Award winning Nigerian author, Chimamanda Adichie, has reacted to the state of Nigeria’s economy under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Ms. Adichie described Mr. Buhari’s economic policies as ‘outdated’ and his view of Nigerians as ‘infantile’.
“His intentions, good as they well might be, are rooted in an outdated economic model and an infantile view of Nigerians. For him, it seems, patriotism is not a voluntary and flexible thing, with room for dissent, but a martial enterprise: to obey without questioning. Nationalism is not negotiated, but enforced”, she wrote in an opinion for the New York Times, published on Tuesday.
According to the ‘Purple Hibiscus’ writer, although Mr. Buhari has good intentions by believing rightly that Nigeria needs to produce more of what it consumes and he wanted to improve local production, this could not be willed into existence if the supporting infrastructure was absent.
“Banning goods has historically led not to local production but to a thriving shadow market. Governmental controls had mangled the economy. Many imported goods were banned, scarcity was rife, black markets thrived, businesses were failing and soldiers stalked markets to enforce government-determined prices,” she added.
Ms. Adichie also touched on violent clashes in the country which had become even more intense in recent times. She blamed this on Buhari’s ‘aloofness’ and ‘absence of sensitive leadership’.
“Since Mr. Buhari came to power, villages in the middle-belt and southern regions have been raided, the inhabitants killed, their farmlands sacked. Those attacked believe the Fulani herdsmen want to forcibly take over their lands for cattle grazing.
“It would be unfair to blame Mr. Buhari for these killings, which are in part a result of complex interactions between climate change and land use. But leadership is as much about perception as it is about action, and Mr. Buhari has appeared disengaged. It took him months, and much criticism from civil society, to finally issue a statement “condemning” the killings. His aloofness feels, at worst, like a tacit enabling of murder and, at best, an absence of sensitive leadership.
“Most important, his behaviour suggests he is tone-deaf to the widely-held belief among southern Nigerians that he promotes a northern Sunni Muslim agenda. He was no less opaque when the Nigerian Army murdered hundreds of members of a Shiite Muslim group in December, burying them in hastily dug graves. Or when soldiers killed members of the small secessionist pro-Biafran movement who were protesting the arrest of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, a little-known figure whose continued incarceration has elevated him to a minor martyr.”
President Buhari’s administration faced yet another backlash when the president was responding on Friday to his wife, Aisha’s claims that his administration had been hijacked by a cabal. Responding to the claims, Mr. Buhari had said, “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.”
His comment immediately went viral on the internet.
The comment made big headline in almost all the major newspapers in the country, and Nigerians were quick to push to the back burner, the release of the 21 Chibok girls, as people got talking about the impropriety or otherwise of the comment.
Mr. Buhari’s comment was made in faraway Berlin, Germany, while standing next to his host, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel who, as one foreign newspaper noted, “seemed to glare at him”.
Reacting to the war on corruption, Mrs. Adichie said, “Nigerians who expected a fair and sweeping cleanup of corruption have been disappointed. Arrests have tended to be selective, targeting mostly those opposed to Mr Buhari’s government.
“The anti-corruption agencies are perceived not only as partisan but as brazenly flouting the rule of law.”
In her recommendations, she urged the government to prioritize infrastructure, create a business-friendly environment and communicate to a populace mired in disappointment as there are no easy answers to Nigeria’s malaise.