• Monday, April 22, 2024
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Tinubu and the delinquent economy

Tinubu and the delinquent economy

The aphorism “Seeing is believing” appears to be the experience of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Despite all his efforts to steady the economy, it has become more delinquent. This seems to be giving Asiwaju goose pimples. Have you read or heard about the “truth” as told by two of Nigeria’s prominent sons, Victor Attah and Akinwumi Adesina? If not, we serve it hot here! Come to think of it, is Sheikh Ahmad Gumi above the law? Do not forget the crisis in Okuama community, Delta State, as we await the government to get to the heart of the matter.

The Okuama massacre and the need for an unbiased inquest Soldiers are trained to protect a country from external aggression. That, unfortunately, is no longer the case in Nigeria.

Today, soldiers are running around politicians like the regular police. They are now carrying bags and briefcases for public office holders and doing all sorts of things, including holding peace talks between warring communities.

The raging crisis in Urhobo communities, Delta State, that claimed the lives of 16 soldiers is, to say the least, regrettable. To lose 16 trained soldiers—a Lieutenant Colonel, a Major, and two Captains—is too much for a country in a time of peace.

It is also important for the federal government to really investigate what actually transpired in Okuama. The official report so far has been that Nigeria lost 16 soldiers, but no one has talked about how many innocent citizens have died in the crisis, perhaps among university graduates who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time during the period of the crisis.

While the country spares no condemnation on what happened in Okuama, particularly in relation to the murder of the soldiers, a thought must be spared on how Nigeria descended to this level of insecurity and lack of respect for the sanctity of life.

The right place for soldiers is the barracks. They are not supposed to mingle with the civilian populace. In the years gone by, seeing a soldier on the street was almost impossible. All their activities were conducted within their barracks. They had their own market, the Mammy Market, and their own places to relax—the officers’ mess.

Today, soldiers are all over the place, as if Nigeria were at war with itself. Politicians must be blamed for the erosion of the norm. It is the lack of true governance that has made insecurity the order of the day, forcing the military out of the barracks, as it were.

Efforts must be made to reduce the carnage in Okuama. Tactical intelligence must be employed to apprehend the culprits responsible for the killing of the soldiers.

But if the normal practice is anything to go by here, the military is doing no isolation, and everybody in the community is now bearing the brunt. Like what happened in Zaki-ibiam, Benue State, in 2001 and Odi town in Bayelsa State in 1999, the Nigerian soldiers are said to have tragically devastated the Okuama community where the soldiers were killed.

The cardinal truth by Victor Attah and Akinwumi Adesina

In a matter of one week, two prominent sons of Nigeria gave what could pass off as “gospel truth” (if they were speaking from the pulpit) about their beloved country.

They did not speak tongue-in-cheek, as many people in their status want to do these days. Victor Attah, a former governor of Akwa Ibom, and Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), pointedly hit the nail on the head. They spoke differently and in different places, yet their thoughts were synchronised.

Adesina had, in an interview recently, said that people were losing faith in Nigeria’s economy. When asked if the nation’s economy could survive with the current exchange rate of over N1,500 per dollar, he flatly said “no.”.

According to him, “the slide of the naira is because people are losing confidence in the economy. That is why I was saying that the way to deal with that is to see if we can expand the inflows of foreign exchange into the country.”

By the same token, Obong Attah, at a different forum, pointed out that it had become extremely difficult to “market Nigeria to the International Community” for foreign investments to flow in and for the country’s exports to be accepted.

The former governor also expressed concern that these days, most trips embarked upon by state governors are mere jamborees that attract nothing, and that even the ones being embarked upon by the Presidency and federal officials attract very little.

Truth be told, these foreign investors know and understand the Nigerian economy far better than many of those in government. That is also why, before government officials could go to some foreign countries to solicit collaborations, those people would have had a made-up mind. For them, receiving the Nigerian delegation is just to maintain a cordial relationship, not for any trade deal.

Someone says and strongly believes that it is a vain and sheer waste of resources for government officials to empty the Treasury for trips abroad to look for foreign investors. He believes that as a nail is attracted to a piece of magnet, a robust economy attracts investors effortlessly.

Attah and Adesina are not mean Nigerians; they have international exposure and know the rating of Nigeria and her leaders in the eyes of the outside world.

It is hoped that the government at all levels in Nigeria will ponder the disclosures and see how to remedy the situation as quickly as possible.

Tinubu and the delinquent economy

William Tecumseh Sherman, a Union general during the Civil War who played a crucial role in the victory over the Confederate States, became one of the most famous military leaders in the United States’ history.

Sherman told a friend of his in 1864, “If forced to choose between the penitentiary and the White House for four years, I would say the penitentiary, thank you.”

Twenty years later, he was said to have replied to the offer of the Republican National Convention: “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”

The question is: what would be the comment of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu after he leaves the Presidency with his experience with the Nigerian economy that appears delinquent, defying all known economic principles?

But the truth is, by the time President Tinubu would have rounded off his tenure, whether four years or eight, one important lesson he would have learned is that it is easier to detect leaders’ faults from the outside than when one is inside.

Before he became president, he had virulently criticised a past government for not doing things a particular way. He thought that the Naira should have the same value as the dollar just by wishing for it; he believed that the removal of subsidies was synonymous with punishing people, so when one president tried it, the Asiwaju bared his “fangs.” Also, for him, it was sheer wickedness on the part of the then president for Nigerians not to have a constant electricity supply.

A former governor who saw things from the same perspective as Asiwaju once said that it was not rocket science to have a constant power supply in Nigeria. But when he became the minister of power, he discovered that such “simple” things that are given in other countries are indeed rocket science in Nigeria.

Perhaps for his inability to turn the tide in the power sector in line with his postulations, he was removed from the ministry in August 2019. That was also a lesson that watching a football match from the sidelines is not the same as taking part in the play.

A lot of ideas that played on the mind of Asiwaju before he became president, on the basis of which he saw Nigeria’s challenges as featherweight matters he could blow away with the breeze from his mouth, have become like mountains that he loses sleep over.

He knew what he did as governor of Lagos State with the A-list technocrats he worked with, and he thought that with such “eggheads,” the entire country would become like Lagos in a jiffy, under his watch and under his “mandate.”

Today, with the move of almost the entire cabinet he worked with in Lagos to Abuja, the question that may be giving him goosebumps is, why has the Nigerian economy remained delinquent?

Since May last year, the Tinubu administration has taken a number of steps to steady the economy. He tried to remove the gasoline subsidy from Fiat, but the same government has since stepped back to return what is now known as the “secret” subsidy.

To halt the rate at which the Naira was depreciating against the dollar, the Federal Government, through the Central Bank, announced the collapse of all Forex windows into the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market with the removal of the hard peg on naira trading within the official market. The foreign exchange market became liberated, paving the way for willing buyers and willing sellers.

Despite the great moves, the naira is still prostrating and genuflecting before the dollar, giving a bad name to the government.