In the field of medicine, some ailments are described as incurable or degenerative. However, from time to time, we would hear of some medical breakthrough, hence, hope is restored for those suffering from such ailments. Nigeria has been suffering from the ravages of what might be called degenerative disease. So, a couple of years ago, the trustees of the country headed by one Dr. Ebele, went looking for a cure. This search eventually turned up one Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, someone they told us has this vaunted expertise. Never mind that, when they told us that she was a Managing Director at World Bank, and we also found out that western establishments are not always willing to let go of a valuable employee, we never stopped to ask, why then would they be so magnanimous in this case? I mean, contrast that with how foreign institutions are eager to hire our out-going CBN governor. In any case, Nigerians jumped for joy, believing that cure must be around the corner. In their jubilation however, they forgot that they had been here before, with the same voodoo doctor, who deceived them with some quack medicine.
Remember when ex-convict Obasanjo was catapulted to presidency, thanks to Babangida, Aliyu Gusau, Danjuma? Well, that was the first time voodoo lady Iweala brought her sham medicine to Nigeria. In that first coming, quack doctor Ngozi pushed Nigeria to pay off debt that some experts still contend was, at best dubious. Proof of this realization was in the back-handed thank you that Obasanjo gave her, when he shoved her over to the Ministry of External Affairs. But team leader Ebele could “not give a damn” about that history. He believes in the voodoo lady so much so that he chose to give her free reign of Nigeria, with the title of “Co-ordinating Economic Minister”, something akin to a Prime Minister in a presidential system. She will later end up becoming one of the quad team of Lady Prime Ministers, which includes, “Jesusette” of Okrika, Diezani Alison, Stealer Oduah, and of course, Ngozi.
After coming onboard, Ngozi thought to herself, first thing first: She will demonstrate her “faith” in the economy by demanding to be paid in foreign currency (US$); She may very well be the only Finance Minister in the world to ever show that much faith in her country’s economy. Furthermore, if Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi will choose bow tie or Nehru jacket (i.e. the jacket with mandarin collar) as his own fashion differentiating identity, ample Madam Ngozi chose delicately balanced head-gear, tipped over her forehead as her own fashion statement. Trouble is, somebody forgot to tell her that, at least, for Hausa people, that style is not new. In fact, some of us still remember when that style of head-gear used to be reserved for women of disreputable profession.
In any event, once settled, the lady doctor went to work, and from her medicine bag came a concoction called Ngozimycin-Penta-Nairate–A five-element, Naira-burning compound (with a floating factor), formulated as follows:
SAP = Structural Adjustment Program (A common panacea from IMF/WB medicine chest/cabinet)
SR = Subsidy Removal (An anti-human standard component of SAP)
HB = Horrendous Borrowing (a painful element based on Ngozi’s own fuzzy logic)
P = Privatization (A floating factor used for dosage adjustment)
DS = Diezanium Sulphate (A toxic compound developed by Diezani Alison. It is used to cause money to disappear in astounding amounts)
EC = Economic Coma (The crippling side-effect of inoculation overdose)
Leave it to some of our PhDs to claim so much education, but never appreciate the value of “applied knowledge”. That is, the ability to adapt skill to particular situation, taking into account prevailing salient peculiarities. Some Nigerian PhDs will rather transfer “knowledge” lock, stock and barrel, compared to PhDs from other countries. For instance, while Brazilian Economists from Rio University, along with Finance Minister, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a Sociologist! were able to craft unique solution—Plano Real (Real Plan), to pull their economy out of the doldrum in the 1990s, our Dr. Ngozi chose to come home and regurgitate the Bretton Woods instructions that she had swallowed in whole. Hence, Ngozimycin-Penta-Nairate.
The implementation of this new concoction began with that brutal kick in the teeth called subsidy removal, one of the cardinal elements of IMF’s long-standing compound medicine called Structural Adjustment Program (SAP)–A panacea commonly shoved down the throat of ailing economies, especially, less developed countries. The common excuse is that, government spending has to be curtailed. Therefore, the logic is that, one of the causes of Nigeria’s chronic ailment is unnecessary government spending in favor of the poor, in the form of petrol subsidy. As such, it was necessary to remove fuel subsidy. It didn’t matter that those who are quite familiar with the petroleum industry (e.g. Prof. Tam David-West, Gen. Buhari) screamed themselves hoarse to alert Nigerians that, whatever was being bandied around as subsidy must be something else, namely, corrupt embezzlement of government funds. However, when poor Nigerians thought that they were living in a democracy and therefore, took to the streets to protest this “injustice”, Superintendent Ebele said he didn’t “give a damn” to have these poor Nigerians killed. So, as Sheppopotamus will put it, ‘They were killed until they died’.
When Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi decided to raise alarm about the $49billion missing from the Federation Account, little did the governor realize that he has just stumbled upon the effect of Diezanium Sulphate. As it turned out, the supervising duo (Ebele-Okonjo) thought they should just ignore the ‘trouble maker’. However, it would appear that they also managed to call a secrete meeting to alert relevant parties that ‘our internal trouble maker is at it again, peeing inside’. So, before he goes ‘peeing outside’, everybody should do “the needful”–cook the books, reshuffle the papers, move the numbers several digits around, stall as long as possible, and simply cover their tracks; maybe then, we can get the ‘pin-headed’ zealot to ‘eat crow’. But that strategy didn’t seem to have worked quite well, or how else did we end up with discrepancy ($12b vs. $10.8b) even after the so-called reconciled figures. Regardless of what theatrics have been played out in public on this matter, one thing is certain, we now have people in government, who “Kamkpe-raniously” (i.e. unflichingly) share/possess the wealth of the nation. In fact, every philistine whose house used to sit on stilts in the creek now owns a mansion in Abuja.
While we are still wrestling with these $49b, $12b, $10.8b figures, a second wave of ‘he said, she said’ over missing gazillion of Naira at NNPC is starting to unfold. In a recent appearance before the Senate Finance Committee, the unrelenting CBN Governor spilled the bean again, that some $20billion is missing, under the guise of a non-existent kerosene subsidy. Somehow, it seems like we are going to continue experiencing this game of “show me the money”, “hide and seek”, or what have you, at least until the end of Sanusi’s tenure. As is always true of those who covet higher position but, are averse to responsibility, Ngozi has started distancing herself from the controversial missing money, by saying that NNPC has been asked to offer explanation for the missing billions of dollars; never mind that she wears the badge of Co-ordinating Economic Minister, and is getting paid accordingly. Now she has no ‘coordinating’ knowledge of how these phenomenal volumes of money are disappearing from the Federation Account.
Furthermore, recently, we have been hearing some murmuring from some political harlots (e.g. Ibrahim Shekarau, Old Tanko Yakasai), who are falling over themselves to collect their betrayal allowance. Maybe we might eventually trace the missing dollars to these people. After all, Governor Babangida Aliyu had already hinted us that there are about 400 of them. Perhaps they are beginning to step forward to answer their names. Even Bello Haliru Muhammed, former Defence Minister who was punted out of office for no apparent reason, has recently re-surfaced in Aso Rock to take his place in line for the standard “Ghana must go bag”. Leave it to our political charlatans to display flabbergasting amount of trust deficit. If these scoundrels had not made politics a prominent industry, perhaps Nigeria might have had a chance to move ahead.
PRIVATIZATION (a.k.a. “Cabal-iscious” [i.e. for cronies only] Distribution of Wealth)
For Ngozi, if you slaughter a chicken, and it does not remain dead, you must “privatize” it. She apparently believes in that warped trickle down theory of “Them that’s got are them that gets”. Hence, the unwarranted, unjustifiable re-distribution/repossession of means of production from the public to some hand-picked, self-agrgrandizing, unrepentant cabal. Rather than getting to the bottom of the failings of our public agencies, and therefore, design sound solutions, Nigeria’s parastatals are being privatized at every drop of the hat, because doing so is more consistent with Bretton Woods instructions. This is why for instance, we saw our spastic electricity delivery agency traverse some strange alphabet soup of acronyms: NEPA–>PHCN–>GENCOS–>DISCOS. What an acronym, that last one. That in itself should tell Nigerians what the captain of the rudderless ship thinks of the passengers. Ajaokuta steel industry has been bouncing in and out of different ownership, including the now ubiquitous Chinese. Our oil industry is also filled with “portfolio investors”–in clear contravention of the stringent rules put in place by previous military administrations. People who hardly understand the intricacies and technicalities of the oil industry are now principal actors in the business. In fact, one of these unscrupulous, fly-by-night operators was said to be a hair dresser or jewelry maker, who “happened” to have the right connection, and is therefore “permitted” to lift crude oil. Even the oil refineries themselves have not be spared this abominable atrocity. How about that customs/importation waiver fraud extended to cabal only?
No doubt Voodoo Economist Iweala has definitely made it clear that, she has no qualm turning Nigeria into a rentier state. This is why the privatization factor in the formula, is a floating factor that can be adjusted–hard right, hard left, hard any which way, depending on which cabal is paying for the favor.
HORRENDOUS BORROWING (a painful element based on Ngozi’s own fuzzy logic)
Despite the damaging effects of subsidy removal, the toxic consequences of Diezanium Sulphate, and the punishing result of privatization, Nigeria has refused to croke. So, our doctor buckled up to deliver more devastating body blows. If “cattle rustling” (via theft of public wealth) is not going to cripple Nigeria, Ngozi figures, then saddle the chump with bushels of debt, in trillions of dollars. Let us recall that it was the same Ngozi who, during her first incarnation was beaming with pride that she had helped to relieve Nigeria of the country’s debt burden, but is now trying very hard to outdo herself to bury the nation in insurmountable debt.
All of a sudden, Nigeria’s economy that has been raking in baskets full of money due to unprecedented increase in oil price, is now being encouraged—at every turn–to borrow money (to finance God knows what), sometimes to the tune of centillion of Naira; figures that, if you were to try to imagine the number, you are sure to short-circuit your brain. Nigerians are not even expected to know the cost of the borrowing. No details about the terms of the national debt, except that the loans are from China, India, or whatever country in the world is adept at doing shady business. In fact, Nigerians are not even supposed to see proof of what the debt is being spent on, only that, they have to put up with the sight of motormouth Liar-baran Maku routinely dispatched to go around fibbing about some unsubstantiated, unverifiable achievements for which the borrowed money has been supposedly spent. Once in a while, the deaf-by-design chief superintendent will also come out to amplify those lies, sometimes from the pulpit of a church. (To think that some people keep telling us that politicians from other parts of the country want to Islamize Nigeria, even though we hardly see them running to mosques to make policy statements from the Minbar).
Poor Nigeria, instead of becoming an emerging economy, it is taking a prominent position as a submerging economy, with high rate of unemployment, unprecedented spending by the executive, stupendous reliance on foreign debt, all thanks to the overdose of Ngozimycin-Penta-Nairate. Now we know that Ebele-Okonjo agenda is, as Pastor Bakare put it, “to bankrupt Nigeria”. It is becoming apparent, that Ngozi believes in absolute free market in a virtual zero/mono market economy. You would think that a developing country will know to choose a patriotic Development Economist, with adequate and relevant problem solving skill to manage its growth agenda. But, alas, Superintendent Ebele “doesn’t give a damn”. Remember when team Buhari/Soleye/David-West crafted that trade by barter strategy to circumvent IMF’s SAP, while keeping the economy afloat? Well, gone were those days. We are now faced with the excruciating reality that, what we have for Minister of Finance is actually, “Abdul-IMF” (Servant of IMF).