Saturday, September 8, 2012


Nigerians are beginning to wonder the secret behind the ease with which the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Mallam Lamido Sanusi Lamido gets the government to endorse some of his unpopular fiscal policies. These policies are quite good but deployed improperly. It can be likened to a man that put a cart ahead of his horse and except the former to do magic. 

The fundamental thing any economist or fiscal policy formulator should do to help Nigeria get back on her feet is to design a socio-economic framework that will address issues of slow economic growth. If our national economy is built on a sound fiscal outline, economic growth will be rapid and predictable. It is pertinent to note that problems of infrastructural decay, unemployment, poverty, and insecurity cannot be addressed by the major fiscal policies being deployed by the CBN. For unknown reasons, Sanusi has been concerned with “copying and pasting” fiscal policies that have been successful in advanced economies. In designing fiscal policies; the purchasing power of citizens, population size, state of public infrastructure, literacy level, culture, and religion are taken into account. That is the reason why a fiscal policy that is successful in country A may not do well in country B.  

For instance, Sanusi championed the removal of fuel subsidy simply because countries such as the United States, Britain, Germany, and Canada had done same in the near past. He however refused to consider the fact that citizens of these countries earn far above the $2 a day that over 70% of Nigerians are worth. Nigerians would be too glad to buy a liter of fuel for N150 if public and private sector workers are paid the equivalent of what their contemporaries earn in those countries Sanusi always site as examples. 

Sanusi and the minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala sweet-talked the federal government to remove fuel subsidy based on pressure from western-backed World Bank and IMF. Ironically, the same west that is against fuel subsidy in Nigeria is subsidising critical sectors of their economies such as agriculture, housing, and transportation. Who is fooling who?

Subsidy on petrol was eventually removed despite the outcry by Nigerians. Today, the purchasing power of the 70% of Nigerians living below poverty line has been weakened to a point where life no longer makes sense. Those of us that were against the removal of fuel subsidy did so based mainly on facts. In order to hoodwink government, the fundamental issues we raised were ignored while we were labeled stooges of the cabal milking the nation dry in the name of fuel subsidy. How can I be a stooge of the cabal and still call for the investigation of the fuel subsidy scheme? Like millions of other Nigerians, the only way I benefit from the fuel subsidy is the money I save each time I buy petrol for my car or generator.  

Right from the beginning, I have accused both Sanusi and Okonjo-Iweala of leaving substance to pursue inconsequential issues. My argument has been that the best way to remove fuel subsidy is to make our refineries operate at optimum capacity so that nobody will import petrol and demand for subsidy. Sanusi and Okonjo-Iweala were clearly afraid of the cabal. It was for this reason they went for the removal of subsidy; leaving the fate of 70% Nigerians living below poverty line at the mercy of unpatriotic corrupt importers. Everybody, including Sanusi and Okonjo-Iweala knew that the removal subsidy on petrol was anti-people. Instead of sweet-talking government to make our refineries work, they chose to serve the interests of western democracies. 

Even the man in the village knows that Nigeria was not consuming the quantity of petrol that was being projected in government circles. Sanusi cannot claim to be unaware that a gang of unpatriotic Nigerians with their foreign collaborators were sabotaging our refineries in order to promote the import culture. But for the eye-opening work done by the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy headed by the now disgraced Farouk Lawan, the clan of subsidy thieves would have remained unknown to Nigerians. The committee set up by Okonjo-Iweala was a face-saving effort.  

The other “cart before the horse” thing the CBN governor did had to do with the cashless policy. There is no doubt about the fact that the cashless policy is good. The truth however remains that Nigeria is not yet ripe for it because of poor rural penetration owing to infrastructural issues. In this regard too, he was able to sweet-talk the federal government to obtain approval despite massive opposition by Nigerians. 

The latest of them is the planned introduction of N5,000. Clearly, this development does not in any way give credence to the cashless policy being promoted by the CBN. A country that is desirous of pursuing a cashless policy has no reason to bother about the desire of people or corporations to hold or move cash in large quantities. With the full commencement of the cashless policy, no individual or organisation will have the need to hold or move large cash about. It is clear that current anti-graft policies are making it difficult for people to launder proceeds of corruption through the banks. The only way open to the few corrupt people among us is to keep the raw Naira at home since doing so in foreign currencies poses some inconveniences in terms of spending. This could perhaps be the major reason why the CBN has come to the aid of corrupt Nigerians by raising the holding value of the Naira. Why should people prefer keeping money at home or in the office when we have banks all over the place?  

Apart from increasing the holding value of the Naira, there is practically nothing positive in introducing the N5,000 notes. It will rather cheapen the face value of the Naira. The ease with which Sanusi gets the federal government to endorse some of his fiscal policies is appalling. The question on the lips of millions of bewildered Nigerians is: how many cubes of sugar does Sanusi lick a day? His tongue is so sweet in the ears of the president.      

Saturday, September 1, 2012


I have raised several alarms concerning the dance steps of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Lamido Sanusi Lamido and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Minister of Finance and Coordinator of the National Economy. Those who have knowledge of the workings of western democracies would agree that most advanced economies are surviving on the ruins of developing countries, especially in Africa. A robust African economy is seen as a major threat to European and American economies. They have therefore hidden behind the World Bank and IMF to prescribe fiscal policies that will give them undue advantage over Africa. Some of these policies include subsidy removal, currency devaluation, and sabotage of critical sectors of the national economies of developing countries.

Unknown to many, the United States and most European countries subsidize critical components of their national economies to safeguard the populace but pressure African governments through the World bank and IMF to do away with subsidy. The aim is to push more citizens in to poverty and instigate socio-political instability. 

The primary reason why both the World Bank and IMF prescribe currency devaluation for African countries is to enable western investors grab key economic sectors on the continent. It is also true that western governments are behind the inability of most African countries to have reliable power, transport, health care, and educational system. They perpetrate this socio-economic crime partly by aiding and abetting corruption in governments across the continent. They know that corruption is the easiest way to destroy a country. It is mainly for this reason that they have made it very easy for Africans to invest or lodge proceeds from corruption in American and European financial institutions. 

The first major trap they (enemies of Nigeria) set against President Goodluck Jonathan was the removal of fuel subsidy. They made the president believe that subsidy was evil. This is a big lie! The United States and EU all run various subsidy regimes. Subsidy is a temporary fiscal policy that is put in place to protect critical national interests. Fuel subsidy is mostly to help producers cover losses suffered as a result of government’s policy to keep prices down for the sake of the poor masses. Unfortunately, a few criminal elements within and outside the country abused and gave the process a bad name.

Being the world’s largest exporter of crude oil, Nigeria had no reason to import fuel products. The culture of fuel imports was created by a cartel to milk the nation dry. Even when the need arose for imports pending when our refineries would begin to operate at optimum capacity, not effort was made to monitor the activities of the importers. Okonjo-Iweala and Sanusi were busy shouting at the top of their voices that Nigeria will get broke if fuel subsidy was not removed. They could afford to buy a liter of petrol at N500 but cared less about the rest 70% that is unable to eat one descent meal a day. 

Whether they like it or not, it was the Hon. Farouk Lawan-led ad-Hoc committee set up by the House of Representatives that forced Okonjo-Iweala to do what she was supposed to do right from the beginning. Like Sanusi, her alarms were clearly deceptive. Today, the whole world knows that the fuel subsidy regime, which was aimed at helping poor Nigerians cope with the high cost fuel, goods, and services was unnecessarily tainted with all sorts of shallow arguments by the Finance ministry and CBN. 

These false alarm raised by Sanusi and Okonjo-Iweala only helped to damage the image of Nigerians abroad. The international community is shocked that there are no credible Nigerians to manage ordinary fuel subsidy scheme. The best way government could fight corruption in the NNPC, PPPRA, Customs, armed forces, and police was to remove fuel subsidy. In the opinion of Sanusi and Okonjo-Iweala, the best way to treat headache is to cut off the head! President Goodluck Jonathan needs to be very careful. He cannot actually see the hearts of his lieutenants but the elders say the dance steps of a man betrays the contents of his heart. 

To confirm that the fuel subsidy removal was a trap set up to destabilize President Jonathan’s administration, the CBN governor, Lamido Sanusi told the whole world while speaking at the 5th Annual Microfinance Conference and Entrepreneurship Award in Abuja that a staggering 70% of the Nigerian population is living below poverty line. The same Sanusi turned around quickly to argue that these 70% Nigerians who are already living below poverty line could withstand a further weakening of their purchasing power when fuel subsidy is removed. Who was not aware that the removal of fuel subsidy will translate to an increase in the pump price of petrol and go on to distort the prices of goods and services that has direct or indirect link with petrol. I do not know of any good or service in Nigeria that has no link with petrol. By the grace of God, the president was able to use wisdom to survive the plot.

Only recently, the second plot was hatched. Despite the arguments in many quarters that Nigeria was not ripe for a cashless economy, the CBN governor in his traditional arrogance forced it down the throat of Nigerians.  Before we could come to terms with it, news of plans to introduce a N5,000 note flooded the media. How would this support the cashless policy of government, combat inflation, fight corruption, and reduce poverty? The whole thing is clearly directed at President Goodluck Jonathan. They want to make him unpopular with the masses. What Nigerians need now are fiscal policies that will fight corruption and poverty. The proposed N5,000 note will not achieve any of these.  The decision to place the portrait of three prominent Nigerian women on the proposed currency is a cheap way to bribe a nation already sympathetic to the cause of the womenfolk. 

Watch your back, President Watch!

Monday, April 30, 2012


Most persons that are fortunate to hold prominent public offices would not accord respect to the judiciary until they come down from their Olympian Height and are hunted by their own shadows. They would sack top ranking judicial officers without recourse to due process. In most cases, they even choose court orders to obey or ignore. Just as the elders would always say, “power and money put together, cannot buy the future.” This is the reason why even the rich sometimes cry, run, or hide.  

News of the former governor of Kwara State, Senator Bukola Saraki attempting to use the court to stop the police from inviting him to assist in their investigation of an alleged N21b loan scam is quite unfortunate. This writer is not of the opinion that the senator representing Kwara Central is guilty of the issue for which the police invited him. He is rather worried about the seeming introduction of a novelty that will make the routine police investigation of suspected crime very cumbersome. More than that, this methodology adopted by Senator Saraki will slow down the war against graft in a country where corruption has destroyed the foundation of national unity and socio-economic development. 

While not dismissing the fact that Senator Saraki has all the rights to approach the court to protect his fundamental rights if it is being abused, he is equally under obligation to help the police carry out their lawful duties without impediment. He should not be tempted to set a bad precedence that will hinder the battle against graft. 

If I were in the shoes of Senator Saraki, I will cooperate with the police to unravel the mystery surrounding Joy Petroleum Ltd and the alleged N21b loan scam. He should see this as his own little contribution towards fighting the growing tide of corruption in the country. 

If I were indeed Senator Saraki, I would promptly make myself available to the police, irrespective of whether or not I have any relationship with Joy Petroleum Ltd- the company at the center of the investigation. The issue of the police not informing him of the reasons behind his invitation should be sacrificed to help free truth from deceit and concealment. 

Senator Saraki should be reminded that the action of one innocent man will sound louder than the voices of a thousand guilty persons. His quick response to the invitation by the police would have definitely saved him the embarrassment of being declared wanted by the police. This ugly development has not only opened a sad page for democracy in Nigeria; it has also stained the culture of integrity in public service. 
Many observers and commentators of contemporary issues have condemned Senator Saraki’s approach to the matter and suggested that he responds to the police invitation without delay. From all indication, his invitation by the police is just to assist in the investigation of the alleged N21b loan scam involving Joy Petroleum Ltd. Nobody has accused him of anything and therefore remains innocent. It is said that a clear conscience fears no accusation.

Secondly, Senator Saraki should use the opportunity of the police invitation to flaunt his integrity and shame his “detractors”, if there are any in this case. Another reason Senator Saraki should respond quickly to the police invitation is the sacred fact that he is senator of the federal republic. He is supposed to live above board. To live above board also means doing nothing to stop the law from moving about freely in search of the truth. 

Let Senator Saraki discontinue his attempt to ask the court to determine if he could be invited by the police to assist in investigating a matter in which he is not linked and for which no definite allegation has been made against him. He should go and tell the police what he knows and do not know about the matter in question. Even if he has no confidence in the police, the courts will come to his rescue when if it amounts to that. Let him just do the simple, honourable, and right thing.     

Nigerians should not be surprised if his political beliefs, opinions, and alignments are thrown up as the reason for his invitation by the police. It has become fashionable for people to abandon facts and hold on to sentiments each time they are accused of wrong doing. 

Already, some sympathizers, notably Save Nigeria Group (SNG) and Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) have gone to town with the theory that Senator Saraki is being hunted by members of the “cabal” that benefited from the fuel subsidy scheme. They argue that it was Saraki that moved the motion to investigate the fuel subsidy management scheme on the 16th of September, 2011. While this is possible, should that be enough reason for a suspected criminal matter not to be investigated? Let us not play politics with sensitive issues like this. This was how the seeds of corruption were watered in the early 60s. Just as the SNG and CNPP are doing, individuals and organizations came out openly to whitewash evil with shallow and narrow sentiments. Today, Nigeria has become a whited sepulcher: beautiful from outside but stinking with corpses inside. I am not surprised that both the CNPP and SNG are losing so much respect in recent times. It is not unconnected with their approach to critical nation issues. We cannot continue to sacrifice justice on the laps of shallow and narrow sentiments.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Farouk Lawan: Teaching Okonjo-Iweala and Sanusi how to fight corruption

There is no denying the fact that corruption has reached a pandemic state in Nigeria. Even unborn babies can feel the pains of corruption right inside the wombs of their mothers. The situation has become so bad that no one can take for granted minor issues like electricity, road, petrol, kerosene, water, sanitation, education, and health care services that even small and poor nations have conquered decades ago. Unfortunately, the desire by the larger Nigerian society to dislodge the growing culture of corruption has been hindered by the profuse insincerity mostly on the part of those saddled with the responsibility of managing our common wealth. We must not forget the fact that people are government for different reasons. While some are in government to serve the interest of the wider society, others are there to promote their personal interest. There are also some who go into government mainly to advance tribal and religious sentiments. Of greater danger to the nation are those who stay in government to promote the agendas of third-party organizations and foreign countries. Despite the gloomy impression most people have about corruption in Nigeria, we have the capacity to effectively check it. The problem has been that those who are supposed to champion the fight against graft end up just paying lip service. Take for instance the issue of corruption in the management of the fuel subsidy scheme. Surprisingly, the minister of finance/coordinating minister of the economy, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala and the CBN governor, Mallam Lamido Sanusi went to town painting a very sad picture of Nigeria being a country without citizens credible enough to be trusted with the mere management of her fuel subsidy scheme. It was partly on the strength of this flawed opinion that they both suggested the outright removal of fuel subsidy even though they knew quite well that it will create serious economic problems not just for the poor and unemployed citizens, but for the president as well. The other reason they prescribed the removal of fuel subsidy was to mobilize additional cash to adequately finance the transformational budget of the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration. As against the lies they (Okonjo-Iweala and Sanusi) have been telling vulnerable Nigerians, the United States and EU all maintain different subsidy schemes purposely aimed at promoting production and at the same time protecting the purchasing power of the citizens. Ironically, the IMF and EU were the first to congratulate President Jonathan when the federal government implemented the fiscal policy of fuel subsidy removal on the 1st of January, 2012. The handwriting was clear enough. They simply wanted a situation where the already poor and suffering masses will raise up their voices against government. With such development, the nation’s political leadership will not have the required space to design and implement practicable fiscal policies that will help free the country from western economic slavery. Quite frankly, most of the industrialized nations are not happy with Africa’s early attainment of political independence. It has robbed them of cheap access to raw materials from the continent. Therefore, the last “mistake” they (industrialized nations) will make is to allow Africa gain economic independence too soon. For decades now, western democracies have been hiding behind the World Bank and IMF to prescribe fiscal policies that will hurt than help grow developing economies. Examples of some of such policies include Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), currency devaluation, and anti fuel subsidy among others. In case we are not aware; much of the economic gains made by Asian countries did not come from prescriptions by either the IMF or World Bank. Rather, their economic experts and fiscal policy formulators developed indigenous strategies to meet their peculiar needs and circumstances. No matter how deep corruption has eaten into the fabrics of our national life, the least one expected from Okonjo-Iweala and Lamido Sanusi was their painting of Nigeria as a failed country with no credible people. This writer will never agree that Nigeria does not have the capacity to manage a program as small as the fuel subsidy scheme. The best they did was to invest so much of half-truths and threats to stampede the federal government to removal fuel subsidy when there were better options that will not hurt the poor and suffering masses. To Okonjo-Iweala and Sanusi, the removal of fuel subsidy is the best way to fight corruption in the NNPC, PPPRA, and Customs Services. This opinion is not only wrong but carries long poles of insensitivity to the plights of ordinary Nigerians, most of who are unemployed, poor, and hungry. Perhaps, they should be reminded that a medical doctor worth his onions will not prescribe the amputation of the neck because majority of his patients were complaining of headache. What the House of Representative did with regards the fuel subsidy scheme is the best way to approach critical national issues such as corruption. This writer commends Honourable Farouk Lawan and members of the House of Representative ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy utilization for charting the right course in handling sensitive national issues. At least, we have now known the truth. We now know who the real enemies of Nigeria are. We know those who have stolen our common wealth. Okonjo-Iweala and Sanusi are scared of the truth because of its bitter taste. Let them stop administering the prescriptions of the IMF and World Bank. Though they coat their tongues with sugar, and carry on as patriots; their minds are made of steel from the west. The time has come for all to look inward and develop fiscal policies that will address our peculiar needs and circumstances without placing more burdens on the frail backs of poor and hungry Nigerians. They are not helping the president at all. This was the reason behind my piece, “How technocrats destroy political leaders” and “The art of misleading a president” published on my blog and some off and online media.