The traditional ruler of Onitsha kingdom, Obi Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe has decried the dwindling fortunes of Nigeria, saying the country is in dire straits.
The monarch spoke on Saturday, during the traditional ofala festival of Onitsha to commemorate his 20th year on the throne as the monarch of the ancient Kingdom of Onitsha.
Achebe said from insecurity to oil theft, to the rapid fall of the naira and other issues like bad economy, spiralling inflation, the high petrol prices and ravaging poverty, Nigeria was fast getting out of hand.
Reading his address during the ocassion, Achebe said: “Our country today appears to be in a more dire straits than any other time since national independence, except for the three years of the civil war.
“The biggest challenge of the nation today is insecurity, which affects most parts of the country and disrupts every aspect of our public and private lives.
“The inability of farmers to harvest their crops due to terrorists, and the conflicts between farmers and cattle herders are causing serious food inflation.”
The monarch speaking on the rise in food prices said: “Not withstanding the phenomenal increase in fuel subsidies since 2015, fuel prices have more than doubled over the same period. Over the same period, crude oil export has almost halved, due to organized theft of the commodity by domestic and international syndicates, whilst our security agencies appear to look the other way.
“This situation has diminished our foreign exchange earnings in areas of high oil prices, leading to unprecedented foreign loans to support the recurrent expenditures of the government.
“Unemployment is rife, especially among young graduates and there is a worrying exodus of middle class professional families abroad in search of better life.”
He said that all these issues raised will form the backdrop of the 2023 presidential election, while also acknowledging that the contest would be between the rulling All Progressives Congress (APC), the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP), which he described as an emerging third force.
Charging the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on a credible election, Achebe said: “Our prayer is for the election to be conducted in a peaceful, free and transparent manner, with a clear mandate for the winner to face the daunting task of building a safe and united country that provides equitable opportunities for all citizens.
“The stakes are very high for the political parties and the nation. And the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC owes a huge duty to posterity to discharge its statutory function faithfully and transparently.”