Tinubu, Nigeria Is Sinking And Streets Are Full Of Tears- Kperogi


The idea that petrol subsidies had to go because they were riddled with corruption and that they consumed a disproportionate share of our national budget is a mere propagandistic cop-out. If petrol subsidy administration is rid of corruption (that is perpetrated in cahoots with the government, which explains why no “subsidy thief” has ever been apprehended much less brought to justice), it would consume no greater share of our national budget than any governmental obligation.


It certainly won’t be anywhere near the colossal venality that is perpetuated at the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development under the guise of giving money to the poor.


The truth is that we have no original, independent thinkers among people who make or influence economic policies in Nigeria. They are all hopelessly mindless parrots of ill-comprehended economic prescriptions of the Bretton Woods institutions. They do not have the cognitive and intellectual sophistication to transcend what I call derivative or regurgitative knowledge.


There is not a single example of a country in the world that has developed on the basis of the prescriptions of the World Bank and the IMF. On the contrary, the only countries that have achieved inclusive growth and development outside the West are precisely the countries that have bucked the World Bank and the IMF. And every country that uncritically adopts the recommendations of these institutions has been wracked by utter devastation.


Unfortunately, if either Atiku Abubakar or Peter Obi were president today, Nigeria would experience exactly what it is going through now. Like Tinubu, Atiku and Obi said they would remove petrol subsidies “on day one.” When you remove petrol subsidies “on day one” in a desperately poor, inordinately petrol-supported economy with no public transportation, you get what Nigerians are going through now. It’s not rocket science.


Similarly, both Atiku and Obi said they would float the naira and let its fate be determined by the vagaries of demand and supply. When you do that in an import-dependent economy, you can’t escape what the naira is going through now.


Atiku tweeted in March 2021—and in several policy documents—that “Nigeria must move towards a single exchange rate to be determined by market forces.”


On April 9, 2022, Obi also tweeted: “The truth is that for long market forces have not determined the exchange rate of the Naira…. It has to end. Let the exchange rate be determined by the forces of demand and supply. It’s that simple.”


In other words, Tinubu is doing exactly what Atiku and Obi had proposed they would do, and the results would have been the same. The hyperinflation and hurt Nigerians are going through now won’t have been evaded because it is Atiku or Obi who removed petrol subsidies “from day one.” The naira’s glide to the bottom wouldn’t have been avoided because Atiku or Obi “floated” the naira.


That is why Atiku- or Obi-supporting critics of Tinubu come across as ignorant partisans who have drunk the Kool-Aid of their cult leaders. Atiku and Obi supporters should be grateful that their idols are not president today. They would have been bearing the reputational brunt of the boneheaded, discredited rightwing economic policies they also advocated, which have thrown Nigeria into the current mess.


Interestingly, in response to Obi’s 2022 tweet rhapsodizing over the imperative of subjecting the naira to the “forces of demand and supply,” a supporter of his by the name of Abel (with the handle @governance9ja) wrote a riposte, which has turned out to be prescient. He wrote: “So @PeterObi will float the currency for a country where most factor inputs into local manufacturing is imported? We already have cost push inflation reducing real income of many Nigerians. Floating naira will ruin many households. @PeterObi and @OfficialABAT are two of a kind.”


Obi supporters who have wet dreams of a Nirvana if Obi were president should wake up. His economic policies are exactly like Tinubu’s. Personalities aren’t the issue; policies are.


Tinubu and his team need to face the reality confronting them and change course. I know that Nigeria has been so polluted by neoliberal propaganda that even news that the government was paying subsidies through the backdoor to stop petrol prices from getting to N1,000 per liter was seized upon by the opposition to poohpooh the government, which compelled the government to deny paying any subsidies.


I’ve never seen this level of self-crushing inanity in my life. Assistance to the needy (which is what subsidy literally means) is now a dirty word that everyone avoids like the plague.


But the government should know that even hope is dying in Nigeria. When a usually hopeful nation spawns armies of hopeless and angry people through thoughtless economic policies dictated by outsiders, it sows and nurtures the seeds of its self-destruction.

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