By Bisi Lawrence
We keep pre-fixing his name with the prosaic title of “Mr.”, but I am sure that he must be an Alhaji—at he least. But then he is the prince of a great emirate, anyway.
We all have to attest to the fact that he is a banker, though some people have a problem with how good he is at that. What we can all agree about, however, is that he is not a diplomat. Indeed, I think he would be severely insulted if you called Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Governor of Central Bank, that to his face.
As if his given names were not enough, he must add a second middle name —” controversy”.
He draws disagreement to himself as a magnet attracts iron. If he is not in the masquerade of his regalia as a tribal (sorry, ethnic) chieftain, he is busy twanging the sensitive tail of the National Assembly.
This time, however, he really went in at the deep end. How could he essay to take on the entire work force of the civil service, with all the might of over 750 local governments, and still stick to his guns?
But that is a point in which I see a saving grace. He repeats himself! The man is unrepentant. He says the government has got its priorities wrong if it spends all of our money feeding its bloated existence, with little left to develop the country. I think he is right.
In fact, the first person who pointed that out was our esteemed Ngozi Okomjo-Iweala, the Minister of Finance, when she was being interviewed for the job. She deplored a budgetary regime that gave so much to current expenditure to the disadvantage of a responsible commitment to capital expenditure priorities in which lies the muscle of development.
That was during her interaction with the Senate. She got the job, and we are still getting the stiff end of a frightening fiscal policy.
The Central Bank governor, apparently alarmed, therefore suggests that the civil service should be halved. He advises that the number of our States is more than enough already, and repudiates the very idea of new ones.
He is highly critical of the proliferation of governmental posts governors by the dozens, ministers by the hundreds, senior assistants assisted by myriads of other assistants, legislators in the strength of legions, and a battalion of local government chieftains.
God is in His heaven, and all is well with the earth? Sanusi Lamido Sanusi says NO!
The entire elements of our governmental structure will decry his forthrightness because he appears to be set on snatching their daily bread from their mouth but, in the larger picture, he sees the mouth of the entire nation going dry.
We cannot sacrifice the welfare of those who would be adversely affected for the good of the State, of course, because they too are part and parcel of the State.
We would have to be able to accommodate them profitably in the scheme of things that would be devised through the reformation—the true transformation—that would be established from Sanusi’s revolutionary ideas. That would make them responsible.
the flood next time
The harmattan is here once again. The extreme dusty wind from theSaharais our portion of the world—wide visitation of wild winds. However, the harmattan is not really often violent, though it sometimes accompanied by a sandstorm especially to the far North of the country.
The oncoming storm raises a cloud of fine dust that darkens the sky and turns midday into the appearance of dusk; the sand penetrates into every crevice so that you even feel some grit on your tongue after it has swept over everywhere, it has even been accounted for several cases of blindness in the North.
In Asia and theFar East, typhoons are the storms that wreak seasonal damage on the land and sea among the people. Typhoon Bopha, raging across thePhilippineswas the latest deadly storm swiping the face of the earth with its destructive passage over areas that such a phenomenon is known to visit seasonally, It has accounted for over 280 lives already.
If it had occurred some thousands of miles across the Pacific, it would have been called a hurricane and given another name, likeSandyperhaps, but that would really have had no significant effect on the force of its wind, or the magnitude of its devastation.
When storms manifest their fury in snowy places they are recognized as blizzards. The avalanches that they are capable of setting off increase their destructive power with awful consequences, equal to landslides and worse on muddy terrains.
These stormy weather patterns are inevitably connected with precipitation, except in the case of the harmattan, and are thus predictable to a large extent. That is possible because there are experts who man advanced instruments to study the wind developments and make forecasts that are accurate almost to a precise degree.
We have such knowledgeable people too in this part of the world, or else we would not be part of the world-wide system of air travel since aeroplane safety depends on such expertise.
But it would appear that we pay little serious attention to the weather beyond that. One can clearly see the difference in the weather news reports of places like Asia, Europe and theUS, on the one side, and West Africa on the other.
The weather is indeed only newsworthy here when it creates a calamity somewhere, and it seldom does that in this part of the world. The result is that weather talk is usually inconsequential and we have therefore become complacent, until a phenomenon lashes out with a vengeance, just as it happened allover Nigeria recently.
The problem, of course, has been floods. An aspect of the problem to note here was that there was hardly any timely warning by way of reliable weather forecasts. That could have enabled the authorities to make adequate preparations against the far-flung ravages that were experienced by the hapless citizens affected.
In fact, since floods are not so strange in the various parts affected, the people themselves might have shown some initiative by some measure of expectation in a situation that had so much potential danger for their welfare, But there is no evidence that they did.
It was a harrowing period of existence but we can tell ourselves the truth now that the worst is over—this time. We could have been better prepared, and could therefore have managed the series of disaster better.
We indeed did not expect the severity of the impact of the flood. Though it was almost a seasonal occurrence in various places, the rains that increased the level of the rivers, or inflow from the lagoon, had not been so much for a long time.
Although we could have watched out better for the change in weather, some people go further to seek a reason for the impact to climate change. That indeed, puts a different colour on the problem.
Although this subject seems to have come up for world-wide concern only recently, it has been a point of serious discussion for decades. It has been discovered in recent decades that the level of greenhouse gases that can cause a rise in the temperature of the atmosphere is rising at an alarming rate.
The danger is in the effect on the polar icecaps that would thereby be melted and give rise to water levels around the world.
That would, in turn, result in floods that could almost rival the biblical phenomenon in real terms. For instance, a country like theRepublicofSeychelles, would simply disappear. Some other low-lying countries would lose a substantial portion of their land mass.
The effect on agriculture would be catastrophic in many places. The more frightening aspect of this scenario of untold calamity is that it could be very, very sudden and, once started, it can hardly be effectively checked.
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been at grips with this global problem for decades, conducting research, giving out facts and direct warnings in many instances.
The ? panel is made up of hundreds of scientists from various countries, and one would expect that it should carry enough clout to make national governments sit up and take notice. International conferences do get a fair response but only end up with hollow decisions that pay scant respect to recommendations arrived at.
It has been undisputed that the world’s snow cover and ice extent have decreased; that the average sea-level has increased while the heat content of the atmosphere has also increased; that global precipitation has risen; that there has been an increase in cloud cover; all to little avail.
The contribution to all this general eco-deterioration from human activity is considerable and could be controlled with a little sense of responsibility. The emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through industrial activity and motor vehicle operation, for instance, has been tackled rather shoddily.
A country likeChina commits very little or nothing at all to the efforts of a cleaner atmosphere, though it sends out more of the dangerous greenhouse gases than any other country.
And while sincere thoughts should be directed towards the safeguard of coastal fringes that seem prone to the phenomenon of ocean surges and onslaught of precipitation— like our ownLagos group of islands—we hear about visions ofAtlantic City.Lagos is seventy-two inches above sea level.
How much higher than that is the new concept? It looks grand, as a matter of fact, if adequate thought is being given to where it would be twenty years from now.
But then, there are other scientists in the world who believe that the “earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof?, and that He has established it so that it cannot be moved”. They boldly affirm that changes and variations in weather occur, and have occurred, from time to time. And so it was also in the days of Noah: “People were marrying and giving themselves in marriage….
Until suddenly, the flood came.
We have had a taste of it. How prepared are we really for the next time?