Recession is not Armageddon – Femi Adesina
After ye have suffered a while…
Here comes the preacher. What does he want to tell us? Doesn't he know
that we are hungry, and the din of hunger makes one deaf to reason? The
rumble in our tummies, as the worms compete for the little food left
there, will surely be louder than what anybody can say now.
True? Not exactly. Come, let us reason together.
Father Ejike Mbaka, that fearless priest of the Catholic church, gave an
illustration recently, which I believe was not revealed to him by flesh
and blood. There is hunger in the land, with people severely famished. And
there is ululation, loud enough to deafen the deaf all over again, and
wake the dead from his eternal sleep.
The wailers are wailing so loud, as if Bob Marley had resurrected with his
band, the Wailing Wailers. But hear Fr. Mbaka: somebody came, looted your
kitchen, carried away all the food. He did not even leave you crumbs to
console yourself with. And then comes another person, trying to replenish
your pantry, trying to restock your kitchen.
And then you begin to shout; we are hungry o, we are hungry o, to the
point of distracting and discouraging the new man. Who should you rather
wail and rage against? The man that looted your kitchen, of course.
That is the exact similitude of the position of Nigeria. There is hunger,
lack, and deprivation in the land.
But is it a death knell? Not when the kitchen is being restocked, and we
will soon feed till we want no more.
But what if we are dead before our kitchen gets replenished? What if we
had been knackered by hunger, before the days of plenty come? That is the
purpose of this piece.
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by
Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect,
established, strengthen, settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10). Christianity is the
religion I am most familiar with.
But every religion must surely preach the virtue of godly patience. “After
ye have suffered a while…” Let's look at it closely. You give a single
thing, you get four in return.
What a huge return on investment. You put in suffering (patience, if you
like), and you get this cocktail of blessings : perfect, established,
Buy one, get four free.
Hear who is preaching patience, from the cosy confines of the presidential
villa. He has moved up, and from obscene comfort, he can preach. That was
the insinuation my own brother, Dele Momodu, made in his Saturday column
in Thisday a couple of weeks ago.
He did not mention my name, but I knew he was talking of me. And I
laughed. Obscene comfort, in a Muhammadu Buhari administration?
Funny. Well, I do not know about those who can hustle, and gain advantage
from holding public office. But I can speak for myself. The day God was
distributing the ability to hustle, I probably was not at home, so I have
not been given that ability. And the Good Book says no man does anything,
except it is given to him from above.
The sum total? I am on a national assignment that has cut my legitimate
annual income by one third, so when there is hunger in the land, I go
hungry too. Well, almost. When people talk of lack of money, I
penny-pinch, too. Well, almost.
Let nobody think those in government are insulated from what is happening
in the country. At least, those who have truly come to serve. But those
precious promises hold true any day.
“In the days of famine, my people shall be satisfied.” “The young lion may
lack, and suffer hunger, but those that trust in the Lord shall not suffer
any good thing.” (Ride on, preacher!). In Benin on Monday, President
Buhari spoke at campaign rally of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He declared: “I assure you that we are going to get out of our economic
problems. We are almost out of our security problem and we are going to
make Nigeria great again. We are going to be very proud of our country
I believe it. Implicitly. If I don't, I am then simply wasting time in
government, when I could fare a lot better outside it. But the Daura man
needs people to believe in him. Count me in the number. I had always been,
and will always be a believer in integrity, probity and accountability. It
is good for our country.
The economy has fallen into recession, and after recession comes
depression. Really? Why are some people too eager to believe negative
projections, while shunning the positive? Yes, when you have negative
economic growth for two consecutive quarters, there is business
contraction, and the economy falls into recession. Depression is even
worse. But recession is not Armageddon. It is not a death sentence.
Leading countries of the world had fallen into economic recession at one
time or the other, and they came out of it, to become strong and sturdy
again. Why not Nigeria?
The projection is that by the end of the fourth quarter, we would be on
our way out of recession. I believe it. I do not spend my days expecting a
thunderstorm, and render myself unable to enjoy the rain. “After ye have
suffered a while…” Better days will come again, and under this Buhari
Yes, we shall soon be proud of our country again. Do we forget so easily?
No, we shouldn't. Buhari and his party rode to power last year on the
wings of three main promises, among others: security, anti-corruption, and
economic restoration. The first promise is being roundly and soundly
fulfilled. You can't administer a country you have not secured, the
President keeps saying.
And so, from Sambisa to Sango, in Ogun State, from the creeks of Ikorodu
to those of Niger Delta, even the crocodiles are smiling, knowing that the
country is being secured. From Ogbunike, to Okigwe, and to Okporoza, the
security agencies are proving their mettle.
In the North East, internally displaced people are returning home. Ask
people from Konduga, in Borno State. Roads that had been closed for five
years are reopening. Emirs, who had fled their palaces for many years,
“After ye have suffered for a while…”
Corruption is being given a bloody nose! You do the crime, you serve the
term. A Daniel has come to judgment. In Nigeria, not only are officials
corrupt, but corruption has become official, said Shehu Musa, a former
secretary to the Federal Government.
Well, not anymore. Do the crime, serve the term, is the new singsong.
Stealing has now become corruption, and the battle has just started. The
economy is the third promise. But just as the promise is being kept on the
security and anti-corruption fronts, the economy will also be turned right
side up. After ye have suffered a while…
It is inevitable that we pass through this rough patch in which we
currently find ourselves. Up to the end of 2014, we made an average of
three billion dollars monthly from oil. We whacked everything, officially
and unofficially, nothing put aside for the rainy day. It was a bazaar.
Now the rain is falling, and it is beating us almost mercilessly.
Monthly income from oil has dropped to as low as five hundred million
dollars. From billions to millions. We are running soaked. But after rain
comes the shine. Nigeria not only has a thrifty and prudent leadership,
but also one that will not steal our money. You can't teach an old dog new
tricks, so goes the saying.
Some people are so rapacious that if you keep a boiled egg in their care,
and knowing that a bite on the egg would be quite visible, they then lick
it, so that the egg never goes scot-free. But the good news for us is that
a man who did not bite our egg in his 30s, would not lick it in his 70s.
Our treasury is safe, and we will beat recession. Better days are surely
coming, “after ye have suffered a while…” We trusted Buhari and gave him
our votes in 2015. Let us keep the trust, the confidence, and ride the
storm. In quietness and confidence shall be our strength, not in wailing
and throwing of tantrums.
In private, and in public, President Buhari has acknowledged the tough
times in the land. But he is not throwing up his hands in helplessness.
Problems are meant to be solved, and the government is doing just that.
It's a time of national emergency that calls for cooperation, goodwill,
best wishes, encouragement, even prayers. But some people rejoice,
thinking the government would fail.
Why do the heathens rage, and the people imagine vain things? Wasn't the
siege on Samaria so terrible that they began to boil their children to
eat? And then came Prophet Elisha, who told them, “Tomorrow about this
time, shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel.” Did it happen?
It did. But the scoffers, the unbelieving, did not partake of it. Things
will turn in Nigeria, and it would be for our good.(I can see everything
turning around, turning around, turning around for our good).
If you faint in the days of adversity, your strength is small. Good
Nigerians will not faint, rather, they will trust, pray and encourage the
man restocking their kitchens. As sure as day follows the night, better
things will come, and will not delay. The troubles of the present are not
worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed, “after we have
suffered for a while…”.
Adesina is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu
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