I do not hate Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is the President of Nigeria today. I think he is a great politician and strategist – possibly the greatest in this generation. But he is not an economist and he doesn’t seem to know much in that regards, just like many politicians.
The real issue facing this nation today, the real elephant in the room of national liberation, the cruz, the main thing which should be in the front burner of national political discourse now is the economy, not politics. Once you miss this you have missed the real issue and you can’t even see where rain is beating Nigeria.
Our leaders are concerned about politics and positioning. Appointments are being made not for merit per se but based on expected dividends and payback value when the time of the next election cycle comes due. Our rulers are good about politics. And they are good about taking care of themselves and watching their back. But there is one major fact they forget: without a sound economy there will be no politics and no nation or polity to politicise.
Failure of the economy is usually the warning signal and signpost that even politics is about to fail. Democracy is good and people love it but not more than they love their own soul.
Every democracy that has failed first began with the failure of the economy. Every collapse of the Civil Rule has always being preceded by failure or signs of failure of the economy. Either the rigging of election or failure or distress in the economy.
How did the Second Republic fail?
It began with distress in the economy. In 1982 Shehu Shagari made his national broadcast to announce his Austerity Measures as a result of oil glut and reduction of price of oil in the International market and loss of revenue to Nigeria. It was the first time some of us heard the word – “austerity”. We didn’t even know that it existed in the dictionary. I remember getting to College and my room mates asking for my bag of provisions and I responded: Austerity, which attracted general laughter.
Now this is where I am going. From the night in 1982 that Shagari announced his Austerity measures to the December 31, 1983 when the voice of Sani Abacha rent the airwaves – ” I Brigadier Sani Abacha…”; was just a matter of few months. In other words from the moment Shagari announced austerity measure and publicly admitted that the economy was in tatters his days were numbered.
That is what I am saying. And politicians of today don’t seem to get it.
Before then in 1981 Chief Obafemi Awolowo had in a letter warned Shehu Shagari of the impending danger of the ship of state hitting the rock because of mismanagement of the economy. He had warned Shagari to take measures to arrest the drift in the economy. [Just as I have been warning since the days of Jonathan, Buhari and now.]
As usual Shagari and his NPN goons led by Chuba Okadigbo rained insults on the old man. But when in 1982 Shagari himself admitted and publicly announced measures then they were silent. It was now too late. If they had listened to the “voice of wisdom” from the old man in 1981 we might not have had austerity measure and possibly the coup of Abacha.
I stand today to warn this crop of politicians that they should learn from history. As Awo warned the politicians of his day I am warning the politicians of our day. If the economy fails politics too or democracy too won’t be able to stand.
Few weeks ago I penned a small note meant to be circulated within my own WhatsApp Group among my followers and mentees. I titled it Why Defend the Naira? Why Not Instead Defend the Industrial Capacity of Nigeria
It was purely to be circulated among my groups but to my surprise it went viral on all the Platforms. I received so many calls, texts, messages by people asking me the way forward including top members in the hierarchy of APC. People too are concerned and disturbed yet our politicians are not worried and not bothered.
When I wrote the piece, naira was exchanging for N980/ $1; now it is N1049/$1 in the black market.
Prices are now rising everyday and every week. Business men who are not careful these days will lose because even while the quotation is being submitted the prices of items in the market have already changed.
Food inflation has now entered the picture. That is the direst sign that an economy has entered real trouble.
Few months ago we bought a bag of rice for N31,000 but today it is above N52,000. Meanwhile income and opportunities are not increasing.
Cost cutting measures even for average household are now irrelevant and difficult. I went to deliver a Lecture on Saturday at another part of Lagos. The cab driver was ready to collect N20,000 from me to take me from Akute to Egbe and back after the lecture. I decided to try and drive myself to save cost. At the end I spent almost N16,000 driving myself. I should have allowed the cab driver to take me and save myself body pains driving.
That is the situation today. You cannot even cut costs because it is impossible. The drivers themselves are complaining.
Now think of the poor, think of the down and outer, think of the low earners. If an employer is complaining think of the employees. Yet in the midst of this wanton privations and collective immiseration our rulers move on like they have no hands or part of this tragedy, this accident waiting to happen. Heady, puffed-up like a toad frog, cold as a doorknob they sail on as if they are not part of this unfolding story, this calamity moving towards everyone.
The news coming out of the nation’s capital make one sad and to question the humanity or even saneness of those we call leaders. Unfeeling, indifferent to human sufferings and want.
In the midst of these came the news that our 360 lawmakers are to be gifted with a prado jeep each costing enormous fortune for “the hard task they are performing.”
Have you seen the bloated size of our Federal Executive, about 50 ministers and retinue of aides,… In an economy that is depressed and technically in recession. Never has a set of rulers so captured and enslaved their citizens so completely, totally and deliberately as what we are witnessing in Nigeria. The only refuge Nigerians have for weak protest fleeting complaints is the Social Media where they sing their dirge to themselves. And even that little window will soon be taken from them through regulation. Then, the capture is complete.
Now our debt has ballooned to unmanageable levels. Inflation is now weekly and the value of the naira – a standard gauge of the health of an economy – has sunk to bottomless pit and in a free fall.
The problem I have with APC faithfuls is that they make so much noise and engage in so much grandstanding and they know very little. They are good at propaganda and noise but poor on intellection, Logic, depth. They don’t even understand how Economics work. If you corner their leaders and even officials and take them up you understand they are not even sound economically. Their philosophy is a false one. They believe in debts and accumulation of debts as a tool of development. Go and research every state where APC rules – Lagos, ( under Tinubu Fashola, Ambode) Oyo, (under Ajimobi) Ogun, (under Amosun) Osun ( under Aregbesola) and Ekiti (under Fayemi), what you see is a long list of financial wreckage that generations will labour to pay. That was the false philosophy that Muhammadu Buhari brought to Abuja and that has left us in this mess. Think of how our debts ballooned under Buhari – an innocent man who does not know his left from right economically. Twice I sent Memos to him on the day of his inauguration to save Nigeria from disaster based on the path he pursued during his first term. Unfortunately, as Rotimi Amaechi observed, the man doesn’t read. Even his minister’s memos.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the grandmaster of the school of this false doctrine, this perverse philosophy of development has not disappointed his crowd as he has already amassed a large chunk of debt already within 5 months. Borrow and spend, with no thought for tomorrow and the future generation. Nothing about cutting luxuries, wastes, expenses… No, just spend and spend. Welcome, Lagos big boy. ‘Eko for show’.
You would wonder why they still have to borrow so much after removing subsidy on fuel. What happens to the saving from subsidy? The more you look the less you see, as the magician Professor Peller would say.
But do these people know that the more debts Nigeria has the lower the quality of the currency descends? Do they know that the lower the quality of the currency the more difficult for industries and manufacturing concerns to operate? And the more money you will need to pay back your debts? Do they realize that the more debts and the lower the quality of the currency so also the lower the quality of life in Nigeria?
I do not hate APC but I am opposed to this party because it is built on false economic models and philosophy – the philosophy of the market and of the neo-liberal economic framework, propelled by the IMF/ World Bank School of enslavers who never wants any black nation free. I find it so ironic that a party who promises “renewed hope” is wedded to the same neo-liberal framework that has destroyed the industrial base and economic potentials of Nigeria since it was first instituted through SAP in 1988. I find it so ironic that a party that claims to be fronting progressive ideals and social-welfare ideology is enslaved to foreign imperialist economic models and false philosophy that will ruin Nigeria beyond redemption.
I do not hate Bola Ahmed Tinubu but I must tell him that the economic path he is embarking on is a ruinous one for this nation and for democracy. I must warn in closing that in the day that the economy of Nigeria finally fails, democracy too cannot survive.
Politicians are living like kings and queens while the masses wallow in squalor. They need to understand that the survival of democracy depends on the thriving of the economy and the prosperity for all.
Moses Oludele Idowu is a professor of Ecclesiastical Theology and Human Development.