By Olowogboyega Oyebade
Were you born in the 80s and 90s? Can you recall the exciting hysteria caused by some popular prophets and star-gazers, the likes of Professor Godspower Oyewole, Dr. Gabriel Okunzua, a para-psychologist, Prophet Samuel Adewole and Primate Theophilus OluwasanuOlabayo, making special, the months of December and January of each successive year? Do you know that the hearts of Nigerians, the religious and the agnostics, would be kept at the tipping edge of the chair until they published their new year predictions?
Do you remember ‘Lagos Weekend’, an old tabloid that had a special column maintained by Professor Godspower Oyewole, dramatizing the purported images, from the real to the esoteric, from the voodoo to the astral, from his crystal ball to the occultic and un-initiated, smiling all the way as if he was carrying everybody along, but not minding whether they understood or not? Can you recall the sensation generated by him when he volunteered unsolicitedly, to annul a ‘world conference of witches’, which if held according to him, would have been disaster-personified for Nigeria? Do you know that those peculiar years gave front-page coverage to the predictions of those who touted to see tomorrow? Do you know that their relics are still around as many Nigerians flock to miracle centres at the end of the year to hear revelations of things to happen at the local, national and international levels and using such to define their lives for the new year? Do you know that a nation should not take such risks? Can you believe that as it was in the beginning, so it is now?
Do you watch films? Have you watched the film titled: “The Man Who Saw Tomorrow”, a 1981 documentary-style movie narrating the predictions of French astrologer, Nostradamus, born on 14th December, 1503? Are you aware that his book Les Prophéties, a collection of 942 poetic quatrains was allegedly held to predicting future events? Do you know that Nostradamus lived and wrote this book during a period of political and religious censorship and this made him to disguise his writings not only with somewhat cryptic language, but in four different languages (Latin, French, Italian and Greek) to avoid persecution?
Are you aware that some of the alleged predictions of Nostradamus in the film “The Man Who Saw Tomorrow” include:the accidental death of King Henry II of France (1559), the French Revolution (1789–1799), the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte (1799–1815), the American Revolution (1775–1783), the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln (1865), the rise and fall of Adolf Hitler (1933–1945), World War II (1939–1945), the Holocaust, The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945), a conspiracy to assassinate U.S. President John F. Kennedy (1963), the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy (1968), Islamic Revolution of Iran (1979), the 1980 attempt of Ted Kennedy to run to the U.S. Presidencyto defeat incumbent President Jimmy Carter in the Democratic Party primaries, inventions and technological advances, the end of the rivalry between the Soviet Union and the United States, a major earthquake striking Los Angeles in May 1988, the spread of the influence of Islamic fundamentalism in the world, the rise of Russia to wage World War III against the West (United States, United Kingdom and France as evidenced in the Putin’s wars in Ukraine/Crimea, Syria, Iran and Libya), starting with a nuclear strike on New York City, a war predicted by Nostradamus to last about 27 years, the end of which brings”peace of a thousand years”?
Do you know that Nostradamus was alleged to have predictions for 2020? Do you know that he had been alleged to have predicted economic crises in 2020, a year his followers claimed would be defined by major bankruptcy, recession, and dark times for the global economy as witnessed in 2008? Do you know that he had been alleged to have predicted an abrupt rise in sea level in 2020 due to climate change and that the global sea level would change the world as Antarctica will melt, causing the global rise in sea levels by several meters leading to catastrophic hurricanes? Are you aware that Phillipines was partially washed away by rabid hurricanes with devastating payloads and the entire continental landmass of South East Asia is currently at the line of fire of ferocious hurricanes, landslides and earthquakes and volcanoes?
Are you aware of the intellectual rebuttal against the unscientific nature of his predictions as the unearthing of much original archival material by scholars later revealed that much that was claimed about Nostradamus did not fit the documented facts thus rendering the thesis as based on unfounded rumours? Without going through the stress of psychic orientations of Nostradamus, do you know that modern science uses data to predict events with exactitude and free such predictions from the repugnancy test? Do you know that data and technology are now handy to save us from the unscientific predictions of the theatrical para-psychologists? Do you know that statistics now makes you exact?
Do you know that new ‘ Nostradamus’ are in town using data rather than crystal ball to predict events with exactitude? Do you know that the World Economic Outlook Reports by the IMF staff is usually published twice a year to present global economic developments during the year in all jurisdictions including economies in transition to market; and address topics of pressing current interest? Do you know that on 17 December 2019 Nariman Behraveshpredicted no major progress can be witnessed in the current trade until after the 2020 US elections? Do you know that he hinted that an escalation in trade hostilities leading to protectionism may be fatal to global economy in year 2020 as the US economy is predicted to expand in 2020 by 2.1% only, eurozone’sgrowth is expected to stabilize at around 0.9% and that China’s growth rate will slide even further, to 5.7% in 2020 and 5.6% in 2021, unless the government puts in place a more aggressive stimulus programme?
Do you know that it has been predicted that emerging markets like Nigeria will continue to tread water by falling commodity prices, due to simmering trade war and the continued decline in China’s rate of expansion? Do you know that the recent swings in world inflation were due to volatility in the rate of price increases, with swings in the prices of oil and other commodities also a factor? Do you know that the expected wage increase is predicted to cause 2.7% in inflation in 2020? Do you know that dollar-denominated assets are predicted to be more favouredand the US dollar is expected to climb another 3% over the next two years, 2020 and 2021 before beginning a long and gentle retreat? Do you know that nearly 40 other analysts predicted that in 2020, the global economy is about to worsen due to what UBSattributed to the slowdown in industrial production which began since late 2017 in Germany and Japan, which resulted in global GDP growth from 2.9% in 4Q19 to 3.4% in 4Q20 (averaging 3.2% GDP growth in 2020) which may likely decelerate further in the likely event of another higher tariffs occasioned by trade wars and the US general elections? Can you now see that the prediction of Nostradamus about 2020 World Economy is still not off-limit? Are you aware that predictions about economic shocks can be halted if necessary precautions are made?
Do you know that there are deliberate efforts of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola to reverse the economic shocks in the State of Osun through various initiatives? Do you know that his choice to focus on ‘Ease of Doing Business’ like other progressive Governors in Nigeria is paying off? What is ‘Ease of Doing Business’? Are you aware that the ‘Ease of Doing Business Index’ was created jointly by Simeon Djankov and Gerhard Pohl, two leading economists at the Central and Eastern Europe sector of the World Bank Group in a paper first published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics titled:”The Regulation of Entry” in 2002? Are you aware that the paper collated data on the regulation of entry of start-up firms in 85 countries covering the number of procedures, official time and official cost that a start-up must bear before it could operate legally in a particular jurisdiction? Do you know that the paper submitted that countries with heavier regulation of entry have higher corruption and larger unofficial economies, but no better quality of public or private goods? Do you know that it was discovered that countries with more democratic and limited governments have lighter regulation of entry? Do you know that the paper concluded that entry regulation benefits politicians and bureaucrats without adding value to the private sector, or granting any additional protection? Do you know that these submissions inspired countries to launch reforms to improve their rankings and the World Bank Group decided to be publishing the data to promote private-sector – driven economy?
Can you believe that in 2013 alone, the reports recorded nearly 2,000 regulatory reforms implemented by 180 economies through four institutional or regulatory reforms, making it easier to register property, pay taxes, enforce contracts, and resolve insolvency? Do you know that reform efforts globally have focused on making it easier to start a new business, increasing the efficiency of tax administration and facilitating trade across international borders? Do you know that Singapore topped the global ranking on the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ for the seventh consecutive year, followed by Hong Kong, New Zealand; the United States; Denmark and Georgia? Are you aware that a nation’s ranking on the index is based on the average of 10 sub-indices? They are:
–starting a business – procedures, time, cost, and minimum capital to open a new business, -dealing with construction permits – procedures, time, and cost to build a warehouse
–getting electricity – procedures, time, and cost required for a business to obtain a permanent electricity connection for a newly constructed warehouse
– registering property – procedures, time, and cost to register commercial real estate
– getting credit – strength of legal rights index, depth of credit information index
– protecting investors – indices on the extent of disclosure, extent of director liability, and ease of shareholder suits
– paying taxes – number of taxes paid, hours per year spent preparing tax returns, and total tax payable as share of gross profit
– trading across borders – number of documents, cost, and time necessary to export and import
– enforcing contracts – procedures, time, and cost to enforce a debt contract
– resolving insolvency – The time, cost, and recovery rate (%) under bankruptcy proceeding
– distance to frontier – Shows the distance of each economy to the “frontier
– entrepreneurship – measures entrepreneurial activity.
– good practices – provide insights into how governments have improved the regulatory environment in the past
– transparency in business regulation.
Do you know that the State of Osun and indeed Nigeria, is on the right path to guarantee economic prosperity in year 2020 to prove the bookmakers wrong? Do you know that Nigeria’s President has promised to stop funding for food imports to grow local economy? Do you know that the recent closure of borders by Nigeria has improved local rice economy? Are you aware that such development was not within the radar of the star-gazer at the beginning of 2019? Do you know that the promotion of ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in all States including Osun is a win-win initiative of progress never captured before by the star-gazers? Do you know that the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in the State of Osun is so dear to the heart of Governor Oyetola to the level that it is listed for discussion every week in compliance with best practices?
Can you recall that in 2016, Nigeria established the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council(PEBEC) to work on Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria with the aim of minimizing the constraints that come with running businesses in the country? Are you aware that some of the criteria used to gauge it include cutting down the time it takes to register a business, new grid connections for electricity and other regulatory requirements for a start-up to commence a viable business concern? Do you know that the agency puts together reforms geared toward making it more convenient for business owners to thrive?
Hurray! Are you aware that Nigeria has improved in World Bank ‘Ease of Doing Business’ ranking? Do you know that the country now ranks 131st from 146th last year and up 39 places? Do you know that Nigeria aspires to be in top 70 position by 2023? Do you know that this is the way to see tomorrow and not through a the narrow prism of a para-psychologist? Do you know that we shall need less of para-psychologists but need more of leaders with clear focus of what the issues are and the path to follow for accomplishments like we have in the administration in the State of Osunand Nigeria? Can you see that we are getting it right in the areas of local rice production and ‘ Ease of Doing Business’? Do you know that there are low hanging fruits that our country can quickly do to promote international accolades?
Do we need a para-psychologist to star-gaze to know the common problems all developing nations face and what should constitute their shared goals? For goodness sake, do we need a seer to tell us to reduce poverty which is afflicting 90 million Nigerians couple with unemployment rate which stood at 23.1 percent in the Q3 of 2019? Did any star-gazer made forecast that we would overtake India in poverty rating by bringing the poverty capital of the world to our country? Do we need a theatrical voodoo master to check his art to predict to us that we should make provision for minimum levels of education to attract millions of out of school children, health, housing and food to every citizen as an object of worship? Do we need to hire a traveller to the astral world before we can encourage the present administration to continue to grow infrastructure in rail, airports, roads, hospitals, power, agriculture and mining as it is aspiring to do voluntarily? Do we need a prophet with long or short beards to tell us that we need to broaden social and economic safety-nets and the urgent need to improve security architecture to forge a cohesive nation state that cannot be vitiated by any terror machine? Do you know that what is needed is the ‘Buhari’s Action’ in all of us in all sectors and possibly to be diluted with ‘Ethiopian Touch’? What is this ‘Ethiopian Touch’? Why do we need it? You care? Come along, please.
As workers are demanding for the implementation of the minimum wage in year 2020, do you know that we need to put in maximum service too, to work collectively on growing disparities in the distribution of income, low levels of agricultural productivity, imbalances between urban and rural levels in terms of economic opportunities, worsening environmental decay, inappropriate educational and health systems, severe balance of payments and international debt problems including high cost of debt-servicing, increasing dependence on foreign technologies, weak institutions and value systems and the consuming inferno of corruption? Do you know that we can only achieve these lofty ideals under a disciplined and purpose-driven administration of President Buhari and Governor Adegboyega Oyetola? Do we need a seer to predict for us the need to have mass housing, provide safe drinking water, facilitate sanitary waste disposal, reverse the ugly statistics of 2 children dying out of every ten children born within a year, or another 3 dying before the age of 5 and only 5 surviving to the age of 40 years owing to poor nutrition, unsafe water, poor sanitation, uninformed parents, genital mutilation, kidnapping and lack of immunization? Do we need a seer to tell us of the need to address our characteristic development challenges of poverty, urbanization, rapid population growth, agricultural development, ailing economy, natural resource-curse, technological backwardness, economic backwardness, unemployment and disguised unemployment, insufficient capital equipment, foreign trade deficits, inappropriate subsidy on petroleum products and the issue of corruption and its infectious tendencies?
Do we need to pray out and caste demons from the spiritual to grow declining productivity in the public sector as we relish in truancy, laziness, incompetence and low acquisition of ICT skills to propel our jobs to create a conducive corridor for ‘Ease of Doing Business’? Do you know that our country will flourish better if we cooperate with government fully to implement the following reforms as soon as possible: Electoral Reforms, Monetary Policy Reforms, Land Reforms, Health Sector Reforms, Banking Reforms, Insurance Reforms, Telecommunications Regulatory Reforms, Structural Reforms, Civil Service Reforms, Policy Reforms, Pension Reforms, Tax Reforms, Electric Power Sector Reforms, Economic Reforms, Public Enterprises Reforms, Education Reforms, Political Reforms, Election Reforms, Trade Union and Labour Reforms, Justice Sector Reforms, Local Government Reforms, Market Reforms, Security Sector Reforms, University Reforms, Petroleum Sector Reforms, Customs Reforms, Customary Court System Reforms, Constitutional Reforms, Gender and Constitutional Reforms, Prison Reforms, Social Health Insurance and Sustainable Healthcare Reforms, Trade Policy Reforms, Police Reforms, Capital Market Reforms, Administrative Reforms, Higher Education Reforms, Financial Sector Reforms, Mining Sector Reforms, Pro-Poor Economic Policy Reforms and others? Do you know that this is the time to get on board with this administration to address these issues within the remaining period of this administration and stop listening to soothsayers who confuse more than convince? Do you know that we have to trek the Ethiopian road fast to get quick support for quick fixes?
Do you know that Ethiopia is Africa’s new growth engine? Are you aware that it is Africa’s oldest independent country and its fastest growing economy today? Do you know that it has a population of over 112 million people as at June, 2019 and an annual economic growth rate of 10% over the past 15 years? Do you know that Ethiopia is turning towards greater social stability through openness, democratic processes accompanied by a path towards reconciliation and peace abroad? Do you know that its rapprochement with Eritrea on a border dispute and its initiative toward normalization of relations with Somalia has received new political and financial support from a number of parties, including the European Union, the World Bank and the IMF? Do you know that its lifting of the state of emergency, releasing political prisoners, and reforming tough laws on anti-terrorism, media and civil society – are considered positive by international observers and has given the country mileage at the international level? As we released Dasuki and Sowore, do you know that we can complete that rapprochement by releasing El-Zaky–Zaky to gain positive mileage in international media to boost our economy?
Are you aware that more than 70% of citizens in Ethiopia are under 30, and nearly 50% are under 15 years of age? Do you know that Ethiopia has encouraged mass school enrolment, increased number of public schools and implemented a 70:30 higher education policy – training 70% of students in Technology and Science, and 30% in Social Scienceand Humanities to make this human capital to become a key economy-boosting asset? Do you know that it screened thoroughly privatization of state-owned enterprises to make sure that the private sector keys into the development vision of the country and not to act in state capture like we are having in the power sector in Nigeria? Do you know that the Ethiopian government has resisted total liberalizing key sectors to foreign and local investors? Are you aware that the executive committee of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the ruling party, is giving strong consideration to a plan to partially liberalize key economic sectors by offering minority stakes in airlines, power and telecoms, railway projects, hotels and key manufacturing industries to global investors with the aim to increase the contribution of the manufacturing sector from 5% to 20% of GDP? .
Are you aware that there is a promising start-up ecosystem in Ethiopia, an environment where viable entities such as universities, companies, service providers, research and funding organisations come together to allow local entrepreneurs to get off the ground and to scale up with technology and innovation? Do you know that a start-up in Ethiopia called Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, founder and managing director of SoleRebels, a 2004 College graduate in Addis Ababa? Do you know that Bethlehem founded the trail-blazing footwear company to provide solid, community-based jobs and she has now on track to be the first global branded retail chain from a developing nation to open 100 stores and achieve over $200 million in revenues by 2019?Do you know that Ethiopia leverages on its strategic location between Europe and Asia by maintaining high resolution airways thus making it a transfer hub, and is increasingly becoming an important destination for manufacturing, especially in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector? Do you know that Ethiopia planted 350 million trees in a day to fight against deforestation? Do you know that we have to copy that early enough in 2020 as one of our low-hanging fruits? If 112 million Ethiopians could do that in a day, do you know that 200 million Nigerians should do twice of that in a day for twenty working days in a month in 2020 to address the issue of desertification staring us at the face? Do you know that through these initiatives, the government has succeeded in converting its youth boom into human capital?
Do you know that the bulk of the landmass of Ethiopia is landlocked and it is the most populated landlocked country in Africa? Are you aware that the commissioning of the Ethiopia-Djibouti electrified rail line in January 2018 had deepened a significant boost to the country’s export ambitions, by moving goods from newly built industrial parks in landlocked Ethiopia to ports in Djibouti? Do you know that the heavy Chinese investments in Ethiopia is turning the country into a wonderland and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a hot toast to all world leaders? Can you now doubt why he won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize? Do you know that his administration upholds rule of law to the letter, appointed opposition into key positions and women into strategic offices? Do you know that the man doing wonders in Ethiopia is just 43 years old tackling decades-old problems? Do you know that he is popularizing irrigation agriculture to boost food production? Do you know that we need these quick fixes too in 2020 without any para-psychologist telling us to so do?
Can you recall that no seer predicted last year that President Buhari would in August, 2019 close Nigeria’s land frontiers to goods traded with Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin, citing the need to protect the country’s economy from frequent smuggling? Do you know that as far as rice economy is concerned, we are enough good news by it? Do you know that when Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick stepped down from board on 24th December, 2019, it was never in the radar of the clairvoyants anywhere in the world that this 43-year-old would do so, so soon? Do you know that the terrestrial development of countries is not pre-destined from the celestial realm but by the collective will of its citizens to make it great and succeed? Let us resolve to work for Nigeria and the State of Osun in the new year and work assiduously to make it great. The voice of Cassius, a nobleman, speaking with his friend in Julius Caesar (Act 1, scene ii, 140-141) cuts in:
“The fault, dear Brutus,
is not in our stars,
But in ourselves,
that we are underlings
Let us have a change of heart. Let us resolve to serve our country and State more by improving our productive capacity. It is only through that we can be counted collectively as men and women who can see tomorrow. Happy new year! Osun Adara!