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The famous coach of the Arsenal football club in England once said, that everyone becomes your teacher when things are not going well. That statement is as apt for football as it is for politics and especially national governance. When all is well, we are content to keep our counsel or measure out sparing plaudits. But and if there is delay, faltering or failure, the pens, drums and megaphones are whipped out in a trice. It is the brigade of the pocket economists. Who would be a leader in such times as these. But it is said that uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. Let him/her who feels the need wear it.
The grouse this time is the exchange rate, or should I say, the multiple Naira exchange rates. You see, one has struggled to understand the logic behind having multiple exchange rates. But then again, as a pocket economist, I do not have to! Indeed I have neither a degree nor professional training in economics. Has that restrained me from pontificating? No. I hide behind the coat-tails of HRH Sanusi who has come out to criticise the regime. He goes as far as to describe it as a racket by the rent-seeking elite of Nigeria. This wacky policy is a red cloth to pocket economists and a no-entry sign to foreign investors. If we are hoping to build our economy with input from externally sourced funds, it is important to create an alluring environment.
We all know that Nigeria enjoys annual remittances in excess of $20 billion yearly. A large percentage of which is sent through informal channels. Most of this money goes to subsistence of family members and support for friends. However, a lot more idle funds could be remitted by Nigerians in Diaspora but for three reasons:
The first two are major issues and will take some time to resolve. The third is a policy that can be changed on short notice, but its impact would be great.
Many Diaspora Nigerians could liquidate slow-growing assets worth tens of thousands of USD/Sterling/etc. in a short time. But those investors would be bringing in their Forex at the official exchange rate. As of yesterday afternoon, the official rate traded 306 Naira to the US Dollar. At the same time, the black market traded 408 Naira to the US Dollar. Imagine then that our Diaspora investor remitted $10,000 USD via the official rate. That would have fetched him N3,060,000=, whereas he could have had N4,080,000= on the black market. In real terms, such a person would have lost 33% of the real value of their USD in the Nigerian economy, on entry!
Supposing that the Naira and Dollar remain at the same exchange rate for the next 12 months. Let us also assume that our investor bought into a business that grew by 20% in the same period. At the end of the year to date, his N3.06m would have grown to N3.67m. If at that point he/she decides to repatriate the capital, they would have to buy back the USD from the black market. Of course the N3.67m would only buy $8995= USD. The investor would have failed to make up the initial investment despite a very impressive 20% annual growth. This cannot be a formula for mobilising foreign investors. Most certainly not the Diaspora Nigerian with small holdings. When balanced against the risks and the opportunity cost of relatives/friends not helped, investing in Nigeria is not persuasive.
We all understand that the government seeks to protect some key industries from the vagaries of exchange rates, and guarantee that they can operate with reduced exposure to rate swings. That is a good thing. This OECD report shows that many countries around the world provide agricultural subsidies to their citizens. It would therefore make sense for the FGN to “subsidise” those sectors officially and let the Naira float. And whereas we have had a bad experience with subsidies for hydrocarbons, we can learn from our mistakes. Rather than distort our economy with confusing and counterproductive exchange rates that are being abused, we should revisit subsidies. Subsidies are localised; they can be tailored to specific needs and with careful administration, abuse can be eliminated.
The word “subsidy” is used here with a twist. It means that any organisation in the named sectors can buy their inputs at the single “floating” exchange rate. Thereafter, the producer can apply for subsidy credits, having provided documentation from non-affiliated third parties that have purchased their outputs. There would also be need for corroboration by bank(s) involved in the transaction(s). The subsidy credit could then be cashed, or applied as a discount on the next purchase of foreign exchange. This approach discourages round-tripping, decreases pressure on foreign exchange, and defers subsidy payment to align with productive output.
Mr Emefelie may be struggling at the helm of the CBN, but surely he is not entirely and solely responsible for this warped policy on exchange rates. It is about time the federal government realises that this thing is doing more harm than good. There has been a net loss of productive output since this policy was hatched. Is it not about time that we admit our error and change course?
But then again; I am just a pocket economist! What would I know?
May God bless Nigeria; amen.
Viva New Nigeria!
Oyewole, Olanrewaju J (Mr.)
London SE18 3PD
+44  793 920 3120
Mr Oyewole is a social and political commentator, blogger. He is a technology consultant with significant experience in the UK security sector. He has participated in key IT initiatives for the UK police and army.
But why? The matters at hand are not beyond the comprehension of even laypersons in our society, the issues can be analysed by any reasonably educated and logical mind. Let us examine the tealeaves, beginning with the one on top.
1). CJN attempts to promote PCA
Now why would such an altruistic move by the CJN be rebuffed by the PCA, after all it could be said that the Supreme Court is the pinnacle of aspiration and career for any professional in the Nigerian judiciary. The CJN is not obliged to offer such prized elevations to any judge. In recognising Salami’s contribution to the judiciary, the CJN had demonstrated leadership and patriotism, and an unfailing commitment to the Nigeria project; even in the last hours of his tenure.
But was this a Greek gift, did the silk robe conceal an unsheathed sword? From the grapevine we discover that Salami was by-passed for promotion to the Supreme Court because of federal character. After taking advice from senior judges that he respected, Salami apparently made the decision to work the path towards PCA rather than queue up behind his juniors in the Supreme Court. The offer of a seat in the Supreme Court, from his perspective, would therefore amount to a demotion rather than a promotion. The CJN should have known, and empathised with this fact.
Secondly, in the Court of Appeal, Salami had the liberty to shape and nurture a select core of next generation lawyers within his fiefdom in the disciplines that made names for the likes of Kayode Eso, Chukwudifu Oputa, Andrews Obaseki and others – simplicity, honesty, diligence, courage and personal conviction. But then that is just one side of the coin, others would say that Salami was more Fagin to their artful dodger, and that he was actually grooming his proteges in the finer arts of duplicity and sophistry.
2). PCA raises an alarm
One should not be surprised that the PCA resisted the elevation; leaving corruption aside, there is greater prestige in being the PCA than in assuming facelessness in the Supreme Court. More so, as the image of the judiciary in Nigeria today is at an all time low. Supreme Court judges are held in the same low esteem as most of the rest of the judiciary. In fact, when recently (in the media), Nigerians have talked of the judiciary being the last bastion of the nation, they often referred to the actions of the Appeal Court, and not the Supreme Court. Since the 12 2/3 case, it would appear, to most Nigerians, that the Supreme Court, in composition and general standing, has been on a downward spiral.
So, whether for prestige, or to avoid the stigma of the Supreme Court, the CJN’s offer would be a poison chalice to the PCA. But then again, it is just possible that, unknown to Nigerians, the PCA had cornered the market on large settlements for favourable judgement in the Appeal Court, and the CJN, having the best interests of Nigeria at heart decided to break up the party for Salami and his merry men. Yea or Nay, I guess one would need to examine the antecedents of Salami, his lifestyle, colleague/peer opinions and his present economic circumstance in order to gain an inkling on what the truth is.
3). NBA and NJC constitute panels
You would have expected that these august bodies would come together and form one panel, or at least consult each other and then save face with a press release explaining the need for two “linked” panels. But perhaps the composition and aspirations of these groups are so different that their horses cannot be watered from the same trough. The NBA and NJC, in theory, should include some of the best minds and the most esteemed lawyers should be counted in their gatherings, one therefore wonders why such intelligent, distinguished and mature persons, could not even agree to cooperate in an investigation that impinges on all! The question that comes to mind is this: is not the same law that they practise?
4). The panels disagree on cause and fault!
But what were these panels constituted for? What was their remit? Was it to adjudicate/rule or provide opinion on the matter? What was the mandate given to each, and was there any overlap, or perhaps the matter involved such legal technicalities that only the cognoscenti could begin to comprehend it. To the common man, there appeared to be no disagreement in the scope that would justify the contradiction in the panels’ pronouncement. So, what could be so complex and subjective about the events that transpired, and the interpretation of same in the light of the laws of Nigeria. Given the experience of those appointed to the panels, could the details be so complex and subjective that they not only disagree, but that the outcomes from both panels are irreconciliable. Further, the root cause analysis differs, and the interpretation of conduct disagrees; but the laws from which these conclusions were synthesised are the same!
5). NBA indicts the CJN
In what would turn out to be a half-hearted attempt to deal with a major issue that threatens the nation, the NBA arrives at a verdict that identifies a culprit, and immediately lets him off with a reprimand and a disagreeable letter. The NBA indicted the CJN for misconduct and overreaching the limits of his office, they also identified two collaborators.
But they should have gone further and recommended sanctions against the CJN for abuse of office, and taken action against the two lawyers accused alongside the CJN for aiding and abetting him. If this man was guilty, he had brought the judiciary into disrepute and the sword should not have been sheathed; his ox should have been gored, mauled, or whatever befit the occasion. Also, his accomplices should have been sanctioned, so far as the constitution allows the NBA to, and the NBA should have supported this with the sternest language – it was an opportunity lost! But then, maybe those who live in glass houses have learnt not to throw stones. On reflection and retrospection, the NBA may have recognised that far worse offences had gone by without so much as a blink of the eye. Better not to make a scene, and attract the community to one’s moral nakedness.
6). NJC indicts the PCA
The NJC responded with a judgement of its own. Now, one would have expected a CJN who is indicted by everyday lawyers to have stepped down voluntarily, especially as his term was almost up, and to retain some shreds of dignity, in what appears, on the surface to be some indiscretion on his part. Nevertheless, pride/dignity seemed a distant concern in the battle at hand, and so the NJC responded with its own broadside, indicting the PCA for perjury.
The stakes were suddenly much higher! The NJC also recommended that the PCA be suspended and dismissed from the judiciary for not apologising to the CJN when told to do so.
But they should have gone further. If the PCA perjured himself, it is a criminal offence and must not be swept under the carpet. He should be charged to court and the full weight of the law brought to bear on him with due punishment to serve as deterrent to others. All the other judges that sat on the compromised tribunals should likewise be dismissed and the lawyers that colluded with said judges should be disbarred. In the fight for a New Nigeria, these crimes tear at the very foundations of our society and they must not be allowed to lie, rather they must, as a matter of priority be rooted out. So it was a shock and a sick joke for the NJC to have asked the PCA to apologise and so to end the matter. Fortunately for Nigeria, he did not, and now, maybe we will have an opportunity to hear the truth in a competent court. Yet how could the courts act? The NJC sat and deliberated in contempt of court, so it would be something of an abormality to return to the court to put the seal on a fait accompli! Then again, pigs have been known to fly in Nigeria.
7). President concurs with NJC
In a press release issued by the Office of the president, the executive acceded to the request of the NJC, and that, within a few days of said request being received!
Given the sensitivity of the matter at hand, the precariousness of the security situation in the country, and the pressing problems of political and social disconnect caused by the last elections, one would have expected the presidency to give very deep thought to the matters at hand. The national interest must be of the highest priority in making a decision, even if not for posterity, then for the present peace and stability for the many millions that inhabit the country today. It was vital that the president be seen to be impartial, in the face of personal interest; after all, the man at the centre of the controversy had been involved in a number of judgements given against the president’s party.
Justice they say, must not only be done, it must be seen to be done. President Jonathan should have taken time out to think and consider such a weighty issue, perhaps even to pray. It appears he didn’t. To avoid a perception of conflict of personal interest and for the sakes of national security, the president should have commissioned his most trusted aides to research the issue, and for the sake of Nigeria today and tomorrow, find out the facts. Mr president should also have consulted broadly, involving the legislature, whose support he would need, if the PCA were to be dismissed; and he should have sounded out some of respected elders in the legal community. Finally, having decided on a course of action, the president should have ensured that from A to Z, the constitution was observed, to the letter. In essence act decisively but holistically, not for a palliative but rather towards a panacea. Mr president did not prevaricate, but was the decision holistic and was it a good first step towards a lasting solution?
8). Nigerians react
The Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, in his 1972 book “The Man Died…” issued a famous quotable, to wit, “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.” For all the alleged timidity of Nigerians, our fear is not so deep that people refrain from complaining, when the government of the day is perceived to be acting against the national interest as seen by the masses. In some cases, the complaining may be reduced to murmuring, as sometimes happens under military regimes when speaking has become hazardous to health. We thank God that is not the case today in Nigeria. And so the people spoke, and very few were in support of the president’s decision. Notable lawyers, the NBA, the Nigeria Labour Council (NLC), the main opposition parties, people from all walks of life, both home and abroad; all spoke against what was generally perceived as a travesty. The Office of the president was undeterred.
Meanwhile, the NJC, yet fulminating, continued to breathe threats against the PCA. This “inbred” body, with the majority appointed by the CJN, a party to the dispute, was not bothered that its initial action and ongoing pronouncements were in contempt of an existing case before a competent court. The third arm of government had arrived at the zero game, and they did not even know it. Following the disastrous outing of the UK and the USA in Iraq, Tony Blair opined that history would be the judge of what they did in that country; whether good or bad. The president may like to take the same line; perhaps history will indeed say differently, but Mr president must hope that history is not a few months away as in the case of Mr Blair, and that the folly of his actions does not become apparent in the very immediate future.
Philosophers are grounded in a truth that the executive would benefit from learning: that it is hard to know better than the man, what is good for the man, and it is not often the case that leaders know better than the people on matters that impinge on their daily lives in fundamental ways. But then what is our duty as the people, citizens of Nigeria; at a time like this? We cannot afford to keep quiet, while the axe is swung relentlessly at the foundation of our home, our silence will not stop the attacks on the pillars that hold us up. We therefore need to complain loudly and publicly, we should not let this be swept under the carpet nor forgotten out of hand; we must press the case, and see that proper justice is done either way. To keep quiet now would be to regret at leisure and with pain.
God bless Nigeria.
Remember; if you are not part of the solution, then you must be part of the problem.
A few years ago, I met up with a childhood friend who had become very senior within the NNPC hierarchy. He was staying in a pricey London hotel and I had agreed to meet up with him. In the course of our brief conversation, he expressed his dissatisfaction with the way in which Nigeria, and the NNPC, used money. Particularly galling for him was the fact that Nigerian money hardly ever passes through Nigerian hands, once outside the country’s borders. Illustrating this with the taxis that he and other NNPC executives used. He wondered why a Nigerian-owned cab company could not be retained to NNPC executives around London, rather than the current practice of hiring from non-Nigerians on a piecemeal basis.
He presented a compelling argument that deploying Nigerian money to enable and promote Nigerian businesses outside Nigeria would strengthen Diaspora ties to the motherland and empower Nigerians abroad to reinvest at home. A policy such as that would also burnish the image of Nigeria and Nigerians in the country of their residence. His sentiments bore strong resonance with my own position on the issue. Nigerians, like many other black nations and communities, instinctively spend their money outwards to other nations and groups, rather than holding the money, or transacting it, within their own circle. The consequence is that black nations and communities end up as financial/economic baskets that struggle to hold money.
Biometric (BVN) enrollment was launched last year, and banks and account holders were mandated to comply with the new directive. Now, I have huge problems with the idea of placing biometric data in the hands of multiple private companies, especially where the regulatory framework is still very weak. I also think it is counterintuitive to maintain multiple biometric databases across sectors. Our biological identification details are retained in the passport office, driver licensing office, the electoral commission, the national Id commission, telecommunication companies, and now, banks!
I must be an IT simpleton, so how could I understand the esoteric reasons for multi-site, distributed repositories of redundant data sets. This surely is some advanced availability+DR strategy that is far beyond my pay grade! I really should not dabble in things too high for me. There I was thinking, in my simple mind, that such sensitive data must be very tightly regulated (procurement and access) and that one backed-up master set should suffice, especially when money is tight.
Be that as it may though, my main grouse is not with the technological aspects as to the operation aspects of this thing. The timeline allowed for compliance, for those in Diaspora was rather short. No one anticipated this constraint when opening accounts all those years ago. So, to suddenly be required to pay a visit to Nigeria, just for the sake of giving up another set of biometrics was, to put it mildly, most unreasonable. To its credit, the CBN soon realised this and acted quickly to address the issue; giving Diaspora account holders two extensions to the deadline. That is to be commended, but the matter is not that simple.
In the haste to rush this policy out and the hurried palliatives deployed to patch up intrinsic faults, the CBN created another, albeit lesser problem. How to enable Diaspora account holders who have no plans of visiting Nigeria in the next X years? Now, this Hydra could have had all of its heads severed in one go, by cutting close to the neck! Most Nigerians living abroad have a Nigerian passport, and almost all will incorporate biometric data, since the old ones have now expired. Why not ask such persons to provide the banks with their passport number? If your passport number is genuine and known, your identity is certain. Indeed, but for that green book, many Nigerians in Diaspora would not be permitted to open bank accounts in the countries of their sojourn. If it is good enough for foreigners, one wonders why it should not suffice for our own local banks.
Once again one is left scratching the head and wondering who comes up with these half-cooked ideas anyway. And why make the compliance window so short when it is clear that there are millions of Nigerians living abroad and many have accounts at home! But that leads on to the elephant in the room. When the CBN finally decided to provide a solution for those Nigerians outside the country, guess who they “selected”! It is not an organisation that you would have heard of before: the name is OIS. Who or what is this OIS, who owns this organisation and what is the composition of its shareholding and board? Why is such an organisation given carte blanche to charge Diaspora Nigerians $45 USD equivalent for a service that lasts less than 10 minutes and involves zero personalisation?
A quick search on the Internet led me to a website with no verifiable contact details. An organisation that prefers to hide/mask its identity. On closer scrutiny though, it becomes clear that this is most likely a non-indigenous company, or one with tenuous links to Nigeria – going by the profile of their business and the geographic spread of their operations. Now, I don’t know if the problem is one of an inferiority complex; short sightedness, or perhaps personal interest, but it hurts to think no indigenous firms were found suitable! These decision makers should have thought long and hard on how they could engineer this undertaking to alleviate some of our present challenges, e.g. unemployment, capital shortages, etc.
What if a conglomerate of Nigerian banks/IT-service-providers were given this task instead, or ask our embassies and high-commissions to facilitate and oversee Nigerian IT companies in Diaspora in completing the exercise. These are just some suggestions, but there are others that we could think of. All that money, running into millions of USD is now gone out of our economy and fallen into foreign pockets – except for my $45 of course. This, January the 31st of 2016, is the last day for registration of BVN details. From tomorrow, I will be unable to transact any business with the meager funds that I have left in my GTB account. The inconvenience is a little price to pay for the sake of nationhood. My widow’s mite is insignificant in monetary terms, but as a statement, it counts for a lot. I have decided to keep my £30 ($45 equivalent) and suffer the inconvenience of restricted access to remote banking, until I am next opportuned to be in Nigeria.
I am persuaded that said £30 will do far greater good as actus humanus in caritate than as contribution to a corporate baseline. If only the presidency would adopt that thinking as the debate on the 2016 rages on. It really is time for change! We must change our thinking, change our actions, change our economics, and keep our money to ourselves.
May God bless Nigeria and help our leaders to think more clearly in light of our present circumstances, amen.
Viva New Nigeria!
Allow me to share with you a celestial truth. There is only one way, guaranteed to get you into heaven; Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is your insurance policy for the next life, your V.I.P. pass, your name on the guest list, your invitation, to GOD’s eternal banquet.
If there is a Heaven, as surely there is, and a life after death, you need to be sure you will end up in Heaven and not anywhere else. Hell is just too nasty a place to leave things to chance.
Accept Jesus Christ today as your LORD and saviour now, confess your sins to GOD, and your guilt and deserved punishment will be blotted out, giving you a promise of admission to heaven that is guaranteed.
Now that you are saved, carry on with your life, be at peace, GOD will be coming to get you, and to make a new person out of the old. From now on, its Jesus Christ’s responsibility to work the changes in your life that will get you into heaven.
It really is that simple.
By: Basil Jide Fadipe
Medical Surgeon, Teacher, Social Commentator
Justin Fadipe Centre
Commonwealth of Dominica
Want to talk records ? Here is one. …Attorney at law then …Law professor then …First Lady Arkansas then …First Lady United States then …American senator then …Presidential candidate then …Secretary of State then again …Presidential candidate. One long unbroken career, …a lifetime ….if by half inside public gaze ; and to jig the memory just in case every of her climb mined with gut- wrenching distractions; When it wasn’t a Ken Starr, so called “independent” investigator, conducting inquisitions rather than inquiries it was a partisan congress fiendish kangaroo sessions , witchhuntedly in hot pursuit or the FBI rooting for smoking guns or just own peers ….green eyed rivals or as cruel irony would have it, her own husband …mind-bending philanderous soap operas; ….every of her steps, dogged by every kind of hoops
Yet ….with grace and felinity, she prevailed, poise and purpose her leitmotif “Grow to help as many as you can, for as long as you can, in as many ways as you can ” Or words to that effect . That was the charge to young Hillary Rhodham from mum. Scrutinise her records all of thirty years and counting, that ‘charge’ rooted as it were in authentic ‘Methodist’ tradition has remained Hillary’s chief push and intellectual lodestar. If these don’t command unstinted admiration
Or constitute unchallengeable grounds for presidency what else will. Scout in any part of the world, the United States in particular, to check how many there are who could hold any office or public influence for all or some of thirty years, and all there are to unearth are token misdeameanours …..mal- routed emails and allied trivias. In less than a decade of power or influence, most public officials, I’m certain would be foot or neck deep in some manner of greed or misappropriation, self enrichment or cronyisms, Or all kinds of self indulgent shenanigans each to the grade of a mortal not venial sin
Hillary….Nope !! The Clintons remain some of the most investigated Americans in history!! Yet each witch hunt ( that is what they all are ) turn up only a set of VENIAL sins, …Hillary’s ….no more than “carelessness”, ( FBI chief ) ….. non indictable mole-hills Yet make mountains her distractors wish. In the nature of things , responsibilities such as Hillary’s must needs have involved lots of correspondences, each day heaps enough to mop up endless hours For those who care to know, it is also in the nature of things that the more cerebral of our daily commitments are best executed late in the nights when the world is full of sleep, the air, relatively cleansed of distractions .
Certainly for me, the dead of the night is the prime of my ‘day’, the unique interlude inside my circadian when my neurones shuttle the fastest. And I’m willing to bet it is same for many my kind. Imagine….for the likes of Hillary. For the hard-at- it addictive worker, It is instinctive, in-ostensibly so to never want to part with work; ready even to carry home, unfinished work; ….lie on the sofa or in the quiet of the study, slaving away to beat up on assignments and deadlines , innocently unmindful of what protocols may demand or what regulations may be thereby flouted.
Why in the case of Hillary do detractors seek to make a ‘song and dance’ of this, imputing crime not credit. I suspect only because inside the shark-infested red oceans, of adversarial politics swimmers, more so the naive/ innocent do so at own risk. …each swimming lane, a via dolorosa, the gory attacks hijacking the neutrality of the waters. ….and of course, in the religion of democracy, majority, no matter how wrong is moral. It’s the reason virtue will often be mangled by those who will work themselves into knots inventing untruths and muds against the other.
When a Hillary mindful of mud inventors and slingers proactively girds her loin, witch hunters out to target the ungirded see girded loins they scream ….crucify!!! ….they d rather open flanks, game for their poisoned arrows. Hillary constantly staying a step or two ahead of her detractors, fogging their views, smoking their plots is construed as lack of transparency: why would Hillary or anyone want to live inside a transparency that can only offer assasins perfect aim. Drain the swamp, then demand visibility; not the other way round . So stellar the career and character of Hillary Clinton, the world is unable to resist the constant crave for a piece of her, ever ready to part with thousands, even millions to secure her attention.
What a worth !!! Yet critics, malefactors and detractors would rather cry tally-ho ascribing taint and corruption where they should learn a lesson or two in the merits of self-transformative self slug. Hillary has slugged all her life inventing a Hillary. ….the product a jewel so uniquely precious every market wishes a stake . To not be tempted by the magnetic luster of a self invented Hillary is to be …..at best a visual wreck, at worst a castrate insensate caricature, There are those who would wish to have us believe she bartered office for money They will want to force this absurdity despite knowing as well as anyone else that in or out of office, Hillary’s field force ….its lure and market reach never stops expanding .
To be sure that’s no aberration; ….persons who have selflessly served others particularly via the unique privilege of high office, like vintage wine only appreciate with time, often legendarily too long into life after office. It is the megalomanic self agrandising kleptocrat who vacate office, nobody wishes to see except behind bars Hillary is that “Jewel in the crown ” the perfect fit for the presidency, ….tuesday the 8th her rendez-vous with destiny. ….email hyperboles no more than the travails of a winner, …the pain before the paean.
Ever since the controversial launch of Hubert Ogunde’s production, “Yoruba Ronu”, which was banned in the western region at the time (1964), Yorubas have continually engaged or yearned for reassessment and realignment, and so, “Yoruba Ronu” has become variously, an exhortation or an indictment of self; a voice that comes and goes, but cannot be completely put down, or comfortably ignored. Reading through a rather lengthy 2012 report of the Bill Gates foundation though, I feel compelled to say that the challenge is apt for Nigeria as well.
The report states that “There are now just three countries that have never eliminated polio: Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan“. Many years ago in Unilag, the first semester results came out and in one of my courses, I think it was African Government and Politics, I scored 8 out of a possible 20 marks. Now for someone who was aiming for a 2:1, that was not good, especially as we had almighty June in those days, in which I would need to score about 60 out of 80 to keep on course, and that, in the faculty of social sciences, was a rarity. Never mind who else scored less than 10/20, discount the fact that I had somehow overslept and only made it to the exam hall for less than half the alloted time; what was clear to me was that I was in bad company. For my aspirations, I had no business being in the cohort of the scored-less-than-50%. I knew I had to change, and work hard to somehow make up the deficit, even against all odds. I thank God, that I did succeed in making up the lost ground.
Today, our country finds itself in very bad company. We are counted amongst the last three countries that cannot, or have not, overcome a simple disease, and in spite of considerable assistance from outsiders. We find ourselves numbered with Pakistan, a country under the grip of powerful religious extremists, and at constant war-by-proxy; in the tribal areas, in Afghanistan, and in Kashmir. Nigeria is numbered with Afghanistan, a quasi-nation; a loose assembly of tribal, ethnic, religious and political affiliates, dispersed over a thousand hills in the deserts of mid-Asia. How indeed are the mighty fallen; how are the weapons of our nationality and identity so easily and shamelessly stripped off of our being?
Some years ago, I warned of a death of our nation; not so much in its disintegration as in the loss of her identity and soul, so much so, that those who recognise the country would say to themselves: “Is this that Nigeria? The one that we heard so much of, whose renown straddled the African continent like a colossus; the one whose peoples strutted the earth like peacocks!”. The same would shake their heads, and the wise would make a mark of it, that where they have been, others should not follow. Are those days not now upon us? We rank amongst the weakest and the worst on most global development indices, and the most frightening part is that the leadership of the country believes that we are making progress even as all standards are sliding.
Nigeria think! Nigerians think! Let us all think now, let us start the process of reassessment and realignment, let us pull out our fingers from our pockets and our bossoms and put it to the plough. For the generation of our parents, time is past, many or most of them will die without seeing that New Nigeria; for our generation, time flies. We need to act now if we are to avoid the pain of ending our lives still pondering “The problem that is Nigeria”. As 2015 approaches, I urge one and all to respond to that exhortation first put out by John F. Kennedy, let us not think of what Nigeria can do for us today, but let us think of what we together can do for Nigeria. The reality is that there is no government in Nigeria today, what we have is a cabal of robbers and violent extortionists who have hijacked the instruments of government, but that does not excuse us from responsibility. Our falure to act and to participate in government opened up a vacum that they have stepped into; it is time to make amends and set a course for an acceptable future.
Let each person set time apart to think of what they can do, together with other like-minded citizens, to reclaim Nigeria for her people. No effort is too great, no contribution/input is too small, and now is a great time to start repairing Nigeria and making her great again.
God bless Nigeria; amen.