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Offline Nuruddeen

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This is sad.
« on: December 08, 2007, 12:11:23 PM »
This article is dedicated to posterity

NIGERIA AND THE KEEPERS OF HER ECONOMY SHOPPING COMPLEX

By

Jibo Nura
Nigeria
E-mail: jibonura@yahoo.com

(2nd December 2007).
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The title of this piece was originally “Who will save Nigeria now?” It has been conceived and kept in mind for quite sometime until it is now revealed out of frustration and anger on what is happening to Nigeria and Nigerians. But also the title was eventually fine-tuned several times, because there are much to be said and discussed about Nigeria to the extent that if one can take a vantage position and have a glance at what is happening in the country from any of the four (4) cardinal points, that is, north, south, east and west or from left, right and centre, would come to realize that something is terribly wrong. Hence, the title completely changed from what one originally had in mind to what is obtained above.

And perhaps, the sudden change in title could be due to the fact that the central idea of today’s discussion heavily revolves around the issue of our own economy. And naturally, we hope to arrive at a common standpoint on whether the keepers of this economy have shopped well for their intrinsic benefit or for gross national use, especially now that President Umaru Musa Yar’adua has unveiled his plan on the economy by presenting what many people consider and described as a controversial budget to the National Assembly.

Because of the budget’s complexity and intricate nature, it now generates a lot of reaction and criticisms from several quarters across the country. From the context of that budgetary plan, and considering the good intention of Mr. President, it was thought that Nigerians would applaud and congratulate him, that is, if not for anything but for  having the courage and conviction to disclose to the public his econometrics mindset, particularly on an economy that is hypothetically presumed to be the largest in Africa.

In fact, Nigerians have every reason to commend Yar’ adua. Even posterity will live to judge by forgiving him for giving them a budget than providing them none at all. One can at least, for now boasts of having a budget unlike in the year 2002 when OBJ deliberately refused to release any. Besides, in any democracy, if a government claimed to have best intention and respect for the rule of law, once it fails to deliver, there can only be one possible sanction and/or punishment and that is losing next general election. Though the experience in Nigeria is that if a government fails, it simply develops a thick-skin and gives itself new powers.

However, going by the context of that 2008 budget of Yar ‘adua, Nigerians also have all the reasons to err because it is human. Our leaders have made, and are still making a lot of noise on this budget of a thing since time immemorial. And the worst part of it is, the budget is always formulated and planned on deficit.

For instance, let us go down memory lane. In 1999, the nation’s total budgetary expenditure was N344. 3181 billion, but the actual revenue accrued was N260 billion. That year, we experienced a deficit of over N84 billion. In 2000, our total expenditure was N657.1 billion and the total revenue accrued was N597.9774 billion, a deficit of N59. 1226 billion was recorded. In 2001, there was an expenditure of over N919 billion, but the actual revenue accrued was only N743 billion. The budget was run on an unprecedented deficit of N176 billion during that year. In 2003, however, the government’s total personal expenditure was N415.2341 billion. In 2004, total revenue earning for the nation was N387.8784 billion. But the reader may quickly notice here that the year 2002 was missed out from our sequential analysis of the budget. This is actually not an error, because that year was terrible indeed! There was no budget at all. Or even if there was, Obasanjo is in the right position to furnish us with the actual figures.

Nonetheless, in the preceding years of 2005, 2006 and 2007, one cannot precisely determine the exact capital expenditures and total accruable revenues of the government due to the fact that the budget during these years was already counting in trillion naira and the economy was outrageously marred by lots of unquantifiable financial spending improprieties and loot sprees in Transcorp, NNPC, NITEL, Pentascope, BPE, CHOGM, Valderamma National Stadium, COJA and the Presidency etc.

Perhaps, the clienteles of Atiku and Obasanjo can come to our rescue by giving us their projections on the estimate budgets for economic thievery that is not unconnected with their political acrobatics. As they do this, they should please save us the trouble by co-opting the inflation rates and corruption indexes so that our professional learned elders and senior colleagues can keep for the record.

Now back to the 2008 Yar ‘adua budget. Looking at the inflationary status of Nigerian budget since Obasanjo’s time, it is good to mention here that it was 9% in 1999, which five (5) years later increased to 19%. Now Yar’adua has targeted 8.5%. But the cardinal question is: how does he achieve this in a country where more than 70% of the citizenry are wallowing in poverty? (See Ango’s poverty distribution in Nigeria 2004). Today in Nigeria out of 140 million people, 105 are living in abject condition, and yet we are still hopeful that an already N570 billion deficit budget can reduce our inflation rate to 8.5%? Certainly it cannot. It is even going to exacerbate it further ad infinitum!

It therefore beats one’s imagination for our leaders to be building castle on the air in a country whose economy is not yielding anything from energy sector, railways, chemical and manufacturing industries. There is no country in the world that has progressed competitively without having good railway system and electricity. So the issue is, it is the money that we can derive from some of these sectors that can be used to alleviate the negative implications of our Gross Domestic Product, which now stands at 3.5%. Because, on the production percentage, this GDP of a thing is highly unproductive since it is less than zero in our own case.

More so, going by Yar’adua’s budget, the sum of N139.78 billion has been earmarked for energy that will generate 500 megawatts of electricity. This is certainly a good omen. But it is sad to notice with dismay that Obasanjo’s administration had spent over N500 billion on electricity projects with only a supply of 3000 MW. Today, only 40% of Nigerians have access to electricity. And virtually the sector has done nothing because it has poorly performed and cannot deliver the desired service to the people. As somebody challenged elsewhere i.e. what Yar’adua’s government should adopt as a strategy in power sector, is to embrace the third development plan of 1975 and the fourth development plan of 1985 whereby during the period of rural electrification, an output of 2,785 megawatts was targeted and expected to doubled every three years, because the consumption rate of kilowatts per hour has increased. Had it been we have projected and worked on this since 1999, by now we should have been generating 125,000 megawatts. What a loss!

It is really pathetic for the present Minister of State for energy, Mrs. Fatima Ibrahim to tell us that the government is working hard on the establishment of large scale megawatt class solar farms across the country. The Minister wants to have us believe that the solar would be integrated into the national grid; forgetting the fact that other Ministers before her have made such unguarded utterances and verbal diarrhea. Some of them even promised us that they would turn “stone into bread” in our power sector. But what happened afterwards? Some of these charades of people in the long run personalized more than N600 billion NEPA and road construction monies via generation of huge interest into their private accounts. And instead of them to be dealt with squarely  by the power that be, so that it would serve as a deterrent to the in-coming ones, the then power justified such ministerial heinous crimes by even  legalizing one  of those Ministers karmic retribution and abuse of office with portfolio transfer to justice ministry.

The point here is: it is only in Nigeria that when an officer shows sign of incompetency, he/she is punishable by promotion. Unlike in other countries of the world where officers resign honourably due to incompetency or failure on their parts. This reminds one of two antecedents. First, was the voluntary resignation of one time Brazilian prison director, who relieved himself off office because of the escape of prisoners under his custody. Second, was a discourse with a Bulgarian contractor, Mr. Peter, who in one of our comparative political problem analysis highlighted thus:
“You see, what is happening here in the politics of Nigeria is quite different from what is obtained in Bulgaria. There was a time a former Bulgarian Prime Minister embezzled just $1200 and the Bulgarian government banned him from holding and vying for any political office throughout Bulgaria”.Therefore, if Mrs. Fatima wants us to take her statement very seriously by telling us that Nigeria is blessed with abundant energy radiation ranging from 3.5 kwh in the South to 7.0 kwh in the North, she should know that if this solar energy radiation that she has been telling us about, can be harnessed at an efficiency of 2%, it will certainly cater for the entire energy demands of the country. (See Bugaje and Chinade in Science and Technology in Northern Nigeria, 2000). This to us, is more economical than blind investment and pumping a whopping sum of N139.78 billion into power sector whereby at the end of the day the outcome may not be ascertained. It is even going to be highly economical if our honourable Minister can convince all her colleagues to embark on national redemptive process and self-cleansing event by doing Nigerians a favour to return all their 607 Peugeot cars, Land Cruiser Jeeps, 505 Pilot cars, 406 Saloon cars, 505 Station Wagons and all the cars that are attached to their special assistants, press secretaries, madams and husbands. Because, presently, we learnt that almost every Minister has at least ten (10) cars attached to him/her as government accolade. Some we were even told have more than, and this is really unreasonable and irresponsible, particularly when viewed from the fact that the country is in dire need of rescue from its ailing economy.

Honestly, the ownership, maintenance and running costs of these cars, which are up to a monthly salary budget of a local government area, can be judiciously utilized in turning the lives of so many Nigerians who don’t have the means to eat. But unfortunately, we learnt that once a minister finishes his/her tenure of office, he/she can go along with all the vehicles under his/her custody, because there is no provision and/or clause in the constitution that says they should leave them behind.

Indeed, it will help Nigeria greatly if all Ministers, Rep Members, and Senators can take heart and manage just five (5) cars for the day to day running of their governmental affairs. By doing this they will certainly win the confidence of the electorates. And their integrity will also reign supreme if they can be contented with their salaries. For it is enough to cater and buy them flashy cars of their own choices.

As a matter of fact, by virtue of what is happening even Mr. President (Yar’adua) is not ready to help matters. If he is, he would not sporadically distribute and share N90 billion out of the 2008 budget to his presidential office and the National Assembly. Mr. President’s financial breakdown of the budget to the National Assembly is reproduced thus: Out of the 2.5 trillion budget for 2008, the President allocated N65 billion to the National Assembly. Of the N65 billion, N2.2 billion goes to food. The presidency allocated itself N26.9 billion with N1.301 billion going for feeding and refreshment in the State House. The presidential villa, on refreshment and procurement of food stuff has been given N3.6 million to be spent every week.

However, out of the N65 billion mentioned inter alia, the Senate is to spend N19.893 billion, whereas N32.97 billion is to be spent on sustaining the 360 members of the House of Representatives. Another N15.879 billion is to be discarded on keeping the legislators traveling across the country and the world over. Nonetheless, members of the House of Representatives are expected to spend N10.33 billion for traveling purposes within and outside the country next year. Again, N268.8 million has been earmarked for traveling for training related purposes. In terms of leisure, however, a total sum of N5.032 billion has been earmarked for the general travel of Senators within and outside the country whereas another N278.2 million is proposed for traveling for training purposes. The President and his cronies are to spend N1.271 billion for globe trotting. In fact, the list is endless. What is even more worrisomely wayward in all these budgetary shopping galore is that the Presidency and the National assembly despite all their taciturnity on solving the power problem in the country,  went ahead and earmarked N145.574 million for buying fuel to run their offices generators. What a ridicule?

So we all now know that these people really do not mean well for Nigeria. Indeed, it has finally confirmed that none of them is serious about bringing an end to the country’s erratic power supply.

My very good but controversial friend and colleague, Idang Alibi in his Daily Trust’s Thurday column of November 29, 2007 titled “If I were Yar’adua”, captured some of our leaders deceptive tendencies on this power sector wahala. Hear him:

“Since I grew up to be a man and to understand national issues, our leaders since Gowon in the 70s through Murtala and Obasanjo 1 and2, through Shagari, Buhari, IBB to the present era, have all talked about the need to provide uninterrupted power supply for the country. And even now, we are still talking about this matter…”
Unfortunately, Alibi has forgotten the fact that these leaders have not only been promising power but also have been telling and promising us good roads, pipe-borne water, education and health but at the end of the day they all end up as wishful thinkers. From independence to date we have been struggling to get basic necessities but yet we don’t have them in abundance. What a pity!
 
Therefore, the multidimensional actions and inactions of our Presidents, Senators and House of Representative Members, have confirmed to us beyond reasonable doubt that Nigeria is now under siege. And it is only Allah that can save her own situation. We therefore call for His quick intervention to protect our dear country from the everlasting corruptible and mercenary leadership of these endangered species who don’t mean well to our national savvy. Let us pray.

O Allah! You are the creator and nourisher of all beings. The provider of leadership and power to mankind; the all-knowing and most powerful. O Allah! You asked us not to rebel or abuse our leaders, no matter their level of atrocities but rather call them to order with prayers. Even if they are deviant in their own responsibilities, You told us not to engage but pray for them with compassion so as not to go astray. O Allah! Our leaders have derailed and lost focus and You are aware, because You are the all-knowing. Guide them to the right path so as not to blunder anew. And with Your permission, we are ready to forgive them and forget about the past. But if they are not amongst the guided ones, Allah, You know better, because You are the knower of all your creatures. Eliminate them and make us have substitute with those who have pity and compassion for our lives. Ameen.

Nura wrote in from Zaria,Nigeria Contact Nura at: jibonura@yahoo.com
 







« Last Edit: December 08, 2007, 12:32:52 PM by Nuruddeen »
o try and fail is atleast to learn. That will save one the inestimable loss of what might have been (positive or negative).

Offline Lawwali

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Re: This is sad.
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2007, 04:21:19 PM »
Heh!!!!! you really done well, Nurudden more grease to your elbow. with prayers we really see ho[es for Nigeria. By ALLAH's grace all these summersault will be in the dust bin of Nigeria's history. :D ;D
it takes oppressed and oppressor for oppression to occur

Offline alhaji_aminu

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Re: This is sad.
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2007, 11:36:39 PM »
Another great piece from the indefatigable Nurudeen- more grease to your elbow. If I may digress a bit, wai shin ina Turkain Hausa, Senator I S Turaki?

Returning to your topic, Nigerian leaders, especially democratic ones, seem to lack any semblance of discipline when it comes to prudent govt spending. The nation keeps spending more than it makes- resulting in more debt for the country. Many people do not understand that the constant high inflation experienced by the country is fuelled by this among many other factors (especially importation).

One of the slimiest things about all of this is how this deficit is financed- thru Tons and tons of T-Bills and Bonds. Banks, yes those monsters, are the major buyers of these securities and they do so with cheap money that actually belongs to the govt! You see, most govt agencies have accounts with local banks earning very low interest rates- lets say 3% pa ( I.E the foreign reserve accounts). The Banks then lend back these funds to the govt by buying fixed income securities at 7 -8%. Deducting charges, levies and transaction costs, the Banks eventually smile all the way to the BANK with a spread (or profits) of 1-2%. That amounts to millions!

What is more worrying in Yar'adua budget is the dissonace between his rhetoric about the much vaunted 7 cardinal points and appropriations to those sectors. I dont need to delve deep into these issue at the moment but I want to assure you he fails the UNESCO test of appropriating 21% and 20% to the education and health sector respectively.

Quite simply, our brother in abuja is confused!

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE:

By simply securing the Niger Delta and restoring Nigeria's crude pumping capacity to their peaks, the nation can recover the 25% in lossed income due pipeline vandalism. That could be a huge lifeline.

Secondly, a firm deadline on the flaring of GAS in the delta has to be drawn. I can't remember the figure, but it is estimated that Nigeria loses $2m daily due to the non utilization of its flared natural gas. Do the math!

Thirdly, govt has to really tighten its belt and cut spending in a lot of areas. Fiscal discpline will put the country on a path of development and prosperity.

Of course all these are known to ppl in power but they refuse to institute these changes due to one selfish reason or the other. It is for us to eally hold them accountable to their words and promises.

I wish Yar'adua well but I think he is already on a slippery slope!

Offline Nuruddeen

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Re: This is sad.
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2007, 10:13:43 PM »
Another great piece from the indefatigable Nurudeen- more grease to your elbow. If I may digress a bit, wai shin ina Turkain Hausa, Senator I S Turaki?

Returning to your topic, Nigerian leaders, especially democratic ones, seem to lack any semblance of discipline when it comes to prudent govt spending. The nation keeps spending more than it makes- resulting in more debt for the country. Many people do not understand that the constant high inflation experienced by the country is fuelled by this among many other factors (especially importation).

One of the slimiest things about all of this is how this deficit is financed- thru Tons and tons of T-Bills and Bonds. Banks, yes those monsters, are the major buyers of these securities and they do so with cheap money that actually belongs to the govt! You see, most govt agencies have accounts with local banks earning very low interest rates- lets say 3% pa ( I.E the foreign reserve accounts). The Banks then lend back these funds to the govt by buying fixed income securities at 7 -8%. Deducting charges, levies and transaction costs, the Banks eventually smile all the way to the BANK with a spread (or profits) of 1-2%. That amounts to millions!

What is more worrying in Yar'adua budget is the dissonace between his rhetoric about the much vaunted 7 cardinal points and appropriations to those sectors. I dont need to delve deep into these issue at the moment but I want to assure you he fails the UNESCO test of appropriating 21% and 20% to the education and health sector respectively.

Quite simply, our brother in abuja is confused!

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE:

By simply securing the Niger Delta and restoring Nigeria's crude pumping capacity to their peaks, the nation can recover the 25% in lossed income due pipeline vandalism. That could be a huge lifeline.

Secondly, a firm deadline on the flaring of GAS in the delta has to be drawn. I can't remember the figure, but it is estimated that Nigeria loses $2m daily due to the non utilization of its flared natural gas. Do the math!

Thirdly, govt has to really tighten its belt and cut spending in a lot of areas. Fiscal discpline will put the country on a path of development and prosperity.

Of course all these are known to ppl in power but they refuse to institute these changes due to one selfish reason or the other. It is for us to eally hold them accountable to their words and promises.

I wish Yar'adua well but I think he is already on a slippery slope!


Alhaji Aminu all you said is quite on track. The trouble with Nigeria actually rests on the leadership. I have said this times without number that from Independence to date, Nigeria never had a national leader. But when I said this in an article that was published by Daily Trust Newspaper in 2003, many pple reacted to it, especially those down south. The feel touched that I said, Zik and Awolowo together with Sardauna and Tafawa Balewa were not national leaders. And I told them why I say so. Because, if you look at it objectively, whether one likes it or not, Saurdauna was more or less for the Hausa-Fulanis, Zik was for Igbos and Awolowo was for the Yorubas. Each and evryone of them was protecting the interst of his ppl at every given point. Remember, Saurdauna had to ask Awolowo to reason along and put ethnicity and identity struggle behind by understanding but not forgetting their differences.

If at all there is anybody in Nigeria that tried to be nationalistic in  leadership was Murtala. But he too was provocatively eliminated via western connivance and power maneuverability because of his indegenisation policies.

Forget about Obasanjo 1 and 2, IBB, Abdusssalam and co. All these are pple who specialise in changing jersies i.e from Khaki to Babbar Riga. I therefore doubt very much if this country can make it in the near future. Though ppl have been nursing hopes and dreams. Majority are even expecting a messsiah to come and rescue Ngeria. But my question to them is: Have they seen an instance where one creates trouble and or problem for him/herself and expects somebody from heaven or moon to come and solve it for him/herself?

However, I am particularly happy with your solutions. Niger Delta is really a problem for Nigeria that will continue to persist if nt taken very seriously. I wish Yar'adua good luck in his effort to perform miracle. I also sympathise with him for collecting what I prefer to describe as a chronic cancer case  that was inflicted and left unhealed 4 quite sometimes. To me, the man considering his leadership style is too soft 4 Nigeria.
o try and fail is atleast to learn. That will save one the inestimable loss of what might have been (positive or negative).

 


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