Naira devaluation and Subsidy Withdrawal, Where are the Economists?
When Nigerians constantly view issues of critical national interests from cultural and ancestral perspectives, all messengers of diverging opinions will always be slaughtered with unwarranted insults. Why would a sane mind expect the country to march towards greatness with such a mental handicap of not viewing critical issues with national objectivity? When will Nigerians embrace historical events which will allow to mange present conditions and at the same time, make reasonable plans for the future? Nigeria is fully plugged into the global village and no longer has the sole monopoly of determining economic and financial trajectories in the country, because global economic, social and financial activities must surely have unintended consequences. Let the country involve the services of Nigerian professionals in Diaspora (Investment Advisers, Risk Managers and Economists) who have adequate knowledge of global issues.
For months shortly after the general election, the CBN governor formulated monetary policy to presumably help the country conserve the fast depleting foreign reserves; however, Nigerian Economists went into hiding instead of debating about the policy. On October 24th 2015, Thisday News published an article attributed to former CBN Governor Mallam Muhammad Sanusi II, according to the publication; the former governor advised President Muhammadu Buhari and Godwin Emefiele (current CBN governor) to among other things; devalue Naira and withdraw fuel subsidy, and all hail broke loose in the country, because the former Governor was attached from Nigerians, “Truth will continue to be bitter”.
Mallam Muhammad Sanusi is definitely not a stranger in the Nigerian political and economic arena and such germane call of revisiting monetary position in the country should have been an important critical issue for national discourse. For such a call to come from a man who is knowledgeable about the monetary policies in the country, that should have been for Nigerian Economists to rise up in condemning or supporting Sanusi pronouncement on the monetary policy. Economics is one of the fields that ordained experts can never see the same problem from the same angle. Some economists would say that recession is at hand, and other economists in the same country would give you reasons why the economy is growing faster. Let history be the only arbiter of those economists rather than fellow Nigerians that judge them based on religious or tribal orientations.
Nigerians should desist from personal attacks on the integrity of their prudent Leaders and Economists regardless of their positions on economic issues; when the dust clears, Nigerians should be able to know the true, independent minded nonpolitical leaders and Economists in the country. Economists are adjudge by their ability to analyze and make future forecasts, and the masses cannot condemn and sing praises on such future forecasts until confirmed. Read “Nigerian Promising Era” a book published in June 2015 for many predications on Nigeria. The author was bold enough to predict that “President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration might likrly come to an end in 2017 unless overwhelming Nigerians should support him to finish chronic corruption battle; this prediction is purely based on country’s historical facts. If Mr. President should be allowed to leave office before the expiration of his mandate, Naira exchange rate within 30 years should tumble to N22, 000 to $1 (American dollar), so the choice is now open to Nigerians. Before Nigerians should join some corrupt politicians to start tagging Mr. President bad names, let Nigerians remember the unintended consequences of Mr. President not completing his mandate.
Where are Economic professors and other independent minded Nigerians to weigh into such a critical national issue, and make their forecasts known to the public? I asked an independent-minded editor why the mute on such call from the former CBN governor who has a qualified opinion on such issues? He categorically told me that because of religiously divided political terrain and expectations for political appointments from President Buhari, all the economists have gone into hiding. Suffice to say that unless Nigerians are willing to approach issues of critical national interests from renewed mindsets of “Common Interests” the country might be heading towards a tsunami of economic, social and political unrests. All the union members and the likes of Michael Ewansiha (Researcher on the THISDAY board of Economists) should stop attacking Nigerians and non-Nigerian bodies that are calling for Naira devaluation and subsidies withdrawal because the country brought such quandary upon herself. Where were those Economists that are in support of the current monetary policy when the treasury was being looted unabated for over 30 years?
Without trying to sound immodest, I fully supported the call made by former CBN governor on Naira devaluation and fuel subsidy withdrawal, however, I would love to know when our beloved was being looted from one president to another, where were those Trade Unions’ leaders, who are currently rising up to support the ongoing monetary policy that is pulverizing the economic activities in the country? Where were those Trade Union Leaders when Nigerian politicians looted the treasury and shared part of the loots with the masses? Where were the referees (Journalists) that constantly analyze political and economic issues from tribal and envelop-induced viewpoints? Naira devaluation is a price Nigerians must pay for keeping quiet when chronic corruption was eating up the support level of the currency; this will come be a painful lesson for the masses. IMF and World Bank prescription of austerity measures to a country like Nigeria might look ugly, but that was exactly what Nigerians asked for, when they watched their TREASURY looted. The country is completely BROKE and must borrow to finance their fiscal and monetary policies. Nigerians should be reminded that Lenders are the ones that give terms of borrowing and not borrowers.
There is a popular saying that “You can eat your cake and have it” On this note, without fear or favor, I strongly support the call made by Mallam Muhammad Sanusi (former CBN governor) because the impending Naira devaluation and fuel subsidy withdrawal would be part of the painful costs of keeping quiet while the country was being ravaged and looted by chronic corruption for the past 30 years. It is about time that Nigerians learn to accept divergent opinions as ways of marching towards greatness, instead of attacking messengers with bad news. The unity of Nigeria should be determined by the series of ongoing major battles that President Muhammadu Buhari has been engaged in, and unless Nigerians overwhelmingly support him in these battles, the entity called Nigeria might come to an unexpected end by 2020.
How can Nigerians want a great country without paying the bills for greatness? It would not be possible, just as man can go into heaven without first doing away with the highly abused physical body. Change can never be possible without some unintended dissatisfactions and inconveniences, so if Nigeria wants to march towards greatness, the country must have to go through some painful and unwanted inconveniences or else, chronic corruption would fight back with much devastating powers and destroy all gains. Remember what happened when in 1985 when Mr. President attempted to conquer corruption, corruption fought back and took him out of power, and Nigerians must not let such a thing happen again. The same political class that plunged the country into civil war from 1967 -1970, and kicked Muhammadu Buhari out of power in 1986 and in action again; very soon Nigerians would succumb to their tactics. Please get a copy of “Nigerian Promising Era” for more details on the future of Nigeria.
Christopher Okoli (Nigerian-American based Investment Advisor) Dated November 6th 2015