Audacity of the Sanusi’s Tsunami - By: Idumange John

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I first used the term audacity when I was a Sanitary Prefect in Nembe National Grammar School, Nembe in Bayelsa State. In the early 1980's we were told that there had to be a difference between we who attended “Grammar Schools” and others. One distinctive mark then was the way and manner the grammar school boys used their communication skills to mesmerize the rest of them. It was for this reason too that students at that time had an annoying habit of speaking grammar or vocabulary that captured their fancy. I can vividly recall how a junior student feigned a loud cough at the Students' Assembly where my friend and I were officiating at morning devotion. “Who gave you the audacity to cough like that? I thundered! We explained the term audacity to mean rudeness and the exhibition of behaviour that is anti-authority. We were indeed audacious in speaking high sounding vocabularies (though not like the verbosity of Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon in the hallowed Chambers), but certainly we did not have the temerity to challenge our seniors because of the high moral discipline that existed in the system. In 1982, we had the audacity to overrun one of the oldest Secondary Schools in Port Harcourt in a zonal quiz contest; we eventually came third in the finals at the national level. That was audacity ornamented in academic brilliance.

Therefore when Barak Hussein Obama – that Afro-American who is now the legitimate occupant of the White House wrote a book titled “The Audacity of Hope” the 288 page book published on October 17, 2006 laid out in very graphic terms, the story of race relations and inheritance in America, and the thoughts of reclaiming the American Dream. Now, this dream has been reclaimed.

I could not help but reflect on the audaciousness with which we spoke grammar. Audacity, after all is not an avant-garde, synonymous with Barak Obama's audacious hope of realizing the prophesies of Martin Luther King on the possibility of a black man to occupy the White House. America being a product of intense racist ideology, by virtue of her historical and cultural circumstances, it is indeed audacious for the son of an immigrant to aspire to the highest office of the land.

I plead for liberty to use the term audacity and audacious very profusely throughout this essay. Even before the popularization of dialectic materialism as a sophisticated paradigm for class analysis, Keynesian, Malthusian and other neo-classical economists have postulated that economic reforms are necessitated and underscored by efforts geared towards solving problems hence every reform effort has its own peculiar historical circumstances. Reforms are not carried out for their own sake or for intellectual sophistry; reforms are designed to solve problems for the greatest number of people in a utilitarian sense. Again since reforms are carried out in the interest of the people (not a privileged few)- the people affected by the reforms are usually given time to consider if such measures are indeed in their own interest. Moreover, economic reforms are supposed to be given sufficient latitude to be experimented to enable people evaluate their direct and spill-over effects. That is why an overdose of reforms is sometimes more debilitating that the ailment itself.

The inter war years saw a monumental dislocation of the greatest capitalist economies in the World. The Great Economic Depression of 1929-30 prompted the world to embark on economic reforms. Europe which was the theatre of the Great War came up with the Marshal Plan. The Marshal Plan achieved a modicum of success because the reformers were sincere. Germany confused the Wall Street crisis with the betrayal and treachery of the technocrats dominated by the Jews, but rather than save the ailing economy the Third Reich was deluded to believing that the Jews were at the root of the crisis hence the holocaust. Hitler's economic reforms were predicated on a deluded paradigm and distorted ideology hence they were twisted to serve his own megalomania.

In the United States of America, Roosevelt in 1933 introduced poverty alleviation measures aimed at palliating the hardship of the people. Such are the firefighting measures taken in a capitalist society that will not work in Nigeria. Indeed economic matters cannot be subjected to firefighting; they can only be solved with proper, systematic and coordinated planning based on real life conditions. The economic policies of the advanced capitalist countries have never been implemented by prayer warriors or leaders of religious episcopacy.

Nigerians are a real audacious people, audacious in their hopes that Nigeria will be launched in to the big league of the 20 foremost industrialized economies in the year 2020 when the nation is in darkness. Sadly, those propounding that utopian theory have not shown us a clear roadmap for achieving that feat. Rather what is now in vogue is the introduction of fasting and prayer as the panacea for our economic woes (Thanks to Governor Rotimi Amaechi who ordered the throwing out of the prayer warriors in Brick House). There are some States in Nigeria where people are paid to fast and pray for the economic wellbeing of the State. Some government agencies have capitalized on the efficacy of fasting and prayer, but rather than judiciously utilize the funds accruing to them, they urge their staff to do fasting and prayer as if the economy of Japan was turned around by the Shinto Chief priests who regularly visit the Kuzumi Shrine. Economies are turned around by technocrats not prayer warriors.

A nation's currency can only be strengthened in value ala purchasing power if the country is producing more for export than it is importing. This is also a measure that explains the vagaries of her balance of trade and balance of payment. How can Nigeria's Naira be re-valued when our productive potentials are lying prostrate? Economists do not prophesy, their predictions are based on the real conditions of the material world and not the utopianism of some paradisiacal bliss. Nigeria's economic malaise cannot be remedied by intellectual sophistry that is unrelated to real life situations. Nigerians will certainly remember him when there is need to fix another round of debt forgiveness and IMF politics. He was a bad economist but certainly not as bad as the Boko Haram fundamentalists who now export terrorism made in Yemen in Al Qaeda's factories.

I am one of those Nigerians who advocated the sack of the former CBN Chief because as a Professor of Economics people expected much from him. True to our advocacy, his tenure was not renewed and he returned to the warm embrace of his kinsmen at a time he had already become a liability. He is now vying for the coveted position of Governor under a very corrupt political platform- the Peoples Democratic Party. It is only in Nigeria that a man with such a pedigree – a bourgeois apologists and an unrepentant neoliberal IMF fifth columnists can be voted to cause further damage to the economy of Anambra State.

The privatization exercise in Nigeria in the past was a clever trick to transfer the ownership of public corporations to private investors, but the Dangote's and Odutola's will argue strenuously that their aim is to make such corporations work. The underlining basis is that capitalism presupposes a condition of perfect competition, but in reality businessmen use the term competition to shield the severe rivalry or war for sharing profits. Thus the plain rule that guides privatization is the transfer of whatever belongs to the State to private profiteering vampires who suck away the economic vitality of the nation and impose misery on them. That is why privatization will never work in Nigeria where capitalism with its inherent contradictions has been twisted in favour of class interest. Obasanjo had perfected such plans and he would have realized them if the life span of his administration was elongated.

When a nation creates an enabling environment with adequate guarantee for safety of lives and investment, foreign investors will scramble for investment opportunities in Nigeria. The basics such as power supply, security, good roads etc are not just there. Nigeria's economy is like an asphyxiated man gasping for breathes. Such an economy needs first aid before a major surgical operation. I am not an economist but Soludo and his reform-minded capitalists should understand Leontief's interindustry analysis, that the duality of industrialization and technological innovation are principal factors in economic growth. In an earlier article, I had proposed that Nigeria has frog leaped two critical stages of development those of techno-politics and technolysis. For 49 years we have adopted technogenesis as a development paradigm and that is why we have barely taken off. Nigeria has remained a fragile nation with a “Soft Economy” comparable to Burundi, Cambodia, Congo Democratic Republic, Guinea Bissau, Kosovo and Laos which are characterized by weak institutions, poor governance, low standard of living, high inflation rate, high maternal and infant ,mortality rates and other bad statistics.

Thus when the new CBN Chief Sanusi Lamido came on board, most Nigerians including this writer, hailed the decision in the conviction that he would consolidate on the areas of strength initiated by his predecessor and radically reform those gray areas that have attracted a nugget of criticism. One of such area is the management of inflation through the use of macro-economic policies. Nigeria operates a crude oil mono-culture economy which must be diversified else the naira would further witness a free fall. Again, the CBN in conjunction with EFCC would work out an effective mechanism to retrieve all the stolen wealth stashed array in coded accounts abroad and declare such monies in such a manner as to promote transparency and accountability. In the past, monies so recovered were not declared and this official attitude of government is a mystification of the whole exercise and the eager public cannot but regard it as a grandiose fraud.

Across time and space, the overarching goal of any administration is job creation because of its attendant, unquantifiable spill-over benefits. Accordingly, Nigerians expected that when he discovered the rot in the system and initiated the Nigerian brand of the economic stimulus package, most people expected that the banks would be strengthened to expand the real sectors and create more jobs for the legion of unemployed and unemployable graduates in the country. Nigerians believed that this macro-economic objective was achievable if money laundering qua high profile corruption was put in check.

Sanusi was also hailed when he openly declared that the ubiquitous seven-point agenda were unrealistic even though the gods of Aso Rock insisted that the seven points are so strewn together that one cannot be implemented without the other, reinforcing the same amalgam approach Nigeria's economic carpenters have always adopted to tread the languid, bumpy road to the cul-de sac of inertia. People therefore believed that the new helmsman would deliver a historic responsibility to lift Nigeria from the dungeon of anomie to the pinnacle of hope, prosperity and development.

Yes, Saunsi made a critical menu of choices, administered a dose of bitter pills; some may be lethally anti-establishment, anti-PDP and negative the aura if invincibility associated with some of the untouchables who under various guises perspicaciously suffocated the political economy. But recently, the Tsunami being carried out by Sanusi Lamido is becoming suspect. How would Sanusi explain the over 6,000 bank workers just laid off? Why would the CBN Governor want to lavish the support and goodwill he has enjoyed since he started his reforms? Why is the CBN Czar pushing Islamic banking with all his brains and brawns? Is Sanusi actually implementing a Northern Agenda as earlier alleged by a section of corporate Nigeria? I agree that in a free market economy, corporations reserve the rights to downsize but I also know that when such policies are being implemented in the banking sector, the CBN has the statutory responsibility to adopt macroeconomic measures to ensure that such actions are not injurious to the stability of the system.

If Governor Sanusi is a hard-headed reformer, this is the time to act because already the colony of the disillusioned has increased in geometric progression, and this is manifested in unemployment, hunger and poverty in the land. For a nation as graciously as endowed as Nigeria, this nightmarish world of poverty and anomie should have been avoided. Is Sanusi determined to add to the sorrows attendant to the global economic tumble-down? What would be the legacy of a man who combines banking and Arabic scholarship in one bundle of corporate governance? Afflicting more than 90 percent of Nigerian with poverty amidst plenty amounts to genocide. Prior to Farouk Mutallab's adventure, Nigeria would have been penciled down as a State sponsor of terrorism during the Obasanjo junta. Have we accounted for the lives of Bola Ige, Marshall Harry, AK Dikibo and scores of other high profile murders? Is this not domestic terrorism? Today, the prevailing corruption, hunger, poverty and misery are more lethal than dynamite or scud missiles. If the CBN Governor is aware of the intricate relationship between unemployment and poverty, it then behooves Governor Sanusi to take decisions to reverse the trend or be railroaded on the path of slippery slope of failure like his predecessor. Idumange John, wrote from Yenagoa

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