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February 9, 2024

For once, I ‘gree! By Donu Kogbara

For once, I ‘gree! By Donu Kogbara

I MAKE no secret of my anti-government tendencies. I was born with a rebellious, iconoclastic, outspoken streak; and even when Obasanjo (the best president we’ve ever had, in my opinion) was head of state, I occasionally lobbed verbal and written missiles at the authorities.

Now, with Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the hot seat, I am almost perpetually disgruntled for so many reasons, including the economic desperation into which this country has sunk since he was sworn in.

But there’s one thing this administration has done of which I approve: Moving some Central Bank, CBN, departments and the corporate HQ of the Federal Airports Authority, FAAN, to Lagos.

The Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo and Governor of the CBN, Yemi Cardoso, have eloquently explained the rationales underpinning these decisions. And everything they have said makes sense to me.

But some critics are still carping on interminably about the fact that Abuja is being “deprived” and bitterly accusing the Yoruba president of favouring Lagos, the capital of Yorubaland, for ethnic reasons.

I wonder when such Nigerians will grow up and embrace intellectual honesty and patriotic maturity.

READERS’ RESPONSES

Last week, I complained about the foreign exchange crisis and quoted solutions suggested by social media influencer, Reno Omokri (a strong advocate of rejecting imports and buying Nigerian), and Professor Kingsley Moghalu who said:

“There is no solution to the Naira’s woes except (a) foreign confidence in the economy improves and forex portfolio investments increase massively to the $10-20 billion range; (b) domestic confidence improves and the mopping up of dollars by corrupt politicians and even ordinary citizens (there is increasing panic buying of dollars as a store of value) decreases; and (c) we begin to reposition the economy away from dependence on oil revenues for forex inflows; and (d) in the meantime we increase oil production and exports (difficult because a lot of our oil production has been ‘pledged’ for forex loans.

Here are what some readers had to say:  

From Dr Iyabo Obasanjo:

Hi Donu,

One thing Moghalu did not mention is that government itself discourages exportation and encourages importation. How did China start out as an economic power? By putting all emphasis on making anything produced in China easy to export. Ask anyone who has tried to export from Nigeria, what their experience was, then ask if they have ever imported, it’s smooth sailing in comparison; you may need to bribe someone but there are highly skilled agents who serve as intermediaries.

Government should subsidize any exportation effort; export is the only way to generate foreign currency for the economy to improve naira’s exchange rate. Yes, consumption of Nigerian goods by Nigerians will help but will be minuscule. The real problem as Moghalu said is emphasis on oil as the only good exported, and note that all the effort for this is by foreign oil companies.

It’s not diversification for its on sake, it’s diversification of exports from small stuff to big ones. We really export nothing other than oil in significant amounts to counter the declining oil sale which is bound to get worse (climate change but SS insurgency also accelerated the decline in Nigeria and there is the fact that almost every African country with coast on the west side of the continent has discovered oil; nothing special about Nigerian crude any more).

The beginning of importation being easy is that colonial powers made it so to get the goods they were familiar with efficiently to use; they also made exportation of capital goods they needed for their industrialisation easy to export; examples cocoa, groundnut and palm oil. We Nigerians didn’t build the groundnut pyramids, the British did. You can’t rebuild what you didn’t build in the first place. Even if we kept these, we would have needed new export sources like leather from the North, fish bone meal from South-South, etc. 

Anyways, in conclusion we are lazy thinkers. We have grit and fortitude but the thinking process to solve problems is sorely lacking…with no planning capacity or foresight, and myopic and grandstanding about nonsense. Exportation is key and it doesn’t matter what it is, and it’s not from huge factories, it’s small industry that really pushes growth in exportation.

Pushing and encouraging exportation should be the first task of any serious government on reversing the inevitable economic slide based on the present system in place.

From Paulinus Didigu

Hello Donu,

Moghalu was being nice about Reno’s suggestions on the subject of the Naira. My take is that it didn’t make any sense whatsoever. We have been consuming foreign made goods and services for as long as I can remember. And I have been around for over five decades. Both foreign and locally made goods and services have existed side by side in this country and we have been fine with it. Reno failed to realise that Shopright is a Nigerian company, and 90% of the goods they sell are locally made or produced. He doesn’t realise that Air Peace does not have the permission of the Nigerian state to fly to Europe and America. Reno’s suggestions are not just too simplistic, they very naive too. And to top it off, Reno recently suggested that the President should ban the importation of human hair to save the Naira.

From Norbert Esenwah

Dear Donu,

Seriously speaking, I and many people I know, can do without most of the imported items highlighted in Reno’s list.

Some of us still prefer fresh palm wine, to any of its foreign counterparts; same for locally prepared cuisine; and I’m thinking seriously, of an Innoson brand for my next car.

I can go on and on, ticking the checklist for myself and constituents, who are comfortable with things made in Nigeria. It’s not a tall or challenging order.

PLEASE CHECK OUT MY PODCAST SERIES. TITLED AfricaHereandNOW! IT CAN BE FOUND ON APPLE OR SPOTIFY AND IS ENTERTAINING AS WELL AS SERIOUS. 

RESPONSES TO  donzol2002@yahoo.co.uk

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