Ayobami Oyalowo: The Issue Is Not Yesterday’s Men; The Issue Is Tomorrow’s Children

Published:4 Feb, 2013

nigeria

A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.

~John Burroughs

Ordinarily we have been led to believe that a democratic government is essentially a participatory one and as such citizens have inalienable rights to ask questions of their representatives while expecting sensible, reasonable and civil answers, backed with facts. It is universally held that people who get “voted” into political offices are answerable to those who voted them in. But it appears we are practicing something else in Nigeria where it has become a crime for freeborn citizens to ask questions of their so called government.

It is a known fact that in most third world countries, the mass media is controlled by government or business men who are mostly stooges and yes men of those in government. Therefore, the government usually controls what streams out from these media channels. Since the media generally shapes debates and discourse, opposition voices are usually muted. But with the advent of social media, online blogging, twitter, Facebook etc, the various governments in third world countries have been running helter skelter; having lost the monopoly of information. Nigeria as a third world nation is no exception. We have been denied information over the years but suddenly, it does appear, the people have found a voice in social media and are judiciously using it to call their government to order.

One thing is clear though: despite the rants and dissenting voices online, the Nigerian government scoffs at the voices of the people so much so that a presidential adviser once branded some citizens as ” collective children of anger”. But there seems to be an exception to this rule. The moment certain personalities use the social media to make their voices heard, a horde of presidential minions are unleashed, from the attack dog, to crawling roaches. Like a cackle of hyenas, they are usually out in full force. They do not have to give any intelligible answer or clear grey areas as raised. Their singular aim is to muddle up the puddle, in their usually rambunctious manner. They raise unsubstantiated allegations and mudslinging is their watchword.

The presidential minions have no restraints nor decorum. They don’t care about the sacredness of facts or the sanctity of proof. NO, that ain’t their turf. All they want is to divert attention and turn the gaze of the masses away from salient issues raised by anyone they perceive as influential. When all that fails, the government, through any of their numerous agencies, may start to pursue spurious court cases against these so called opponents.

Recently, Obiageli Ezekwesili, former World Bank Vice President, was University of Nigeria Nsukka’s 42nd Convocation lecturer. There she observed that the two administrations that succeeded Olusegun Obasanjo’s had squandered $67bn – a combined sum from our foreign reserve and Excess Crude Account. Deeply troubled, she complained that six years after the administration she “served handed over such humongous national wealth to another one, most Nigerians (especially the poor) continue to suffer the effects of failing public health and education systems, as well as decrepit infrastructure and battered institutions.”

The government got jolted by that revelation. They were more troubled by the image of the messenger and the damaging impact it will have on their already grossly despised administration.

After such revelation, one expects a sensible government to either explain what happened or contradict such claims. Not this government. In came the rambunctious and loquacious Labaran Maku, the misinformation( sorry, information) minister. He didn’t bother to explain or contradict Mrs, Ezekwesili, but rather in his usually unintelligent fashion, cast aspersions on her person. It was almost a contest of ‘yes, our government is bad, but was yours better?’ Nigerians were treated to more macabre dance steps when a member of the presidential media gang, a supposed intelligentsia and a former chairman of the editorial board of a national newspaper, jumped into the fray.
Reuben Abati took infamy to a new low, going on an expletive laden spree. Not once did he he even pretend to address Ezekwesili’s allegation. No, that wasn’t necessary in Abati’s book. He chose to give her and her supposed co-travelers a serious tongue lash. The only sad part was that Reuben was not man enough to mention their names. All he could do was make allusions that keen watchers of events could piece together to know who particular invectives were meant for .

Let us stop for a moment and examine what the bone of contention has been about. Ezekwesili alleged that the government under which she served, left behind a humongous amount of $45billion in Nigeria’s foreign reserve and $22billion in the excess crude account (ECA) totaling $67 billion as sum left behind by the Obasanjo led government. But the government that succeeded theirs, while the incumbent president was a vice President, had frittered some of that sum. Let us also recall that the same Obasanjo led government paid off the entirety of Nigeria’s foreign debt which was around $30billion at the time.

Today, Nigeria owes about $10billion in foreign debt and $50billion in local debt. Bear in mind that crude oil which forms between 70-80% of our national income has never sold for less than $90 per barrel in the last 6 years. Nigeria’s current OPEC quota is 2million BPD. You can do the maths. Recall also that the British Prime Minister, in Davos, recently asked the Nigerian government to account for the over $100billion which accrued to Nigeria last year. He made the call while belaboring the point that Nigeria does not deserve more foreign aid.

What is lost to most Nigerians in this government orchestrated “roforofo” public mudslinging, is that instead of asking the hard questions, the masses are being treated to a Nigerian brand of the Roman Coliseum. During the zenith of the Roman empire, when the citizens are disillusioned and therefore become restless, especially when the government’s performance is abysmal, the rulers will stage a big gathering to entertain them by throwing a Christian into the arena to battle bare knuckled with either a lion or a tiger. These regular “shows” were usually staged as a form of diversion to turn the attention of the populace from the ineptitude of the government of the day. Today in the Jonathanian era, we have our modern day coliseum. It is an arena that reads like: “yes I am very inept and corrupt but others are corrupt too”. The gullible amongst us lap it up and say “yes those people are not saints”. They (the gullible ones) usually miss it. The question we all ought to be asking is: “when did governance become a contest of the worse among the worst”? Is governance meant to improve our welfare or seek to prove that preceding administrations didn’t fare any better? The joke is on us.

Nigerians have lost sight of the real deal. 0basanjo was not a saint, neither were his subordinates. But what you can’t take away from his government was the fact that he placed Nigeria on the path to meeting the millennium development goals. I will seek to clarify a few points in the paragraphs that follow. I believe that all sensible Nigerians should join Mrs. Ezekwesili in this crusade. Follow me patiently, as I enumerate a couple of issues quickly.

What is the use of having a large reserve? International(foreign) reserves are a country’s “external assets”—including foreign currency deposits and bonds held by central banks and monetary authorities, gold and SDRs. Nigeria under Obasanjo, saved the excess money which was not in the budget, due to sudden increase in global oil price. Note that in reserves, you merely hold the funds as savings but it doesn’t yield any interest. To answer the question of why a country needs its FR, in global trade, countries show up at the negotiation table with what they have in store as a way of gaining an upper hand and tilting the bargain their way. Nigeria as an import based economy needs to maintain a low and stable exchange rate. The healthy state of our external reserve is a means to achieving that lofty goal.

Any business man can bear witness to the catastrophic happenings of December 2008 when the exchange rate crashed from 118 naira to a USD to about 200 naira to a USD. What created such a terrible and unstable situation was the depletion of the external reserves by the federal government of Nigeria led by Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan. Herein lies the crux of the matter. What became of the $67 billion? Having a healthy foreign reserve is a precursor to being able to dictate the play in global finance and foreign trade. It enables a country to play and bargain from a position of strength. A healthy foreign reserve also helps to defend the local currency from unnecessary fluctuations and sharp drop in value.
Let me quickly explain that countries are moving away from just having foreign reserves to creating Sovereign Wealth Fund SWF. What is SWF? A sovereign wealth fund (SWF) is a state-owned investment fund composed of financial assets such as stocks, bonds, property, precious metals, or other financial instruments. Sovereign wealth funds are global investments. Most SWFs are funded by foreign exchange assets. Since the SWF is usually funded by foreign exchange assets, we could have easily funded ours from the ECA. Some sovereign wealth funds may be held by a central bank, which accumulates the funds in the course of its management of a nation’s banking system. This type of fund is usually of major economic and fiscal importance. Other sovereign wealth funds are simply the state savings that are invested by various entities for the purposes of investment returns, and that may not have a significant role in fiscal management.

The aftermath of the depletion of our foreign reserves was what led to many Nigerian banks losing their foreign credit lines, thereby emasculating those banks from being able to fund importation requests by Nigerian businesses.

From the foregoing, it is crystal clear that the government of Yar’Adua and Jonathan have a lot of questions to answer, but they would rather be clever by half. While Angola, a former war enclave, has launched the SWF in October 2012, our presidential rabble rousers and attack maggots are busy making a fool of themselves. The question of the $67billion is no longer a question of yesterday’s men against today’s men. It is a case of the crimes of this GOVERNMENT against our collective sensibilities. Enough of these roman coliseums. We are no longer interested in who is a saint or the sinner. We need answers to the question posed by Dr. Mrs obiageli Ezekwesili: where is NIGERIA’S 67 billion USD?

Like I earlier averred, Obasanjo or his team were no saints; but he clearly had a team of forward looking technocrats, proven men and women who were forward looking and who made provisions for a better future for Nigeria, unlike the present administration that does nothing but borrow while plunging Nigeria into a deeper hole. Nigeria’s debt; both local and foreign, is almost $60billion (that is over N7 trillion). I weep for the future. Indeed Obasanjo did make a lot of mistakes, but what you cannot accuse him of is not planning for the future.

Rather than Reuben Abati engaging the citizens in a civil manner, like the proverbial elder, he chose to walk into the village square with corn cobs tied to his waste and inadvertently has made himself a playmate of fowls and chickens. Let them continue their macabre dance in the market square. That is their palaver. What we demand is an explanation by their financial managers about what became of the $67billion.

Of the many mistakes Obasanjo made, herein lies his greatest mistake– that he bequeathed to Nigeria two of the worst kinds of successors: an invalid and a nincompoop, because success without a successor is invariably a big failure.

You can also meet me on twitter @Ayourb

  • @mkurfi2

    expecting any developments from the present administration is no difference from a mirage. Trying to defend them is a total stupidity and downtrodden of one’s integrity in which its attack animals are blind to realise. The more they try to defend GEJ the more they lose face!! Thank God they have no control of the social media, it’s a global phenomenon of super highway technological advancement. They’ll not deter our future dreams. Our “Eyes Wide Open” Tomorrow’s Children!!! Children of Anger!! 9ce one bro…

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Security: Governor Bello Advises Citizens To Be Vigilant.

Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has called on the people of the state to be vigilant and security conscious by checking movement of strange persons in their neighbourhood  and report suspicious individuals to security agents. The Governor stated this today in Lokoja at the Jumat Mosque Prayers  to mark the 25th Anniversary of the creation of the state. Bello disclosed that some people have recruited some miscreants and imported...

Governor Ganduje Reaffirms Commitment To Completion Of Ongoing Projects.

Kano State government has reaffirmed its commitment to ensure successful completion of the ongoing road projects within the period stipulated.   The State Commissioner Ministry of Land and Physical Planning Dr. Farouk Bibi Farouk gave the assurance while inspecting the ongoing road construction works at Lamido and Kingsgarden - Kwanar Tudun Wada road in Nassarawa Local Government Area.   Dr. Farouk disclosed that the administration of Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje awarded the construction of 11...

Write Your Will Before Travelling For Hajj – Abuja Islamic Cleric Tells Pilgrims

An Abuja-based Islamic scholar, Sheikh Yahya Al-Yolawi, has advised intending pilgrims to settle their debts and leave their wills behind before travelling to Saudi Arabia. Al-yolawi, who is the Chief Imam of Area 10 Mosque, made the call while delivering Jumma’at sermon title:“ Essential tips for Hajj Preparations“ on Friday in Abuja. “An intending pilgrim should settle his debts and leave behind him a clear record as well as writing all his wills or what...

My Life Flashed Before My Eyes – Virgin Airline Owner, Richard Branson Almost Killed in Crash Horror

Multi-billionaire business tycoon and owner of Virgin Airline, Richard Branson, has narrated his near-death experience on a training cycle run with his two grown up children when disaster struck which nearly took his life. Read below; A couple of nights ago I went cycling on Virgin Gorda with Holly and Sam as part of my training for the Virgin Strive Challenge. I was heading down a hill...

50 Cent Talks “Power”, Sex Scene, The Game and More On Big Boy Tv

50 Cent is currently on a media campaign in support of his hit show Power, and recently stopped by Big Boy TV to catch up with his fans. Curtis spoke on the development of his character on the show, his recent sex scene, settling differences with The Game, Starz Vs. Netflix, only flying coach once in his life, and more. Watch below and expect DJ Whoo Kid and G-Unit’s Lost...

Watch Jidenna Perform “Little Bit More” On Jimmy Kimmel Live

Jidenna continues to work on his Long Live The Chief album, and after blessing fans with a video for his single “Little Bit More” last month, he stopped by to perform the song on last night’s airing of Jimmy Kimmel Live! Watch Jidenna light up the stage below and check out his  “Chief Don’t Run”visuals if you haven’t already.

Japan Warns On Measles After Infected Fan Joins Bieber Concert

Japanese authorities have warned of a possible measles outbreak after a fan who went to a Justin Bieber concert near Tokyo was diagnosed with the contagious disease, officials said Friday. A 19-year-old man had a fever of more than 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit) and a rash over his body after returning from Indonesia earlier this month, the Disease Control and Prevention Center (DCC) and local media have said. Despite the condition, the man,...

Nigeria’s D’Tigers Now 16th In Latest FIBA World Ranking

Nigeria's men basketball team, D'Tigers have moved 9 places to rank 16th (with 106.2 points) in the 2016 FIBA World Ranking released on Thursday. The African champions outshone their arch rivals, Angola to lift the Nations Cup for the first time last year which earned the country an automatic qualification to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The performance of teams at the just concluded Games also led to drastic changes...

Buhari Lacks Political Will To Rescue Chibokgirls – BBOG

The #BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) movement, yesterday, took a swipe at President Muhammadu Buhari for lacking the political will to rescue 218 Chibok girls. BBOG said as opposed to the President’s excuse that he lacked “credible intelligence” to rescue the girls, what he actually required was the political will to take decisive action in the present circumstance. The group stated this in an address jointly signed by its leaders, Oby Ezekwesili and Aisha Yesufu, which was read...

EFCC Doesn’t Torture Suspects- Magu

 the first time in 13 years, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday opened the doors of its interrogation rooms and its cells to reporters to inspect. Chairman of the anti-graft agency Ibrahim Magu said the Commission does not torture suspects because it is investigating non-violence crimes. He added that the anti-graft agency had always put the interest of the country above any other consideration. Magu, who personally conducted reporters round the EFCC cells...

Artist Buries Dress Inside the Dead Sea for 3 Months… See Amazing Transformation That Happened

An artist buried a dress right inside the red sea for as many as three months and brought it out again only to see a totally different thing. In 2014, Israeli artist Sigalit Landau submerged a 19th century-style gown into the lifeless waters of the Dead Sea, for a unique photo project. The dress was retrieved after three months, and as you can see in the photos below, the transformation is quite significant.

NLC Wants Ghost Workers’ Perpetrators Prosecuted

The Akwa Ibom chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called for the prosecution of all perpetrators of ghost workers syndrome in the nation’s public service. Chairman of the council in the state, Mr Etim Ukpong, made the call in Uyo on Friday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). Ukpong decried that over the years, different tiers of government had complained of ghost workers but that no perpetrator of the act had been identified or...

#Rio2016: Senate Probes Dalung, Others

Less than one week after the end of the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil, where Nigeria won only a Bronze Medal in male soccer game, the Senate has revealed plans to probe the roles of the of Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung and the Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC), over the poor performance of the country’s contingent to the global event. Chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports, Senator Joe Obinna Ogba made the disclosure during an interview with...

Lagos To Wait For Crude Export To Get 13% Derivation

In spite of the commencement of production from its newly discovered oil wells, Lagos State may have to wait until crude oil export commences before it joins the league of states benefitting from the 13 per cent derivation principle. This clarification was made yesterday at Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting. This emerged just as allocation available for sharing by three tiers of government for the month of July dipped by N115.369 billion to N443.663 billion as against June’s allocation of...

EFCC Arrests Man Over $145,000 Love Scam

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday, said it arrested Iwuchukwu Uche for obtaining money under false pretence to the tune of USD145, 000. Mr. Uche, who said he was a military officer working for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, in Kabul, Afghanistan, allegedly collected the money from his victim, H. Uyen, a Vietnamese woman, after promising to marry her. The suspect, who also claimed to be a property agent operating in...

Minister Beaten To Death By Miners

Bolivian miners on Thursday during a clash with the police in the town of Panduro hacked the Deputy Interior Minister to death. Interior Minister, Carlos Romero, confirmed on Friday that reports by witnesses indicated that the 55-year-old was beaten to death following clashes between police and miners in the town of Panduro, 165 kilometres south-east of La Paz. Romero said Illanes had been kidnapped by miners after attempting to initiate talks with them at a roadblock....

20 Shipping Firms Leave Nigeria Over Low Business

Groaning under intense hardship imposed by poor government policies and global economic crunch, over 20 shipping firms have exited the nation’s shores. This is coming as Dockworkers Union of Nigeria (DUN) lamented that over 3,000 workers have already been laid off by various shipping companies, terminal operators and logistic companies, owing to lack of financing and poor import policies of the Federal Government. The workers also blamed the massive retrenchment on the inability of the...

Again, Herdsmen Invade Enugu Community, Kill Catholic Seminarian

Suspected Fulani herdsmen in the early hours of on Thursday invaded the sleepy Ndiagu Attakwu Akegbe-Ugwu community in Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State, killing a Catholic seminarian, Lazarus Okafor, and injuring four others, including a pregnant woman. The suspected herders were said to have invaded the Ogbodo Nwarum family compound in the community at about 2 a.m. and wreaked havoc on the entire household. While the seminarian had severe machete cuts which led...

Majek Fashek, The Rainmaker, Returns With New Single

Reggae star, Majek Fashek, is in the news again. This time, the musician’s numerous fans, especially in Nigeria, are excited that he has finally released the product of his much-publicised collabo with equally gifted singer, Tuface Idibia. The single, which is available on the Internet, is a remix of Majek’s wave-making song titled, No more sorrow from his 1991 album, Spirit of love. Many music fans of the older generation are, no doubt, familiar with the...

Once A Cheater Always A Cheater! Why This Is Not Always True

Once a cheater always a cheater? The experts say this may not always be the case. One therapist, Dr. Nancy B. Irwin, argues that since behavior is learned, it is possible to do a turnaround when it comes to cheating. If you’ve ever been cheated on, your first instinct may have been to break up because you felt you could never trust the cheater again. But depending on the circumstances, you might have another shot at love with...

100% Examination On Container Not Possible – Customs Boss

The Apapa Area 1 Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, has said that 100 percent examination on imported cargoes into the country was not possible. This was disclosed by the ASYCUDA project manager, (APM) of the command, Yusuf Malata, at a monthly stakeholders’ meeting held at the command headquarters, Lagos. Speaking earlier, the Customs area comptroller, Willy Egbudin, decried why most importers still falsely declare consignment despite campaign against it at the command. “Most of the time we talk of transparency and...