By Muhammed Adamu
I WAS wondering last week, from the potpourri of the many PDP cabinets, made up usually of internationally-sourced economic ‘experts’ –ministers, advisers and all- whether we actually got any economic benefit in all the 16 years of that party in office.
I was wondering whether, because of the Okonjo Iwealas, the Obi Ezekwesilis, the Charles Soludos “and all the other gray-mattered economic boffins” we had celebrated as touchstone, Nigeria was able to make it to the Seventh Heaven, or at the very least keep out of the woods that all capitalist economies would otherwise have been lost in if they did not have men of such highfalutin economic savvy to tend them. And I wondered too why, in spite of the unprecedented, mind-numbing earnings from oil, in the 16 years of PDP, we still had to go into an over draught and, ironically, had to be helped out of a recession by a man of moral character, rather than by men with so called ‘economic brains’.
Our Ivy leagued economic experts fed from the doctrinaire fountain of micro and macro economics, so called economic gurus trained in the complex voodoo terrains of fiscal and monetary policies, rather than keep us away from the woods, had taken us deeper into denser forests.
For 16 years it had always been one economic talk-shop after another, midwifing policies and counter policies that did nothing but erase the middleclass to entrench the gulf between a continuously constricting club of the ‘haves’ and a burgeoning class of the ‘have-nots’. We had been held spellbound for 16 years by the riveting sleight of hand of Houdinis from the World Bank who have perfected the art of ‘movement’ always without ‘motion’ and dynamism without activity. In the days of the Iwealas, the Soludos and the Ezekwesilis, the province of economic savvy-ness had arrogated to itself such divine station we would almost have had to remove our shoes whenever we approached its hallowed ambience –like Moses did, to God before receiving the Ten Commandments.
And did not even Jesus warn that “there shall arise many false Christs and false prophets”? –and that ‘if it were possible’, they could even ‘deceive the very elect’? Or were we not deceived by false economic prophesies of a certain ‘golden future time’? We were guaranteed the ‘healing hands’ of Economic Teams that claimed to urn the candle at both ends. And we were told not to worry –that soon the two raging fires from both ends of the economic candle, would meet at our long hoped-for Eldorado. We did not heed the Shakespearean warning that “when two raging fires meet, together they do consume the thing that feeds their fury”.
But who would not have believed in the efficacy of their Economic Teams, especially with such assuring doctrinaire banners all around them, from the cautionary: ‘Geniuses At Work, Do Not Disturb!’ to the promissory: ‘For Your Tomorrow, We Give Our Today!’, and even to the warning: ‘No Admittance to Insanity Beyond This Gate!’ And so for 16 solid years we all patiently and respectfully kept our insanities away from the hallowed ambience of these experts, in the hope that we did not disturb ‘geniuses’ who were busy figuring out how to give their ‘today’ for the sake of our ‘tomorrow’. Until soon we found out, rather belatedly, that these were the ‘false Christs and false prophets’!
And now look where they have brought us -into the doldrums of Magnus Kpakol’s economic ‘ditch’! Yes, the ditch beyond which a fallen person fears no more fall; because it is already the ground below ground zero. By the turn of PDP’s 16 years of divine quackery, we had gone off the race tracks, away from the open fields and had slipped tragically into the bottommost gorge. And now that the true Messiah is cometh battling to reverse our ‘rot’ to ‘growth’ and guiding our once aimless ‘movements’ in the direction of ‘development’, our stiff-necked and rebellious Pharisees and Sadducees would not give him credit. Now they argue over when to measure ‘growth’ and when to reckon with ‘decay’. They say that ‘growth’ begins not with every effort the fallen man in the ditch makes to come out of it, but only when he returns fully on the track to continue the race.
But truth is, ‘growth’ is location-blind. It does not matter if a crop shoots up from the bottom of a valley or that it does so from the plain of a hill. Growth is growth, long as it is recorded in the opposite direction of rot. Every effort the man in the ditch makes to come out of it, is ‘growth’, notwithstanding he has not resumed his place on the race track. The proof of growth is not necessarily in visible development. It is in the fact that there is a movement in the opposite direction of rot. And so although there cannot be ‘development’ without ‘growth’, there can be ‘growth’ without visible ‘development’.
We got out of a recession even though we still face basic challenges. Meaning that although the absence of economic crunch can be proof that a nation is not in recession, yet the proof that a nation has exited a recession is not necessarily the absence of economic crunch.
But it could have been worse! And so if you do not appreciate the fact that we are out of a recession, at least you recognise the fact that we have managed to keep away from depression. Because we have sinned enough economically by now to have been in a depression. But here we are, not even in a recession. Yet, the tragedy of our situation is not that we had fallen off the economic race tracks, or that we had slipped into a ditch.
The tragedy of our situation is that every effort we make to come out of the ditch is countered desperately by subversives whose misgovernance was what had brought us here in the first place. Buhari’s economy is growing at great odds with monumental factors –both natural and man-induced- that diminish or threaten to diminish its impact on human development. Our economy has suffered extreme ‘wear and tear’ for 16 unbroken years. It was virtually brought to a standstill from sheer thieving by conscienceless and unconscionable politicians with appetite for wealth accumulation that is practically unassuageable.
And now that a painstaking –even if sluggish- Buhari is gradually unfastening and replacing worn and torn parts, a gang up of these looters and their beneficiaries is still arming up to reverse every little growth back in the direction of rot.
They are all over the perimeters of the ditch, clubs and cudgels at hand, ready always to frustrate every effort at lifting the economy out from the deep. A battalion of them just met in Dubai. This is about the only country you will ever know on the face of the earth, where organised efforts to harm the State is made the hallmark of partisan political opposition. When Labour announced that it would no longer shut the economy by going on strike, they said that it amounted to a betrayal of the ‘people’ –who wanted the strike to score partisan points.
To be concluded