Saturday, January 31, 2015

Etcetera Has Some Strong Words For Buhari's Supporters

Stupid is a word that has a broad range of applications, but it generally means a person lacks rudimentary intelligence or the ability to reason. It can also imply a congenital lack of capacity for reasoning, or a permanent state of daze or slow-mindedness. However one defines or applies the word stupid, you can hardly think of the word without directly relating it to the utterances of some Buhari’s supporters; especially the supposedly literate ones. 

Over the past week, it became apparent that the level of stupidity inherent in those inclined to support certain politicians at all cost is beyond comprehension. In fact, it is frightening that so many Nigerians of voting age lack the fundamental reasoning ability
of a second-grader and are even less-informed about basic facts than a kindergarten. I have heard some of the most bizarre ideas peddled by some Buhari’s supporters and I am really concerned about the future of this country. 

I have heard troubling statements like: 
“It really doesn’t matter if Buhari is qualified or not, he must be the next president and we’ll vote for him. Even if he presents a NEPA bill as certificate, we don’t care, we will vote for him. 
Are these people for real? To base your position on whatever absurdity your favourite candidate espouses; regardless of reality is the reason why we are in this hell of a nation. 

These are exactly the type of supporters Nigerian politicians bank on to win elections. These goons should know that in a democratic system, we live by the constitution and the Nigerian constitution in section 131 (d) gives a specific order for all presidential candidates to show proof of education up to a minimum standard not below school certificate or its equivalent. If Buhari doesn’t have the required qualification, he should be disqualified immediately or if it is proven that his certificate or result was doctored or forged, he should be arrested and charged to court for deception. 

Atahiru Jega and his INEC got us into this embarrassing position. How can someone refer INEC to the Secretary of the Military Board for his credentials when it is stated clearly that every contestant should attach copies of their qualification to their forms? 
INEC is a joke. If elections are conducted like job interviews, can the applicant direct his would-be employers to his previous work place for his credentials? Won’t the applicant be chased off the premises with a stick or security dogs? How do we bring about the clamoured “change” in the nation when we can’t treat the nation’s business as ours? 

Nobody is saying you shouldn’t support Buhari or any candidate of your choice but it shouldn’t be based on sentiments of any kind. The other day, a radio presenter was screaming like a banshee on radio of how Buhari is a man of great ideas, you shouldn’t be the one telling us what Buhari’s ideas are. As a radio presenter, it is against NBC regulations for any presenter to influence listeners’ votes. Buhari should sell himself convincingly enough to earn their votes. 

Aren’t we tired of having leaders who can’t sell their ideas themselves? That’s why they haven’t approached the subject of how they are going to revive the economy in any of their campaign speeches? 
Let’s not be stupefied into supporting any candidate. We are screaming for a corrupt free nation, yet we are refusing to see that electing someone without the required qualification is as good as endorsing corruption. No one would want to admit that half of this country’s population is inherently stupid, much less ignorant, but at the rate politicians garner votes based on sheer fantasy and lies, there is no other conclusion that makes any sense whatsoever. 

One thing is certain; if Nigerian voters were not so stupid, they would not knowingly go against what is right, whether for their personal, ethnic or religious interest. Our politicians know that without stupid people, most of them would be extinct as viable political forces. But they are far from going extinct and it is all down to the level of stupidity permeating this sad ignorant nation.

''Why We Date Married Men'' - Nigerian Ladies

Despite having an understanding of the risks involved in dating married men, a recent finding has shown that many young Nigerian ladies still think it is far better than giving themselves to single men especially when the latter are not yet ready for marriage.

A study by P.M.NEWS revealed that most Nigerian ladies have, at one point or another, dated married men. Some have continued to even maintain double relationships where they date a married man and keep their relationships with younger male -bachelors.

Many of the ladies who spoke with their correspondent concerning the issue, said they feel more comfortable dating married men than bachelors. While some disclosed that they are dating married men because of money, some said they engage in such relationships because of the maturity and
experience of the men  who already have wives at home.

However, apart from these two reasons, P.M.NEWS spoke with two ladies who said they were dating married men as revenge against their boyfriends. Many of the ladies confessed that they had to stick with married men because they have not found a man ready to marry them.

Toyin Adedamola, a 36-year-old resident of Oshodi area of Lagos, said dating a married man “is not a big deal.”
“I am old enough to marry, but where I don’t find the right man ready to put me in his house as his wife, should I just remain like a prisoner? As I am now, I don’t mind being a second wife as long as I am comfortable and respected like a wife by the man,” she said.
Another respondent, who simply gave her name as Jumoke, confirmed that she was dating a married man but added that she was not ready to be a second wife.
“I am dating one married man and we have been together for two years now. He is ready to marry me, but I am not ready to be a second wife. Experience has taught me that being a second wife would make you fight for your life till death. So I told him I can’t be a second wife. 
I am only with him till I find the right person to marry me,” she said.
A married woman, who refused to mention her name for safety reasons, said that it is sometimes good to date a married man for experience.
“I dated a married man here in Ogun State before I got married. I finally bade him bye two days to my wedding. I had a good time with him all through the period we dated. I decided to date him so that I would know how best to handle my husband. 
I felt it would also help me to monitor my husband’s activities and keep him from women. The man was actually encouraged to date a woman outside because his wife made his home hell for him,” the pregnant 29-year-old woman explained.
For Maureen, she dates a married man apart from two regular boyfriends. While the married man pays most of her bills, she keeps the two boyfriends pending when any of them would decide on marriage.
“I am getting to 30 years old and that is not funny. That’s why I have the two guys. But for the married man, we both know we don’t have a future together, but he pays my bills and assists in other areas. 
I have been managing them. The married man knows I have another person, but the two bachelors don’t know each other or whether I have a married man,” she said.
For Eyitayo, dating a married man comes with risks, but she believes that in life, everything possess their own risks.
“There was this man I dated last year and his wife sent people after me. I was beaten mercilessly and had to spend three weeks in the hospital,” the 29-year-old petty trader said.
She admitted that she learnt her lesson since the mistake came from her.
“At a time, I couldn’t do anything without thinking of him. Moreover, he was the one who rescued me and made me self-dependent. I always called and chatted with him even though I knew it was risky. That was how his wife knew and came after me. 
Though I have left the man, I am in another relationship but this time, the man’s wife is not in Lagos. The man lives alone and works here,” she said


Friday, January 30, 2015

What Really Is The Truth These Days?

The dictionary defines truth as the true or actual state of a matter;
conformity with fact or reality. It also defines perception as the
intuitive recognition or appreciation as of moral,psychological or
aesthetic qualities;insight;discernment. In short words,perception is
how we apprehend and appreciate the truth.

With the goings on in the
polity lately,we can see that so much information is being bandied
around by various groups through different mediums, which are meant to
whip up certain sentiments around some issues we are facing as a

With just some weeks left to elections,the two major
political parties; Pdp and Apc,have embarked on campaigns of calumny
against their presidential candidates, with each side throwing shades
at the other at every given opportunity.

The hottest topic now  is the
article written by the former chief economic adviser and CBN governor
under obasanjo's administration,Charles Soludo,where he scored the
present administration an F grade in economic management.

through the article,you get the impression that the former CBN
governor has an axe to grind, especially with the way he tried to belittle the
modest achievements that have been recorded in the economy under
president goodluck jonathan's administration. In a bid to appear
balanced,he extended his scathing criticism to the APC by taking them
up on their change slogan,asking them how they intend to fund the said
change they have been promising, given we are in a period of dwindling
oil revenues. He further gave a kind of numerical evaluation of how
the proposed change by apc wasn't feasible within the constraint of
funds available when he took a look at how apc's proposal of
creating jobs through public works method and giving of stipends to
the poor and unemployed could not be financed within the budget

Though the apc has since replied Soludo's article,but it's
clear they were quite ruffled by the intellectual analysis given by
Soludo which sort of exposed the lies in the change slogan they
have been mouthing,since they forgot or neglected a key component;which is
how they intend to fund the change.

This brings me to the thrust of
this piece which is on what really is the truth these days. I have
earlier tried to define what truth and perception means,and i must say
here that most of the things we pass off as the truth these days,are
actually our perception of what the truth is or what it should be. We
say things based on how we perceive  them to be,not necessarily how
they truly are. If you were to ask someone in government to analyze
topical issues based on readily available facts in the public
space,you will be surprised to learn that someone else who is outside
government would give his own analysis on the same issues differently
from the one who is in government circles;even with the same facts.

We are told facts are sacred
but opinions differ due to our exposure and perceptions of issues,but
we should never allow it overshadow rational thought. In light of
this,lets always analyze issues based on available facts which are
well proven,and when we disagree with the facts presented,we should
provide ours, provided it is from verifiable sources.

Am loving the rich
discussions on governance going on right now in the polity,where
citizens can seek
clarification on issues that are not clear to them,and government is
bound to give a reply;thanks to the FOI law which makes this
possible,so let the discussions continue.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I’ll donate my salary to retired teachers’-Oyo Guber Candidate Seyi Makinde

The governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party in Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, has said that if elected as the state governor in the next month election, he will donate his salary to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme in the state.During a town hall meeting with teachers from Saki-West, Saki-East, Atisbo, Oorelope and Irepo council areas of the state, Makinde said his decision was arrived at after considering the plight of retired teachers.He said, “I am fully aware of the plight of teachers, because my father was a retired school teacher. The pension scheme is the final hope of our teachers. It must, therefore, be important in our heart. I have decided to donate all my salary to the pension purse, if I am elected as governor of this state. Nothing is too small to offer our teachers because without them, we cannot stand where we are today.”Makinde also promised to pay retiring teachers as soon as they disengaged from service. Some of the teachers who responded thanked the billionaire businessman, while also expressing their fears over the future of the teaching profession.“We are happy with Mr. Makinde’s consideration for teachers. He has identified with our plight. Each day, I nurse the fear that one day, the teaching profession could go into extinction. This is because teachers have not had it good as other categories of workers. We train people to reach the height but we are often looked down on. That is why the youths no longer consider teaching as first option,” said the leader of the group, Isiaka Ibrahim.After the meeting with the teachers, the SDP governorship candidate also met the Okere-in-council, leaders of various communities in Oke-Ogun area of the state, members of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and members of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Saki.

An article by Reno Omokri: The Broom Or the Vacuum Cleaner?

Article written by Pres Jonathan's new media aide, Reno Omokri

On Tuesday the 27th of January, in Lafia, Nasarawa state, President Jonathan said “we are building a country for a digital generation”.  Let us ponder on that for a second. That statement rings true, as I cannot imagine any truly patriotic Nigerian that will want Nigeria to remain in an analogue state. That being said, what place does a broom have in a digital society? You will agree with me that brooms are more suited for an analogue society.

Let me expatiate. One vacuum cleaner can do the work of one hundred brooms and can do it faster and more efficiently too. The APC and Muhammadu Buhari are representative of brooms. This is why Muhammadu Buhari keeps saying he will throw corrupt Nigerians into jail. Now, as a means of fighting corruption, there is nothing wrong with throwing corrupt persons into jail, particularly if you follow due process. But will that tactic work in Nigeria today? Yes, to an extent it will work, just as a broom will work to an extent in sweeping a dirty house.
But supposing you try a new and better way? Supposing that instead of just concentrating your efforts at sweeping people one by one into prison, you use a vacuum cleaner to clean the house at a faster pace by employing technology that makes it difficult, nay impossible, to steal?
Prior to the Goodluck Jonathan administration, there were fifty thousand ghost workers in the Federal Civil Service. They drained the treasure of about 2 billion US dollars annually. President Jonathan could have used the broom on them by unleashing the police and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate who and who were collecting these fifty thousand unearned salaries. It would have taken many hours of investigation, evidence gathering, judicial process and lawyers to achieve that.
Being the philosopher king that he is, President Jonathan chose instead to employ technology to tackle the problem and using the software of the  Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, IPPIS, this administration made it impossible for anybody who has not been physically captured in the IPPIS system, by way of entering his/her finger prints and biometrics, to receive a salary. And voila! in one fell swoop, all the fifty thousand ghost workers were excluded and the Federal Government was able to save billions every year that would have gone on salaries.
Also, it was common practice for civil servants to mop up unspent votes at the end of the year. The only problem is that they mopped up these funds into their private accounts rather than back to the government treasury.
But instead of going about with a big stick to bash in the head of offenders, the President simply approved a system that mandated that all payments be made by e-payments rather than cash and any e-payment that does not come under the sub head of salaries will shut down the system at the end of the year so that civil servants could not mop up funds as they were used to.
Take another instance. Prior to the rise of President Goodluck Jonathan to power, the fertilizer procurement and distribution system of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture was one of the biggest avenues for corruption. Contracts were awarded at hundreds of billions for products that either did not come or were substandard. Moreover, in the process of distributing the product, a lot of it was diverted and resold with the government not getting value for money and farmers not being able to feed the nation.
Enter the Jonathan administration and the e-wallet system of fertilizer distribution, in which the Federal Ministry no longer used middle men contractors, but dealt directly with the manufacturers and the end users of the product, the farmers, and used a simple text message to connect end user with manufacturer. The manufacturers simply debited the cost of the subsidized fertilizer from the e-wallet funds the farmer had on his phone, saving tens of billions and increasing efficiency.
These examples show that with a broom, you will work harder, but with a vacuum cleaner which President Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP represent, you will work smarter!
With a broom, you will deliver activity, but with a vacuum cleaner, you will deliver results!
It is this broom mentality that caused Major General Buhari to answer to the question “how do you intend to manage the economy in the face of dwindling oil price”asked during his Channels TV interview as follows “first we will stabilize the oil market and run an accountable government”.
Do you control the price of oil? How do you want to stabilize the oil market if you do not control the price of the product and the global supply of the same? This is analogue thinking! This is broom mentality! That is the mentality that says that you will concentrate on curing corruption instead of focusing on preventing it when even a nursery school pupil knows that ‘prevention is better than cure’!
And that is the choice before Nigerians. Are we going to go with a broom or with a vacuum cleaner? Are we going to go with an analogue leader or continue with a digital leader?
To make the choice easier for you, let me ask those who are able to remember how many schools were built by General Muhammadu Buhari when he was military head of state. The answer is of course none! But you might say that he only spent twenty months in office. But what if I told you that in his first twenty months in office President Goodluck Jonathan built nine new Federal Universities in Ebonyi, Kogi, Nasarawa, Bayelsa, Gombe, Taraba, Katsina, Jigawa and Ekiti?
Let me ask you also to remember how many Youth Empowerment Programme the Buhari led government put in place to spur youth employment. The answer is of course none! But five months after he was sworn in as Nigeria’s President, President Jonathan launched the Youth With Innovation in Nigeria Initiative which is a unique business competition where Nigerian youths submit their business ideas to a consultancy chosen by government who then selects the best proposals and then the government trains them in modern business skills and grants them between 2-10 million Naira. Remember that this is a grant, not a loan. They do not have to pay back. Over four thousand youths have gone on to be selected and trained and have started up businesses that are employing other youths.

So once again, I ask are we going to go with a broom or with a vacuum cleaner? Are we going to go with an analogue leader or continue with a digital leader?
Nothing exemplifies the fact that the world has passed the APC and its flag bearer by than the use of a broom as their party’s emblem. Yes, it is a fitting analogy for the All Progressive Congress, APC and its Presidential Flag Bearer, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd), but facts will bear me out that a broom cannot do the work of leadership that is expected in Nigeria today.
Reno Omokri is Special Assistant to President Jonathan on New Media.

Okonjo-Iweala replies Soludo,says his article on economic management is self serving,deficit in facts, logic & honor

Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has responded to former CBN governor Charles Soludo's article titled Buhari Vs Jonathan: Beyond the election, where he criticized the presidential economic team (read here). NOI's response below...
1. For anyone who has not read Professor Charles Soludo’s article on January 25 2015, I would encourage them to do so. It is littered with abusive and unbecoming language. It shows how an embittered loser in the Nigerian political space can get so derailed that they commit intellectual harakiri by deliberately misquoting economic facts and maliciously turning statistics on their head to justify a hatchet job. We hope all the intellectuals in the international circles in which Professor Soludo has told us he flies around in will read what a Professor of Economics has chosen to do with his intellect.

2. In this one article Soludo has shamelessly pandered to so many past leaders that Nigerians are asking one more time – what position is Soludo gunning for now? He claims in his article that he has had his own share of public service, yet he has failed twice in his attempts to be Governor of Anambra State and Vice Presidential candidate of various parties. There is definitely an issue of character with Prof. Charles Soludo and his desperate search for power and relevance in Nigeria. Nigerians should therefore beware of so-called intellectuals without character and wisdom because this combination is fatal.

3. But let us turn to the main subject of Soludo’s discourse. So much of what is written is outright nonsense and self-seeking aggrandizement that need not be dignified with a response. It is totally remarkable that Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, the man who presided over the worst mismanagement of Nigeria’s banking sector as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria between May 2004 and May 2009, can write about the mismanagement of the economy.

4.  Nigerians must be reminded of his antecedents as CBN Governor, and even prior to that, as the Chief Economic Adviser to the President. The consolidation of the banking sector was a good policy idea of the Obasanjo Administration but Soludo went on to thoroughly mismanage its implementation leading to the worst financial crisis in Nigeria’s history. So what did Soludo do?

5.  After consolidation, the regulatory functions of the Soludo-led CBN were very poorly exercised. As Governor, he failed to adequately supervise and regulate the now larger banks – an anomaly in Financial Sector Supervision. In fact as every Nigerian knows, in his time there was very little separation between the regulators and the regulated which is a violation of a key requirement of Central Banking success. This led to infractions in corporate governance in many banks as loans and other credit instruments running to hundreds of billions of naira were extended to clients without following due process, and several of these loans could not be paid back. This massive accumulation of bad debts or non-performing loans as they are called in the banking sector meant that our banks were ill-positioned to deal with the global financial crisis when it hit.

6.  In fact, the banking sector was brought to its knees and required a massive bailout by Nigerian tax payers. This bailout was done by his successor (now Emir of Kano) who cleaned up all the bad debts and transferred them to the newly-established AMCON, from where they are managed today. So let it be noted for the record books that Soludo’s single-handed mismanagement of the banking sector led to an incredible accumulation of liabilities that will cost tax payers about N5.67 trillion (being the total face value of AMCON-issued bonds) to clean up. Let it be noted also that this amount, which is more than the entire Federal Government 2015 Budget, constitutes the bulk of Nigeria’s “contingent liabilities” mentioned in Soludo’s article. It is only in Nigeria where someone who perpetrated such a colossal economic atrocity would have the temerity to make assertions on public debt and the management of the economy.

7.     Let us now look at some of the points he makes. Luckily, Soludo has told us that he has been busy travelling internationally, hobnobbing with his global partners. It is obvious from this article that from the rarefied heights at which he is flying he is completely out of touch with what is happening with the management of this economy. Take his comments on the mismanagement of the economy and the imposition of the austerity measures. The present fall in oil prices, a global phenomenon over which Nigeria has no control, has given every charlatan the opportunity to attack the economy, and by extension the managers of the economy

8. It is true that the economy grew well during the second-term of former President Obasanjo as a result of the reforms supported by the President and implemented by the Economic Management Team. Please note that the Finance Minister under whose leadership that good performance took place, including massive unprecedented debt relief, is still Finance Minister today. But thorough examination of the facts on performance under the Jonathan Administration will also reveal that at a time when global economic performance was mediocre, with GDP growth averaging about 3 percent per annum, Nigeria’s GDP growth – averaging about 6 percent per annum – is indeed remarkable. Even more interesting is the fact that the oil sector did not drive this economic performance but the non-oil sector (Agriculture, Manufacturing, Telecommunications, the Creative Economy, and so on), which shows that the current Administration’s diversification objective under the Transformation Agenda is working. Transformation equals diversification

9.  This current government managed to control inflation, which he Soludo, was not able to do during his time at the helm of monetary policy in Nigeria. When he left the Central Bank in 2009, inflation – which hurts the poor and vulnerable in the society the most – was above 13 percent per annum.  Now, inflation is at single-digit, at 8 percent per annum. What about exchange rates? Well this administration again managed to stabilize the naira exchange rates, such that between May 2011 and the end of 2014, official exchange rates against the dollar rarely moved out of the N153 to N156 band. It is only with the recent dramatic fall in oil prices and the consequent impact on our foreign reserves that the exchange rate has become quite volatile. The drop in oil price has been heavy and rapid impacting all oil producing nations significantly. Nigeria is no exception and appropriate fiscal and monetary policy measures are being put in place to manage this situation.

10.  In fact, history will recall that careless remarks by Prof. Soludo (then Chief Economic Adviser to the President) hypothesizing a possible naira devaluation, condemned the naira to a free fall towards the end of 2003. Ray Echebiri, in his 2004 article in the Financial Standard, wrote that not even the assurances given by the then CBN Governor, Mr. Joseph Sanusi or President Obasanjo that any plans to devalue the naira existed only in the head of Professor Soludo could halt the fall of the naira from N128 to the dollar in the official market to about N140 between September and December 2003.

11. It is true that our foreign reserve accumulation is less than what it should be but the reason for this has been fully given, not as excuses but simply as fact: lower oil production and crude oil theft along with the refusal to save in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) are the reasons. Contrary to what Soludo said, oil production under President Obasanjo was higher than current levels. Quantities produced averaged 2.4 million bdp, 2.22 million bpd, and 2.21 million bpd in 2005, 2006, and 2007 respectively but has declined now to between 1.95 and 2.21 million bdp due to vandalism of the pipelines and the resulting “shut-ins” to fix the problem. It is true that had production been at the previous levels and had there been willingness to save we would have had more money in the ECA and also in the reserves. But the overriding setback to savings is that the State Governors felt it was their constitutional right to share the money. Please recall that even as we speak the States have taken the Federal Government to the Supreme Court on this issue

12. Soludo’s claim that 71 percent of Nigerians live below the poverty line is misleading and disingenuous. He uses 2011 statistics on poverty by the NBS to support his argument while ignoring more recent figures. But as stated in the Nigeria Economic Report 2014 by the World Bank, poverty rate in Nigeria has dropped from 35.2 percent of population in 2010/2011 to 33.1 percent in 2012/2013. By the way, the reason why our poverty numbers have been so wrong is that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), under Soludo’s supervision as CEA and Vice-Chair of the National Planning Commission, departed from the international standard method of poverty measurement. Is he now ignoring the right economic statistics to wilfully manipulate information?

13.   No doubt we have a problem with unemployment in this country and we must deal with it. Indeed this Administration is dealing with it and stands proud of what it has accomplished so far and is pushing hard to accomplish much more. As a first step, the Administration, through the office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President and the NBS, worked hard to determine how many jobs we need to create in a year. What you don’t measure you cannot make progress on. Why didn’t Soludo do this when he was CEA?

14.   We need to create about 1.8 million jobs a year in this country to cater for the new entrants into the labour market, but we also need to deal with the backlog of the unemployed and the underemployed, e.g. those selling on the streets. Dealing with this global challenge of unemployment is not an easy task for any country, as can be seen from the experiences of developed countries particularly in the euro area. But the Jonathan Administration is making good progress, creating an average of about 1.4 million jobs per year by driving quality growth in key sectors like Agriculture, where the bulk of new jobs are being created, Housing, Manufacturing, Financial Services, and the Creative Industries like Nollywood.

15.  In addition we have special programs to promote job creation among the youth and these include:
16.                         On the issue of debt, Nigerians deserve to know the truth and we have said it before. The truth is that the government borrowed in 2010 to pay an unprecedented 53.7 percent wage increase to all categories of federal employees as demanded by labour unions.  The total wage bill rose from N857 billion in 2009 to about N1.4 trillion in 2010, and as a result, domestic borrowing increased from N200 billion in 2007 to about N1.1 trillion in 2010 to meet the wage payments. Where was Soludo at the time? Why did he not react to the borrowing then? Was it because he wanted to pander to labour in preparation for his political career?

17.   It is noteworthy that since 2011, the Administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has been prudent with the issue of debt and borrowing. The Economic Management Team not only looks at debt to GDP ratio, where Nigeria has one of the lowest numbers in the world at 12.51 percent but it looks at debt service to revenues. That is why in spite of the rebasing and a larger GDP, the administration has taken a prudent approach to borrowing. The prudent approach helped to drive down domestic borrowing from N1.1 trillion in 2010 to N642 billion in 2014. In fact for the first time in our nation’s borrowing history we even managed to retire N75 billion of domestic bonds outright in 2013.

18. Despite the present tough situation, we do not plan to go on a borrowing spree but to keep borrowing modest at a level sufficient to help us weather the present situation. We have already ramped up efforts to generate more non-oil revenues for the government while cutting costs of governance. Therefore, Soludo’s claim that this Administration is reckless with debt does not hold true.

19.  Since Soludo seems so ignorant to what has been achieved by the Jonathan Administration, let us present just a few examples of them here again. This information is easily verified.

·        We are improving infrastructure across the country. For example, 22 airport terminals are being refurbished, and five new international airport terminals under construction in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, Abuja, and Enugu. Soludo’s kinsmen in the South East now have an international airport in Enugu, and for the first time in Nigeria’s history can fly direct from Enugu to anywhere in world for which they are very grateful to this Administration. But with Soludo being up in the air with his international travels, he has not touched ground in the Southeast to observe this development for himself.

·        Various road and bridge projects have either been completed or are under construction. Those completed include the Enugu – Abaliki road in Enugu/Ebonyi States, the Oturkpo – Oweto road in Benue State, the Benin – Ore – Shagamu highway, and the Abuja – Abaji – Lokoja dualization, and the Kano – Maiduguri dualization. The Lagos – Ibadan expressway and the Second Niger Bridge are under construction.

·         Rail from Lagos to Kano is now functional, as is parts of the rail link between Port Harcourt and Maiduguri. All these have brought transport costs down. We recognise that more needs to be done in the power sector, but bold steps (like the privatisation of the GENCOs and DISCOs) have been taken, and our gas infrastructure is being developed to power electricity generation

·        In Agriculture, over 6 million farmers now have access to inputs like fertilizers and seeds through an e-wallet system, which is more than the 403,222 that had access in 2011. Rice paddy production took off for the first time in our history, adding about 7 million MT to rice supply. An additional 1.3 million MT of Cassava has also been produced and as a result, the rate of food price increase has slowed considerably, according to the NBS.

·        In Housing, we have put in place a new wholesale mortgage provider – the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Corporation (NMRC) – to provide affordable mortgages to ordinary Nigerians, starting with those in the low-middle income bracket. This sector will help the economy grow as we tap it as an economic driver for the first time. Mortgage applications from 66,000 people are currently being processed and 23,000 have already received mortgage offers

·        Our Manufacturing sector is reviving with new automobile plants by Nissan, Toyota, etc. This is in addition to the backward integration policy in key sectors like petrochemical, sugar, textiles, agro processing and cement, which Nigeria is now producing 39,000 MT and exporting to the region.

·        The Creative sector is now a factor in our GDP, with Nollywood alone accounting for 1.4 percent, creating over 200,000 direct jobs and nearly 1 million indirect jobs. This is the first Administration to recognise its importance and support its further development with a grant program.

·        A new bank – the Development Bank of Nigeria – will soon be operational and this bank will help bridge the access to finance gap, which is a major constraint for the private sector especially SMEs. The bank will provide long-term (5 – 10 years) financing at affordable rates for the first time in our nation’s history.
20.   This is the path that the government has been on before this fall in oil prices. The response to the economic shock has been spelled out to the Nigerian public over and over again, and the Administration intends to focus on managing this crisis appropriately. This year will be difficult. To say anything less to Nigerians will be untruthful. It would have been better if there had been a bigger cushion of the Excess Crude Account to manage this situation but despite this the nation can rise to the challenge. More importantly, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the Economic Management Team are seeing this as an opportunity to diversify the revenue sources of an already diversifying economy. In fact let me at this juncture use this opportunity to comment on Soludo’s appalling statement that rebasing brings no policy value. Rebasing has enabled us to better grasp the new diversified nature of our economy. This provides the basis for our present drive to support different sectors with appropriate policy instruments to enhance their development. Rebasing has also enabled the Administration to create the platform from which to drive our work on increasing non-oil revenues. These are areas of critical policy value.

21.  Soludo mentioned the issue of the Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU, noting that this Administration has not been vocal or clear on its direction with this agreement. On the contrary, the Administration, particularly the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment, has been clear on this issue but since Soludo has been in the air he probably has not been aware of this. Just recently, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment reiterated again to the corporate sector that Nigeria has not signed and does not propose to sign the EPA in its present form.

22. The point is that this government has been pursuing the right economic policies, and its efforts have been acknowledged nationally and internationally. Let me say that there are objective ways to measure performance. There are international institutions globally accepted to do this. They have acknowledged this Administration’s good economic management up to the recent crisis and even now.   

23.  We cannot go by someone’s subjective view, driven by bitterness and bile. We need to look to the truth and to professionalism. This is where Professor Soludo totally fails. For the other gratuitous, political, and personal attacks, we are sure that those mentioned will respond appropriately. It is a sad day for Nigeria and the economics profession that someone like Soludo, a former CBN governor should write such an article. If Soludo wants to regain respect, he should return to the path of professionalism. He certainly needs something to improve his image from that of someone whose sojourn into National Economic Management ended in disaster for the banking sector, his sojourn in politics, ended in overwhelming rejection by the electorate, and more recently, his sojourn abroad, has put him out of touch with the reality of the Nigerian economy.

Paul C Nwabuikwu
Special Adviser to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance