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End of illusion 20:2020

By Dele Sobowale

The most obstinate illusions are ultimately broken by facts, Trevor-Roper.

The scalp of another top government official has landed on my trophy shelve: that of Dr Shamsudeen Usman, the Minister for National Planning. He joins the likes of the technocrats, led by Chief Shonekan, who championed the cause of the Structural Adjustment Programme, SAP in the 1980s to early 1990s,which ruined us till this day.

Shamsudeen will also have waiting to receive him Professor Ojowu, who as Chief Economic Adviser, CEA, to Obasanjo caved in to Presidential pressure and unilaterally reduced the percentage of Nigerians living under poverty from 70 to 54.4 per cent. Ojowu left, but the world has not changed its estimates 70 per cent of Nigerians still live in poverty.

Other defeated BIG men include Professor Soludo; who mesmerized Nigerians with Con-soludo-tion of banks. By 2007, I was screaming on this page that the Nigerian banking sector had become a swindle. Nobody listened until Sanusi blew the lid off the can of worms.

Last but not least, there was Madam Obama, the Director General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE. While Professor Ndidi Oyuike was telling Nigerians, in 2008, that the stock market was sound, I was warning that the NSE was heading for the graveyard. The market capitalization was N16.4 trillion in 2008; it is N10.6 today with new listings accounting for about N2 trillion of that amount.

Since 2007, Usman had been leading a group of people, in and out of government, deceiving Presidents YarAdua and Jonathan that Nigeria stood a chance of becoming one of the top 20 economies by the year 2020. That hoax was titled VISION 20:2020.

Not contented with just uttering the fallacies, which were designed to convince Fellow Nigerians, for whom they have total contempt, Usman actually established a VISION 20:2020 Committee including some of the brightest and the best people Nigeria has produced. In all fairness to the Committee members, not all of them were convinced. One member told me he was serving because governments take dim view of people who refuse when called to serve them. And, he did not want his business interests endangered.

Only God and Usman know how much of our lean national resources had been wasted on this ridiculous idea until last week when the Minister finally caved in to tell the world that he didn’t want to be held responsible if Nigeria does not reach the top 20 in 2020. According to him, I will be happy if we are 25 by 2020.

Really? If the Minister, who promoted a false campaign for over six years, is not held responsible for leading us astray, then who is?  Now that Usman had stepped back from the euphoria, which he started, the most honourable things for him to do are the following.

First, he should dissolve the VISION 20:2020 Committee and allow the people co-opted to this nonsense to go about their lives. They have been punished enough. And on no account should Jonathan allow another Committee to be inaugurated. VISION 2010 Committee was a failure; VISION 20:2020 was even worse.

Second, Usman should do the honourable things as is expected in more decent climes. I never believed him; but millions did and he has lost credibility by this admission that VISION: 20:2020 was a waste of time and resources. His observation that Nigeria moved from 44 to 39 in six years failed to take into account the fact that crude oil prices had reached record highs moving from $75 per barrel to over $120 in the period under review. If crude falls below $70 per barrel tomorrow, we might be down to 50 or worse.

His staff who had been attempting damage control sound like a bunch of illiterates. Even if Usman had warned that the vision was possible under certain conditions, he still had the responsibility of telling the Federal Government and Nigerians if those conditions are realizable in thirteen or fourteen years.

For instance, since it has taken us almost seventy years to reach 3000 MW of power production and only about 1,000 MW had been added in the last thirteen years, how realistic is it to expect 30,000 MW in the seven years left to 2020? Even the village idiot knows the answer to that one.

Meanwhile, President Jonathan who, apparently, would believe anything, was on record as Vice-President, in September 2009. He had announced to the whole world that, The targets for Vision 20:2020 are realistic and can be achieved even before then. As President, Goodluck is still wedded to that illusion while its author is running for cover.

PDP NOT OIL IS NIGERIA’S CURSE

..a political party deserves the approbation of Americans [or Nigerians] only as it represents the ideals, the aspirations and the hopes of Americans [and Nigerians]. If it is anything less, it is merely a conspiracy to seize power. President Dwight Eisenhower 1890-1969, November 7, 1956.

Conventional wisdom has it that Nigeria suffers from the curse of oil. That is nonsense. Oil is just another resource which generates funds which the leaders of a nation spend for the benefit of the people in general or steal for themselves as in Nigeria. Gadaffi in Libya and Chavez in Venezuela used oil revenue to transform the lives of their people positively.

Nigerian leaders, especially the presidents since 1999, had used the same oil revenue to ruin the lives of the people. The three Nigerian presidents, all elected on the platform of the PDP had collected  over N40 trillion since 1999 and Nigerians are poorer for it.

The difference between Nigeria and Libya or Venezuela is not in the source of revenue but in the fact that we continue to send to Aso Rock presidents who rob the people by willfully violating the laws which they have sworn to uphold. When the Senate announced that N1.52 trillion was misappropriated by three presidents – Obasanjo, YarAdua and Jonathan – there was more to the story than the statement suggests.

In that seemingly simple statement, the NASS was telling Nigerians that we have had incorrigible lawbreakers as Presidents since 1999 and that they have discovered the reason why Nigerians have not received the dividends of democracy and abundant oil reserves as the people of other oil producing countries. Nigeria, under PDP presidents, remains the only oil producing country in the world still classified as poor.

Incidentally, the Senate which made the grand announcement about the N1.52 trillion misappropriation is also PDP-led. There is probably no Senator who, if a honest probe is conducted on his sources of funds and disbursement of constituency allowances, would not be indicted. If we take the probe back to the third term attempt, some senators of whatever calibre may have questions to answer.

The truth is, Nigerians are not poor because we have the curse of oil but because we have the curse of the PDP and its leaders. And the sooner we face the truth the better for us. We will not turn the situation around as long as we continue to vote Jonathan and not PDPbecause it was not the PDP which had been misappropriatingfunds from the Special Accounts since 2010, and who continues to do so, it is President Jonathan.

It was not the PDP who, along with twelve other former Governors, was indicted by the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, for filing false assets declarations, it was Jonathan. There is no need to list seriatim all the documented instances of character defects of our present PDP president.

The fact is, it is almost impossible for a honest President to emerge from the ranks of the PDP as constituted right now. The PDP is simply a conspiracy, against the people of Nigeria. It had, seized power and the national purse and uses them to do what Chairman Bamanga Tukur called taking care of its members.

A political mafia that pushed convicted Lucky Igbiniedon on Edo State for eight years, and Jonathan, who says nothing while his wife is appointed as Permanent Secretaryin Bayelsa State, which she hardly visits, can never take Nigeria to the same heights as Indonesia another oil producing country with large population. When leaders collect funds on behalf of the people, they either invest in the people’s progress or they steal the money.


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