Prince Justice Faloye
The Coordinating Minster of the Economy, Wale Edun recently spoke of finding ways to increase the foreign exchange inflows from the Diaspora. It was embarrassing to hear the Economic minister of the most populous Black nation lauding our brain drain, known as Japa, expecting to profit from the continued selling of our labour force for a pittance to foreign lands since 350yrs of slavery that made the world label us the Slave Coast. It is mind boggling how he expects to double our Diasporan remittances, most of which comes from those struggling abroad to eke out a living while supporting their family in Nigeria, unless he plans to worsen the plight of those in Nigeria, forcing those abroad to send more to sustain their families. Is it rational economic sense for those abroad to invest in Nigerians current economic reality of mismanaged falling Naira value when immediately they buy the house or invest in business it loses its international value?
Democracy becomes kakistocracy, the rulership of the worst, if the electorate are mentally and economically arrested. An epistemic democracy is the rule of the majority based on wisdom of the multitude, without which majority of democratic choices can’t be based on rational political choices towards progressive collective aspirations. We sometimes focus too much on corruption and moral issues while we overlook the hopelessness of our Neocolonialist leadership. Due to the coloniality of knowledge and power sources, our leaders are more than often bereft of ideas to free us from economic slavery and poverty. Like Fela sang ‘Oyinbo don free us but we never free ourselves’. Economically, we remain in the slave plantation economics state of mind. We talk so much about agriculture but can’t fathom how to build an industrial complex needed to provide jobs for tens of millions unemployed.
Tinubu is a bookkeeper cum tax collector while Wale Edun that had a stint with World Bank is an expert of Western financial instruments, and not a development Economist. Both concentrate on absolute values and financial instruments, with little or no knowledge of the real economy, talk less of revolutionizing the economy from a colonial economy to a progressive economy. When they make statements that their outrageous cut in subsidies are a sacrifice for a rosy economic future, they sound like religious practitioners/ motivational speakers that give baseless hope.
Out of the over 60 Black nations of Africa and the Caribbean that have implemented the IMF structural conditionalities of removing government subsidies since the late 1970s till date, not a single one was successful in turning around their economy. The nations all faced political instability due to the exponential increase in poverty. Yes, the neocolonial politicians cut government expenditure but kill local demand and the economy. The neo-liberal economics being prescribed to developing nations are never proposed to developed nations when they have economic problems. How can you tell a responsible government to withdraw a $10 billion a year subsidy for a $500 billion economy? The multiplier effect of the fuel subsidy in the economy is astronomical, especially since the government has failed to sustain local refineries, nor provide other sources of energy and transportation, especially railways. The withdrawal of the $10b subsidy, which is about 2% of the economy, will result in at least a 20% drop on the economy. Pennywise pound foolish by the Ogbons/Smartasses.
Out of all the developing nations facing huge debts and IMF structural demands since the Eighties, Brazil has been the only country to move out of the neo-liberal poverty trap. Following years of IMF prescriptions that stagnated the economy, it was President Lula DaSilva that turned around the economic fortunes, not by cutting subsidies that have negative multiplier effects on consumer demand, but by increasing subsidies to every economic sector. He gave welfare benefits to the poor, pushed affirmative action in education and employment for Afro-Brazilians, gave both indigenous peoples and big business support, and within a few years the Brazil economy even overtook the British economy.
This is not to say that the Nigerian government should dash out money, especially since the subsidies would only sustain the current local production but not advance the production structure without the necessary economic liberating infrastructure in place. It is clear in Economic History that railways have been the springboard of industrialization and economic development in industrialized nations, being the largest contraption of iron and petrochemicals which spurs growth in related industries, with a multiplier effect of about 20. Therefore any serious Nigerian government should have railways at the very top of it’s economic development plan. The Lagos-Calabar railway is by far the most important economic liberating infrastructure with the ability to increase the local economy tenfold.
Unfortunately, our Neocolonialist leadership are modern day slave foremen whose aim is not to increase the size or advance the structure of the plantation but to wring more out of the slaves doing the same thing. Like has been done in Lagos for the last 24yrs, Tinubu and his economic team only increase taxes and reduce government expenditures and responsibility. For propaganda purposes, they throw in a few tokenist projects like laying a mere 16km of rail out of the 250km Metroline in the masterplan since 2002, twenty one years ago.
So when they mouth their religious economic faith of sacrifice on Earth to enter future heaven in Nigeria, a discerning mind can’t but ask how? Is it by cutting the living standards of the people, changing the age long way of calculating unemployment to hide the real figures, reducing the disposable income of workers, farmers, traders and other businesses, or what exactly are they sowing that they expect to reap the benefits? There is nothing on the table to justify renewed hope of economic development, apart from making the people poorer while making the government coffers swell and ripe for sharing among the political class.
Without an accelerated railway development program to build within four years at least 4000 kilometers of rail – Lagos-Calabar, Ilorin-Yola, Sokoto-Maiduguri – we would be at the same developmental spot in four years time, with the people much poorer and unemployment increasing. For a team that could only build 16kms in 24yrs, it is a tall order to expect them to give Nigeria the Big Push up the industrialization ladder.
Instead of going to China, the world’s manufacturing center, and only nation known to build across Africa and South America economic liberating infrastructure like railways, powerplants, refineries, Tinubu and Wale Edun engaged in economic propaganda in India, UAE etc. Unlike the Chinese, Indian business practices are like the Western imperialists – predatory and exploitative – and many a times conspire with the West to exploit Africa, like in Zambia with Verdant mining company. This is the same Indian mercenary economics called to revamp the Ajaokuta Steel Complex but was devoured, broke up parts for sale and racked up huge debts before they disappeared.
If Tinubu and Wale Edun are decolonially disposed about turning around Nigeria’s colonial economic structure of North-South export-import colonial trade to our civilizational West-East domestic production and markets, they would talk railways with the Chinese that raised a billion of their people from poverty, not dodgy Western favored Indian billionaires whose wealth has not reduce Indian poverty. But then again, Tinubu is in bed with France and the West, so why not their dodgy indentured globalist middlemen to maintain the global status quo of Black poverty?
A truly renewed hope of economic and political liberation can only be hope for the decoloniality of the new generation, only after which Nigeria can be free from the arrested economic and political development of the Black Race.