Fareed Zakaria is an Indian born American popular TV host of a weekly CNN program (Fareed Zakaria GPS) where global issues are discussed and analyzed. While he is considered by some as opinionated others think that he is an unbiased analyst who focuses on issues without prejudice. His two recent discussions on issues concerning Africans especially West Africans with emphasis on Nigerians have further elicited the argument if he is rational or if he is indeed a doomsday prophet.
In a February broadcast just before the implementation of the Trump’s Executive Order expanding the immigrant visa ban to include six African countries, Fareed argued vigorously against the policy attributing it to Trump’s preference for immigrants from European countries like Norway as against those from Haiti and African countries which he referred to as ‘shit hole countries’.
Fareed went on to provide statistics and data to buttress his argument that Nigerians are not just the most educated immigrants in the US with higher qualifications than their hosts but also have higher employment rate in white collar jobs.
For his admirers, that broadcast was not only an excellent PR job for Nigerians who are sometimes misconceived for the wrong reasons but it also exposed the Trump administration’s ill-conceived expansion of the travel ban for those six African countries.
In another broadcast in April, Zakaris focused on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in developing countries like India, Brazil, Nigeria and Indonesia. He posits that the low rate of spread in these countries could be attributed to less linkage by trade and travel compared to the developed countries. He further contends that fewer tests for the pandemic are conducted in these countries which account for the low reported cases.
In addition, Fareed is of the opinion that the low price of crude oil, in some of the developing countries especially those that rely on oil revenue will be in serious crisis. He warns that there could be political turmoil which will result in large number of refugees and possibly revolutions in some countries.
In Nigeria for instance, the current docile leadership style must give way to a more proactive and less nepotistic approach that will identify competent hands to manage the economy that has been in a nosedive.
While Fareed can be said to have been dispassionate in both broadcasts, it should be a wakeup call for managers of the affairs in the developing countries to immediately start strategizing on the post COVID-19 era. In Nigeria for instance, the current docile leadership style must give way to a more proactive and less nepotistic approach that will identify competent hands to manage the economy that has been in a nosedive.
When Buhari was first elected Nigeria’s President in 2015, there was so much excitement and expectation that he would harness the vast human and natural resources to improve the lot of the average Nigerian, unfortunately that goodwill has since evaporated occasioned by his abysmal performance in the areas of economy, security and his consistent disregard for the rule of law. Nigerians who voted for him twice wrongly assumed that with his military background, he would have the expertise to end the insurgency which has been ravaging the north eastern part of the country and which has brought untold hardship to millions of Nigerians in that region of the country.
The Nigerian military has almost been overwhelmed in containing the insurgency while their Chadian counterparts have achieved more successes. With the very low price of crude oil, Nigeria will have very serious challenges in funding the war against terror.
Despite Buhari’s claim that the insurgents “have been technically defeated”, they have continued to wreak havoc. The Nigerian military has almost been overwhelmed in containing the insurgency while their Chadian counterparts have achieved more successes. With the very low price of crude oil, Nigeria will have very serious challenges in funding the war against terror.
If indeed Nigeria expects the negative impact of the post coronavirus era and that of low price of crude oil to be reduced to the barest minimum, President Buhari must as a matter of national interest and urgency enthrone good governance and jettison his current penchant for surrounding himself with those from his Fulani ethnic tribe, he should employ those with the requisite skills and competence to avoid the impending doom Fareed predicted.
Buhari should start with a resolve that the country will no longer depend mostly on crude oil for revenue by exploring the other numerous resources that abound in the country especially agriculture and agro allied products. Many parts of Nigeria have enormous potentials in agriculture but since all the states depend on sharing the proceeds from crude oil, there is minimal interest in exploiting an area that has enriched many nations. The recent effort to develop agriculture although commendable is just minimal.
If the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is passed into law by the lawmakers and assented to by the President, most of the leakages and criminality perpetuated by the different stakeholders including the international oil companies will be eradicated.
Additionally, the revenue from crude oil will be much higher if the corruption in that sector is eliminated. A complete overhaul of the entire value chain has been advocated for many years which the Nigerian legislature has failed to address. If the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is passed into law by the lawmakers and assented to by the President, most of the leakages and criminality perpetuated by the different stakeholders including the international oil companies will be eradicated.
There is also the need for restructuring the country so that each federating unit (states) will be owners of the resources within their states, these states will pay taxes to center. This practice which was once in place in Nigeria will encourage the states to explore their various resources for the improvement of their citizens. There will be subtle competition amongst the states to develop and ultimately it will be in the collective interest of the nation.
As for the possibility of a revolution which Zakaria warned about, where leaders use their position to oppress the citizens, Nigerians may need to borrow a leaf from the Arabs who successfully used it to oust dictatorial leaders during the Arab Spring. Meanwhile, the debate continues how to interpret Fareed Zakaria’s predictions.
■ Editorial of The West African Pilot News (WAP) © 2020. WAP is a political, community, and business-focused, news site based in Houston, Texas, United-States; providing news, information, and business solutions for all targeted audiences in Sub-Saharan Africa with emphasis to Nigeria.
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