Reno: Between Hagiography And History, By ‘Niyi Akinsiju
Reno Omokiri, has, apparently become desperately enamoured in making his former boss, Dr Goodluck Jonathan look good in the eye of the Nigerian public. Well, perhaps, we should submit from observed inclination of his writings which tend more to hagiography, that he’s still active in the employ of Jonathan. No one begrudges him his employment status, what with the hardship associated with our contrived recession and, of course, a certain bitterness arising from his parting ways with the privileges of office in the wake of the exit of the former President from the Nigerian presidency.
Now, even as we desperately try to forget the impunities, greed and brazenness that characterised that rudderless administration inflicted on Nigerians between 2010 and 2015, the likes of Omokiri won’t spare us a breather as he constantly takes us back to that period when Nigeria made more money that could have guaranteed a prosperous existence for each of its citizen, but alas, the wealth of the nation was cornered by a few and indescribably looted. Unfolding revelations of official stealing tells of the new historical benchmark that administration established in corruption and mismanagement of the economy.
Yet, elements like Omokiri, like other major beneficiaries of that administration, would want us believe that Jonathan and some of his ministers were the best things to have happened to Nigeria in a long while. Omokiri frontally asserts that current Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun can’t possibly match up to her predecessor in office, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala because the former holds a degree from Reading University, an institution he considers second class compared to the Harvard Trained later with a PhD and work experience at the very top cadre of the World Bank.
However, the ululation stops at profiling Okonjo-Iweala, Omokiri expeditiously avoid highlighting the achievements of the PhD holder: How the Federal Government started borrowing money to pay its workers at the first sign of reduced earnings in the first quarter of 2015 when price of crude oil per barrel went south. Thankfully, Adeosun has shown over the last 16 months that we don’t need to go borrowing from money deposit banks to pay staff salaries.
Through Adeosun, even states government have been brought within the orbit of accountability even as they are compelled to align with strict fiscal control and audit as benchmarked by the Federal Government. We have also seen how the BVN can be creatively deployed to identify ghost workers on the Federal Government payroll, it is recently announced that Nigeria has discovered more than 40,000 ghost workers aggregating to a saving of N20billion monthly. What about the huge savings effected through the Federal Government Efficiency Unit stated at more than N30billion at the last count?
I still wonder at the troubling huge debt burden bequeathed to the current administration by the Okonjo-Iweala managed economy despite the historical high revenue generated from impressive high crude oil price and production on average 2.2million barrels at average $100 through a period of five years. The very important Joint Venture Cash Call at more than $6billion were not paid, local contractors were abandoned to their fate, the last time any form of payment was made to contractors was in the dying days of 2013. Road construction contractors had no choice but to abandon work in protest. But now, at a time of lean resources, the contractors are going back to site in droves after being paid part of their outstanding debt, again, thanks to Adeosun.
Under Adeosun, we are sure recovered loots won’t be re-looted as was dominant in the last regime under the Harvard trained PhD holder. We find comfort in the fact that with Adeosun’s superintending the Finance Ministry we shall not witness the horrible trilemma of high national revenue earnings merely resulting in lesser jobs availability, increased debt and zero diversification of the economy. Things were this unfortunate back then.
Of course, we expect to advance away from the constriction of this self-inflicted recession with Adeosun managing our finances, we only need Omokiri and co to change their ways from deceptive patriotism to the higher ground of nationalism by helping talk to his brothers and affiliates in the Niger Delta to stop bombing national oil assets. Omokiri knows that this is the major reason we are in recession today; it has nothing to do with Adeosun’s degree or exposure.
Same with the person of Chief Audu Ogbe, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development that Omokiri derisively dismissed as a French graduate. French Graduate or not, for the first time in the history of agriculture management at the level of MDAs in this country, policies are being deployed and generating maximum impact. The Anchor Borrowers Programme and the targeting of small holding farmers has led to a huge harvest that now attract the whole of Africa from the Sahel to Central Africa to Nigeria. And we have just recently been assured by the Minister that despite the raid on our food crops by foreigners Nigerians will have enough to eat.
The sure indication of how great our agriculture sector is responding to policy deployment reflects in the 28 percent to Gross Domestic Product it recorded in the third quarter of this year, better than what it was the same quarter last year. Under this French graduate, Nigeria, at least officially, has stopped the disgracefully importation of food item which usually bills $29billion annually into our foreign reserve.
Yet, we must enlighten Omokiri the Agriculture and Rural Development Minister is one of Nigeria’s most celebrated farmer, he was one time President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, what better qualification enables a purposeful work at the Ministry?
Chief ‘Niyi Akinsiju writes from Abuja