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I am shouting from the rooftop, I am screaming from Mount Everest, I am speaking to anybody who care to listen that maximum security should be provided for General Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidential candidate of APC to avoid the tragedy that struck us in 1998 when Chief MKO Abiola was poisoned and his June 12 1993 mandate crushed after a bitter struggle. This country and leaders of APC must not take things for granted as there are unrepentant and murderous thieves at the door. PDP and its heartless handlers can never go down without a fight. I want APC leaders to manage the little gains we have to prepare for the worst. Whatever we can do to protect Buhari, let us do it. If it means hiring Security personnel from America, Israel, France, UK and Germany, let us do so. I repeat PDP and its reckless leaders cannot give up without pulling the house down. Once GMB is taken out of the way, the predators and cultural savages will return and this time, they will become more ferocious and dangerous.
When General Abacha died suddenly in 1998 my friends celebrated and celebrated and even drank themselves to stupor. I did not join them to celebrate because my mind told me that something sinister may happen to Chief MKO Abiola. I told my friend that the killing of Abacha is to prepare ground for physical elimination of Chief MKO Abiola. I have read many books on the struggle for power in other climes especially in the South Americas in the 70s. I knew then that the killing of Abacha is to gauge the feelings and reactions of the people of Nigeria especially from the South knowing that they will celebrate. Their calculations and permutations then was that they will go for Chief Abiola and consequently settle the matter.
Bearing this in mind I went to a prominent Newspaper in Lagos to alert them. There, one of the Editors threw two sheets of paper to me to state my case. I filled the two pages and left. Now, was it published? No! As I left the Newspaper House, I guess they threw the papers into the waste basket. A month later, Chief MKO was poisoned by those who felt that the only way to solve the June 12 1993 saga is to kill both the offender and the offended. They succeeded and the era of the bonafide winner of June 12 1993 presidential election, adjudged as the freest and fairest election ever conducted in Nigeria, ended abruptly. We were shot in the legs and we cried and cried. The agitation for the June 12 mandate died down when the symbol of that hope was killed.
We lost everything. Hundreds died, including Chief Abiola’s wife Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, Alhaja Suliat Adedeji, Admiral Babatunde Elegbede, Ogoni 9, Alfred Rewane, Bagauda Kaltho, Dr Sola Omatshola, Commodore Olu Omotehinwa, Alhaji Shehu Yar’Adua, Toyin Onagoruwa, and many others. We did not only lose these prominent Nigerians including the symbol and hundreds of other unknown Nigerians, we lost in the struggle to reposition Nigeria for the better. Hope 1993 became hopeless and unrealistic with the murder of Chief MKO Abiola.
Today, 16years after 1998 we are still paying the price of killing Abiola and his mandate. All the gains we made politically were totally decimated, desecrated and rendered desolate and the centre could no longer hold as forces of darkness took control once again even till date. From 1993 to 2014 is now 21years. 21 years of Barbers Chair Syndrome, 21 years of beating about the bush, 21 years of political corruption, mediocrity and impunity, 21 years of idiocy, 21years of mass murder, 21years of retarded growth, 21years of waste, 21years of reckless plunder and pillage of our common patrimony and 21years of shame.
After 21years the agents of change are gathering again to rework the knocked engines of Nigeria. After so much pains and division the agents of change in Nigeria are at work again to re-fix a battered, plundered, sucked and bled nation. They are gathering again to check where the rains started beating and to take stock.
God in his infinite mercies has given us General Muhammadu Buhari once again to see if we are now wiser. We have been given a second chance to redeem our subdued and humiliated country and if we bungle this, woe betide us. I submit that we must not be foolish again as we were from 1993 to 1998. I believe we have learnt sufficient lessons of history and shed enough tears to know that opportunities do not come all the time. We have to grow up now before history which neither personal wealth nor power can suppress passes terrible judgment on us.
Imagine what would have happened if Chief Abiola had been alive. Imagine where this country would have been today if Chief Abiola had been allowed to rule Nigeria. Imagine what would have been that state of our economy if this world class chartered Accountant had been allowed to rule Nigeria. We lost Chief Abiola and lost 21 years to brigands and nitwits.
This is decision time. This is our chance. General Muhammadu Buhari must live to deal with Nigeria’s pandemic problems. GMB must live to clear the Augean stable. GMB must live to fight corruption and impunity in Nigeria. He must live to do what he is known to have done before. GMB needs to live to restore hope and confidence in Nigeria. Protect him now!
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General Muhammadu Buhari is a polarizing figure. You either love him or hate him. But that’s okay. Most statesmen are polarizing, anyway. In so many ways, he reminds me of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo: tough, uncompromising, visionary, tenacious, honest, and loyal. His mantra is simple: performance and accountability. Regrettably these attributes have not been welcomed in the Nigeria of the last three decades. And I would posit that it is because Nigeria was unappreciative of men like Buhari, Idiagbon and Awolowo that we’ve found ourselves in the current social-economic and political cesspit
Since his forced departure from office, lesser men have been at the helm of our national affairs. Any wonder then that we mistake mediocrity for excellence, stupidity for intelligence, and cowardice for bravery? It is a national tragedy to have shunned men like Buhari who is a patriot, a nationalist, and an embodiment of political and personal morality. At the time General Buhari and his lieutenants came to power, Nigeria was already swimming in a cesspool of economic and social corruption, laziness, dirtiness and political decadence. The country was in the hands of the inept and was being run aground in an ocean of uncertainty. But and his partners right most of the wrongs.
We had lost faith in our country, in our neighbors, in our leaders and in our humanity. It was a grim, desperate and depressing time; and a cloud of hopelessness and dejection was gradually enveloping the country. Folks, it was a sad and hopeless era! It was, until Buhari and his able partner, General Tunde Idiagbon, rode into town to assure us that we can do better! And we were until General Ibrahim Babangida and his posse threw a wrench in our national affairs.
Buhari was not a perfect head of state. He was not a perfect General. He was human, and he had his flaws. But that’s okay. He loved his family. He loved his country. He loved his people. He was unlike any president – military or civilian – Nigeria has ever had. Though a military dictator, he had his ways. There was a method to his style of governance. What mattered was Nigeria and Nigerians. His actions and pronouncements revealed a man who cared about the soul of our nation. He cared about our collective destiny. He cared about history and posterity. He delivered what he promised. These, all these, you cannot say about others.
I vividly remember the Buhari days as though it was yesterday. It was an era when people were afraid to demand and or to take bribes; it was era when you thought twice before you litter the streets; it was an era when you took turns to enter the bus; it was an era when you sold drugs, engage in prostitutions and other reprehensible activities at your own peril; it was an era when the Western world paid attention to us; it was an era when it was chic to be a Nigerian again. Most of all, it was an era when we knew Nigeria was going to turn the corner from decadence to righteousness, from economic stagnation to economic growth, and from decay to prosperity. Buhari restored our hope.
But of course, not everybody was happy for us and for our country and so Buhari was betrayed, arrested and forced from office by those with evil machinations. Truth be told, ordinary Nigerians betrayed Buhari too! We were unappreciative of all he did in the very short period he was in office. We betrayed him by not standing by him then; and we betrayed him again during the last elections by not voting and electing him into office. Just as we disappointed the sage (Awolowo) on three occasions, we disappointed Buhari on two occasions.
It is my hope therefore that Nigerians will right the wrongs of the past, restore my hope in the goodness and sensibility of Nigerians, and also make it up to a great man and a great Nigerian who deserve to be the next executive president of Nigeria. Buhari is my man. He should be your man. He should be our man come 2015
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Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka today likened Pres. Jonathan to the biblical Babylonian autocrat, King Nebuchadnezzar.
While speaking at a press conference at the Freedom Park in Lagos today, with the theme: “King Nebuchadnezzar – the reign of impunity,” Prof Wole Soyinka said Pres. Jonathan’s administration has become known for lawlessness and that Nigerians have been thrown into the furnace of fire just like Shedrack, Mishak and Abednego were thrown into the furnace by Nebuchadnezzar for not bowing down to him.
Soyinka continued, “You should easily recall why I opted for King Nebu – the figure that currently sits on the top of our political pile himself evoked it, albeit in a context that virtuously disclaimed any similarities, even tendencies. Perhaps he meant it at the time when he claimed: ‘I am not Nebuchadnezzar.’ Perhaps not. One judges leaders on acts however, not pronouncements, which are often as reliable as electoral promises. King Nebu remains relevant – and not only for leadership. We, the citizens, are beginning to feel the heat. We wake up each morning to a sensation that we have been cast into the furnace together with those who at least committed the crime of dissent or criticism”.
Prof Soyinka also berated the Inspector General of Police for invading the National Assembly
“The recent choice of a new leader for the guard was clearly no accident, and this hitherto unknown enforcer, one Suleiman Abba, has wasted no time in inaugurating a season of brutish power. When a people’s elected emissaries are disenfranchised, cast out like vagrants and resort to scaling fences to engage in their designated functions, the people get the message”.
He applauded the lawmakers who scaled the National Assembly fence on November 20th, saying it wasn’t a show of shame but rather the finest moments of the lawmakers.
Meanwhile the Presidency has reacted to the claims made by Soyinka.
Doyin Okupe, the special assistant to the president on public affairs, condemned Wole Soyinka’s stinging analysis of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
At a press conference in Lagos on Tuesday, Soyinka had said the president was abusing his powers and going the way of military ruler, Sani Abacha. But reacting, Okupe claimed that Soyinka had a bias against Jonathan because of the close relationship between the literary icon and Rotimi Amaechi, the governor of Rivers state.
He described Amaechi as the “national champion of impunity”, saying Soyinka had refused to call him to order. “The close relationship between Amaechi and our eminent professor has affected his usually-cerebral contributions to national discourse,” he said.
“He also sadly plays the ostrich as he failed to reprimand Governor Amaechi, who is the national champion of impunity and official recklessness.” Okupe defended Jonathan as “a respecter of the rule of law” and also disagreed with Soyinka’s criticism of Sulaiman Abba, the inspector-general of police.
He said said Abba was only doing his duty regarding the face-off at the national assembly, alleging that Soyinka was justifying unlawful conduct. “The administration of President Goodluck Jonathan prides itself as the most liberal, keeping faith with adherence to rule of law and tolerance,” he said. “It is interesting that he has chosen to ignore immoral, indefensible and unlawful attitude of the speaker of the house of representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, after his defection.”
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For this piece, let us set the country aside for a bit and focus on the individual. Today is the first day of the last month of the year 2014. It must mean something to you if you are one of those who look at life in terms of “Happy New Year” and “the year is coming to an end.” Truth be told, most people prefer to live life year on year while others prefer to work it out day by day. This piece is especially for those who live it year on year.
December is probably the most misused month of every year by most people. Somehow, it suddenly dawns on many that the year is actually coming to an end so they suddenly start looking to rush projects that ought to be executed in months, looking to deliver same in December from start to finish.
Many start looking to target numbers they never paid attention to initially. What happens is that many end up getting frustrated. At the end of the month, which is also the end of the year, many look back and imagine what might have been. As the New Year dawns, they make new promises and commitments, to do better. Then they fail the following end of the year. Repeat cycle.
For a serious-minded person or family, the year ends in November. The month of December is the month of looking behind, to make looking ahead easier. You do not plan the New Year in the first month of the New Year, you plan the New Year in the last month of the old year. December ought to be your month of planning, your month of working out to make the following year work better not your month of ruing the missed chances from the current year.
Too many times, we focus and are often obsessed with missed opportunities when we ought to be inspired and driven by unexplored pursuits. You set yourself up for a frustrating end to the year if you set out to do several things you refused to do in the 1st eleven months in the 12th month.
Like football, the first eleven should be set up for you to make the most of what is before you. December then becomes an extra chance to end the year on a high and to project for a new year. Do not get carried away by the festivities, they are often the cloud that prevents you from seeing the essence of making a useful and effective transition from one year to the end.
What then is the greatest mistake we make in December? We think of it as a last chance to make an old year work instead of seeing it as an opportunity to work the New Year. It is okay to plan the New Year when the year clocks but other things being equal, a woman with a plan for the New Year in December of the previous year would be in a much better stead than one with a plan already delayed by some 12th part of a whole year.
If after 11 months the year has not worked for you, doubling your hustle will only marginally make the month look better than the rest. It more often than not will not change the success-failure colouration of the year. Would it not be better to invest the month of December as the foundational bed of the New Year instead of the victim of the year just tailing out?
Do your best to start fixing 2015 from today. You probably haven’t had so good a year– good for you, the year is 92 per cent in the past now. The New Year, which is 100 per cent in the future starts days from now. What would you rather do, invest a whole month trying to rescue the past or use the month to have as much control of the future as possible? Have a great month ahead.
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So I logged onto Nigerian Twitter yesterday afternoon and found people abusing economists and financial analysts for speaking in jargons about the CBN’s actions. So for those who’re still confused about what’s going on with Nigeria’s economy and are trying to understand the implications, here’s a simplified version. No bricklayers were insulted in the writing of this post…at least, not explicitly.
So How Did This All Start?
First thing first, oil price fell. Why? Everyone’s increased their production of oil and no one plans on cutting back. In the US, shale oil’s getting cheaper, so there’s more oil out there…and we all know what happens when you have a lot more of a product — price falls. When price falls, consumers are happy and producers are unhappy. Consequently, nations that are consumers of oil have a lovely time, and oil producer countries …a not so lovely time.
So? What Does This Have to Do With the Naira?
Before we go on, a little info on currency and exchange markets. It’s important to note that our currency doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Essentially, a unit of our currency is exchanged for a unit of another currency. Hence the term, Foreign Exchange or Forex or FX, for short. When we buy products from outside Nigeria, we have to exchange our Naira for Dollars. Your Naira is useless outside of Nigeria. It’s why you convert your Naira to Dollars before you travel. You want to test it? Travel to Dubai with only Naira.
Back to the question you raised. Nigeria is fortunate(?) to be an oil producing nation…when oil prices are high. Presently, oil prices are not high and that’s bad for us. Nigeria’s economy is dependent on oil revenue: about 75% of Government revenue comes from our crude oil sales. So when oil prices fall, oil revenue falls too, and that’s bad for the economy.
In the currency market, exchange rates are often centered on the health of a country’s economy. When the economy of a country is strong, its currency is also strong in the foreign exchange market. When the economy appears to be weak, its currency loses value in the currency exchange rate. Nigeria’s dependent on oil, so when oil prices are weak, so our currency loses value in the foreign exchange market. This loss of value of Naira is called a ‘depreciation’ in currency value.
Here’s a simple example. If we began with a dollar exchange for a Naira, both are in a sense equal. However, once I have to give out 2 of my Naira for just 1 of your dollar then the value of Naira has fallen. In the past months, the exchange rate was $1 dollar to roughly N150. Thanks to depreciation and eventually devaluation (we’ll get to that later), it’s now $1 to N168.
Alright. I Get the Currency Part, But What Does Our External Reserves Have to Do with our Naira Value?
To explain this, we’ll have to look into what the External Reserves is and why it exists. Think of your External Reserves as a Savings account where you put some portion of your salary every month. That money gets saved for something later: paying your children’s university fees, buying a house, or importantly, in case things get bad in the future (perhaps you lose your job).
Likewise, countries keep these reserves, but mainly to safeguard the value of their domestic currency, boost their credit worthiness, protect against external shocks and provide a cushion for a rainy day when national revenue plummets. When Nigeria earns revenue from oil, it gets paid in dollars, so we simply stash a portion of the money in our reserves.
Moreover, the reserves of oil producing countries like Nigeria tend to benefit economically from higher oil prices. The higher the price of oil, the more money oil producing countries like Nigeria get to earn and save.
So if We Have an External Reserve, Why’re We Worried?
Well, having a bank account doesn’t mean you have money. We have a reserve, but our money no plenty. Nigeria has been dancing shoki with its reserves. When oil price was high, we apparently weren’t saving that much into our reserves. In fact, our reserves have been on a downward trend for years. We’ve been using our External Reserves to keep the value of Naira stable for months. When our currency appears to be falling, we take out some dollars from our external reserves and purchase Naira. Increased demand for Naira leads to increased value of Naira, and that’s how we stabilize our currency.
However, we sacrifice a portion of our External Reserves to pull this off. For instance, “while the central bank stepped in Nov. 7 to send the Naira to its biggest one-day gain in three years, intervening in the market has reduced foreign reserves to a four-month low of $37.8 billion.” In the last few months, even Russia with their large reserves had to devalue their currency by 23%.
So is This why Everyone Was Making Noise About CBN Devaluing the Naira?
Yes. Now there’s only so much spending from the reserves that the CBN can do, especially given that we’ve really sucked at growing our reserves when oil price was in the $100 range. It’s like when your office was paying you N100k, you were clubbing every weekend rather than saving some money. Then the minute your office decided to increase your income tax, that’s when your jobless relative comes to live with you too. So now, your salary is not only less, it’s burning faster cause there’s an extra mouth to feed.
The drop in oil price does not only send our currency downwards, it also makes it difficult for the CBN to defend our currency. It’s a double whammy. Essentially, if the CBN keeps trying to defend the rate at N150, it’ll burn through the reserves pretty fast and then we’ll be screwed. So relaxing this currency threshold to N168 means they can relax a bit. They don’t have to keep using as much of the reserves to prop up the Naira. If you’re still curious on how it all works, Feyi goes into the intricacies of devaluation in his fantastic post here.
Okayyy! I Think I Understand Now, But How Does This Affect Me?
Like many other economic events, devalution creates winners and losers. Let’s start with the losers. If you generate revenue in Naira and incur costs in dollars, this is a bad time for you. Any activity that has you converting Naira for Dollars will hurt you way more than a few months ago.
Let’s have a moment of silence for our Igbo brother who will be ‘importing containers’ this christmas. Life just got harder for them. Given that importers have to pay for their imported goods in dollars…and dollars just got more expensive, the cost of their goods have increased overnight.
Same thing happens to those tush parents who’ve got their kids in Nigerian schools that only accept their fees in dollars or Nigerians that have children schooling abroad. If you like flying, shopping or doing anything abroad, your cost of doing so has risen. On the contrary, if you earn in dollars and pay in Naira, life is looking pretty good at the moment.
Exporters also benefit. The fall in value of Naira means more exports because our exports have gotten cheaper. But ermm…what exactly are we exporting?
Phew. So It Doesn’t Affect Me Like That
Don’t be so sure. Nigeria’s an import-dependent nation, which means that most of what you purchase is produced abroad. I heard we import our toothpick too. If the prices of imports have risen, trust your Nigerian brothers and sisters to increase their prices too…leading to what’s popularly known as inflation.
I Was Hearing All These Oversabies Saying CRR, MPR. What Does This Mean?
CRR stands for Cash Reserve Ratio. It’s the proportion of what a bank can lend, to what it has in its coffers. So if the bank has N1000 and its ratio is 50%, can only use 50% of that money (N500) for business. Given that awon banks do not mess around with profit making, they will make sure that N500 brings back maximum profit. Banks are like the servant in Jesus’ parable that got 10 talents from his master, not the lazy one that got 1 talent. So to make max profit off the N500, they will raise interest rate if you want to borrow their money.
MPR stands for Monetary Policy Rate. The Central Bank uses the MPR to control base interest rate. The higher the rate, the less money in circulation. How? If interest rate is higher, will you borrow money from the bank knowing that you’ll pay much more later on? Nope. Instead, you’ll take your money from your pocket and give it to the bank, so they’ll make you more money.
Remember that thanks to devaluation, awon boys will be increasing prices left and right. General price increase in a given period leads to inflation. To tackle this, CBN increases CRR and MPR to reduce demand for money. This way, they prevent inflationary rise.
Okayy. I think I Understand That Part, So What’s This Austerity Thing Aunt Ngozi was Talking About?
That one is another long story. So, we’ve all been in situations when we’re broke. Ok, maybe just some of us. We adjust our lifestyle around the middle of the month when our salary hasn’t been paid. You go from eating jollof rice to drinking garri. When friends tell you to come out and party, you form ‘I’m very busy’.
Nigeria’s proposed austerity measures are similar…except on a grander scale. To cushion the effect of the falling crude oil prices, we have to cut back on spending and quite literally tighten our belts. The Government is cutting back on wastage (less government traveling and all that sort). The Government’s also raising taxes on luxury goods such as private jets, yachts and champagne. Somewhere in this luxury tax is the amusing observation that the revenue from taxes on the rich will still go back to the rich.
For the proletariat, the sweet subsidy you enjoy when you fuel your car will also get cut. Prepare to pay more for fuel. This is a good thing. Subsidy has to go anyways.
Wow. That was Long. So, Any Lesson to Learn from All This?
Yes. First lesson: Nigeria is the most reactive and least proactive nation you could’ve been born into. This isn’t the first time oil prices have fallen. Government should’ve gotten used to fluctuating oil price and prepared accordingly. And, since oil is the figurative oil in Nigeria’s economic engine, judicious and prudent management of oil revenue should’ve been practiced. However, we largely mismanaged our wealth during the time of booms and we’re now trying to behave ourselves in the time of slump. Let’s see how that goes.
The second lesson to be learnt is that we should’ve diversified our economic sources of revenue a long time ago to prevent price shock of primary products from affecting us drastically. Also, State Governments should’ve been pressured to increase their internally generated revenue much sooner. We can’t keep reacting to every economic shock that hits us.
Anyways, this is getting too long and no one probably got to the end, so no need for a witty or wise ending. But, if you reached this point, congrats! After spending all that time reading this, make sure you show off your new macroeconomic knowledge to your friends. And please, stop abusing econ-nerds. We have feelings too. Selah.
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