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ANALYSIS: ‘Madam IMF, Sorry; Go With Your Loan And Leave Us Alone’


By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau

I must confess as a journalist and writer, the outgoing week is one of the most news ‘events-filled and thrilling’ to me. The issues, which are distinct from one another, unfolded either simultaneously, or one after the other. Talk about the ‘August’ visitor’s in our midst (just left) – the big boss of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ms. Christine Lagarde; the predicted (even by the suspect himself) arrest by the officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Spokesman, Chief Olisa Metuh over suspected illegal money dealing(s); the season’s greeting cards presentation by the management members of the Nigerian pioneer Independent radio and Television (Raypower and AIT); the rather distracting and diversory public demand by the “Caretaker” Governor (I’m still in the season’s mood O!) of the Rivers State, Nyesom Wike on the alleged N82 Million claimed to have been spent by the former Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi on the 80th birthday anniversary of the Literary legend, Professor Wole Soyinka; then the reply by the Prof himself as well as the 2015 Glo/CAF Awards and its other side attractions, I found each, very attractive and exciting.

This is aside the last week residual (Saturday) exuberance display by “Badoo” at the 2015 Headies Music Awards. This is just by the way, as so much have been said and written, on the very avoidable overzealous show, while the arrowheads have since reasoned – apologized on their misbehaviours to fans and reconciled. That’s OK.

Interestingly, the situation with me this time around, unlike other times, did not appear ‘riotous’ – when one is pre-occupied with the burning thought of how perfect to blend the various issues to make a single and sequential piece. In other words, I had a very clear thought on how to go about the task.

I recall in late July, 2015, when President Muhammadu Buhari was scheduled to be hosted by his US counterpart, Barrack Obama, how I was shocked at the rate many Nigerians warned and pleaded to Mr. President to decline the request by his host on assenting or legalizing gay in Nigeria. I was so amazed about the way Nigerians were restless on the matter, as to me, it appeared the matter was the only reason Obama decided to invite President Buhari to the White House. I doubt whether the topic even featured at all, during the visit. Well, whether this happened due to the strong protest at home or not, that I have no answer. Still, personally, I was very comfortable then, as I know very well that even if Obama advanced the issue, Buhari has the correct reply which is consistent to the African culture. I mentioned this in my piece then. The rest as it is said, is now history.

The story is the same since Nigerians were informed about Lagarde’s visit. The concern among many Nigerians is the possibility of a new loan deal between the IMF and Nigeria. Following this, the calls started while the warning did not abate, that Mr. President should not accede to facility proposal by his guest, under whatever guise. Nigerians; very active, intelligent and sensitive people. It’s a pity we failed as a people to collectively use these virtues to our adavange.

At last, the meeting time (Tuesday) came and President Buhari in his characteristic self, told the IMF Chief Operating Officer that Nigeria will look inwards, enforce regulations to stop financial leakages and adopt global best practices in generating more revenue to mitigate the effect of dwindling oil prices on the Nigerian economy.

Lagarde on her own, who reiterated that her visit was not to propose loan for Nigeria, instead, to reinforce the IMF’s willingness to assist the Federal Government (FG) in the areas mentioned by her host (President Buhari). She also acknowledged that Nigerians were capable of solving the problems confronting the country without resorting to the IMF for financial support. Good talks from both Buhari and his visitor. In actual sense, the communication flow between the duo, was like a balm, which calms the nerves after an injured person had suffered from a severe pain.

I do not know if the culture is restricted to Nigerians only or not. There is always debate whenever the expected or otherwise decision is taken. This can be very interesting sometimes, just like in this matter. About 24 hours later after the Buhari/Lagarde meeting, a fellow I regularly tag in my tweets (Lagos based broadcaster) posted the question on her twitter handle asking for the views of Nigerians on IMF boss’s reply to President Buhari’s address, especially with respect to her clarification that she did not visit because of loan to Nigeria. Let me quickly state here that Lagarde choice of reply is of utmost interest to me, therefore it was already on my mind for discussion in this piece.

I might be wrong anyway; As for me, the IMF Managing Director’s reply was an afterthought – “only a function” of President Buhari’s address tone. I said this in my reply to the fellow’s tweet. I repeat Ms. Lagarde’s remarks on loan to me, appeared ‘accidental’.

Historically, IMF was established after the Second World War, specifically, in December 1945. It is an organization of 188 countries, including Nigeria mainly to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty around the world”.

Nigeria became a member of the body after her independence in 1960. Its focus on the country has remained the macro economy policies, which include: public sector budgets, the management of interest rates, money and credit; exchange rate; and financial sector policies, particularly, the regulation of banks and other financial institutions (as agreed by the BIS-Bessel Agreements). Apparently, its focus on Nigeria facilitated adoption by the Military junta of President Ibrahim Babangida’s Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in 1986. The policy was then considered too harsh and unpopular, prompting the popular 1989 nationwide SAP riots. The protest signaled the end to implementation of the economic reform policy.

It is also on record that the IMF over the years has been relating with Nigeria in the areas such as: surveillance through which it monitors economic and financial developments in the country and offers policy advice; Lending when there is balance of payments difficulties and support policies that are geared towards correcting underlying problems; technical assistance and training where it is has expertise.

In October 2005, for instance, the IMF introduced Policy Support Instrument (PSI). This policy enables the financial agency to support low-income countries that do not want or need IMF financial assistance. The policy which is also like loan is made available on request by the IMF members. On record, Nigeria was the first country approved by it in October 2005, to benefit from the policy, specifically, to complement the countrys National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS).

If his predecessors avoided to be enmeshed in the web of direct IMF loan, why should anyone expect anything different from a President, who inherited huge debts and a distressed economy? Lagarde had no choice than to accept the President’s ‘no to more loan’ declaration. For instance, as at 2013, the estimated Nigeria’s external debt stood at $6.5billion while her domestic loan was about N6.5trillion!

Ms. Lagarde should not expect nothing less than what she received from a President who seems not to be doing nothing now than sanitizing the heap of rots left by his predecessors. Giving the 2016 budget proposal of N6.08 trillion, in which its anticipated deficit is to be financed by a combination of domestic borrowing of N984 billion and foreign borrowing of N900 billion totaling N1.84 trillion”! Also, IMF boss could not have got a better reply than she got, as the year’s (2016) budget also proposes the sum of N113 billion for a Sinking Fund towards the retirement of maturing loans; while N1.36 trillion was planned to service foreign and domestic debts.

Surely, these are very tough economic scenario for a big country like Nigeria, which budget for the first time after a long period, was non oil based. And for the implementation of the budget to succeed, the government must be focused, disciplined and resolute. In the nutshell, Nigeria present situation is very worrisome, so taking IMF loan in this hard time, is nothing, but a disservice to the government and the country in general.

Nigerians are conscious of these facts and this informed their opposition against the IMF loan. Therefore, the message in parable: ‘Madam IMF, Your Loan Is An Evil; We Do Not Need It, Please’ by Mr. President is about speaking the mind of millions of Nigerians.

By the proposed 2016 budget, FG increased the vote on capital expenditure to N1.8 trillion, about 30 per cent of the overall budget. The situation with Nigeria for now is very tight. Perhaps, when government achieved 50 or over per cent, of capital expenses in the years to come, then taking the muscling loan would be defendable, therefore could be considered. But for now, the facility is like “no go area”. So, Madam once again, it is not President Buhari, nor the Nigerians’ fault for you to have been given such a straight ‘blank’ remark. Rather, it is about being realistic and not busy, confused and chasing the shadows.

Finally, Ms. Lagarde, sorry that the situation with us forced your eventual response and truncated your real mission. It’s one of those things. And less I forget, thanks a lot for your many advice on how to revamp the Nigerian economy. Hopefully, we shall get there.

Chief Olisa Metuh; It’s Well With You

Long time ahead of his arrest and investigation by the anti-graft body, the EFCC, Olisa Metuh has alerted the public and predicted his travail. I recall at the press conference he addressed in Abuja where he alerted the public about the looming arrest and confessed that he did receive money from the immediate past President, Goodluck Jonathan. Strangely, the opposition Spokesman who had liver to pre-empt his ordeal failed to be categorical on the figure he received from his former party leader as well as the project he was commissioned to execute. Now, the public is anxiously awaiting the outcome of his questioning and official pronunciation as to: the real amount he received; from which source(s) the cash came from and for what purpose (s) the money was released?. Please, is there anything sentimental in all of this – Metuh’s arrest? (recall, he had admitted he collected money from his ex-boss).

But Nigeria is an interesting nation. Since Wednesday their co-party man was arrested, the PDP stalwarts have issued series of warnings and threats, such as Nigeria would be thrown into turmoil if their man died in the EFCC custody. The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu of the same party with Metuh, added his voice. He complained Friday that keeping the opposition mouthpiece did speak well of our growing democracy. Mr. Metuh, indeed, your party people are your enemies; they are the ones wishing you bad luck. But let me tell them, you would not die and Nigeria will not collapse so that you can give more information on this issue of national interest that concerned you and others. Also, so that, you would have a country to live peacefully and be proud of. Who could have wished Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) to die now, if not those who do not want Nigerians to have details of the trending Dasukigate? Your colleagues in the PDP have alarmed about witch hunting. I wonder if there is any other witch to hunt again, giving the current and torrent alarm about hunting by the ‘wailers’.

Chief Metuh, don’t listen to the enemies who pretend as friends. On this matter, say nothing, but only the truth; damn the consequences and let whoever be implicated. Say the truth and let the devil be put to shame! Metuh, ‘nothing do you jare’. Keep cooperating and reel out more guiding facts. It’s well with you.

The Laughable; Giant Season’s Cards

I am being cautious in writing this sub-piece. Anyhow, the truth must be told for posterity. It was a funny sight when I received the post on the social media, the presentation by the management team of Raypower and AIT late Wednesday of the giant greeting card (for Maulid Nabbiy; Christmas and New Year) to President Muhammadu Buhari via his Media and Publicity aide, Femi Adeshina. Reports have it the same was done to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. At this time of Nigerian political history, who could have imagined this? Better still, how can one reconcile this strange gesture with the past of the two mass media, in particular their roles during the last Presidential election, even till lately and the travail of the ownership, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi? Greek gift for a soft landing; at this time? Indeed, wonders will never end and no condition is permanent! I think there is little story for me to tell here. In case they have not done that, I beg the Ogas who visited the Aso Villa to engage their new Media experts to refer to the picture post on Adeshina’s Facebook wall and read Nigerians comments. The people’s judgment is right there. Vox Populi, Vox Dei. “Yeye people”! ‘Ehen, na who you de yan like that’? ‘Please I no de O!

The Drowning; Desperate “Caretaker Governor

What actually is the motive of Nyesom Wike, the “Caretaker Governor of Rivers State on the Wednesday public demand on the alleged benefit or not, from the purported N82 Million the former Governor Chibuike Amaechi allegedly spent on the 80th birthday anniversary of Professor Wole Soyinka last year? Well, if attempting another image smearing campaign against his enemies still matters to him and his followers now that he has barely less than two months to spend in the office, Wike should step up and ride on in his last minute fruitless moves and efforts as usual. Yet, Mr. Governor, your new target has challenged you. The Prof said he is ready to answer questions to whatever extent you deem fit. Over to you; Nigerians are watching. But I advise, you might begin to warm up for a fresh poll, before it is too late.

The Glo/CAF Awards: Beyond The Unbroken Record

To the new African Football King, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Garbon, I say congratulations! So also to the other winners of the prestigious continental football awards. Now to the Ivorain, Yaya Toure – the four time consecutive winner of the laurel, I say to you, you lost nothing. That you could not broke your Cameronian counterpart, Samuel Etoo, who have equally achieved similar feat previously, did not imply failure. Rather, Toure, you must take solace in the success you have achieved for yourself, your family and fans. Do not be sad; move on with your life and a successful career. Toure, you must aspire to retire well from the active football! Once again, congratulations to the new African football champions.

E-Mail: tjaysuccess10@gmail.com; Facebook: Tajudeen Balogun; Twitter: @tjaysuccess10

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