Grimot Nane Zine

2017: “Saint Buhari” and More Economic Stagnation

The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else – Chinua Achebe

In the year 2017, Nigeria’s economy is predictably going stagnate further without recourse to rescue. Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ will be mostly only fulfilled at the bottom level in the nation. The imminent threat of mass hunger will eventually overtake the ‘Nigerian genius’ of denying hunger when living with sharply decreasing calorie intake over time. Stuff higher than food and water will be harder to acquire or keep. Hopes for improving personal prosperity have never been higher but the economic, cultural and political climate has never been so decisively forbidding. Business opportunities, profits, employment, ethical credit, education, exchange rates are all facing steep decline.  It is all, sadly, a problem of leadership and the “Household of Buhari” is a big part of the problem.

The leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari characteristically Achebean. It is that problematic type of leadership which undermines all that is good and potentially desirable in Nigeria. Buhari as the ‘reigning problem’ of Nigeria is something very personal to him; he embodies it so fittingly. Attempt to blame it on incompetence, cluelessness, senility, wickedness or tyranny and it will possibly result in superfluous outcomes. Nigeria in recent decades is not particularly famed for competence in governance, visionary leaders, youthful leaders, compassionate leaders or tyranny–abhorrent leaders. What is then Buhari’s problem?

‘Saint Buhari’ is a term used both seriously and pejoratively to describe the president. Some say the colour of saints is white. The only thing white about Buhari and very white indeed is his style of corruption. According to the Heidenheimer model, while corruption involving money is black and that involving the abuse of the paraphernalia of office is grey, white corruption is simply the practice of nepotism and favouritism. White corruption is the source of all black and grey corruption. Buhari most evidently has come to represent the classic textbook case of white corruption in recent Nigeria paradoxical to his famous election promises.

Buhari’s white corruption has severe implications for Nigeria in 2017. In the early 1980s Claude Ake concluded that Nigeria’s economic sectors were not only unintegrated they were not set up to be incompatible with each other. It takes ‘unproblematic leadership’ to effectively coordinate the economy properly; this is not going to happen under Buhari’s in 2017 and beyond. The Indigenisation Program under Gen Yakubu Gowon and neoliberalism since Gen Ibrahim Babangida’s time to the present day have all failed dismally due to major coordination deficits in leadership and economic governance.

Leadership in Nigeria as it relates to the economy at best is extremely non-rational due to the white corruption quantities it fosters. Leadership first unrelentingly seeks to centralise all economic sectors and bring it under its control. Then rather obtusely, the same leadership turns these same economic sectors into its “own” cottage industry. Cottage industries are businesses of a physical nature conducted within a home or household. The Households of Buhari, Babangida, Abacha, Obasanjo, Jonathan, Yar’Adua, Ibori, Tinubu, Igbinedion, Duke, Saraki, Kalu, Oyinlola, Fashola, Okorocha, Odili, Dasuki, Tukur, Etete and whatever are the cottage industries that run the Nigerian economy perversely, eventually running it into ground while amassing obscene fortunes for themselves. Blood and marital relationships are all you need to join the cottage industry and outsiders that lick arse slavishly may join the ranks if the patron likes. Economic resources, permits, licenses, credit (mobilisation), blocks are redistributed jealously and exclusively within these cottage industries. Is a selectively enclaved economy the proper type for Nigerians to survive / prosper in?

Look at the major source of Nigeria’s income, the oil and gas sector. While some make billions of dollars within their households through unproductive rent-seeking and incidental networking the industry itself, was an uncoordinated disaster that has led to the rise of devastating ecocide, violence, militants and saboteurs. Pollution, gas flaring, sacrifice zones and genocide are the creations of leaders that cannot coordinate the costs and burdens of the oil and gas sector but can rapaciously siphon off the benefits through their households. The cottage industries of the ruling elite are unquestionably the real dens of thieves deliberately creating repeated economic future for Nigeria named “no hope”. The same is true for 2017, it is not a pleasant expectation and it needs no graphic description.

The only Nigerians who will have bright economic prospects in 2017 are members and extended members of these cottage industry households. They will study overseas, get the good jobs, secure the juicy contracts, get cheap credit for high yield businesses, acquire properties from the desperate, buy low cost homes for resale and get massive undeserved gifts from fawning clients. The year 2017 will certainly be good for them.

Until the day these cottage industries that have deliberately and ruthlessly turned the promising Nigerian economy into a perpetual failure are thoroughly demolished .white corruption will increasing undermine economic freedom / prosperity, both collective and individual. Unfortunately, Nigerians at the moment might not be ready to act or react as is required. The good news is that day will surely come when these cottages industries will no longer pervert the economy of Nigeria and the future economic outlook will be something to sincerely look forward to.

Happy New Year! How happy will Nigeria be Nigeria in the year 2017?

Grimot Nane

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