Does Nigeria Still Have Time To Prevaricate? By Tope Fasua

Left to me, every able bodied Nigerian man or woman should be lunging forward, throwing themselves into rescuing our collapsed country. Someone will say that this state of collapse has been our perpetual and now natural mode; always dancing on the brink and managing to save ourselves just when everyone thought we would tip over and careen into the canyon, never to be pieced together again. Yet we keep breathing. Those who work for government will swear we are prospering, and marching sure-footedly into a glorious future. For them, all that matters is that the government is keeping its side of the bargain… to them.

The truth however is that slice or dice it, Nigeria is in deep trouble; it is in reverse and has absolutely no time to dance around in circles, toy about the edges, and continue kicking the can down the road. For too long, we have eaten our cakes and had them. We are the ones the holy books had in mind when it asked: “shall we continue in sin and expect favour to abound?” Nigeria is that land immersed in official sin, reveling in all that is bad. Nigeria is the land of mediocrity, wastage, and ostentation in the middle of want. It has become so bad that most African countries are leaving Nigeria behind. Yet we claim to be the giant of Africa; the failed big brother.

When I see and read our very educated, internet-savvy and uber-intelligent professionals take a fine comb and begin to dissect those who have offered themselves to lead Nigeria out of this morass; whether their ambitions are driven by an over-bloated feeling of self-worth or genuine love for country; whether they are such as will add to the problem they propose to solve or they are truly inspired by content, vision, drive, ability and a complete-finisher capability, I just marvel. I want to state here that no youth or not-so-young person who has really thought about this country from a selfless angle should be knocking the effort of others from their glorious perch. I say they should be adequately worried to the extent of calling for more people to crowd the leadership space if they cannot themselves. I say that those who are experts at criticising the efforts of others are worse culprits of the shortcomings they criticise. Some have only thumbed their noses and sniffed at Nigeria for so long. They reel out degrees and experiences with Fortune 500 companies. But in terms of practicality; when it comes to putting the ball on the ground and scoring goals, they are nowhere to be found.

These are some of the barbs this group of people have been throwing at those who want to at least try:

1. They are too inexperienced – meaning that you haven’t been hearing their names since 1960;
2. They should go and start small; perhaps from their wards as councillors, rather than aspire to lead a whole Nigeria;
3. They don’t have a ‘grassroots’ pedigree;
4. They don’t have money to spend on buying votes;
5. They don’t understand the rigging process, or how politics work in Nigeria.

And much more. The above concerns largely also mean that these inexperienced people are likely not part of those who brought Nigeria to its knees today. This should be an advantage, not a disadvantage. Of what use has experience been, given where Nigeria has found itself today? If a politician should saunter out and pound his chest about how he has been in the centre of Nigeria’s affairs for decades, I believe such a person should be, at best, ignored, if not pelted with stones. Yes, I know, Nigerians have become inured and unshockable. The absurd and nonsensical, the backward and negative, have been successfully sold to us as the new normal. One would have expected the savvy, and the grammatically-enabled to see through this, but perhaps we will now have to rely on the pragmatism of the poor but street-wise Nigerian. Nigeria needs new blood, new thinking, a totally new culture.


Let’s look at the other points raised: That someone who believes he can provide the leadership for the whole of Nigeria should and must go and start from the councilorship level. Well I understand, if we believe that such a person cannot inspire or lead anyone. But what does it take to inspire and lead? I have heard the proponents of this idea mention Barack Obama’s work as an organiser, and also tell us how Macron and Trudeau went through some special education. This sounds like only one road leading to the market; it is against our traditional wisdom. Indeed Obama, Trudeau and Macron, or lets even add Sebastian Kurz of Austria, actually followed very diverse trajectories to the position of leadership. What mattered most was how they applied themselves to whatever circumstance they found themselves in. And then there is the luck factor. No one knew Obama until he was given the floor at the 2004 Democratic National Convention for example. Trudeau had the luck of being born to a former PM. Luck always counts, one way or another. So in the end, no one who hasn’t at least tried, can win. Why would people who are not trying at all, spend so much energy shooting down those who are?

When we talk about grassroots credibility and ability to understand the rigging, thuggery and violence process of elections in Nigeria, do we know that those are exactly what we need new blood to change? Do we really want a better Nigeria? Or is it all just a joke; some sort of voyeurism or sadomasochism? Let us check ourselves. Do we truly imagine a day in the near future when our rhetoric and analysis of Nigeria will move away from this gutter-level issues of mass poverty and unemployment, out of school children and terrorism, kidnapping and armed robbery, and a majority of people whose minds have been almost irretrievably damaged by decades of want, to higher-level issues of how high we want to grow, and how we want to harness the mental potentials of the majority of our people? Yes. Do we ever imagine that all what we have been complaining about can actually be possible? If we do, then we should try and embrace at least one, if not some or all of those guys who are explaining how this can come to pass.

What is the option? The only option is to analyse and argue, criticise and take apart, and be stuck with the same mediocrity for decades hence. What will it profit us just to say ‘I was right, you cannot win and you didn’t win?’ Must we be right all the time? Why not put that your wizardry into making a profound change no matter how difficult it may look? If it’s about grassroots, all those we hail today for being in touch, started one day. Anyone who had built anything great will tell you that what mattered most is too start from somewhere and proceed, brick by brick.

The 20 Percent GDP Growth Challenge

And so I threw a challenge somewhere. I said if Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) wins the coming elections, Nigeria’s economy can grow by 20 percent year on year for five years. That would be over 100 percent growth – or a doubling of the GDP – in five years. Many people have been criticising the projections, many of them pointing at economies that have already plateaued. The fact that no country is doing that rate of growth does not mean that no one can. As a matter of fact, setting GDP growth targets is akin to budgeting. It’s always good to aim high. My thinking in throwing that challenge is that Nigeria is currently in reverse; and losing ground daily – even to other African countries. If someone is meant to be going at 10 kilometres per hour (kmph), and is current reversing at 10kmph, then he should explore how he can stop reversing and start moving at the required speed. That may amount to 20kmph.

I threw the challenge of that double-digit growth rate because of a further research I have conducted. Late last year, I informed readers on this page of the kind of budgets that some of our fellow African countries were proposing for their people. Today, I have updated that research to include the plans of 12 other African countries for their people in 2018. Nigeria is not only performing woefully, it is dreaming woefully. our leaders are not only crazily greedy and corrupt to the point of madness, they are also lacking in imagination and plans for the vast majority of Nigerians, to the point where I can only put this at the doorstep of wickedness.

Why would South Africa plan a budget of $155 billion for its 58 million people this year, and Egypt budgets $68 billion for its 95 million people, while Algeria plans $59 billion for its 40 million people, only for Nigeria to plan a paltry, sickly, corruption-infested, discouraging, unimaginative, and wickedness-induced $23 billion for 180 million poverty-stricken, undereducated, strife-beaten, terrorised, crime-battered, globally-despised and hungry people? Just how do we justify this? And so, those who are arguing with the future, while giving a get-out-of-jail free pass to the past and present, should know that they are calling for a continuation of everything that is bad about Nigeria.

Table 1: 2018 Budgets for some African countries. Note; sources include Reuters, country’s Ministry of Finance websites, sundry Internet sources. I have used a uniform source for USD exchange rates (market rates), since ‘official rates’ are not obtainable in some instances. Hence, Nigeria’s N8.6 trillion was converted at N360=$1. Also, I have emphasised the revenue aspect of the budget (most countries plan budget deficits), so as to show that many ‘smaller’ countries have the capacity and capability to raise more national revenue than Nigeria – the ‘largest’ economy in Africa.

If we were serious and sincerely wanted a better Nigeria, and if we believe that all these years of agonising and criticising and bellyaching, writing long epistles and using the best vocabulary in the world to describe our failures as a nation, is directed at something positive, now is the time to make a push, not sit by the sidelines and snigger.

I believe there is no time to beat about the bush, and wonder whether now is the time to get rid of disconnected, expired, tired, irresponsible, unresponsive, catatonic, retrogressive, archaic, mentally-lazy and complicit leadership which has driven Nigeria to this sorry crossroads. Anyone who prevaricates is simply an enemy of progress.

Perhaps a reminder about our woes will ginger us to do the needful. Nigeria’s so many infamous firsts:

1. This week, the managing director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) told us of how Nigeria is the ONLY Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member that imports fuel (PMS);
2. He also said Nigeria is the largest importer of PMS in the world. They said we import a million tonnes monthly. I wonder what we produce that we use all of that fuel. Another mega fraud is going on;
3. Nigeria overtook India on January 17, 2018 as the country with the highest number of extremely poor people. When I checked on March 3, 2018, Nigeria had 83.2 million people that are extremely poor, while India’s numbers were down to 80 million. Nigeria is one of the few countries around the world – most of them in Africa – where poverty is still increasing. See;
4. Nigeria is the country with the worst police force in the world. The World Security and Policing Index (WISPI) rated Nigeria worst, especially with its low ratio of police to civilians. What the WISPI did not know is that most of the police it counted are working as bodyguards to politicians, civil servants, 419ers, money-miss-roads and their children and concubines. The serving AIG Zone 5 Benin, Mr Rasheed Akintunde says all of 80 percent of our policemen are on ‘body guard’ duties just a couple of weeks back;
5. Nigeria has the highest number of out of-school children in the world at around 15 million. This is higher than in the world’s most populated countries of India and China, where the population is almost ten times ours (each);
6. Nigeria has the highest proportion and numbers of unemployed and underemployed people in the world;
7. Nigeria has one of the worst health systems in the world. Bar none;
8. Nigeria is indeed the most corrupt country in the world. This one borders on insanity;
9. Nigeria is the most polluted country in the world, where we cannot take care of our
solid waste;
10. Nigeria has one of the world crime rates in the world – kidnapping, murder, fraud,
terrorism, religious and tribal strife, corruption and embezzlement, and so on.

Given these issues, I believe there is no time to beat about the bush, and wonder whether now is the time to get rid of disconnected, expired, tired, irresponsible, unresponsive, catatonic, retrogressive, archaic, mentally-lazy and complicit leadership which has driven Nigeria to this sorry crossroads. Anyone who prevaricates is simply an enemy of progress.

Nigeria as a country is like a building that has been running on generator since. None of the ideas that got us this far was ours originally. We produce nothing. We innovate nothing. We maintain nothing. Just like running a generator for a building… after a while it starts to cough. The proverbial generator running Nigeria has since been misused and is now coughing, bellowing black soot and is sure to ‘knock engine’. The crude oil that we depend on has become a liability to us; whether the price goes up or stays down, we are in trouble. One would then wonder what the benefit is.

And the surest evidence we need to know that Nigeria has no time at all, and no excuse in the world for being where it is, is that at least five companies, some created by mere teenagers, are valued more than Nigeria presently. Amazon, Google (Alphabet), Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple, are each all worth more than the whole of Nigeria. More on that on another day. But given these evidences, who in their right minds will delay the salvation of this great country?

Let me close by quoting Shiekh Mohammed Bin Rasheed Al Maktoum in his famous book My Vision:

“With each new day in Africa, a gazelle wakes up knowing he must outrun the fastest lion or perish. At the same time, a lion stirs and stretches, knowing he must outrun the fastest gazelle or starve. It is no different for the human race. Whether you consider yourself a gazelle or a lion, you simply have to run faster than others to survive.”

I wonder why he chose to speak about Africa. But it is prophetic for Nigeria today. We shouldn’t look too far to Europe… even countries in Africa may soon eat Nigeria up, while we argue about those who have no ‘experience’ and get stuck with dinosaurs for leaders.

Trade Between Nigeria And Australia Rises To N100bn

Trade transactions between Australia and Nigeria in the last two years have risen to about N100bn.

This was disclosed by the Australian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Paul Lehmann, on Thursday, in Lagos. Lehmann said in Lagos that trade relations between both countries in 2016 and 2017 were worth about AUD$343m, approximately about N100bn.

The High Commissioner said that apart from trade in goods and services, many Nigerians had within the two years also taken advantage of educational opportunities in Australia.

“We estimate that Australia’s total two-way trade in goods and services with Nigeria was worth about AUD$343m in 2016 and 2017, which is about N100bn.

“Many more Nigerians are choosing to study in Australia, which is becoming a key part of our trade relationship. A variety of Australian mining companies are also active in Nigeria.

“As the Nigerian mining sector develops, I expect to see even more interest from Australian firms to help to grow the mining industry here, particularly in solid minerals.

“I also see plenty of potential for trade and cooperation in our agricultural sectors, as well as different foods and beverages,’’ he said.

Lehmann, who described Australian investors as “intrepid,’’ said that there would be more opportunities for Australian businesses in Nigeria when conditions for the Ease of Doing Business improve.

He commended the Nigerian Government’s effort at improving the country’s business and investment environment, adding that more Australian companies would want to do business in Nigeria when the environment becomes right.

According to him, beyond mining and agriculture, Australian firms have strong reputations in ICT, logistics and transport, health and financial services, among many other sectors.

“Australian investors are intrepid, and if the conditions are right, there are many sectors that present opportunities for Australian businesses here.

“I expect interest in the Nigerian market to grow even more in the coming years, and I’m certainly optimistic about the direction of Nigeria’s economy and our trade relationships,’’ he added.

Australia is a country and continent surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans. Its major cities – Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide – are coastal. Its capital, Canberra, is inland and its largest urban area is Sydney.

Australia officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands.

It is the largest country in Oceania and the world’s sixth-largest country by total area.

The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the North; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the North-East; and New Zealand to the South-East.


Opening Up Rural Areas For Economic Development

Since the inception of the Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s administration in the State of Osun, the rural areas in the state have been receiving attention from the government through the Osun Rural Access Mobility Projects (RAMP). SHINA ABUBAKAR reviews some of the projects carried out by the agency so far.

As part of his campaign promises, Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola pledged to open up the rural areas as a means of not just reducing the Rural-Urban drift, but to ensure that farm produce gets to the markets in urban centres and add value to the agricultural sector in line with the administration’s six point Integral Action Plan to banish hunger and poverty, particularly at a time the nation’s economy needed much diversification from the monopoly of oil.

The activities of the present administration left no one in doubt of its desires towards the development of the rural areas as it tends to make roads accessible to the teeming populace who are farmers, potential farmers, young farmers or those who intends to venture into it, so as to reduce the stress of having to get perishable farm produce to the market, thereby reducing the loss of inputs and efforts put into farming.

The seriousness of the Aregbesola-led administration to open up rural areas attracted the attention of international organisations and the Federal Government of Nigeria,  and through partnership sponsor and finance construction and rehabilitation of earthen road and bridges that linked rural communities to the outer roads.

In the area of upgrading and rehabilitation of rural transport infrastructure, the state government through the coordination of Rural Access Mobility Project (RAMP) has completed over 250 kilometres of roads out of the 500 kilometres scheduled for rehabilitation and upgrading across the state. Some of the roads already completed include Agbowu/Ogbaagbaa-Idiroko-Eleru-Bode-Osi, Bode-Osi Township to Asa junction to Dagbolu-Ajagunlase, Eeleke-Kanko-Telemu and Kanko. Others include Agoro-Ikonifin-Sadeto Ajagunlaase, Akinleye-AbaAyo-Isero, Pataara-Ileko-Oba-Odo-Omi-Farm settlement road 1 and farm settlement spur, totaling 59 kilometres which are all located in Iwo Federal Constituency.

The agency has also completed the construction and rehabilitation of 50 kilometres of rural roads in Ife Federal Constituency covering over seven villages within the routes of Lawoka, Idiahun, Aagbala, Ifegunle, Elewa, Apoje, Elewaa, Ife Tutun and Owena. This area are known for their richness in the production of both cash crops and food that enhance the living standard of the farmers  in the area. These communities were known to have been cut off from the market as a result of inaccessibility over a long period, forcing many to abandon farming and relocate to other urban areas in the constituency until the recent intervention of the government.

Most of the farmers in the area have commended the singular effort of ORAMP in opening the areas to the market and reducing the rate at which they suffer losses from wasted farm produce.

In Ilesa Federal Constituency, about twenty communities have been successfully linked to major roads in the area thereby facilitating access to urban areas, either for the purpose of agricultural, economic or social activities. Besides, some of the roads do not only serve farmers purpose, they are also emergency route during health situations.

The communities that benefitted from the first phase of the project in the federal constituency are Ilesa, Odogbo, Araromi, Ilo-Olomo, Ira, Ikeji-Ile, Arakeji, Araromi, Alagbe, Ibete and Orisunbare.

Others include, Ilesa, Muroko, Ilaa, Isolo, Okebode, Iwara, Asukuru, Odogbo and Isale General in Ilesa town and the total length is 50 kilometres.

Similarly, the administration also intervened in the construction of numbers of roads across the state to facilitate vehicular and human movement both inter and intra state to boost economic activities in both the rural and urban centres. Some of the roads in this class include; Iwo-Pataara road, Esa-Oke-Esa-Odo Farm settlement, Mokore Farm Settlement road, Orile-Owu/Ago-Owu Farm Settlement road, Idiroko-Akinleye Farm Settlement road, Farmers’ Plank Market road, Aato-Ayegunle-Ilawo road, Alaguntan Forest reserve Road, Ita-Oni-Onikoko road, Erin-Oke, QIIP Farm Road, Kuta, Okinni-Igbokiti O-Fish Farm Road, Asawo-sola Alusekere Road, Fashina-Agbagba-Adekanye-Osu Road, and OAU Road 7-Surulere Qrts-Ilesa Road and reconstruction and reclamation of Olufi Market in Gbongan.

Other markets that benefitted from the scheme are New MDS Market in Osogbo, Building Materials Market, Yam Market, Neighbourhood Market. Other roads in this category are Ajebandele-Fadehan-Lagata, Oba Sijuade Road, grading of Iyanfoworogi-Orinsunbare-Ajobo Junction and Aba Apa, Babasuwe Junction-Esa-Odo and the construction of Idi-Ore River Bridge.

Also, in the area of construction of bridges and river crossings, this administration blazed the trail by ensuring that communities that have been cut off from the rest of the state are reconnected to one another through this linkable roads. Many of the dwellers did not believe they could be reconnected to the socio-economic activities in the major towns considering the rate at which many urban centres crave for government attention.

However, the ORAMP management worked wonders by ensuring that even in the midst of paucity of funds, rural dwellers are also catered for and economic activities reawakened in the respective enclaves. Some of the benefiting communities are; Elewonta  river on Oke-Ola Elewonta road, Ohun river on Dabongbon Along Ago-Owu Farm settlement , Oke-Afo/ Alawe stream on Oke-Afo- Oluponna road, Olomu stream  on Fidiwo/Funmilayo road, Eyin-Ade stream at Okuta Aje Area, Osese River and Aatan stream along Koko road at Polytechnic road, Obuke River at Olukesi farm.

The agency did not stop at the named communities, it also extended its services to many rural isolated towns like;  Ejeo River, Ipon stream Agbelejere Road on Oyan- Otan Ayegbanju road, Owere River, Gbalefefe stream, Isule River at Oke-Aho, Ata River, Ogbaagbaa River, Alabakan River, Alakaso River, Oroki River along Otan-Ile – Ipetu-Ile Road, Oriki River along Otan-Ile –Igbajo road and  Asejere River along promised land.

Other benefiting communities are; Power line River along Oke-Odo, Olojo stream at Olojo Farm linking Aroko and Ilupeju communities, Omi River on Masifa- Isundunrin road, Shasha bridge, Opa river at Opa-Odunanin village on Doya –Akinola Road, Oyi adunni river, Oyile bridge on Oyile River.

Since the completion of these projects, it has brought about positive impact on the communities and its dwellers, both socially and economically. The state agricultural sector has recorded tremendous increase in output as more farm produce get to the urban markets on time and there is reduction in the cost of transporting the produce. It also reduces travelling time between these communities, especially those that are bounded by rivers, as travelers do not have to find their ways against the rivers through neighbouring communities.

The ORAMP initiative has also help to eliminate the middle-man concept thereby giving farmers the power of bargain as they now deal with buyers directly and this singular act has increased the income of the farmers. It also created job for the youth in the areas, as there are different community-driven programmes created to ensure the maintenance of these roads. The scheme engages youth in the community and as a result, reduces restlessness among them.

In the area of social development, the ORAMP scheme has increase land values in all the communities where the projects were executed , while the literacy level in the areas have also increased as a result of more social interaction between and among the migrating populace.

According to the project coordinator of O-RAMP, Engineer Adelere Oriolowo, the agency is able to perform to this level as a result of the high level support received from Governor Rauf Aregbesola through regular payment of its counterpart-fund and ensuring capacity building for staffers of the agency without defaulting on the provisions of donor partners.


African Development Bank Denies Cancelling Loan To Nigeria

The African Development Bank (ADB) has denied allegations by media reports that it has called off its $600 million loan to Nigeria.

In a statement by the Senior Communications Officer  in the Country  Office in Abuja, Fatimah Alkali, it was made clear that the bank is set out to encourage the economic growth of the country.

Alkali said; “The African Development Bank wishes to categorically refute the statement that it has “called off loans to Nigeria”
“The African Development Bank is highly encouraged by the economic recovery of Nigeria from recession and salutes the government’s efforts towards diversification of the economy. The bank also strongly supports the Economic and Growth Recovery Plan of the Government and efforts to stem corruption and strengthen fiscal consolidation and efficiency.

“In November 2016, the Board of the African Development Bank approved a $600-million loan to support Nigeria’s efforts to cope with macroeconomic and fiscal shocks that arose from the massive decline in price of crude oil. An additional $400 million in support could be considered, if requested and approved by the Board, as part of a larger coordinated effort with other development partners, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

“The African Development Bank is in consultations with the Government on how best to continue its support for its laudable Economic and Growth Recovery Plan through investment projects that will help address existing structural challenges, including infrastructure, power, agriculture and support to boost private sector and job creation.

“The bank assures the Nigerian government of its full support for its continued reforms to diversify the economy and boost economic growth and development.”

Nigeria Will Never Return To Years Of Waste – Osinbajo

At the 2017 graduation of the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, in Kuru, Jos, on Saturday, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo reeled out the various achievements of the Buhari administration, despite scarce financial resources, made more difficult by the squandermania of the Jonathan era.

He noted among other things, that despite the fall of revenue by 60 per cent, the Buhari administration started a series of bailouts for the States, to enable them pay salaries and pensions. The government was also able to provide about N1.3trillion for capital expenditure, the largest amount for capital in our nation’s history.

“For the first time in five years we saved $500million, and invested another $500million in the Sovereign Wealth Fund. Today our external reserves stands at $35billion the highest in the past four years.

“We must pay attention to what we are seeing today, and some of the shameless noises of those who brought our nation to its knees, many of whom still have looted funds in their possession, trying to rewrite history and hoodwink the populace again. We say never again.

I am going to focus on the economy, where we are, and where we are heading in the next 12 months. What are the policy choices we have made? Why have we made those choices? Are those policy choices working?

From the very beginning of our administration when Mr. President asked me to head the economic management team, he made it clear that in his view, the major reason for the slow development of our nation and the poverty of millions of our people, was corruption and mismanagement of public funds & resources. And that fighting corruption and mismanagement of public resources was as much an economic imperative, as it was a law and order issue. I agreed.

We, from that point, put in place structures that would ensure prudent and transparent management of resources. In July 2015, the President ordered that all MDAs funds should be paid into the Treasury Single Account. This ended years of MDAs keeping secret bank accounts, in some cases putting public funds in fixed deposit for interest far below market rates. Banks would then lend money back to government by buying treasury bills at substantially higher interest. Today, government knows exactly how much we have, and we are saving significantly.

Early in 2016, an Efficiency Unit was set up under the Federal Ministry of Finance to reduce wastage, plug leakages and foster greater fiscal transparency. The Efficiency Unit has enforced several deliberate cost-cutting measures including the removal or reduction of sitting allowances for civil servants in many cases, and saved over 1 billion a year, stopping the procurement of souvenirs, and printing for government programmes, we saved another N1billion.

By reviewing travel expenditures, and negotiating procurement discounts, we saved N15billion. We have also removed or reduced meals and refreshments for meetings, and saved another N1billion annually.

We stopped the siphoning of funds through ghost workers by insisting that all MDAs must be on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) across government, and also mandated the use of BVN. Over 461 Federal MDAs have been captured on the system thus far, with the objective being able to enrol all of them. We are now saving N25billion a month, from cleaning up the payroll in this way. The President has also ordered all Armed Forces personnel to be captured on IPPIS.

It is important to understand, what these measures to block leakages and stealing of public resources mean for economic performance. I will demonstrate that impact.

When we came into office, over 22 States were owing salaries. They were owing despite the fact that between 2011 and 2015, Nigeria earned its highest ever revenues from oil. Oil was selling at between $100 and $115 a barrel. Yet reserves between 2014 and 2015 fell from $35billion to $28billion in April 2015. When we came into office, oil prices fell as low as $28 a barrel, the unrest in the Niger Delta, especially the vandalization of pipelines and oil and gas assets reduced the production at some point by over a million barrels a day. Revenues dropped by as much as 60%.

But with 60% less revenue, we started a series of bailouts for the States, to enable them pay salaries and pensions. With 60% less revenue, we were able to provide about N1.3trillion for capital expenditure, the largest amount for capital in our nation’s history.

For the first time in five years we saved $500million, and invested another $500million in the Sovereign Wealth Fund. Today our external reserves stands at $35billion the highest in the past four years.

We have made the point, that Nigeria is not poor because it has no resources, it is poor because a lot its resources are stolen or mismanaged. We can do a lot more with far less, if we don’t allow stealing.”

Nigeria Among 10 Economies With Ease Of Doing Business

Nigeria was named among the 10 economies showing the most notable improvement in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business list published on Tuesday. It rose 24 places in the ranking of countries to 145th place. Nigeria this year introduced initiatives aimed at improving the business environment, such as new systems to speed up the processing of visas for executives.



Local and foreign business leaders have long complained that red tape, mismanagement and corruption have made it difficult to operate in Africa’s most populous country, which has the continent’s largest economy.



“Three Sub-Saharan African economies – Nigeria, Malawi and Zambia – made it to the list of 10 top improvers in 2016/17,” stated the report.



It said Nigeria made the process of starting a business faster by introducing the electronic approval of registration documents, improved access to credit information and introduced a centralized electronic system to pay federal taxes.



President Muhammadu Buhari said the report “reflects our efforts to make it easy for foreign business visitors to obtain visa on arrival, pass through our airports and do their businesses with ease and speed”.



The annual World Bank report covered the period from June 2 last year to June 1 this year.

The Sleeping Economic Power

The past of the country and its present, are so scary that one to wonder if that past is the future of Africa. It was the pearl of the Caribbean, a colonial possession of France that was the envy of all colonial powers

– British, Spanish and Portuguese. Then, it fought a brutal war against its colonial master, defeated an army Napoleon sent to restore slavery to the island and declared its freedom and independence in 1804. It tore out the white in the French flag to make its first national flag. Later the blue was replaced with black. According to Ernst Etienne, Haitian son of a clergyman, industrial engineer, “Haitians have not stopped declining since their great victory over Bonaparte’s army. Haiti once called the Pearl of the Antilles and the first independent republic of coloured people is today the poorest country on the American continent” (Page 10).

One did not just wonder if the past of Haiti would not be the future of Africa but for the fact that African countries have relentlessly been following the path that Haiti has been following for two hundred years since that 1804 de parathion of independence. Name an African country; it is in debt, dependent on foreign aid, ruled by rogues whose offsprings are cuddling expensive champagnes and moving around the world in expensive German or Italian wheels. Its people are dying of diseases whose cures are easily available, while their presidents go abroad for operations on their ladies fancy fashion demands.

Any Africa Country!
When I have nothing to do, I go and do it in a bookshop, but virtual and online. And the Kindle Store is unbeatable in books, magazines to browse and perhaps buy, or borrow if not sure of the possibility of buying because of cost or lack of funds.
This is how Haiti: The Sleeping Economic Power by Ernst Etienne hit me! Haiti, half of an island (and the more damaged half of the island for that matter), a sleeping economic power? I thought Nigeria was the sleeping Economic power. Or South Africa. Or Angola. Or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Haiti? How Engineer Etienne, do you want to swing this?

This book begins with an engineering mathematics lecture in 1895, in which a student asked if “the professor thinks that an object that is heavier than air could be used as a means of air transportation in the years come” (Page 4). Impossible is the response of the professor and fellow students. Fast forward to 1903 and the Wright brothers who build a machine that takes people into the air and back to earth. What made the impossible possible?

“The strategy they used,” says Engineer Etienne, “was to put the problem on paper, to translate it into mathematical language, to cope up with a solution, to take this solution and apply it to a flying machine” (Page 6).

They are able to solve the problem by applying Bernoulli’s theorem to it. This deals with aerodynamics. “Following the example of scientists in 1903, it is time for us to put Haiti’s problem on paper and derive the mathematical formula to arrive at a solution which will allow the country to take its place among industrialized countries” (Page 11). Engineer Etienne then produces “the formula for the development of Haiti” as follows:
A=X1(C) + X2(E)-X3(L1)-X4(L2) where
X1 is the Selling Price of local products;
X2 is the selling price of exported products;
X3 is the Cost price of international items;
X4 is the Cost price of imported goods;
C is the Local consumption;
E is the Exported finished products;
L1 is imported items;
L2 is the imported finished products.
We can also write this formula in a more explicit manner:
A = (Sale of local products) + (Sale of exported products) – Purchases of imported items) – (Purchases of imported finished products). When the value of A is positive, we could say ‘Haiti is a developed country.’ (page 11) “This formula may also be seen as a triangle whose three sides are:
1. Haiti must produce a lot;
2. Haiti must export a lot;
3. Haiti must be imported a little” (Page 12).

This book was first published on November 15, 2015. It would seem that Engineer Etienne ignores countries that have used local consumption as the beginning of their industrialization. But this is really a minor matter. The point being made is that if you earn 600 units of whatever currency per month, you cannot develop no matter what foreign aid you are getting. No matter how many hours you spend on your knees or on the prayer mat or making sacrifices in form of whatever shrines, you cannot go forward and prosper like other countries that have developed.

In spite of this book being only 71 or so pages, it is impossible to do just for it. It needs to be read in its entirety. The book points out that waiting for economic aid from another country does not develop your country. Many writers have pointed this out both in Africa and outside of Africa. The book also insists that letting other countries/companies invest in your country.
On the role of mass literacy in the country, the example of Cuba is given. “… in 1960, the literacy rate in Cuba was 60 per cent, a level lower than Haiti’s in 2011 (62.1 per cent). In only one year, from January 1961 to December 1961, the literacy rate in Cuba increased to 96 per cent” (Page 35).

Those who give gifts that give them gifts in return! And it is not those to whom the gifts are given who given who give the givers gifts. It is the gifts themselves that do. Watch out for the gifts you receive!

There is nothing about corruption, preventing it, fighting it, resisting the war against it. Nothing because it is a distraction to concentrate on a crime instead of punishing the criminal and getting on with the business of applying one’s intelligence and one’s brain to solving the problem at hand. Corruption is a crime. Punish it and get on with the life of the country.

Also, there is nothing about prayers. Stop praying and apply your brains. Else pray God permits you to

Tony Elumelu Foundation Reveals Bigger Plans For Their 3rd Annual Forum

Chief Executive Officer of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Mrs Parminder Obe, in a briefing in Lagos on Friday announced plan to host 1,300 African Entrepreneurs, Business leaders and Policymakers from 54 countries in Lagos. Mrs Obe said the 3rd Annual TEF Entrepreneurship Forum was slated for Oct. 13.

She said the 2017 invitation had been extended beyond the usual 1,000 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs to include selected SMEs, media, hubs, incubators, academia and investors from across Africa.

“Assembled SMEs will build networks, share knowledge, connect with investors and link with corporate supply chains.

“Since launching the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme and committing $100 million to empowering 10,000 African entrepreneurs in a decade, we have unleashed our continent’s most potent development force, its entrepreneurs.

“In just three years, our first 3,000 entrepreneurs have created tens of thousands of jobs and generated considerable wealth.

“On Oct. 13 and 14, the global entrepreneurship community will gather in Lagos to build a New Africa, a thriving, self-reliant continent capable of replicating the results of our ground-breaking programme.

“The two-day forum will feature plenary panels, master classes, sector specific networking opportunities and policy-led forums focused on enabling African business growth.

“This is the first year we have opened the forum up to include the full pan-African entrepreneurship ecosystem.

“In doing so, we are enabling African SME communities to come together and expand the possibilities for intra-African partnerships.

“I am looking forward to welcoming our invited policy-makers and investors to join us at the forum, as we empower the next generation of African business leaders,’’ she said.

Also speaking, Mrs Owen Omogiafo, the TEF’s Chief Operating Officer, said speakers at the forum would include Wale Ayeni of International Finance Corporation, Stephen Kauma, Afrexim Bank and Andre Hue, African Development Bank.

“Others are Stephen M. Haykin, USAID Nigeria, Heikke Reugger, European Investment Bank and Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, United Nations Development Programme,’’ she said.

Omogiafo said TEF’s long-term investment in empowering African entrepreneurs was emblematic of Tony Elumelu’s philosophy of Africa Capitalism, which positions Africa’s private sector, as catalysts for social and economic development.

She said the foundation, which was founded in 2010 by Tony Elumelu, was aimed at empowering a generation of successful pro-profit entrepreneurs who drive Africa’s economic and social transformation.

According to her, the foundation received 20,000 applications in 2015 from residents of 53 African countries out of which 1,000 applicants were selected, with Nigeria contributing 64 per cent.

“In 2016, 45,000 applications were received with Nigeria contributing 30 per cent with 1000 selected applicants.

“Agriculture leads the sectors represented with 26.67 per cent: a great number are into poultry and fish farming.

“Fashion and ICT followed in second and third with 10 and 8.8 per cent respectively.

“This year, we received 93,246 applications out of which 1,300 applicants had been selected in 52 African countries with 57.1 per cent from Nigeria for the forum.

“Entrepreneurs are coming from Kenya. Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania, Cameroon, South Africa, Rwanda, Botswana and Cote d’Ivoire,’’ she said.

Nigeria Won’t Break Up Under Me- Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has promised that despite the fragile unity of the state and calls for secession from certain quarters, Nigeria would not “break up under me.”

The President said, “In the past two years, Nigeria has recorded appreciable gains in political freedom. A political party at the centre losing governorship elections, National Assembly seats and even state assemblies to opposition parties is new to Nigeria.

“Added to these is a complete freedom to associate, to hold and disseminate opinions. Such developments clearly attest to the country’s growing political development.

“Recent calls for re-structuring, quite proper in a legitimate debate, has let in highly irresponsible groups to call for dismemberment of the country. We cannot and we will not allow such advocacy.

“As a young army officer, I took part from the beginning to the end of our tragic civil war costing about two million lives, resulting in fearful destruction and untold suffering. Those who are agitating for a rerun were not born by 1967 and have no idea of the horrendous consequences of the civil conflict which we went through.

“Government is keeping up the momentum of dialogue with stakeholders in the Niger Delta to keep the peace. We intend to address genuine grievances of the communities.

“Government is grateful to the responsible leadership of those communities and will pursue lasting peace in the Niger Delta.”

“The APC government’s rallying cry to restore security, rebalance the economy and fight corruption was not all rhetoric.

“The country must first be secured. The economy must be rebalanced so that we do not depend on oil alone.

“We must fight corruption, which is Nigeria’s number one enemy. Our administration is tackling these tasks in earnest,” he said.

The President highlighted some of the achievements of his administration in the last two years in the areas of security, economy, and the fight against corruption.

He said as the nation entered the second half of his four-year term of office, he intended to accelerate progress and intensify his resolve to fix the country’s challenges and problems.

On security, he said Nigerians must be grateful to the nation’s Armed Forces for rolling back the frontiers of Boko Haram’s terrorism, defeating them and reducing them to “cowardly attacks on soft and vulnerable targets.”

He thanked the country’s neighbours and the international community for the collective efforts to defeat terrorism.

“Government is working round the clock to ensure the release of the remaining Chibok girls, as well as other persons in Boko Haram captivity. Government will continue to support the Armed Forces and other security agencies to fight not only terrorism, but kidnapping, armed robbery, herdsmen/farmers violence and to ensure peace, stability and security in our country,” he added.

“Since December last year, this administration has produced over seven million 50kg bags of fertiliser. Eleven blending plants with a capacity of 2.1 million metric tons have been reactivated. We have saved $150m in foreign exchange and N60bn in subsidy. Fertiliser prices have dropped from N13,000 to N5,500 per 50kg bag.

“Furthermore, a new presidential initiative is starting with each state of the federation creating a minimum of 10,000 jobs for unemployed youths, again with the aid of CBN’s development finance initiatives.

“Power remains a huge problem. As of September 12, production of power reached an all-time high of 7,001 megawatts. Government is increasing its investment, clearing up the operational and financial logjam bedevilling the industry. We hope to reach 10,000 megawatts by 2020.

“Key priorities include better energy mix through solar and hydro technologies. I am glad to say that after many years in limbo, the Mambilla Power Project has taken off.

“Elsewhere in the economy, the special window created for manufacturers, investors and exporters and foreign exchange requirements has proved very effective. Since April, about $7bn has come through this window alone. The main effect of these policies is improved confidence in the economy and better investment sentiments.

“The country has recorded seven consecutive months of lower inflation, naira rate is beginning to stabilise, appreciating from N525 per $1 in February this year to N360 today. Broad-based economic growth is leading us out of recession.

“Furthermore, in order to stabilise the polity, the Federal Government gave additional support to states in the form of State Excess Crude Account loans, Budget Support Facility, and Stabilisation Fund Release to state and local government as follows: N200bn in 2015; N441bn in 2016; and N1tn in 2017, totalling N1.642tn.

Senate Summons Adeosun, Udoma Over Economy

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and her Budget and National Planning counterpart, Sen. Udo Udoma have been summoned by the Senate to brief Nigerians on developments in the economy. Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Sen. Sabi Abdullahi, made this known when he briefed newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja.

Abdullahi said that the invitation of the ministers was to get assurance on measures being put in place to prop-up and continuously support the economy to forestall relapse to recession.

He recalled that it was on the floor of the Senate that Nigeria was declared to be technically in recession.

According to him, we had cause to discuss the issue of recession that came up last year.

“We are glad that we have at least exited recession by virtue of the 0.55 per cent marginal growth we have recorded.”

Abdullahi, however, said that there was need for managers of the economy to explain its state to citizens, especially with the issues of recession.

He urged the economy managers to step-up their jobs in order to consolidate current gains and avert any relapse to recession.

Seven Urgent Ways To Fix The Economy – Tinubu

Former Lagos Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was Principal Guest of Honour/Keynote Speaker at the 2017 Annual Dinner of the King’s College Old Boys’ Association (KCOBA) on Saturday, September 23rd, 2017 at King’s College, Lagos.

In the speech read on his behalf by one time Lagos Commissioner for Finance in Lagos, Mr  Olawale Edun, Tinubu among others offered ideas that may aid the urgent need for fixing the nation’s economy.

The seven suggestions by Tinubu are as follows:


Our current national economic model is but an old, crumbling house. Repairing this edifice is the greatest challenge confronting us.


We must press forward with a national industrial policy fostering development of strategic industries that create jobs as well as spur further economic growth. Whether we decide to focus attention on steel, textiles, cars, machinery components, or other items, we must focus on manufacturing things that Nigerians and the rest of the world value and want to buy.
We must partially reshape the market place to accomplish this. The federal government should institute a policy of tax credits, subsidies and insulate critical sectors from the negative impact of imports.


2. We need a national infrastructure plan. Roads, ports, bridges and railways need enhancing and new ones need to be built, the goal must be a coherently-planned and integrated infrastructural grid. A national economy cannot grow beyond the capacity of the infrastructure that serves it. Good infrastructure yields a prospering economy. Weak infrastructure relegates the economy to the poorhouse. Government must take the lead.

The focus on infrastructure has important corollary benefit. Federal expenditure for needed infrastructural spending h empirically proven in every place and in every era to boost recessionary economies and provide employment when sorely needed. Deficit spending in our own currency to advance this mission is neither a luxury nor a mistake. It is a fulcrum of and balanced and shared prosperity.

3. We must overcome the economic, political and bureaucratic bottlenecks preventing us from achieving reliable electrical power.

This is perhaps the single greatest impediment to economic advancement. The lack of power inflates costs, undercuts productivity, causing havoc to overall economic activity and job creation. Our economic situation is literally and figuratively in the dark.
The hurdles we face are not technical in nature.

We must convince those political and economic factors currently impeding our quest for reliable power to step aside that we may obtain this critical ingredient to economic vitality.

4. Modern economies are based on credit. However, credit for business investment is too costly in Nigeria.

The long-term economic strength of the nation is dependent on how we deploy now idle men, material and machines into productive endeavor. And this is highly dependent on the interest rate.

The CBN must cure its affection for high interest rates. Lower rates are required so our industrialists may borrow without fear that excessive costs of borrowing will consign them to irredeemable debt. The normal profit rates in most business sectors cannot support the burden imposed by current interest rates.

If our industrialists do not invest in more plant, equipment and jobs, the economy will stagnate. The banking system would have achieved its goal of low interest rates at the greater costs of economic growth. This is as misguided as trying to save a branch by chopping down the tree.

Consumer credit must be more accessible to the average person. The prevailing norm is for a person to purchase high -priced items such as a car in one lump sum. This is oppressive. It defeats the average person and constrains transactions in real estate, vehicles and appliances that could vitalize the economy.

5. The government-backed home mortgage system must be re-engineered.  Mortgage loan agencies must be better funded, and liberalize their eligibility requirements so that more people qualify. They need to provide longer-term mortgages with manageable interest rates. Government should provide the supporting guarantees to make such financing a reality.

By sparking the effective demand for housing, the overall economy is enhanced. The construction sector and the industries allied to it will surge.

Moreover, to the extent that a man has a house he calls his own, that man is content; his contentment and innate common sense will act as brakes against instability and reckless political conduct.

6. Also, a workable credit system lessens corruption. The current lump-sum payment requirement tempts people toward misconduct. They see no other way to secure such large sums. Their wages will not suffice. Thus, they either must steal the money, beg for it or forego the purchase. Having an accessible credit system that provides for periodic installment payments places a purchase within the reach of a person’s wages. They no longer have to equate being honest with doing without.

7. Agriculture remains the backbone of the nation. We must help the common farmer by improving rural output and incomes.  This is best done via ensuring minimum prices for crops strategic to food security. Here, we must revive an old practice and policy that served us well. Though effective, this policy was shunned because it conflicted with the free market totems that we were asked to erect against our own interests.
We must return to commodity exchange boards which will allow farmers to secure good prices and hedge against loss. An agricultural mortgage loan corporation should be inaugurated to further promote these goals.