THE CONTINUUM OF HOPE
Second Open Letter to PMB (President Mohammadu Buhari)
By Segun Alade (MBA, ACA, ACIB, ACIPM, AMNIM)
Your Excellency sir, compliments of the season to you and the Nigerian people as we welcome this year 2016 with great hope & expectations. I can see a brighter tomorrow for this great nation.
As typical of any government (whether good or bad) all over the world, it is normal to attract both positive and negative critics/ criticism. And since my first open letter to you on the 1st of April 2015 when you were declared president-elect, I beg to share again with you a few of many concerns in light of review of these past few months.
Your perceived ‘no-nonsense’ body-language is much of a great relief to millions of Nigerians, and this has for the first time in decades woken up many government agencies and sent them strong signal as to the direction of your government. We all of a sudden saw agencies (that have hitherto been indirectly supportive of the atrocities of different players/ companies under their purview confidently taking undue advantage of millions of consumers with so much impunity) risen up to the occasion, sanctioning these corporate sharks that have earlier been untouchable.
Many of us Nigerians are not necessarily particular about the caliber of people in your cabinet as I am very certain that a herd of sheep led by a lion will always certainly defeat a pride of lion led by a sheep. This giving credence to my ‘one-man leadership’ theory in my first letter to you. Just as the saying goes, “people hardly do what is expected, but what is inspected”. Without a clearly written/ agreed performance contract for each of your ministers and parastatal heads, clearly showing their deliverables and what results MUST be produced by their ministries/ agencies each month or quarter, your CHANGE agenda may only be a mirage. Your ministers need to know that there are grave consequences for them for not delivering on their periodic performance contract, otherwise it will be business as usual again for them while the entire Nigeria keeps piling all the blame on you.
It is often very laughable how this perceived world-power easily control the governments of developing/ under-developed countries through their conditionalities, predictions and forecasts about the economies of such countries including Nigeria. The truth be told, majority of these forecasts/ predictions are not in the interest of the country neither are they mostly based on truthful grounds. We will be under illusion to think that IMF and the likes is firstly protecting Nigeria’s interest as against their own interest. It never has and perhaps never will, and as a matter of fact, they are always afraid of developing countries becoming too strong & powerful for their control. As much as IMF is entitled to its own opinion and predictions, our government must know that, the outcome of research/forecast of IMF and the likes is largely precipitated on their pre-determined/ desired outcome which is often tilted towards forcing the hands of weak government to do their caprices. Their economic hit-men are heavily paid to ensure that. If Nigeria learns anything at all from history, we don’t need a fortune-teller to tell us this, as this can be seen in the history of IMF’s involvement in the economy of Nigeria & other developing/ under-developed countries for several decades now. In the light of this, despite some positivism of these institutions, our government must be wary of these interests which is not often in Nigeria’s best interest.
I have seen and read with keen interest the diverse view of various people on removing/ not-removing fuel subsidy or modulating the pricing. Irrespective of how high and mighty those advising you on this matter are, embedded in this is another deceit/ blackmail of the highest order designed to set your Excellency against the good people of Nigeria while shifting focus away from what really matter. Just a few months ago, when a litre of petrol was N97, one of the greatest industrialists that God has really blessed this nation with said he had concluded plans to build a refinery reportedly with the production capacity above the nation’s daily need. He emphatically said they have done their figures, and even if the government continues to pay subsidy to those fuel importers selling at N97 then, his refinery will still sell their own higher quality fuel PROFITABLY at that same price. It is worthy of note that, this industrialist did his calculations/ refinery business plan when a barrel of crude was selling above $100 per barrel. I can only leave to your imagination how much such refined fuel would have been going for now (assuming the refinery has been concluded) since the price of the major raw material of a refinery is now going for less than half the price of what he projected. The question that begs on my mind is ‘why then are we deceiving ourselves in this nation, and why is it so hard for our government to entice (with all sort of attractions such as tax holidays etc.) more of such God-sent industrialists to follow suit in the building of refinery since it is equally profitable anyway? Why have our focus solely been on removing fuel subsidy when it is clear that fuel subsidy will die a natural death when all these refineries start producing and selling at cheaper rates? Why does government have to make everything look like rocket-science in this country? Whose interest is actually paramount in governance?
Monetary Policy & Devaluation Paradox:
I am of no doubt of the good intentions of the ongoing monetary policies while the various debates on it is amusing. In as much as these monetary policies are laudable, they will be quite counter-productive without corresponding fiscal policies equally vigorously pursued. It is also worthy of note that the past devaluation of Naira by our economic managers is one of the most benighted acts done to this nation. If anything, these mean people responsible for the decimation of our currency to this current level should be investigated, pursued and brought to book. Devaluation of the currency of a non-producing nation under any guise is tantamount to gradually mortgaging its own future while further undermining its potential to harness its production potentials. Falling for this notion of further devaluing the already over-devalued Naira before we become a colossal producer/ exporter nation will only make us a joke amongst the comity of serious nations.
With the fear of being heavily criticized by my co-youths, the planned or proposed N5,000 monthly payment to unemployed youth is what I can best refer to as self-colonisation by a country which is yet to adequately provide the basic infrastructural needs for its country-men. In as much as this is not a bad idea, it does no good to the general populace, as first and foremost, the N5,000 stipend cannot even meet their very basic monthly needs, while the hundreds of billions of naira which will be expended on this idea annually can actually perform great magic to the infrastructural development of this great country. Not to get me wrong, social welfare is a critical duty of any government, but when a government with dwindling resources is yet to ameliorate the basic infrastructural need of its country which will naturally aid job creation for many of these youth (whom we want to indirectly enslave with this N5,000 monthly stipend), then such social welfare will be counter-productive. And I beg to say that the result of this according to the human need will be both undue influence from the high & mighty and an agitation for the increment of this stipend after a while and so on and so on, thereby creating another monster difficult to handle in the future. I understand the political blackmail of fulfilling campaign promises, well it may not be a bad idea for your campaign strategists to apologise for any mis-calculated promise(s) as true leaders know that apology is not necessarily a sign of weakness but a sign of strength (if well articulated), or otherwise show the youths the better alternatives which this government will provide their vast majority in the short, medium and long run.
In conclusion, your government should be mindful that, as much as it has represented a continuum of hope to this great nation, hope over-stretched without commensurate and prompt result will dent your credibility and integrity. As much as we don’t expect you to be a magician, but as stated in my earlier letter, transforming Nigeria is not rocket science as some lethargic leaders will make it seem.
May Nigeria rise to greatness in earnest!!!
Olusegun Alade (MBA, ACA, ACIB, ACIPM, AMNIM)
1st January 2016