By Simon Kolawole
Your Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, you would recall that when the coronavirus pandemic began to take its toll on the Nigerian economy, President Muhammadu Buhari set up the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) and made you the chairman. Your brief, according to media reports, is to help work out a sustainability plan for the economy post-COVID. The seven-member committee under your leadership is made up of three ministers, the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), among others. This is heavily loaded.
Before I proceed, though, first things first. The COVID-19 pandemic has damaged economies around the world, but the stronger countries are braving the once-in-a-lifetime global health hurricane mainly because they have the capacity, even excess capacity. The biggest economies have injected over $7 trillion in stimulus packages — in form of government spending, tax breaks, loan guarantees and printing money. The US stimulus package includes direct transfers to citizens and residents. The UK is paying 80 per cent of salaries of private businesses to protect millions of jobs. Japan’s own package is about $1 trillion, with $55 billion in cash handouts to citizens.
Your Excellency, I do not need to tell you that a vast majority of Nigerians believe that the government has not done enough for them in these difficult times. Not many Nigerians want to hear that the government itself needs bailout. With a huge budget deficit, low crude oil prices and a crash in forex inflow, this must be one of the most difficult times for the government in the history of Nigeria. And with the economy grinding to a near halt in the last eight weeks, I do not expect the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Customs to have good tidings to deliver at the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meetings in the months ahead. We are in the soup.
However, Your Excellency, I am not writing you this memo to list the problems. My educated guess is that your committee already has a fair idea of what the problems are — far more than an average Nigerian like me. But, pardon me, knowing the problems has never been our problem in Nigeria. Every Toyin, Tochi and Tanko can provide a comprehensive list of the problems. Committees upon committees always come up with brilliant ideas, plans and programmes. Where things always come unstuck is implementing them with an unbreakable political will. We would go to bed happy that finally we are charting a new course; we would wake up only to see summersaults and slow motion.
Mr Vice-President, I do not intend to pre-empt the work of your committee, but there is one common mistake I propose you avoid from the very beginning: the fallacy that the Nigerian economy is not diversified. This lie is so repeated it has almost become the truth. But this is patently untrue, and I am certainly not the first person to point it out. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), this was the GDP distribution, by activity, among the top five sectors of the economy in 2019: agriculture (25.16%), trade (16.01%), information and communication (13.04%), manufacturing (9.06%), and mining and quarrying (8.85%). What again is diversification?
What many intend to say, I believe, is that the sources of government revenues are not diversified. Government relies on oil revenues to finance a significant slice of the national budget. We also rely on oil exports to provide at least 90% of forex inflows. Oil is basically the only product we export — the rest are so tiny they amount to less than 10%. But the fact that the sources of government revenue and forex are not diversified does not mean the economy itself is not. It only means we are not deriving enough value from our diverse economic activities, so they are unable to contribute enough to public revenues and forex inflow. But the economy is bigger than government revenue!
Your Excellency, you will wonder why I am saying all this. It is very critical: the conceptual fallacy that the economy is not diversified is a major thinking error in government. This fallacy makes the government focus more on its own source of revenue (oil) while hurting the sources of revenue for millions of Nigerians. Government has failed to see for so many years that prosperity for Nigerians is automatic prosperity for government: there will be millions of jobs created and several taxes paid — PAYE, VAT, company income tax and such like. This thinking failure, in turn, has retarded government’s ability to diversify its revenue base in a sustainable, less coercive way.
The diverse sectors of the economy that are generating the most activities and should be propelling revenue growth and prosperity have continued to be undermined by governments at all levels as they implement regressive policies that harm value creation, promote importation, accelerate forex flight, and sustain the underdevelopment of Nigerian businesses. We are dealing with problems whose solutions are obvious. We do not need to produce another bulky “economic recovery” document. We do not need to propound another set of theories. We do not need meetings upon meetings. We have produced enough economic policies in this country to last a lifetime.
Mr Vice-President, what we need, in my opinion, is an action plan. What we need is ruthless commitment to implementation, the same way we have pursued the rice policy despite the pains and the pushbacks. Permit me, Your Excellency, to point your attention to some of the “little” areas I believe your committee should consider in designing the post-COVID economy. In my previous article, I said we should not allow this COVID-19 crisis to waste. I said other countries will learn and start doing things differently. I concluded that we need to seriously and urgently rethink how we organise our economy and politics. Because of space constrain, I will advance a just few thoughts today.
Here we go. I touched the cotton and textile industry in my previous article. I later got a call from Comrade Issa Aremu, the former general secretary of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), who took me on a journey into the history of the rise and fall of the textile industry in Nigeria. As at 1978, he said, Nigeria’s textile industry was the third largest in Africa and one of Nigeria’s biggest employers of labour. The textile industry in those days boasted of Asabatex, UNTL, Zamfara Textile, Arewa Textile and Aswani Textile, among others. We did run well. What hindered us? Let’s look at where the rain began to beat us.
I am not here to lament, Mr Vice-President. There is good news. While commending the CBN for the revival of cotton production, Aremu believes the industry can bounce back to life. He listed the value chain and the millions of jobs the industry alone can create in weaving, spinning, finishing and the biggest one — garmenting. Now, Mr Vice-President, do you know that the uniforms of our armed forces, police and paramilitary forces are made in India and Bangladesh? Shame on us! Look at how we shoot ourselves in the foot! We turn around to wonder why unemployment is high while rendering our tailors jobless! We conclude that the economy is not diversified! Shame on us!
I grew up at time there were vehicle assembly plants all over Nigeria: Peugeot in Kaduna, Leyland in Ibadan, Mercedes in Enugu, and so on. They were assembling cars in a way that helped the local economy: they used Nigerian components. We produced several parts, including the glass, the wires and the tires, locally. The rubber industry was alive. Glass manufacturing was bubbling. Today, we are shamelessly importing Toyota vehicles, burning our forex and killing key factories and jobs. For a start, why can’t our own Innoson vehicles be patronised by governments at all levels? We complain that millions of our youths are unemployed as if the jobs will fall from heaven.
With due respect, Mr Vice-President, I am not teaching you your job but you chair the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC). Why there is evidence that PEBEC has achieved some results, government still remains a major headache for SMEs. Government cannot be talking about diversifying revenue while its agencies are terrorising SMEs — the biggest engine of any economy in the world. Government cannot see that prosperity for SMEs means a lot to diversifying its own revenue. Instead of helping them grow to keep them on sound footing, government unleashes tax collectors on them for quick revenue gains — and kill them in the process.
I can go on and on, Mr Vice-President, but I think I have made my point: we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Your committee is all about Nigeria’s economic sustainability and not some quick-fire revenue relief, so it must go beyond how to generate quick money by the usual way of placing higher tax burdens on businesses. Rather, how can we maximise benefits from key contributors to the GDP? Even our almighty oil sector is grossly underdeveloped. It can perform far better, especially in the midstream sub-sector. Let us pluck the low-hanging fruits right in front of our noses. Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my best wishes as you lead the thinking process.
AND FOUR OTHER THINGS…
The Supreme Court has given yet another controversial verdict by quashing Chief Orji Uzor Kalu’s 12-year jail term and ordering a retrial. The judge who convicted the former governor of Abia state had been elevated to the Court of Appeal only for him to return to the lower court to deliver the judgment. The apex court says this is illegal — and this voids an aspect of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) which allows a promoted trial judge to get a fiat to deliver judgment. There was anger over what some think was a wrong focus on technicalities rather than justice. But in law, the process is an integral part of justice. Retrial will definitely consume more resources. Painful.
The current plight of the almajirici — young northern boys sent out of their homes to far places ostensibly to learn the Quran but apparently to beg for a living — breaks my heart. We are dealing with a generation of millions that are basically pawns in the socio-political landscape. The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to the internal deportation of these children to their “home states” — where there is hardly anybody or anything to return to. The society has badly let down these children, some of whom have now been infected by the virus. Hopefully, northern leaders will seize this unique opportunity to confront this challenge and restructure their society. Disheartening.
You cannot make up what is going on in Kogi state. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Nigeria, it was easy to project that it would spread to every state of the federation. But Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state insists his domain will never (officially) record one case. On Thursday, Bello asked NCDC officials who visited him to be quarantined for 14 days or be tested for COVID-19. They took to their heels. Why? Bello has always said there is a plot to bring the virus to Kogi. What other way than to declare the officials positive and argue that they wanted to infect Kogites? Sense will not kill Bello, but that is fine as long as COVID-19 doesn’t kill Kogites too. Drama.
A Yoruba proverb says on the day an elephant dies, you will see all manner of knives in the arena. This COVID-19 season has led to the emergence of all kinds of face masks, which is not a bad idea, but I worry about the mass mishandling of the protective gear. I see people wear the mask as if they are protecting themselves against dust, so they pull it up and down at will in order to talk or breathe better. Some draw it below the nose — meaning they can actually inhale virus particles that might have settled on the front of the mask. Some pull it below the mouth, thereby exposing themselves to the same danger. Who is going to educate us before the virus eradicates us? Disturbing.
SimonKolawolelive By Simon-Kolawole, Email: [email protected], sms: 0805 500 1961
Source: Naija News
The Politics Of Amnesty: Like Niger Delta Militants, Like Bandits
By Fredrick Nwabufo
Did the activities of militants in the Niger Delta qualify as crime? Hell Yes! Militancy and kidnapping were a profitable pursuit in that oil-rich region in the early 2000s. Kidnapping as an organized venture entered our national lexicon at the time. Immigrants from Europe and America working with oil companies were kidnapped and huge ransoms extracted from them. Soldiers and police officers were killed, and public infrastructure destroyed. This is a fact of history.
Really, there was a method to the madness of the Niger Delta militants. They were fighting for a just cause — a region so endowed; yet so impoverished. But the genuineness of their cause does not obviate the criminality of their exertions. Militancy is a crime against the state. Lives were lost; some families traumatized and scarred for life.
As the tension in the Niger Delta thawed owing to the political engineering of the Umar Musa Yar’Adua administration, copycat crimes inspired by militants sputtered in the south-east. The kidnapping establishment now had new shareholders. The south-east was in the thrall of kidnappers who killed their victims even after ransom was paid. Igbo-on-Igbo crime. Kidnapping became so pervasive in the south-east that some governors of the region resorted to demolishing property acquired by the hostage takers to deter other human hunters. Quasi-security groups were set up to deal with the challenge – which even persists to this day.
The criminal commerce was later trafficked to Lagos where a certain Evans Onuamadike and his gang reigned in the kidnapping industry like a potentate. Some of his victims were allegedly killed, and from his own confession, he extracted millions of naira from his victims and bought a mansion for himself at Magodo in Lagos.
Nigeria is in the clutches of a more vicious stakeholder in the kidnapping enterprise. ‘’Bandits’’ as they have been tagged, do not only kidnap citizens, but also kill and maim some of them. They are more brutal in their execution – and without any regard for life. They have killed many Nigerians and sacked towns and villages. It is indubitable that ‘’bandits’’ are Nigeria’s most deadly adversary — after insurgents.
There is no method to the madness of bandits. There is no cause to justify the orgy of murders, rape and destruction.
However, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi in his proselytising for bandits has raised some prickly posers. He said bandits are waging an ethnic war against the state and that only by granting them amnesty can the titanic iceberg thaw. He said bandits believe their existence in Nigeria is threatened; so they fight. He said these people have endured the pillaging of their cattle and homes – with no protection from security agencies. I will not join the multitude to censure the Sheikh; I would rather plead we ponder on some of his revelations.
The Sheikh said: “People don’t know the Fulani at all. They are not after money. Even when they are burning houses in Oyo, don’t you see where they live? They stay in huts. They are not into buying flashy cars. They just like their cattle. The money they are collecting from kidnappings, they are buying weapons with them. The more you fight them, the more they fight back. They don’t surrender. They are saying if the air force continues to pester them, they will have to get anti-aircraft. Not all of them are criminals; the hard-line (position) taken against them turned them into the militants that they are.’’
Gumi made a salient point here if we care enough to shackle our emotions and interrogate the fact. Really, where does the money from kidnapping go to? These bandits do not buy cars or houses, instead they are acquiring ‘’armadas’’ – for what purpose? This validates the opinion that these bandits are waging an ethnic war. There is a backstory to every crisis. What we are witnessing could be beyond kidnapping and banditry. Kidnapping and banditry could just be the cash trove to finance this war.
It then makes sense that seeking an accord to end this crisis should not be banished out of the potpourri of remedies.
As a matter of fact, the nomadic Fulani has existed in the shadows – far removed from the presence of government. No protection or aid by the civil administration; so he becomes his own security. The present parlous state of affairs is as a result of successive years of failed leadership. The leadership has failed the Fulani; the leadership has failed the Igbo; the leadership has failed the Hausa; the leadership has failed the Yoruba; the leadership has failed all Nigerians.
We are all victims of the situation. The failure of leadership is the reason Nigerians take up arms against one another. The nomadic Fulani is a victim of failed leadership just like every one of us. We have to fix leadership.
THE POLITICS OF AMNESTY
Should it be unto bandits as it was unto Niger Delta militants? The ethnic cleavages have been revealed again in this crisis. The debate is now on ‘’my criminal is nicer than yours’’. While some Nigerians will not countenance any justification for banditry; yet they make strong arguments for Niger Delta militants who also kidnapped people, killed soldiers and extracted ransoms. ‘’My criminal is nicer than yours’’. We forget that at the end of the day, crime is crime whether by done by Ejiro, Kachalla or Chukwudi.
We cannot also rule out the possibility of some vultures seeking to use ‘’amnesty for bandits’’ as means to perpetuate their looting of the public till. So, if there must be amnesty for bandits, it should be at no financial cost to the government. However, the government should revisit the national livestock plan and work in consonance with state governors to see to its implementation. Already, the Nigeria Governors Forum has endorsed the plan. The government should not be seduced into doing a reprise of the ‘’amnesty package’’ of Niger Delta militants for bandits. Bandits should surrender their weapons unconditionally. In seeking peace, we must not create for ourselves future problems by rewarding crime.
I wish Nigeria peace.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.
President Buhari: The Unheralded Achievements – Femi Adesina
Let me give due credit for the idea of this piece. President Muhammadu Buhari had said recently that elites in the country were not giving due accolades to his administration in terms of where it met the country, what it grapples with, and where it has been able to take the nation to, thus far.
The position of Mr. President was widely published by the traditional and digital media, and it became an object of debate. In the middle of it all, I received a phone call from Prince Nduka Obaigbena, Chairman of Arise Television and Publisher of Thisday Newspapers.
“Mr President says the elite have not given due credit to the administration. That means there are achievements that are not reported, underreported, or not celebrated at all. Come to Arise Television, and talk about it.”
It was a good opportunity. What else was my duty, if not to inform and educate the country (and beyond) on the work my principal was doing for the country? So, to Arise Television I went, on The Morning Show, anchored by cerebral journalist and my immediate predecessor in the office I currently occupy, Dr. Reuben Abati.
The sparring session (that’s the way I see it) went well. Abati and his co-hosts came from different angles, trying to take me out with that sucker punch that would send me kissing the canvass. I floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee (apologies Muhammed Ali). At the end of it all, I believe we had a good show, with no side worsted.
So, what are the unheralded achievements of the Buhari Administration? What are the landmarks and milestones given scant attention by the elite, if even recognized at all?
Nigeria has challenges today. Very severe ones. Security is key in any country, if there would be progress and development. But here we are, battling insurgency, banditry, kidnappings, wanton killings, armed robbery, ethnic insularity leading to murder and mayhem, and other vicious criminalities. All these can only make a people sad and dolorous. But is that all there is to Nigeria of today?
The Buhari government is battling insecurity with all it has at its disposal. Naturally, the populace will want faster results, but some things are never by a sudden flight. You don’t just snap your fingers, and the problems disappear. And in the middle of it all, you must still continue to work, and make the time count for country and the people.
So, despite it all, what are some of the unreported or underreported achievements?
Annual budgets and how they perform have always been issues in the country. How timeously has the financial projections been delivered, and what has been the level of performance? These are germane to any economy.
The year 2020 was a remarkable one in the annals of mankind. A novel virus came, which you can’t see, smell or touch, but it succeeded in sending the world into a tailspin. There were national lockdowns round the globe, lives were lost in their numbers, economies suffered, and despondency was the order of the day.
But it was also the year Nigeria had resolved to return its budget cycle to January to December. It was achieved, and despite the fact that fallen oil prices compelled a review, the budget at the end of the day achieved 97.7 per cent performance. Holy Moses! It never happened before. In normal years, without a gripping pandemic, and the need to balance between lives and livelihoods, our budgets never attained such records. You often talk of 50 or 60 per cent performance, at the best. There were years in the past, when we even had 30 per cent performance. But under Buhari, in a year of collapsed oil prices, and income at about a quarter of what we used to earn, here was 97.7 per cent performance. Jumping Jehoshaphat! There must be more fiscal discipline in this government than Nigerians are crediting it for.
But did the news hug the headlines? Did it become the talking point of talk shows on radio and television? For where? No herdsmen were involved, so it was not going to be sweet to discuss. It was going to make the government of the day look good, so the elite was not interested. That was how that budget feat went uncelebrated, unheralded. Shout yourself hoarse announcing it, those who should run with it were uninterested. They would rather talk of yet unfulfilled promises in the areas of security, economy and anti-corruption.
We have always had stiff antagonism between states and the Federal Government. They were always like Tom and Jerry, with each striving to outdo and undermine the other. Till Buhari came.
At the advent of the administration in 2015, at least 27 states could not pay salaries. President Buhari did not ask them to stew in their juice, but rather made deft footworks, which bailed the states out of their predicament. Succor came for the people. Did it hug the headlines? No. Because herdsmen were not involved.
It used to be that Federal Government never gave states their dues in terms of refunds for projects executed. But not under Buhari. At the last count, about 700 billion naira had been paid to states as refund for road projects. The largest chunk of N78 billion went to Rivers, a state governed by the opposition party, and who’s governor rarely has good things to say about government at the centre. Also approved and paid were Paris Club refunds in excess of five billion dollars, owed by previous administrations. Uncelebrated, unheralded.
We have always talked about the need to have modular refineries in the country, to ensure that glitches in the supply of petroleum products were eliminated. For years, licenses were given, but there was only one such refinery working in the country. Till Buhari came, and recalibrated the oil industry. Today, many modular refineries are in the works, almost completed. Late last year, the Waltersmith refinery was commissioned by the President himself, and has gone into operation. But not a whimper from the traditional and social media. Why? No herdsman was involved. No interest.
Infrastructure. Ah, infrastructure. This is where Buhari would leave his largest footprints. Roads. Bridges. Rail. Airports. AKK gas pipeline. All to be delivered before the administration exits in 2023. Second Bridge over River Niger, built with mouth for 16 years under the administration of another political party, is now about 50% completed. Lagos-Ibadan Expressway racing towards completion. Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Expressway being reconstructed. Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Expressway being reconstructed.for the first time in 40 years. Bonny-Bodo Bridge and road finally underway, more than four decades after it was conceived. Rail projects round the country. Abuja-Kaduna, Warri-Itakpe already in operation, Lagos-Ibadan to be commissioned anytime soon, Ibadan to Kano under works, Kano to Maradi flagged off last week. Brand new airports in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Kano. Enugu has been rehabilitated.
Headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) completed after decades of lack of will, the local content skyscraper dots the Bayelsa State skyline, the Nnamdi Azikiwe mausoleum completed in Anambra State after 22 years, all by Buhari. No plaudits. No accolades. All they talk about are things not done. No thanksgiving to God for small mercies, which are the real mercies. It all reminds me of the line from China Achebe, in Things Fall Apart, about a man and his consort: “If I hold her hands, she says; don’t touch. If I hold her foot, she says; don’t touch. But when I hold her waist beads, she pretends not to know.”
Why is President Buhari touching our waist beads, and some Nigerians, particularly the elite, are pretending not to know?
In areas where we had opacities, there is now transparency. The first audited financial report of the NNPC is now done in more than 40 years. The Open Treasury Portal now publishes Federal Government expenditure online. Corruption is being robustly fought. There is public sector reform in many areas. Our waist beads are being touched, but we are pretending not to know. Wetin?
Let’s look at private investments in the country. Such things never thrive, unless government provides the enabling environment. Now see what we have, under Buhari:
*Dangote Refinery. The largest single-train crude oil refinery in the world.
*Lekki Deep Sea Port. A brand new port to serve as alternative to Apapa port.
*Dangote Fertilizer and Petrochemical plant.
*Segilola Gold Project in Osun State, described as “Nigeria’s most advanced gold exploration and production project.”
*Nigeria’s first ever gold refineries under construction in Ogun State and FCT.
*Olam’s $150million investment in poultry feed mills, hatchery and breeder farms in Kaduna and Kwara states, commissioned in 2017.
*GB Foods 20 billion naira tomato paste factory in Kebbi.
*$250 million brewery by International Breweries Plc, commissioned 2018 in Sagamu, Ogun State, said to be the biggest in West Africa.
*Indorama Fertilizer Plant Train 2, nearing completion in Port Harcourt.
*NLNG Train 7, which will expand the company’s production capacity by more than 30%
*Agric investment hits six-year high.
And many more…
President Buhari is surely touching the waist beads of Nigerians. We should no longer pretend not to know.
Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity.
Leaked Conversations From Aso Villa Demons’ Annual General Meeting 2021
It has been a minute since I wrote one of these — the last was in 2018 — but the state is deserving of one at this interesting time. Nigeria is a difficult place to write satires, seeing how satirical the country itself gets. But here is the disclaimer; this is a SATIRE.
Sitting at the recently-renovated presidential ante-room, the Aso Villa demons are having their annual general meeting for 2021. The ante-room is the new location where the president is forced to hold many of his meetings, so the rest of the villa is not exposed to the not-so-novel coronavirus. The meeting is to review their performance in the previous year and plan for the new year.
The loud drums and unending laughter finally come to a halt, as the chief demon waves at other demons to take their seats. He goes on to deliver his first speech in 2021.
“I’d like to congratulate you all for a remarkable job done in 2020. Despite all the ups and downs, we achieved all our goals in that terrific year. Could you imagine that Nigeria planned to join the top 20 economies in the world by 2020. What a joke?
(The demons laugh like robots programmed to respond at the same time. The chief signals them to silence)
“How could they even think a country like Nigeria could come into the same space as Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and the Netherlands? But the country tried nonetheless, they climbed up to number 26, and somehow maintained top spot as Africa’s largest economy. For sixty years, the country has had potential to be one of the biggest drivers of the global economy. But you know our job is toooooo…”
“Our job is to keep the nation having potential, but never really becoming what it is capable of becoming.”
(They all continue the laughter, with a little drumming this time. The chief dances along to the songs of mockery they sang. He signals them to silence again, and waved them back to their seats)
“You see, we need to send special gratitude to those who made our job easy in 2020. Those hampers we sent may not be enough for people like the former helmsman at the financial crimes bureau. In 2017, he staged a war against the Department of Sorry State, which gave us so much joy. In 2020, he stood up to that Ant-onion general of the Federation, which ended in tears for him. We need to appreciate him for his sacrifice, not many people will sacrifice their careers for our cause. He’s a good man.
(The demons laugh in mockery)
“Need I speak of Abike and the minister of telephones who hosted a fighting show on Twitter, dragging each other like stubborn generating sets. Confusion, you really outdid yourself in 2020″ the chief said, pointing to the demon which made the fights happen.
“We must also send gratitude to Detective Fash, who distracted the undiscerning from the shooting in Lekki. Special gratitude also goes to the lying minister, who immensely made Naija a laughing stock on the global scene. We need to thank him for his many press conferences attacking the international community. Can you believe he really wanted to sanction the American news channel over the Lekki shootings? If anyone told me you demons could pull that off, I’d have doubted you immensely.
“Time will not permit me to speak of the family drama we pulled off in this villa. The heightened level of insecurity and all the other great things we achieved in 2020. I believe we can do better this year.”
DEMONS PLAN FOR 2021
(The chief asks the demons to share their plans for the year 2021 and how they plan to destabilise Naija further in the new year.)
“I see some of you already taking giant steps, but I’d like you to furnish the house with the details of your plans,” the chief says as he takes a seat.
(Four demons step forward to share their plans. Insensitivity, Insecurity, Confusion, and Nepotism take turns.)
Insentivity: “My plans this year are already in motion. From our grand plan, I am employing whispers to drive frustration within the country. The last time the governor of the chief bank of Naija visited the Harry’s Boo, I whispered into their ears and joined in on their conversations without their knowledge. I told them cryptocurrency was bad for the country and a ban on such will ensure development and security in the country. It will also make cow-to-currency thrive.
“I reminded Harry’s Boo of the kidnap of Aisha Hardo, his wife’s name sake, who paid $15,000 in bitcoin to kidnappers in 2019. I told him that if this can be done in Abuja, imagine what is happening elsewhere. He bought it. the governor of the chief bank did not agree, but he could not say anything. Funny thing was that I could hear him thinking, “so if Kidnappers ask for food as ransom, would Harry’s Boo also ban food?” But he couldn’t say that lest he loses his job. Now, the bank will defend and poorly implement a policy it doesn’t believe in.
“I also whispered reminded the presidential spokesperson that his only job is to defend the president. Nothing more. And I see he is already doing it at all cost. He recently blamed Naija people — and not Harry’s Boo — for the corruption in the country. Insensitivity doesn’t get better than that my lord. This year, the people will see more of this blame-shifting and gross insensitivity. I will put my best to it.”
(Insensitivity takes a bow, as Confusion takes over)
Confusion: My lord, this year will be a great one for me. Toward the end of 2020, I set plans in motion to employ confusion in reducing economic activity and increasing COVID-19 numbers. I whispered a question to the minister of telephones, I asked him how powerful he was. He said he was very powerful. I told him he was powerless, that all he had was an illusion of power and not power itself.
I told him that if he thinks he is really powerful, he should shut the country down. The man is a genius. How he cooked up a storm is beyond. A few days after our discussion, I saw a memo to all telcos to disconnect all phone numbers not linked to a National Identity (NID). Everyone began to run around to get NID. The man indeed almost shut down the country.
“From mid-December till now, my lord, no telco has sold a single sim card. It is for this reason that telcos in the country lost over three million subscribers in December. Those who want sim cards for 4G routers or modems cannot get this. This economic line has been blocked just to romance the ego of the powerful genius. It was after this brilliant take that I googled him. Guess what my lord, he has a Ph.D. from the UK, and has been to Harvard and MIT. Such a genius will be good for our plans this year.
“I have now told him that he has shown his powers nationally, he now needs to take things global — disturb the diaspora. Working with his idea, I told him to replace Bank verification ID with National ID, after all, the nation is bigger than the banks? This plan will mean that those in the diaspora who don’t have NID will have to come home to get it or lose their bank accounts when NID replaces BVD. With him, we can reduce how much revenue Naija makes from telecommunications — all while increasing COVID cases from long queues with no social distance. My Lord, this is only the beginning.
“From this meeting, I am planning to attend the next FEC to revive my plans on funding 2021 budget. I have confused them so much that they do not know where to borrow money to increase the nation’s debt profile. They want to borrow from the poor, from dormant accounts and unclaimed dividend. I want more. I want them to borrow from the dead. I want them to ask banks to check on accounts whose owners have not visited the bank in one year. Who knows the virus could have killed them. I’d remind them that if you borrow from the dead, you need not payback.
“My lord, watch out for more policy confusion in 2021. You’d say I said so”
(Confusion takes a bow as Insecurity takes the stage. As he sought to speak, the demons begin hailing him in the typical singing call and response)
Insecurity: “Na me,” he chants, thumping his chest.
Insecurity: Na me
Demons: Boko Boko Boko
Insecurity: “Na me ooooooooo,” he chants, bringing them to a halt, before going on with his speech.
“My lord, may your days be long in this villa. In 2020, I raised my game. Na me be bandit, na me be kidnapper, na me be insurgent, na me come be freedom fighter. My lord, The southwest that has been a fortress, has finally been broken down. We have found an emissary in the region; my plan is to make him look like a hero for months, give him fresh enemies, inspire good but dangerous statements, make him the shadow Ona kankafo. This would mean two traditional generals in the region.
“They would work to undermine themselves and play hard into the hands of my killer herdsmen. In months, his heroics would begin to fade, but his act would have given us full access into the southwest; then I can bring my boys in.
“My lord, I promise you that by the end of the year, nowhere in the country will be safe. I am Insecurity, I belong to nobody and I belong to everybody.”
(The demons repeat the call and response as Nepotism takes the stage)
“My lord, in 2021, I will be on sabbatical; Harry’s Boo has taken over my job, and he promised to double down this year. Just as Khaki no be leather, 97 percent no be 5 percent. He will be as nepotic as ever. That’s it my lord.”
(The demons begin another round of singing, drumming, laughing and dancing, as the chief stands to give his closing charge).
“I leave you with the words of our fathers; when they think Naija has shown them the worst, break new grounds.”
(They all rise as the meeting is adjourned.)
The story never ends…
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