I was at the market recently; the woman who sold dry fish to me said jokingly, “These days people no dey chop belle full again, you go chop small, drink water and ask God to bless the remaining.” That sounded really funny and I laughed despite the reality of the situation. The naira is at an all-time low against the dollar.
The situation is worsened by the fact that people’s buying power is tremendously weakened. As food and commodity prices are going up, people’s capacity to purchase is reducing because more income is not necessarily coming in; companies are not increasing salary either. This is the unfortunate pit that we have found ourselves.
Some people say that it is the previous administration that got us to where we are, but I disagree. During former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, under the competent hands of Okonjo-Iweala, things were not as bad as this. Okonjo-Iweala kept inflation in single digits. In fact, starting from former President Obansanjo’s time, the economy witnessed an upward progression; from debt cancellation in 2005, to economic boom with the discovery of new sectors like telecommunications, and to the rebasing of our economy in 2015, when Nigeria was declared the largest economy in Africa.
It would also be recalled that as oil prices began to dwindle in 2015, Okonjo-Iweala managed to keep things going; she put austerity measures in place to serve as a buffer. Thank God for her policy direction that states should save, otherwise a lot of them would have had little or nothing to fall back on.
I strongly believe that it is high time the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari invited Okonjo-Iweala back into the helm of affairs. She is a woman of foresight with sound policies that can guide our economy in the right direction.
She has done it before. At the inception of civil rule in 1999, the economy was almost grounded due to years of corruption and embezzlement by the military. Obasanjo, in a smart move, appointed Okonjo-Iweala as the leader of the economic team that revived the economy.
This is the time we need Okonjo-Iweala the most. President Buhari needs to admit that she is skilful at resuscitating dead economies. He can leverage on her exposure and international connections for the benefit of the nation. If given the chance again, in less than a year Okonjo-Iweala will take Nigeria out of this pauperised state and begin to propel our economy in the right direction.
Bade Adebolu writes from Ado-Ekiti. He sent this piece via firstname.lastname@example.org]]>
Were we forewarned to brace up for this challenge?
Like the Biblical Joseph who warned the Egyptian Pharaoh on the need to save from the seven years of abundance for the following years of famine. Had Pharaoh ignored the wise counsel of Joseph, the sufferings of the Egyptians during the period of famine would have been better imagined.
There is nothing dialectically new in the present economic hardship the country is facing that we were not warned of. Actions must come with corresponding consequences. Like Newton once postulated in his third law of Motion; that to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When we were warned, unlike the good Pharaoh, we ignored Joseph’s advice. Who then should we blame?
The truth is that there was the issue of falling oil prices when Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala held sway as the Coordinating Minister of the Nigerian economy. But how was she able to handle the economy in a professional manner? The difference has always been in the level of expertise and years of experience in economic management.
In the United States’ Federal Reserve Board, we can mention great persons like William M. Martin Jr. who served as chairman between 1951 to 1970, serving under five different political administrations, both Democrats and Republicans. Also we have Allan Greenspan who was appointed chairman in 1987 and served under four different Presidents, including Bill Clinton, even though he himself was a Republican. Do you still wonder why we are called a Third world country?
It is only in a country like this that we will replace a Harvard-trained former World Bank Managing Director, with a largely unknown person like Kemi Adeosun as finance minister just to prove a political point!
To demonstrate her professionalism and excellence, Okonjo-Iweala warned us all on the need to save for the rainy days. She told us that the days ahead are indeed tough and, like Dr. Tai Solarin’s famous prayer: “may your road be rough”.
Instead of saving, state Governors blackmailed, lampooned even politicized the whole matter asking if it was her private money she was saving. She said, “a strong policy, the fiscal consolidation path that we have and looking toward diversification of revenue resources,”. The powerful Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) ably led by Rotimi Amaechi did not spare the poor woman. People like Raji Fashola went as far as the Supreme Court to force her to “share the money”. What could she have done in the light of these circumstances?
To make matters worse, no one was reasoning with her. The present leaders in the All Progressives Congress (APC) went on the international media in a well-coordinated propaganda effort inspired by the present Minister for information, Lai Muhammed, to blackmail the MIT-trained economist.
In the heat of the economic crunch, what should Okonjo-Iweala have done?
Therefore, we should direct our anger to the right channel and spare this great woman from further unnecessary condemnation.
Bade Adebolu is an Accountant based in Ado-Ekiti. He can be reached on email@example.com]]>
Before I proceed, I must make some important points to insulate me from been misunderstood. First, I know Adigun, the author of the said article back then as a student at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He was studying Political Science while I was admitted to the Accountancy Department. From my interactions with him, I fully understand his bias against Fayose, and his admiration and respect for the person of the former Governor, Kayode Fayemi. I could then only conclude that his love for JKF, as Fayemi’s admirers are called, steams from the fact that like him, Fayemi is a political scientist. Also, as honest as the Adigun I know to be, he has some faults: it is difficult for him to make up his on any issue as he takes his time before deciding; once he takes his stand, heaven will rather fall for him to change his opinion. This much I know about him since we both served in the University Students’ Union, which is often our point of disagreement.
Secondly, I am not a politician; neither am I one of those Adigun once called “Fayoseites” in one of his articles. I am an accountant by profession and I love what I do. I seek no political office neither do I flirt with politicians for appointments or favours. I kissed politics goodbye (hence my present disdain for it) in 2011 when the University Students’ Union was proscribed, and the intrigues that followed, in the same administration Adigun also served!
Given this background, I come back to the story of stomach infrastructure. In the said article, the author pointed out by doing his usual best to discredit the scheme, stomach infrastructure, as a sham. His main thrust in the article is that the scheme has no developmental value for the people. Though, I have reservations myself about the scheme, but to thoroughly label a wonderful package like that as a sham is quite uncharitable and lacking in decency, to say the least.
First, the scheme presupposes that the most basic, or one of the basic, human needs, hunger, must be conquered. If our people must live to fulfil their God-given potentials, they have to eat to live. Only the living can declare God’s glory. While we admit to the prevalence of poverty, which is in no way peculiar to Ekiti, we must neutralise its painful effects by overcoming hunger. This is exactly where the scheme comes in!
Also, we need not forget that no nation, to the best of my knowledge, has successfully eliminated poverty, but the western nations have left us centuries behind in overcoming hunger using several Welfare schemes which can fairly be compared to the scheme.
Secondly, the Adigun has issues with making the scheme an “official” policy in the state obviously. The contradictions in Adigun’s own arguments are in fact confounding even to the intelligent. He said at some point in the same article that “scheme is the unofficial political programme adopted by different Nigerian politicians with varying degrees” in the same article he condemned the scheme in its entirety. This punch is far below the belt!
It is possible, like some if its critics, that Adigun have issues with the combination of “Stomach” and “Infrastructure”, what is wrong in calling a spade by its proper name? The scheme could as well be the same with the Rauf Aregbesola’s APC-led Government’s O MEALS in Osun State. Did this obvious fact elude Adigun’s memory that apart from O MEALS Aregbesola has no other achievements or landmark in Osun State? Does he have qualms with the fact that the scheme alone cost a whopping sum of N13 billion tax payers’ money annually? Even at that the recent controversies over the sustainability of the O MEALS lay credence to the fact that it is not well thought-out. That also reminds us, when last have public servants in Osun State gotten their monthly emoluments or remunerations? If we find or see nothing wrong in O MEALS then we have no moral justification(s) find fault(s) in the more elaborate stomach infrastructure!
If Adigun is looking clearly, he will discover that he is just been overshadowed by his blind affection for JKF or the All Progressives Congress(APC). What he is failing to realise is that Fayemi as academic as he is, has mastered all the dead and decaying Aristotlean, Platonic, Socratic philosophies and theories which makes sense only to people like Adigun and not to the man in his farm in Oye, who only thinks about how his needs will be met. It is Fayemi’s fault that he made his government elitist. His physical infrastructure is only appreciated by the upper echelons in the society. This explains why Professor Akin Oyebode, Femi Falana, Wole Soyinka and so on (all of whom rarely visit Ekiti) and perhaps a few others are the only ones commending him, never the masses. With the introduction of Fayose’s stomach infrastructure into the equation, the language of the masses is spoken and well understood. Not only did they return him to power with their votes, they stood by him in power. This is what you get by standing with the masses. This is the logic behind stomach infrastructure that people like JKF and Adigun must learn!
Bade Adebolu is an Accountant based in Ado-Ekiti. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org]]>