Nigeria…In Many Words, The Money Is Not The Problem, But How To…

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By Prince Charles Dickson, Abuja
Last month the deepening recession gave no respite for consumers in Britain, as inflation rose, and the Pound weakened. There is rising unemployment and inflation rose from 3% in January to 3.2%. While the Pound lost 26% against the Dollar and 16% against the Euro.

In Nigeria, the Naira keeps depreciating against every currency, and while British consumers are paying more for imported vegetables, fruits, wine and meat. Nigerians are paying more for the same products that are available in quantum in their backyard.

Since June last year till last week, the Bank of England Governor Mervyn King has written four letters to the Chancellor of Exchequer explaining why inflation rose by more than 1% point above a 2% target and how he planned to curb or lower it.

In Nigeria, Soludo, a man who means different things to different people has appeared only three times at the National Assembly and his message, is simple. “Nothing dey happen”.

In UK there has been a drop in the cost of electricity and gas to help reduce inflation simply because it is only common sense that a weak consumer demand creates a substantial margin of spare capacity.

When I write like this I often say very categorically that I am not a financial expert or an economist, but I know when poverty is on rampage, I know when a government does not care.

Only last week before I left for Paris, Intercontinental Bank, the Bank with happy customers had to carry paid adverts, the CBN had to intervene even as depositors went to remove their money. The Bank said it was a system, error, others blamed competitors. Even as Zenith was added to the list of Banks that may just fall…Gbam!

Trying to explain to me, one of the Banks staff told me that they were paying staff salaries...bla bla bla…and I believed him, but the issue is beyond paying staff, it is beyond him, and even beyond me. However I want it on record that Nigerians spoke out.

A lot is happening in the global economy and in Nigeria we are carrying on like nothing worries us. The fact that we have the money, the only problem is how to spend it. Mr. Obama is battling to bring a crumbled America at least into a crawling position. Here it is PDP screaming that some ghosts are after their government. And how they will share the loot.

In 2011, another general elections beckon and the only fact, is that it may well be another exercise in rigging as there are few lessons that can be learnt from the past.

The Yar' Adua presidency has been a largely sick one with a seven-point agenda that has been a mirage.

The EU is expressing serious concerns about budget deficits, saying most of its members must curb or find solutions by 2012 by looking for alternative to public spending. Rules are being broken that ordinarily should help but that is a system that recognizes that there is a problem.

Over last month there were several high wire meetings at whether to keep Soludo the CBN Governor or who the likely replacements would be. However in these permutations no one is looking at the health of the system.

Go to buy a simple ball pen and the retailer will tell you about a rise in dollar, understandably so, but how does the woman who sells amala and ewedu rationalize the same rise in her meal. Bus fares have increased, school fees on the rise, no amenities, and this is against the year's budget that came in dead.

No room for infrastructural development, only for pocket development. The Public Relations of reduced salaries for political appointees has come and is gone as no one has stated categorically that this is where we will channel the gains, if any.

As the oil price keeps dropping and we continue to 'wack' the excess crude and then put our sticky fingers into the foreign reserve, one begins to alert us, that it is only a matter of time.

I met a Doctor, in France, he is from Gabon, while we talked, I told him that I was acquainted with the Gabonese Ambassador to Nigeria; he asked me his name and quickly said “you know Gabon is a small country where everybody knows everyone”. Not like Nigeria I said, “You know one state in my country is bigger than yours”, he nodded and added that we are as big as our corruption.

As I defended my country I kept saying in my heart as 'big' as our corruption. A corrupt leadership that has failed to inspire any form of confidence, a lazy leadership, which is working a snail speed for a problem that requires a horse speed to tackle.

In most societies that has been hit by world poverty, the basics still have worked. When Nigeria finally succumbs what will work…because nothing has worked after all.

In Prague, the government lost a parliamentary vote of no confidence, the Prime Minister said he would resign, it had cast doubt on the nation's ability to shepherd the world's biggest trading bloc during a time of economic crisis.

In a discussion with some couple of chaps up there, I have raised my objections to our, 'it's alright attitude', even as our own stock market collapses. But then, lets for once accept that there is no problem. How are we benefiting from the global recession, how are we insulating ourselves…what are we doing, or put the other way, why are we not doing anything?

The post of the Hungry, sorry I meant Hungarian PM has been advertised because the past occupant made sure that the economy was dependent on IMF, made sure that the budget deficit was way higher than 3% of GDP, former Prime Minister Gyurcsany resigned because according to him, he had failed. He had remained largely lame duck PM and could not continue.

In Nigeria, we carry on, and tell ourselves we are Allah's own children, and I ask and whose children are these other nations.

We go on as if, we are not part of the global phenomena, we have the money, and it's just a problem of how to spend it.

Plenty luxury cars, several wives and concubines, girlfriends, a sizeable number of thugs, a buying and selling empire, many titles, traditional, academic, spiritual and life for the average Nigerian politician goes on… like Professor, Dr. Senator, Alhaji, Abdul-Chukwudi Balogun, (JP) the Serikin CBN, Otunba of Minting Company and Aka ji Forex I of Iboland e.t.c continues the plunder. The Almighty Allah sees o!


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