If the question, do Nigerian professional economists know economics, is asked, there may be some feeling someone is beefing another. This is especially in the light of the fact that some of these Nigerian economists come with star-bright and shiny diplomas. And a pretty good number of these diplomas come from the gold standard institutions. The Yales, the Harvards, et al.
But the possession of diplomas, however sterling, is really a certification of nothing, professionally. At best, it is proof of your accomplishment as a student, not as a professional in practice. Of course, history has records of first-class-making students who are professional failures. Worldwide, there is the infamous example of the ‘’best and the brightest’’. They and their star-lit credentials ran America aground and into humiliation in Vietnam.
And on the flipside, history also comes with tales of third class pupils who smashed through the race and ended as enduring professional superstars. Late Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, is such an example.
Finally, the only professional judgment upon a student, post-pupilage, is his record of achievement. If he is not able to turn water into champagne, or rot into gold, then there must be a question mark on his alleged brilliance. In fact, such as one may be counted a failure, Yale or no Yale.
Now, for the Nigerian professional economists, the jury is out. The national economy is a basket case. Nothing is working. Yes, it is true the clueless insanitary and nepotistic governance of APC has worsened things. However, the rot had set in before APC bewitched the nation with fake news and dud promises. That is to say, the Nigerian economist as a professional genus has failed. They have failed us and themselves.
So, the next move is to ask why and how. We have suggestions. A key part of the failure of Nigerian economists is their narrow cast, pitifully granular understanding of economics. I am yet to sight any practicing Nigerian economist who is compositional in his understanding of economics. Too often one hears them mouth one bromide or another. For example, they are wont to claim that, if the economy goes well, all the nation’s sectarian wahala, a la Boko Haram, Niger Delta, IPOB, OPC, etc., will wither away. The lie in this is their assumption that, in economics, politics is an inertial mass, that politics is not a framework of economics or the markets. To them, economics and the markets can prosper in spite of institutional and institutionalised injustice. Can they? The answer is no.
Just the other day, The Guardian ran this insightful report: Akwa Ibom State government has lamented the absence of Federal Government infrastructure in the state. The state’s commissioner for information and strategy, Mr. Charles Udoh, disclosed this position yesterday in Uyo. According to him, the state lacks Federal Government investments, despite its over 40 per cent contributions to the country’s economy. On effort to relocate the headquarters of international oil companies to the state, he said the ongoing 21-storey building being built by the state is to create facilities for modern offices, “Akwa Ibom contributes much to the Federal Government, gets nothing in return.” (https://guardian.ng/news/akwa-ibom-contributes-much-to-fg-gets-nothing-in-return/)
Now, is it not clear that no amount of filibustering or obstructionist wizardry shall make such a naked and bleeding injustice sustainable or bankable? In fact, the logic of apartheid has proved beyond doubt that economic philosophy of Bantustanism cannot run. You cannot exclude a people from their wealth and be deluded you will have peace or economic prosperity. It has never happened.
Now, there is an American theoretical physicist that is my G, my guy, as the millennial youths will say. I just love him. Murray Gell-Mann says, and correctly, that there are only fundamental laws and accidents. The important point of this insight is that an accident, of history or whatever else, cannot be built or reconstructed into being a fundamental law. For example, the civil war and the temporary seizure of the oil revenues by Gowonism cannot be a basis of eternal Nigerian governance. And it makes sense, accidents are not by definition laws. They are blinks you notice and repair, and restore to the ancient bankable orders.
The other point is that injustice has its diseconomies. Injustice is too much a cost to run while trying to run an economy. Its diseconomies never lets the parent economy make a hit.
Now what is to be done? The Federal Government should, first of all, thank its stars that they have a G, a guy, a statesman running shop in Akwa Ibom. Udom Emmanuel, the governor, is literally a guy cut out of the great tradition. An ace and big ticket banker, his wide international exposure has gifted him with enviable tools kit. The first is his insider knowledge and practice experience as a banker. The fact is that, as a prince of high finance, he possesses the informed vision and grit that one can crush stones and press for milk. All he has been about in Akwa Ibom is to download this unique proposition. And that is a proposition that served him as a banker. Now, he wants same for the greater collective, the citizens of Akwa Ibom. And records are that he is succeeding. And like all great entrepreneurs, all he did was to awaken the imagination and inner hitherto dormant assets of the people. A great politician, by the way, is a state-transformation entrepreneur.
No less important is the cross-cultural exposure his financial workload afforded him. In dealing with across-cultures, across-currencies entrepreneurs, he has a homerun ability. It is to fix diplomatically what others may seek by war and mayhem. So he canvasses peace in the creeks, the streets, while he awaits a headstrong nation to bow to greater reason. Via diplomacy, he is telling them like he knows that the most sustainable and successful enterprises in business or politics are those in which all players are granted dues, are granted justice.
Now imagine a scenario where it was not possible for him to crush stones and press for milk. Imagine a scenario where he was one of these street-side governors whose instincts are like those of rogue elephants. Imagine if he like a rogue elephant were calling for jungle justice, calling for wars and alarums of wars? Just imagine! The nation should be thanking Emmanuel. He has kept his people non-restive, thanks to his stone to milk economic beneficiation, thanks to his all-inclusiveness. What then is the Federal Government to do? Let the Federal just push for a signal relocation of the international oil companies (IOCs) from wherever to the Niger Delta. That is a place to start from. Already, Akwa Ibom state, under Emmanuel, has constructed befitting headquarters for IOCs. That is a brilliant pull factor. All that we await is the push force. And that is to come from the Federal Government. We, economists and all, must canvass for this. Justice is the only path that an economy, any economy, grows on.
Simply put, it is insanitary to run Nigeria as a colonial outpost. Lagos or Abuja are designated like imperial capitals and the South-South as extractive backwaters, pollution, degeneration, degradation and all. With nothing to show for the wealth you drain out of her. Just like the Brits did to the whole of Nigeria and her other imperial possessions? If, however, the nation insists on the current order, then things may unhinge. “Federal presence” must begin to look towards Akwa Ibom and indeed the greater Niger Delta. It is vital for our own economic development and growth as a people, as a nation. Justice is the first economic good. Justice, not profit.
Apc pays us with a dud cheque?
There is one significant character in black American experience, among many others. Martin Luther King Jr. said he was about the business of leading the negros to the bank. Theirs was to see if the cheque their founding fathers gave them would be cashed. Before he could see to that, they shot him dead. Today, the status of the cheque is not exactly clear. With Obama and all, could one say the cheque is really cashed or cashable? Or were the African-Americans given a dud cheque?
While African-Americans may be in doubt of the sterling values of the cheque, the Nigerian condition is a little different. Now, as things stand, Nigerians are certain that the APC plays and played a trick on us. By a sleight of hand, the chequebook of promises handed over to the electorate has turned out to be fake news. It is maliciously post-dated, forged and falsely signed. How? It is either they tell us they never promised all they did, or that it was the party not the President that promised or vice versa. Or that the electorate is as impatient as the Devil. Are the APC angels?
Now check this: APC, including the Presidency, started with their lustful promotion of everything Nigerian. They claimed they would treat themselves in Nigerian hospitals, that their wards would go to Nigerian schools. They canvassed us to be patriots and nation-loving. They canvassed us to be buying made-in-Nigeria. And, suddenly, yes, suddenly, the news broke. The VP and his family are in luxuriant vacation. And it is not a made-in-Nigeria vacation. They are not holidaying in Obudu Ranch, not in Idanre grooves. It is in other heavenly United Arab Emirates.
So, rather than promote dying Nigerian tourism back to life, the APC and Presidency are into profligate bizarre bazaars. They are having fun doing medical tourisms in London, educating their wards in Tokyo, vacationing in Switzerland and now Dubai. And all these with subsidised forex. That is, APC and the Presidency don’t even believe in their own cashier’s cheque. They forged it and they know it is a forgery. That is their reason for unbelief.