The Many Shenanigans in Nigeria
By Enobong Udoh
This decade is about to end in a few weeks and surely Nigeria will start the next decade still as the country with most poor people. A check at the world poverty clock shows as the clock ticks away, Nigeria’s destitute are not decreasing but increasing. So does it mean countries with prolong civil wars or without a central government are better than Nigeria?
For students looking for a natural laboratory to conduct experiments on policy and institutional failures in the absence of civil war, Nigeria is your best lab.
Year 2020 is when a lot of our development plans are meant to elapse; one in particular stands out, the Financial System Strategy 2020 or FSS2020 for short. Efficient and effective financial system is what oils the wheel of any economy, for this the CBN lead then by Prof. Charles Soludo sought to make Lekki Lagos the financial hub of Africa. After all, cities like New York, London, Honk Kong and Singapore are not known for exporting any cash crop (here, government clamors that the solution is for everyone to take to farming) but are merely financial centers where transactions pass through or are cleared.
Note these financial hubs did not build the high speed computers they use, but for setting up the networks and systems, these cities receive fees and commissions that run into millions of dollars daily. Now, that is innovation! But in 2020 instead of a financial hub we had blood on the streets of Lekki.
To be clear, one of the important objectives of FSS2020 was to increase financial inclusion, sadly the BVN data shows not more than 40 million out of 200 million Nigerians use the banks. FSS2020 phase 1 began in June 2007, one wonders what phase we are in today. A simple check at the FSS2020 secretariat website to ascertain its level of implementation let off a rude shock. Implementation documents nonexistent, instead pictures of farmers in Peru and a ‘donate to us page’ was found. It’s a crying shame, any interested reader can confirm at www.fss2020.gov.ng.
This is just to show how low an important institution like the CBN has sank. The CBN will end 2020 as one of the important political actors in Nigeria. Does the mandate of the CBN to hold down inflation and boost growth extended to political activism? Could it be the pictures of the CBN leadership in a video call with #End SARs youth leader(s) that circulated online photoshop, even when the movement made it clear there had no leader(s)? Bank Accounts of these young people where later to be freeze. This is the same country where we heard how people funnel money to Boko-haram as hinted by the UAE and the sky did not fall. Wow, what a country!
Need we remind the CBN leadership that any country that has a bad loans bank like AMCON whose closure tenure is still a mystery, greatly signifies a financial system in crises. In short, this is a matter for another day.
We can’t forget another institution, the NNPC where our politicians love to put their foreign schooled kids. No matter how opaque their accounts are, we kept warning that the NNPC Group with all their unending investments arms is bankrupt. This president under his watch as minister of petroleum has not come out in clear terms to educate Nigerians on why he will need to continue to borrow monies to inject into a dead company.
What is the use of NNPC when the sector is said to have been deregulated? Buhari’s government keeps saying they have a revenue problem but we have argued that it is a spending problem. Is it not long overdue to unbundle this overfed cow that produces no milk? This shenanigans is indeed too much.
An Economist writes from Abuja