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Amnesty, deregulation and the fate of Nigeria

By Dele Sobowale
Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide, in the strife between truth of truth and falsehood, for the good or evil side —James Russell Lowell, 1729-1781 Vanguard Book of Quotations, p 254.

WE have several terrible crises on our hands. They are all inextricably linked and all point the same way – towards disaster of unimaginable proportions. In a curious way, amnesty and deregulation serve as proxy for all the others because the two represent different sides of ethical, political, economic, and social dilemmas that this nation must urgently resolve if the nation is to escape the fate of actually failed states.

We are already on the brink of the disaster and the warning by Ikemba Ojukwu, which had been ethnicised and misunderstood, is only one of many unpalatable truths we must tell ourselves if we want to avert the fate of other nations.

To the best of my knowledge, nobody actually sat down and decided that Somalia would become a nation without a government for more than 25 years; neither did anyone consciously arrange for Sudan to become another basket case.

The gradual descent into anarchy and increasing escalation of violence occurred and grew out of control probably because the leaders of those two countries, at the time it mattered most, failed to put nation above self-interest until there was no nation to lead anymore.

Let me start from the sector where I can at least claim some, though not a great deal, of knowledge – economics. The father of classical economics, Alfred Marshall, 1842-1924, had taught those of us who wandered into that branch of studies that, “The economist, like any one else, must concern himself (and herself) with the ultimate aims of man.”

And let me add, with the ultimate aims and objectives of the nation in which he lives. Invariably, what does not make sound economic sense cannot be the foundation for a strong and sustainable economy. Yet, a modern economist, Akio Morita, has been emphatic in his declaration that “en economy can only be as strong as its manufacturing base.”

(Vanguard Book of Quotations, p 45). Meanwhile, we know, and we have known for a long time, that the strength of an economy is a function of the fiscal and monetary policies. In Nigeria today, the fiscal policy is controlled by the Federal Government, while the monetary policy is largely under the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. How have these functions been carried out in the last three years? We could go further back than three years, but it would not make a difference.

The truth is, an objective assessment of our fiscal and monetary policies in the last three years would indicate that this is a nation gradually lurching towards total collapse. For a start, the 2008 budget was not fully implemented and many of the services promised the people were not delivered – roads, education, health, transport, security, fight against corruption, maternal and child mortality and even crude oil export declined.

About the only things holding up were those not under government control –GSM (despite its many headaches), agriculture and air travel. Government’s hand, which should be the guiding hand, became a strangle hold on the economy.

This year, with a month and two weeks to go, only 45 per cent of the budget has been implemented and the government is far behind in sending next year’s appropriation bill to the National Assembly. Obviously, we are in for another replay of this and last year’s budget fiasco. It is an axiom of economics that no nation can optimize its economic growth if its fiscal policy formulation and implementation are weak.

Adventures in prophecy

0803-335-7399: Uncle Dele, you’ve become a prophet in the hues of TB Joshua. Remember you advised Soludo to relocate abroad before his past omissions  and commissions at the CBN catch up with him.

With the House of Reps resolve to probe him and from what is happening in Anambra State now, I strongly urge you to start a church and I volunteer to be amongst your early adherents! —RNI, Owerri

WHAT most people do not know is that, prophets are almost always miserable. I should know, my adventures in predictions started from about age five before my mummy seriously warned me at age nine never to do it again. Yet, the spirit occasionally moves me to warn people of dangers ahead – even when they and others don’t see them.

I was baptized twice; first as Joseph; later as Jacob. As I was told the change was caused by my penchant for making predictions which inevitably came true. First, it was the case of the “barren” woman in our neighbourhood, who at almost 40 never had a baby. But, for some reason, I kept calling her “Iyabeji”, meaning mother of twins.

Well, a year after, I gave her that nick name, she was delivered of her first set of three twins in a row. There were a few other minor “positive” predictions which were well-received and alarmed nobody – until I was nine years old.

An old man in the area was admitted to General Hospital in Lagos and everybody including my mother went to visit him. One day it was widely announced that the man would be discharged the next day. While we were playing, I told my young colleagues in hushed tones “Baba ti ku” -“Baba is dead.” Little did I know the storm that whispered prophecy would unleash.

One of the smaller boys let out a cry of anguish because the Baba always gave us biscuits and sweets and before I knew it, the entire neighbourhood was in uproar – a prediction from Joseph was not to be taken lightly. Someone rushed to General Hospital and came back to report that Baba was well and eating heartily. The next day, they went for Baba and discovered an empty bed – the man had been packed to the mortuary.

That day my mother decided that I will be re-baptised; she could not have a Joseph for son because prophets always have problems – even when their prophecies come true. And she warned me never again to repeat it. But, foretelling is like diarrhoea, sometimes you just can’t hold back.

However, I have substantially done what mummy told me. I have held my tongue; sometimes biting it rather than say what I know would happen. Meanwhile, I will provide a few examples, some recent, some past. One thing is certain, I will never start a church. I am not holy enough for that and it is not my calling. But anyone ignoring my warnings almost always comes to grief….

To be continued


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.