor infrastructure as well. Nigeria is unique in this case. Nigeria’s economy is very diversified, but most of government revenues come from oil. And since the government only needs to rely on oil to get paid, they are less reliant on the population.

*Omotoba is a 10th Grade student in a private school in Abuja.

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