By Muhammed Adamu
HOW could we have got anything from a PDP-managed economy run on the warped logic that the grossest mis-management of it would necessarily translate into prosperity for all?
Or one run on the perverse belief that there is a nexus between massive looting of the coffers of state and ‘growth’ and ‘development’?
But this is exactly what especially the PDP rank-and-file naively, foolishly or maybe even crookedly still believes –that the economy can be like that resilient carpet grass, the chamomile, which the more it is trodden upon, the faster it will grow.
But every economy does have the quality of ‘youth’, -the more it is wasted, the faster definitely it will wear’! It appears only members and sympathisers of the PDP live by this lazy, weak-willed, freeloading belief that the ‘benevolent’ mouth fall from the wolfish, avaricious feeding habit of our thieving politicians will necessarily ‘trickledown’ like manna from heaven to lift the poor from their abject poverty.
But this is the most ludicrous interpretation of ‘trickledown economics –to hope to ‘honestly’ make a living from those who dishonestly make a living from the fats of the land. This can only define an insidious, no less culpable, shade of corruption.
The Canadian-born U.S. economist J.K. Galbraith, explained ‘trickle-down theory’ as “the less than elegant metaphor that if one feeds the horse oats, some (of it) will pass through to the road for the sparrows”. Only sympathisers of the PDP believe that ‘trickle-down economics’ can also gush even from the gory gaping wounds that grand corruption makes on the coffers of state.
They believe that a laissez faire management of the economy is the best way to spread the dividend of democracy for the reason only that a freewheeling economy lets thieving eagles perch and it lets thieving kites perch too.
England’s thieving medieval hero, Robin Hood, robbed the rich to give to the poor. He was adulated by the poor and despised by the nobles. But Nigeria’s Robin Hoods –or should we say ‘hooded robbers’?- take from the poor to grow the superfluous estates of the rich. It has always been the inordinately rich taking from the abjectly poor.
But the irony of it is that the loudmouth poor, corrupted by decadent politics, are still fanatically more in love with their exploiters than even Robin Hood was by England’s poor for whom he robbed.
This largely PDP members and sympathisers believe that ‘looters’ are truly our own modern day Robin Hoods, and that although they may not have the charitable motive of the medieval English thief, yet the crumbs from their heists often fortuitously cater to the fawning of these political hangers-on.
Their greed is assuaged only by the ‘less than elegant’ hope that whenever corrupt politicians haul their usually over brimming Ghana-Must-Go, the groveling poor in their path, may make what pickings they can.
And it is in the undignifying hope of preserving such personal privileges that this usually loudmouth minority is shamelessly insisting we give them back their corruption! And this has always been the nature especially of our unprincipled political journeymen.
Whereas the majority of our everyday folks have been and are always ready to sacrifice in the journey to the Promised Land, these shameless ones are always stiff-necked and rebellious; they have their own condition for the journey to the Promised Land: it has to be either a stress-free, manna-filled journey to that Eldorado or a return to Pharaoh’s Egypt.
They know the gravity of the situation that Nigeria is in. And they know no less what is at stake -given the gravity of the situation. But rather than support critical measures –no matter how temporarily painful- they prefer to aid those they know to exacerbate the situation. As long as their little personal nests are feathered.
And now –just like it had to take a Jonathan to teach us the difference between ‘stealing’ and ‘corruption’, it is now having to take an Obasanjo to tell us the difference between ‘reinforcing failure’ and ‘rationalising corruption’.
The same Obasanjo who has ruled the most of the sixteen adjudged wasted years of the PDP, is now the one telling us that supporting a man who fights corruption ‘fist, fang and fury’, is ‘reinforcing failure’, but that supporting a presidential candidate that even he has written an autobiography to brand a ‘thief’, is ‘reinforcing development’. Isn’t that wonderful?
And so not only did we not get anything from PDP’s sixteen wasted years, we in fact have lost virtually ‘everything’. We have lost to the politics of ethnicity and religion our precious minds, because we are now at the apogee of our self-debasement: we have become bigoted, hypocritical and jingoistic; we have become inveterately hateful of each other, warmongering and terribly subversive. We want solutions our own narrow, selfish ways or the entire house must be brought down!
We have lost the capacity –or is it the willingness- to tell right from wrong, truth from falsehood or good from bad. We are avidly selfish, eminently corruptible and lazy! Everyone wants to take without giving. Everyone wants to earn without eking.
Nor are our ‘corporate beggars’ any more honourable than even our scavenging ‘almajiris’. Because whereas the latter are courageous wolves confronting socio-economic odds not of their own making, ‘corporate beggars’ that we have all turned to are cowardly dogs groveling at the feet of those who have appropriated the common patrimony.
(is an excerpt from a previous piece, in deference to the request of a faithful reader)
The knowledge of economics alone does not bring about growth and development. Sincere exertion in the opposite direction of decay achieves faster than an army of insincere economists does.
Said the American author, Robert Solomon “Economics without ethics is a discipline without substance”. And as the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw would say “If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion”. It takes sincere politicians to take economic decisions
I narrated when I wrote the title ‘Still on the Sick Economy’, the story of the American Economist, Arthur Burns, who, once on a visit to Israel in the 70s said he asked that country’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion how Israel was able to ‘grow’ and ‘develop’ her economy in the absence of basic natural resources and on the bare backs of a barren desert.
And Arthur Burns said that Ben Gurion said: “We did it first by dreaming, then by doing what the economists said was impossible” –which is a euphemism for saying ‘we jettisoned established theories of macro and micro economics and we tried previously untried ideas’.
It is like saying we rebelled against the grain of economic norms and we created for ourselves new norms. And Singapore’s late President, Lee Kuan Yew, when he was asked about the economic and technological ‘miracle’ that he brought about in his country, denied that there was actually any miracle. Simply he said: “We did a few things right and we kept doing them right” –which is also another way of saying simply ‘we gambled, but we were sincere enough in our ‘gamble’ to jettison what was wrong and to hold on to that which was right.
It took sincere ‘trial and error’ not the ‘expert calculations’ of sophistic, hair splitting, doctrinaire economists for Israel and Singapore to get it right. The Israelis have proved Arthur Burns right, that “the human element” is a basic ingredient in the creation of virile, vibrant and stable economies. And the ‘human element’ which he said consists mostly of the dreams, fears, and hopes of a people, is often capable of upsetting even “the most expert calculations”.
If we choose to celebrate a ‘human element’ which, rather than fear and fight corruption, openly glorifies and hopes to grow and develop by it, then we will definitely not make it.