By Josef Omorotionmwan
WE have had to challenge a few prayer points, particularly those that run contrary to conventional wisdom. It is common among the Pentecostals, to be asking God to make them lenders and not borrowers.
Evidently, such short-change themselves because in today’s world, most viable projects are financed on borrowed money. Personal savings may succeed in taking you barely above the subsistence level.
On our side, we have always relied on God to bring the good project; point to the source of borrowing for the execution; and provide us the wherewithal to repay the loan.
Come to think of it, the debtor may have the potential to live longer than his creditor. Until the loan is fully amortized, the creditor cannot sleep well. It is like having your containers on the high sea. Until the ship berths and the last container is successfully discharged, the consignee knows no sleep. Essentially, while the debtor has only himself to pray for, the creditor must continuously pray for himself and the debtor to stay alive. This is where the creditor bears a bigger burden.
We proclaim in the abstract that our economy is in a recession. But how many are aware of the full import of a recession? Recession is not a tea party. Rather, it is an ill-wind that blows no one any good. Our current approach to the cure of this recession is apparently one of trying to make omelette without breaking eggs.
First, serious-mindedness should teach us by now to begin to de-emphasize the issue of who caused our recession. Only then can we attack the monster frontally.
In fact, recession comes in the form of a long distance race, not by sprint; and it is difficult to place a finger on who caused it. Everyone is guilty as charged. Those bogus contracts we awarded to the portfolio-carrying contractors, who collected the contract sum but didn’t do the work; when we suddenly became a nation of lazy people, permanently on holidays, declared and undeclared; time was when we produced an average of 2.1 million barrels of oil daily; and oil sold for an average of well over $100 per barrel; yet we squandered all the money, without saving or investing on infrastructure – all these have now come home to roost; and we are surprised?
The stark reality of our current situation is that while oil still remains the mainstay of our economy, we are now only able to produce less than 1 million barrels per day, half of which gets vandalised or stolen enroute the oil market. And the price of oil has plummeted to $30 per barrel. Whichever way we look, tragedy stares us in the face.
The truth about our present predicament is that it is not he who causes it that cures it. After all, the problems we are facing today were already looming during the 2015 general elections. We had a right to avoid the problems by not contesting the elections. Now that we have contested and won, the solution of those problems becomes our utmost priority. That’s the natural order – governments inherit the assets and liabilities of predecessors.
Everyone must realise that extraordinary situations, such as we are in now, definitely call for extraordinary actions. A recession is usually fought with spending and more spending; and in most cases, it means that you must reflate the economy through deliberate borrowing.
Meanwhile, everyone appears not to realise the enormity of the problem before us. From both sides of the divide, no seriousness is being demonstrated. From the scanty noise we hear from a distance, the National Assembly seems to be giving the impression that President Muhammadu Buhari is looking for money for the next breakfast. It has not yet dawned on them that everyone has a stake, and they, more than the President, have a higher stake in pulling Nigeria out of this mess.
We hear that, for a start, the President seeks a $40 billion loan and the Senate thinks that the approval of such loan is a favour to the President. Who is really favouring whom? And how weird it sounds that the Senate President might use the loan approval as a trade-off for his travails at the Code of Conduct Tribunal?
The Federal Government is not yet serious either. How can the administration be sending a loan request to the National Assembly without accompanying same with a framework of how they intend to apply the loan? The impression is simply created that, as usual with past regimes, you are borrowing to finance fraud!
Again, when the Federal Government says it wants to sell some of its assets as a way of pulling us out of the current recession, it simply behoves the Administration to make public, the list of such assets. We insist that Government should not under any guise, begin to dispose of its blue-chip assets.
We must now begin to ask the supplementary questions: what percentage of the 2016 appropriations has been executed now? The Tortoise is relevant here. He says when he hears that his wife is in the market fighting over salt and pepper; he is assured that there will be dinner tonight. By now, we should hear that President Buhari is seeking additional funding for 2016; that the bulldozers and caterpillars are already roaring all over the country; that public housing schemes are being reinvigorated across the land; and so on.
We want to hear that the President has properly presented a Bill for budgetary authorisation and approval to reflate the economy. Such expenditure must be directed at massive infrastructural development, obviously powered by deliberate borrowing. That’s the way to create jobs and put disposable income in the hands of our teaming youth population.
The experiences of other countries like the USA, Turkey, Brazil and lately, Greece, all point in the same direction – the only cure for a recession or depression is massive borrowing for massive development. Let no one shy away from the truth.