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It Takes More Than The Politicians To Loot Africa Dry

By Farouk Martins Aresa
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Did Presidential Candidate Atiku Abubakar just preach floating Naira and devaluation again? Just when one is staying away from the major old political warhorses and pray that the common man would open his eyes and realize we have to choose younger and conscientious African oriented folks as President, one of them like Atiku revealed his motive.

Adeshina Fagbero-Byron, Omoyele Sowore, Obi Ezekwesili, Nuhu Ribadu and a host of other decent politicians are not getting the attention they deserve. Ghana may not have as much resources as Nigeria but they have produced better Presidential candidates and Presidents.

Are African countries better off today than they were before their economy was forced to “liberalized” or “float” their currencies? Foreign currencies were illegal at one point. It was so restrictive in Nigeria, innocent people trying to pay workers traveling overseas with them were convicted. Fela Onikulapo Kuti was convicted even when all he had was about the same amount allowed by each member of his crew. Chief Harold Shodipo was also convicted at one point. These were under Military rule. Now everyone plays the game to exhaust foreign reserve.

The worst blow are delivered by some academicians trained in the theory of economic domination at the same western and eastern universities that never served African interest. While suffering under the yoke of dwindling foreign reserve open to all, they also came up with Structural Adjustment and as if that was not enough, they topped it up with devaluations. They all resulted in double devastating blows of sucking economic lives out of Africa.

Before each of these economic measures were introduced, most African economists played the game while a few of their colleagues warned of disaster. Both Structural Adjustment and Devaluation were preached for the sake of liberalized market. The usual argument is that as African goods, services and natural resources are made cheaper, more of it would be exported generating businesses and jobs. Who is fooling who?

Since Independence, each of these measures has dug a bigger hole for African countries and they have never been able to recover. In actual fact, Africa lost resources, bought dirt cheap. African currencies became worthless and jobs creation unable to cope with the population. We have been able to point to the increase in the number of schools and colleges. Even those lost their reputation without enough income to fund them.

The best time to deliberate vigorously on the consequences of Structural Adjustment and devaluation is when both or either is not imminent. It gives room for debate without acrimonious defenses or personal grudges. In all the past cases, the discussion has always been from the point of view of western and eastern world brooding on the neck of developing countries so that they could take profit out to the rigged market they control.

The fact is Atiku brought up devaluation again! While it is true that there may be ongoing debate in academic journals, they never get to the folks that are affected most until almost time for election or implementation. It is then the newspapers and internet sites are flooded with advantages and disadvantages. It is mainly to satisfy the apprehension of masses since decisions have already been made by those in the position to accept or reject it.

International Foreign Corporations and Foreign Investors always threaten jobs, layoffs and salary cuts though they usually pay considerably lower than in their home countries. Their countries back them up by threatening conditional access to international aids, corporate loan, grants, and technical assistance. In the case of loan, it would only be given to pay off previous odious loans and renegotiations. Wise Africans should have seen through all these by now.

While the big boys fight for liberal access to African foreign reserves in the name of the common man and had to import frivolities that they claim was essential for businesses and jobs, big companies that made profits without accountability before Independence, avoided tariff, taxes and sometimes outright smuggling of natural resources in collusion with Customs and Navy selfishly. Shareholder of foreign corporations give them remnants of leftovers profit.

Africa economy dung deeper into abyss contrary to what economic gurus working for in their masters’ interest told us. We must be fair to some African countries that resisted the glare of economic miracle by opening our markets wide for exploiters. Ujamaa was crushed in Tanzania and Mwalimu Nyerere economic theory buried in disgust. Lumumba tried to convert to socialism and he was properly dealt with humiliating death.

Kwame Nkrumah that saw the situation before it devastated Africa, warned us about Neo-colonialism. He was labeled a looter with special taste for ladies and properties. He died with very few if anything after he was overthrown. You would think that African economists would rise to the impending disaster and confront economic values that were not in our interest. No, most of them double down justifying Voodoo Economy.

The consequences of this glamour that never materialized were the roles average African citizen played in their own economic demise. Every money they accumulated were spent outside Africa. They spent their money on manufactured material goods made outside killing their own budding industries. They are famously called consumers of ready-made goods and producers of nothing!

Most of their savings went to British Airways, American and other foreign airlines and lately to Dubai and other Arab countries. They go on sponsored pilgrimage to Mecca and Jerusalem while they built the biggest Churches and Mosques in Africa. While it is true that these petty leeches are more in number, the big vagabonds are not as many but they hide behind petty thieves to loot Africa’s forex dry.

Structural Adjustment killed middleclass Africans. We never learned, they came back asking for more devaluations against their paper promissory notes against ours backed by gold standard.