Forcing Nigeria Towards Iranian Exemplary Misfortune By Nasiru Suwaid
The period was sometime in the late 1980’s, at the time when I began to discover the fountain of my youth and had started to develop the ability to grasp intellectual excellence, when I had the privilege to watch Professor Ali Mazrui’s epic documentary treatise: The Africans; A Triple Heritage. Which was an anthology on a continent, many a historian had struggled to understand or even compartmentalize, regarding its challenges with economic development, as it is an area of the earth that has defied every economic prescription administered by global curative agencies, to achieve stimulated growth and development.
It was a nine hour television series and it is on one of the editions, in an exercise in contradictory comparative comparison, the eminent African history scholar, committed a geological heresy, when he credited the existence of the Saudi Arabian crude oil reserve, to merely the faith of the inhabitants of the country, perhaps, motivated or rather, wowed by the quantum of wealth it created. However, just imagine the global energy situation of today, where fracking technology has ‘democratized’ the ability to explore petroleum resources, as almost every country on earth could produce crude oil, in an environment where less and less fossil fuels are needed to power growth and development.
But, the situation as at then and now, created a very rich country with very high foreign reserve, that as of today, it is over $570 billion dollars, with a developed infrastructure adequate to support growth and productivity. Perhaps, it is the reason, which made the royal kingdom to seek to diversify its economy from crude oil, mind you, as at then, the clarion call for the adoption of renewal energy has not gained currency, thus, crude oil prices was not threatened and did not become lower in the international commodity exchange.
Yet, tried as the largest producer of crude oil could, it was not able truly to diversify, because, were it the case, the market glut it engineered to fight off the Shale producers, could not have threatened the pegging of Saudi riyal to the American dollar, nor would it not have created a huge deficit in the kingdom’s budgetary expenditure projections, as other sources of income from the diversified base, would have augmented the loss from oil remittance.
Now, as a circumstantial contradistinction, rather than the motive of high oil prices and the huge profit it created on revenue, the Islamic Republic of Iran, was forced to diversify from crude oil, on the instance of an international sanction regime, a kind of a fait accompli, to seek an alternative means of revenue, apart from crude oil, to fund the government finances. The report card of the Iranian misfortune was an excellent result, as the country that was once heavily reliant on crude oil, now only regards remittances from the product, as merely uncritical additional source of revenue to finance budgeted government expenditure.
The question staring Nigeria as a nation is whether the disruptive activities of the Niger Delta militants, would be the fait accompli, which would galvanize the country to finally diversify the economy, after so many years of dithering and procrastinations. Most especially, the Iranian misfortune of an example, has put a lie to the theory that, nations successful diversify from the profit of once a mono product, they could as well develop and rely on such other products, after it starts to bear fruition.
And this two other things:
RISING REVOLT OVER CONFAB REPORT
For most of the Nigerian public, struggling with the hassles of everyday living, especially in a period of economic downturn, perhaps, including many of the participants in the last national conference, it seems they have already forgotten about the highly confusing, yet inconclusive report, until President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB), reminded them of the document, when he promised to keep it in the government archives, the way he met it.
But, why would a government, which came into power on the promise of change, refuse to implement the recommendations of a report that purports to herald a solution to each and every problem bedeviling the Nigerian state, amazingly, this is the propagated belief of many a rabble rousing government critic.
The simple truth though, on the reason why the president has stated his unwillingness to implement the document is that it is an inconclusive report, because, the core issue of resource control was not definitively agreed by the national forum, despite the eminence of the august body, rather, it was left to the mercurial vision and clairvoyant oversight of former President Goodluck Jonathan, to singlehandedly and individual set up a technical committee of experts, to resolve what could not be achieved by a so called congregated assembly of the Nigerian people.
President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) cannot break a promise to satisfy a convenient agitation, because, one of the vows he made while campaigning for office, was to consign the report into the archives, knowing the fact that, it was not a truly representative assembly of the Nigerian people, as its membership were never elected on representative basis. In fact, they were rather nominated to accentuate our differences as a nation, fitting Muslims against Christians and Northerners versus Southerners and most profoundly, despite the open proclamation about its importance, not a single legislation was passed to authorize it.
This is in a nation trumpeting about democracy and the gathering was to celebrate the formulation of its constitutional ground norm, besides, how can an executive official implement a constitutional document, which is yet to be enabled by a parliamentary process of a bill’s passage into law. If the public open complaint is borne out of genuine intention, since each and every member of the conference has a copy of the report, they should send their own copy to the National Assembly for legislative perusal. After all, it is also what its convener, former President Goodluck Jonathan had promised to do with the document.
WHY WERE WE NOT SCANDALIZED OVER THEIR BAILOUT
Last week, as a responsive and responsible government, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB), through the office of the minister of labour, employment and productivity, had urged the banking sector of the Nigerian economy, to follow due process when retrenching their workers. In fact, they should cease the sacking of their workers, not indefinitely, but pending when it is established that commensurate emoluments where being paid before their disengagement from banking service.
Many an individual, could not just comprehend, how the public sector or the government, could be issuing operating orders to the private sector, in terms of the performance of their function as profit making entities, which are answerable only to their share holders. However, it is neither a contradiction to the principles of free market economy, nor is it an interference into the workings of the organizations, that at the very least, evidently, the government has significant stake in running the business.
Because, the government as a regulator, through the instrumentality of the supervision by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), regulates the financial health of such private business concerns, either through government bailouts, in such instances where the banks are facing low capitalization, lowering of Monetary Policy Rates (MPR) instrument, in case of acute liquidity squeeze and deposition of government funds, to create a flow in liquidity availability.
Then if that is the case, why should an elected government not enquire, on the instance where its citizens are seriously complaining, about an emerging unemployment crisis that is bound to affect the overall Nigerian economy.
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