Friday, 9 September 2016

Does Nigeria know where she is going?

Fola Ojo
If you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.”
 The above is the submission of a notable English author, Terry Pratchett, in his award-winning comic fantasy novel, “I Shall Wear Midnight”.
My biological mother of the blessed memory also drew similar words from her own pouch of wisdom: “If you don’t know where you are going, you should know where you are coming from”, mum would always say. I wrapped the edifying message in these words around my life loins growing up in Ibadan, Nigeria.
Life is a journey. Those who crafted the words above hope to challenge us all to be wary of how we walk in the slippery terrain of life as a journey. There are millions of people; some of them you probably know, some may be your loved ones who don’t know where they are headed. Hordes of human beings are walking around unsure if they are coming, going, or standing still.

I have met people who have no clue about what they want out oflife. I have stumbled on a few who don’t even have a clue that they don’t have a clue. Those who are not cognisant of the appropriate steps to take usually detour from their God-given destinations. Many have been blown away by whirlwinds into the world beyond without fulfilling their destinies.

The horse that drags the chariots of defeat, destruction, and demise in life is essentially man’s inability to reason out what he really wants out of life. Someday and somehow, life will teach the individual hard lessons if he continues strutting down that precarious path.
I was taking a walk in a Hartford, Wisconsin park the other day when the ministering angel assigned to Nigeria started to bother me with questions about Nigeria. I still don’t know why. Why must this angel harass me daily about concerns in Nigeria? I don’t live there! Then, the gazillion naira question: Does Nigeria know where she is heading? 

If a nation has no clue where she is heading, knows not what to do when she ought to, or refuses to do what she knows is right to do, that country is only playing to win the gold in the Super Olympic Games of failure.
Ask Kemi Adeosun, the Minister of Finance, and she’ll tell you that these times may truly be confusing, but Nigeria knows where she is headed. “How are we going to get ourselves out of this recession? We must make sure that we diversify our economy. There are too many of us to keep on relying on oil”. Kemi is right about diversification.
Although it’s been reported that Nigeria’s non-oil sector declined by 0.38 per cent in real terms in the Second Quarter of 2016, agriculture sector has grown by 13.24 per cent. This was higher than the growth rate recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2015.

An indisputably solid framework left by Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in the last administration is enhancing a spurt in that area. Maybe, the government is doing what it’s supposed to do.

Nominal GDP growth in manufacturing in the Second Quarter of 2016 was recorded at negative 1.02 per cent, 1.09 per cent points lower than the 0.07 per cent recorded in the corresponding period of 2015. Maybe, the promises of investing heavily in capital projects and the manufacturing sector will truly jumpstart the economy. But does Nigeria really know where she is heading, or we are just playing “eeny-meeny-miny-moe” with the economy?
Ask the woman selling tomatoes in Dugbe Market in Ibadan what she thinks about the over 200 per cent increase in the price of tomatoes. She’ll tell you that the government does not know where it’s going. When the price of cement suddenly jumped from N1,300 to N2,400, anybody’s reassuring words that all will be well will not sit down well with those who need to purchase cement for construction works. They’ll tell you that the government is clueless and confused.
Not even the words of President Muhammadu Buhari recently in Edo will settle it for doubters who are growing daily in numbers: “… we are going to get out of this our economic doldrums and we are almost out of our insecurity problems and we are going to make Nigeria great again. We are going to be very proud of our country and our size and our resources will not be for nothing”.
Getting out of this painful season is our prayers. But, how long will the reshuffle of ideas and diversification of the economy begin to produce results not just in numbers, but in real, tangible sense of it? Adeosun gave the answer: “…I think that we have a long way to go”. Wow! That’s too caustic for a family who is about to eat its last meal and die. But, it’s true.We have a long way to go. And Nigeria is not alone.

Although production of crude oil represents just three per cent of Canada’s GDP, It’s also been reported that the sharp fall in oil prices now threatens to put Canada to “move from leader to laggard”. In the rich nations’ category, France and Italy also are in deep struggles with higher unemployment rates.

The mess is all over the place. Recession is an abscess in any nation’s guts. A country in recession however can be granted an exemption only if it knows where it is heading.
That President Buhari is now between the rock and a hard place is an understatement. He probably wishes that he’s able to switch on the engine of the economy, turn everything around in a jiffy, and put his enemies to shame.  But, alas, what’s on the ground is too complicated and intricate. An average citizen of any nation will not respond to promises and the throwing-around of arbitrary placating and mollifying figures.
In the ears of a hungry man or woman, these are considered jargons. They want to feel the uptick in their pocket books and on the dinner table. That is the dilemma that this administration has to deal with right now.
Most Nigerians do not know what GDP means; but they know that the total and combined monetary value of road infrastructure contracts that have been awarded in Nigeria over many years should have eliminated potholes and bumpy, rough rides on all Nigerian highways and byways. But what do we have?

Potholes and valleys in all 774 local government areas! Most Nigerians may not know what cost-put inflation is; but they know that funds for infrastructural development had always been kept in a treasury full of holes. Most Nigerians may not understand all the economic terminologies hauled from Adeosun’s London library, but they know the price of garri; and they know when it is spiking and without reach.
Does Nigeria know where she is going? I think so. Those who have been privileged to lead have a clear idea where Nigeria ought to be. Many of them have traversed every nook and cranny of this world. They have experienced how good governments run. They know what accountability looks like; and they know the colour of transparency.

They know that when things work, they do for all; and when situations go awry, everybody mourns. Yes; they should know where they are going.
But right now, my friends, I sense that they may be having a lot of difficulties figuring out how to get there. I hope I am wrong. May Nigeria succeed; may God bless the land.







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