Wow! So Nigeria finally succumbed after all the millions, billions and trillions disfarahan? We have been asked for several years: how much money is in that Country when so much keeps on disappearing? We wish we know how much we lost, actually nobody knows for sure. What is surprising is that the Country is still standing. Right now there is a consensus between the ruling Party and the Opposition that we are on our way to the poor house. Lower prices! I doubt it.
Some of you might have been too young when General Gowon declared that our problem is not money but how to spend it. When this writer told people he was in Nigeria when Gowon was the Head of State, he was told everyone they know got rich then. Instead of keeping quiet, he also said he was in Nigeria when Shagari was the President. Anyone not rich during the time of Gowon or Shagari, must have got a curse on him!
Economic recession is usually a slowdown in economic activities over a period of time like two or three quarters in a business circle which our people have endured for even longer period of time. In the western countries, it will qualify for a depression that lasts for two or more years.
One would expect that in a deflation where there is a negative inflation rate, the general price level of goods and services would decrease below zero percent; not in Nigeria. All prices keep going up just as we pay more when African currencies are devalued on foreign experts' advice. What do you expect when only less than one third of economic activities are between Africans?
Deflation by negative price index may be good if naira is not devalued. We have gone through recession. Indeed we had depression with the rest of the world. Note the difference between these terms though. Economists and other academics have technical definitions but the man on the street has another definition that is acceptable to most. A popular one is that if you know people that are out of jobs, that is a recession but if you are out of a job that is a depression O!
Awolowo whose achievement was fueled mainly by agriculture, warned Shagari's Government Nigeria would go broke. Mismanaged economy and liberal imports killed textile. Not even Awo predicted this level of poverty in the land flowing with wara, honey where any crop grew if we only plant. He was ridiculed by R. Akinjide and called Prophet of Doom. Little intra-African trade, in Africa's total trade over the past decade was only about 11%, compared to 70% with Europe .
Africans must kill an inferiority complex that we can only be rich when we trade with Americans and Europeans not with ourselves at home or with Africa. We must not forget that Groundnuts, Cocoa, Coal, Palm Oil, from North, East and West of Nigeria gave us more in terms of quality of life than our new found oil wealth crooks looted away. While West Africa achieved relatively growth of 6% in 2014 despite its battle with the Ebola virus; slowly and gradually, Nigeria's growth of 6.3% came mainly from non-oil sectors showing that the economy is diversifying.
The irony of all these is that African markets in general and Nigerian business in particular never respond to the economic model taught in foreign schools. Applying old wine to new bottles will always fail. Yet, those that are looting the treasury are preaching austerity measures to tighten our belts for another roller coaster ride. Any further belt tightening, stomachs would burst PAU!
We have this mentality that the best managers of our treasury are foreign employed and trained staff of International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Paris Club etc. that can navigate the trick and complexity of African aspiration. After devastated us accordingly, the so called experts go back to their masters where they are recognized with foreign jobs and awards. Well done!
Another case in point: Money Nigerians pour into the so called “American” or “English” schools. If they can only spend half of it with parents' participation in many neighborhood schools, these private schools will have good competition from locals but they will never survive with the little starving salaries they pay local teachers while their “expatriates” are handsomely paid. Apart from teaching children how to “speak like European and American” what else do they offer?
Poor people complain too much. Well, Saro say na poor I poor, no be craze I craze. What an excuse from a poor man, eh! One can now understand why they sent their children to Jakande School in FESTAC. No wonder, the mothers told some wives we have gone crazy by sacrificing the children for Jakande's cause: “Our families do not send children to such primary schools”.
The only way to understand this is that some Jakande's schools, especially the one in FESTAC and another by Eric Moore in Surulere were run like private schools mainly because of parents' participation in those areas. FESTAC was the best town in Nigeria where the houses and streets were pretty and smooth even better than American cities. If you got out of FESTAC town, you could not wait to get back home, sweet home. Boy, that is now history!
What has this got to do with broke-ass Nigeria? Our mentality got us broke. Even after Jakande left Office, many people expressed fears they would never have had the opportunity to own a house but for Jakande. Federal Govt. was forced to compete with states in providing housing, schools spurring private trades and manufacturing jobs. So when we say poverty is relative, it means Nigeria has never had so many poor people with so little, while a few got filthy rich.
We are now in the age of impunity and callousness where the very few dare so many poor people and those that complained are labelled as the enemy of progress or political opponents. We cannot recognize which party is for the masses and the one for the very few rich because crooks are evenly spread across the parties. The masses are so confused; they do not know who is against them or who is using them to acquire more loot into individuals and cronies' pockets.
Written by Farouk Martins Aresa.