Total Pageviews

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

ECONOMY OF THE NORTH AND THE BURDEN OF INSECURITY


    The nineteen states that made up the old Northern Nigeria have been confronting various challenges for some time, from the problems of poverty among their citizenry, insufficient funds in the government coffers, youth unemployment, lack of infrastructures, moral break down, death of businesses to the mother of all insecurity. The north (as now a day been perceived) has become synonyms with insecurity; the simple way of living and social cohesion that the north is known for have all gone away. What remain is the north of killing, bombing, fear, suffering families, mourning of loss ones, destruction of properties, and military incursion into people way of living. The booming business and industrial atmosphere of Kano and Kaduna have been replaced by a sense of absence of certainty in investment undertakings, closure of businesses, reduced work hours, and atmosphere of terror. In the most volatile city of Maiduguri business life has been shorten, human life have become worthless, many industrial plants have been deserted, workers becomes refugees, employers of people become spectators, poverty and penury the order of the day. The north eastern city of Damaturu has become a ghost town where location after location have been deserted by people being occupy by only lizards and other reptiles, the Grozny of Nigeria. In Damaturu most workers and traders have run for their dear life to avoid becoming victims of the clash between security forces and Boko Haram. In the north central, Kogi state has become a battle field where gun shot sound has become so common, fear has taken the place of trust, neighbour spy over neighbour, and sense of abandonment have taken over.  The Nigerian capital Abuja has not been spared either, it has gotten it own share of the bombers vengeance; the police headquarters and United Nation building bombing are two prominent example of how insecurity has penetrated the hitherto relative peace of the Nigerian capital.
    Tell me how do you expect oil explorers in the desert corner of Borno state to resume exploration when there is no guarantee for security of their lives? The same thing is true with the Indians and Chinese that are doing their businesses in Kano and elsewhere in the north. The decline in the industrial output of the industries in Kano and Kaduna, though has been going on since before the inset of the present insecurity, has contributed to the increase in unemployment in those places. What any visitor to Kano or Kaduna first notice is the mammoth crowd of waiting cars and motor bikes at check points across all the corners of these cities. This is a red signal to potential investors warning them of the uncertainties in these places. At major markets in Kano some of the complains you here from traders is that the numbers of business people that are coming to Kano from other state and neighboring countries have declined since the attack of January this year. The presence of military personnel with sophisticated weaponry tells one that there is an atmosphere of war in these places. Already, on all indices for measuring human welfare, the North lagged behind the South, but the coming of the present state of insecurity has made matters worth. The education sector has been crippled many students are scared to go to their schools which previously acts as means of escape from the noise of the towns. Markets have become no go area because of the fear of the unknown; as people prefer the safety of their homes. Even rural farmers find it difficult to move their harvest to the major markets in the cities due to the fear for their lives. The North has now beaten the South in term of violence and crimes without beaten it in term of economic growth and development.
    Now that oil has been discovered in Sokoto in commercial quantities the case for the economy of the North is becoming stronger. Already there are strong indications that there are deposits of crude oil in Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Kogi, Niger and Kwara states; if this turn out to be true the present precarious state of Northern economy will change for the better. And, it is going to be better for the Nigerian unity as those that are looking at others as parasite will have to look at other excuses to attack the North. This further drive home the argument that there is substantial quantity of oil in all the three geo-political zones of the North. The oil money like in the Niger Delta should be used to develop the infrastructures in the North, to make it catch up with those in the South. I, therefore, suggest the building of three new refineries one for each of Sokoto, Borno and Kogi states; this will in no small way boast the industrial potentialities of those areas. One important area that governments of the North need to pay special attention to is in generation of internal revenue; in Nigeria every body is aware of the amount of money Lagos state is generating from internal revenue sources. For some years Lagos state has been self sufficient in revenue sources to the extent that the amount it is generating from internally generated revenue (IGR) is more than what it is collecting from the federal government. In the North Kano state under the present administration of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is doing well in term of strengthening it internal sources of revenue, already according to government projection it said that by the end of this year it will be paying all its workers salaries and other entitlement from internal revenue. The amount the state is generating as at now is approaching two billion naira, with a target of three billion in the next fiscal year. Kano with all it vast potentials can be generating some where around eight billion Naira monthly if all things are put in place. Other places with high potential include Kaduna, Sokoto, Kwara, Niger, Borno, and Gombe states.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

LIKE OLYMPICS LIKE NIGERIA’S COMPETITIVENESS IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY


  It is a shame that my country Nigeria, the so called giant of Africa, exited London Olympics without winning any medal. It is a shame indeed! With two-billion Naira wasted on the Nigerian team to the Olympics and nothing to show, it reminds some one of the various white elephant projects scattered everywhere across the country that consumed billions of naira without making any impact. Before the games we were told by the Nigerian authorities that Nigerian contingent to Olympics is going to bring home some medals, now we are being told that the essence of the games is participation not winning. The Olympics mirror our participation in the global economy where we boast about our strength and prowess but with nothing on the ground to show for it. Underneath all the Nigerian boasting about being this or that is colossal problems, corruption and ineffectiveness; the level of corruption in the system is such that with all kind of resources and wealth endowment, the country still cannot provide its citizens with the needed quality education and health care. If you look at the top ten countries on the all medal list you will find out that all these countries are in places where their citizens are doing well and poverty have been concurred. The world two most powerful economies are top on the list, to drive home the notion that it takes economic prowess and discipline to come top in such competition of eminent proportion. I remember the last time Nigeria seek the hosting of commonwealth games but it was not granted instead was given to India, though even India has nothing much to show for its participation in London Olympics and its hosting of the common wealth games, but it still shows how the world view Nigeria against the other giant countries in the world.
  A nation that is battling to fight the scourge of corruption which has eaten into all its moral fabric would certainly find it difficult to organize a world standard preparation to help her win medals in the Olympics. The monumental corruptions uncovered in the course of the subsidy prove is still hanging, and Jonathan administration has shown no sign of owning up to the public outcry to proof into the scandal beyond the lip service it is paying to the matter at the moment. Though, many analysts believe this administration can not bite the finger that feed it by turning the tides against major oil tycoons who sponsored it election campaigns back in 2011.  While the poor masses are left to suffer under the brunt of insecurity, poverty, higher cost of living; the rich few are busy enjoying their illegally gotten wealth. Of particular concern is the widened gap between the rich and the poor; while Nigeria boast of rich individuals like Dangote, it has some of the poorest people on the continent. Diseases, malnutrition, and illiteracy still ravaged many of its population; currently ranked among the most unstable countries in the world where crisis, like volcano, can erupt at moment notice. Boko Haram, the derided Islamic sect from North Eastern Nigeria, has managed to strike terror at the mind of individuals Nigerians. Today, any criminal can get away with taking a person life by pushing the responsibility on the Boko Haram group who are happy to accept doing so in order to strike more terror. The Niger Delta militias are coming out from their temporary slumber; recently it (through one of their prominent figures) claim it can put the country into a total war should the North attempt to destabilize the administration of Jonathan, which already show signs of weakness. One such militia leader Dakubo-Asari claims they (he and his associates) knew where the weapons to fight the war can be brought from, and they can bring them in when the time comes. Bakassi people are also back in the news with their claim on the Bakassi peninsular which Nigeria ceded to Cameroun back during the regime of Obasanjo; threatening to declare their independence from Nigeria and Cameroun (of course) including the option of declaring a war.
   While there is no doubt about the potentiality of the Nigerian economy on the continent to surpass that of South Africa as the continent biggest and most dynamic, a lot of teething troubles remain that will act as hindrance to achieving that goal. One of such is the problem of absence of strong leadership to put Nigeria on the road to achieving that; Nigeria’s leadership, as seen in the corrupt-ridden PDP government in power since the return to democracy in 1999, can not take the country near achieving that. What is more, a leadership and party that lack discipline among it members could not have brought the same into the country management. With no result oriented and tightly organized leadership like the one you find in China, Nigeria is not near achieving such a goal in the span of five to seven years envisaged by this administration. Wasteful expenditures remain at all the tires of government, despite inclusion of technocrats such as the world Bank Ngozi, fiscal indiscipline remain one of the main failings of this administration, as two-third into the year the regime could not implement its budget up to 35% but claim to have delivered, what an irony. Like many analysts see it, Jonathan is very weak to lead the kind of reform needed to fight corruption and to put the country on the pass of sustainable development and prosperity. Nigeria as it is now needed some one very strong, efficient, and devoid of parasitic cabinet as we have now to take it to the next era of growth. The time when Nigerians should continue to blame the hands of foreign powers in their internal problems and inability to move the country forward is gone, our real problem is our corrupt political leadership. Like we have seen during the London Olympics where lack of preparations, lost of focus, and institutional corruption have killed our dream of winning some medals, the same is to true in almost all the spheres of the country’s live. Nigerian leaders are corrupt and weak, its people are poor and ravaged by interreligious and interethnic hatred, and its infrastructures are dead and needed billions of Dollars for them to be revived. With a population of over 160 million people majority of them poor, Nigeria need to wake up from it slumber before it is consumed by it own inconsistencies, ineffectiveness and decay.