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Recession is not Armageddon – Femi Adesina

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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,

strengthened, settled.
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

once again.”
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,

have returned.
“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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