Sai Baba, You Can’t Abrogate Economic Laws

Alowes Jimanze


AND the verdict started coming in trickles, now it is a flood. And presently even the erstwhile ardent promoters or admirers of the Buhari regime and the political platform that drove him, APC, are currently besieged by doubts. If these men who once swore that Buhari and APC were the messiah and outrider horse, you can imagine the depth and extent of despondency befalling innocent Nigerians. The matter for the many is: all ye who are here all hope is lost. Your once beloved regime, in spite of itself, has come into its full undress, warty skins, unclean armpits, political halitosis and all.

To give a hint, a Buharimaniac, if there was one, is Dele Momodu. In his 09-01-16 This-Day column he writes: in the meantime… the economy is bleeding dangerously… and the populace is miserable.

So what went wrong? Well to be fair to the question it is a dilemma that is more ancient than the second coming in of Buhari. What is misleading the president and his party are the self-same details that derailed Gowon and Gowonism, and all other dictatorships and or elected governances that came in their wake. And the matter that they all failed is simply beyond argument. It is a question of data, historical certainty.

The facts are that since 1966, just about every single economic or quality of living index has in spite of the innumerableness of our leaders and their assurances been falling, actually collapsing. So Nigerians are poorer now than they were in the sixties. And more money has been stolen both in absolute terms than per capita against a 1966 base-index.

To ask again so what went wrong? To simplify matters it can clearly be stated that Nigerian leaders, one and all seem lost on what a market is, and what politics is not. So in their mind they plot to subjugate the market to the rule and caprices of the secretariat, the DSS, and or presidential fiat. And time and time again they have all, insistently, failed. Now if they merely failed as leaders it would have been a nice comedy to take out the family and watch the actors play. The tragedy is that in their failing they take Nigeria and Nigerians to the bottom of misery and the hades. That is, how the naira is for instance projected to hit 400 to the dollar under the watch of APC and Buhari. They are literally their confiscating your wealth and impoverishing you by governing you.

Perhaps of this runny failure to subjugate the market to the power and politics, it has been worse in this present dispensation. But the truth is that the market is an independent power, and insists on its independence. Any attack on it will see the political structures undermined or even collapse. To put it squarely the market does not rally to politics and politics cannot rally the market. The market to serve politics must be its own independent being and existent. The market and politics must strive for an ecology of shared existence, not a dictatorship, a pecking order, of one as the supreme other.

Let us give an illustration that gives away the futility of a Caesar wanting to be babaloja or leader of the market forces. Take the current fuel brouhaha. The details are as follows. Immediately the market couldn’t supply fuel at its price, power and political moralists took over the market. And to stabilize prices administratively, the NNPC, and other related agencies were drafted in to police compliance.

Now unknown to a majority of Nigerians the actual cost of fuel, is the alleged lowered administrative price plus the cost of administering it, the many hours we wait to get a draught and the social cost of an unruly and unorganized community – with the theory of broken window implications society thrown in. That is to say the cost of fuel at Caesar’s administrative price is the cumulative sum, not excluding the opportunity costs. And that any statistician will tell is higher than what the market would have charged if she were left with its invisible and largely invincible hands of supply and demand.

So the political dictation or interference of the market is a cost, a terrible cost, no polity has been able to bear sustainably. It was the market forces that overthrew, broke up and scattered the old Russia, brought China before Deng, to its knees, etc.

The question that is next presented, is why is it that Nigerians, their leaders and policy wonks have not been able to discern this much? The plain answer is ignorance, is in ignorance; nobody has known till now. How? And one can posit that ignorance is such an insufferable disease, because it robs its sufferer-patients of self-knowledge. So the man and or his nation in ignorance never gets to know he and or his nation, is sick, sickened and dying. And suddenly like a ghastly accident victim, you have a corpse in your hands.

Truth is that from Gowon there was a huge and dedicated ‘import’ of Harvard and Oxford types to man shop and run the state. It is also truth that this tradition of the Harvard boys, was subsequently institutionalized. It is so much that in her most recent flagship incarnation was Dr. Ms Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

But if there is one word to characterize their ineffectiveness, it is jurisdictional incapacity. And this is a form of default in learning. From the super permsecs, who all paraded Harvard type diplomas to their latest incarnation, Mrs. Adeosun – even as her admirers admit she is not Seria A player – one thing was noticeable. One and all, they never knew the terrain they were controlling, they were supervising or even dictating to. Their genius if they had it, only fruited in the air, but had no roots on their grounds or jurisdictions of operations. Simply put they were theorizing on theories.

Now if you took a guided tour of the West, you will see that the best philosophers have been practical men, men who like the American philosopher, Robert Frodeman says, had their hands dirtied. Take the representative case of the greatest modern economist for instance – Maynard Keynes. Now the rumor is abroad that Warren Buffett is the greatest investor ever. Perhaps on gross sums he is. But pound for pound, toe to toe, the honor must go to Keynes. He made more money in his leisure and in the least times, that has not been equaled. And this did not stop him from being one of the greatest of seminal minds ever.

In fact the economist George Goodman paid a tribute to him. ‘’No one has ever been more perceptive on markets than Keynes,’’ he writes, ‘’and I don’t think he would have had this ‘feel’ without himself being a participant; academic economists just haven’t.’’

This oriki if you liked, accounts for the failures of Gowon to Jonathan, and their Harvard certificated advisers. And Buhari has come and is determined to play the same game, now upped to a more disastrous degree. That is our bane is that academic economists and thinkers have been running reality as if it was a model.

So the question arises what exactly is to be done? The answer is simple. It is to restore and reinstitute the jurisdictional deficit, while keeping the certificated competence. So what to do? First of all we must start from definitions and backgrounders. The first phase of Nigerian achievers were all trained in and or seconded to great European schools or houses. Perhaps this was no fault of theirs but it all happened. None of them founded or participated in the founding of a well branded independent market institution. In fact the best of them never worked outside the university, and or related research institutions before being drafted into governance, into power. And this not as elected officers but as major domos, with powers of life and death. That is they had power and not humility.

And that is about to change. May be it is a matter of the times. A new sense of solid achievement, completely at home with the Nigerian terrain has come. And it is happening that one or two of them are crossing the street of primary accomplishment, to power, to politics. Perhaps the greatest exemplar and flame bearer of this new sense of performance, this new cadre of performance driven agents, is the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel.

The details go like this. Zenith Bank Plc is today one of Nigeria’s greatest institutional brands. And it is not just a boutique brand, it has the numbers on its side. Zenith Bank, in less than 30 torrential years has emerged one of the top two biggest bankers in Nigeria. It is certainly an American style dream, completely made in Nigeria, by Nigerians for Nigerians. It is also true that some others have done well but none has combined Zenith’s brand possession, reach and sheer balance sheet size.

And one of the men, Udom, who helped engineer the Zenith achievement is now in power, elected power. His is the first we know in Nigeria where a high, made-in-Nigeria brand equity performer, with jurisdictional equity and performance credit, has come into the power game. Others were good but provincial, or lacked jurisdictional competences. He is as good but here global, with a brand name that won’t be lost in City of London. And it is made in Nigeria.

[Certainly a Senator Ben Bruce comes to mind. Yes ben has done mighty things, but his is still a family shop. His shop, has not become culturally, a transactional non-family powerhouse. It is no fault of his, but there is a limit to which the family can be a template for public performance].

If we have the time and schedule, we did tell how Udom Emmanuel and the model he represents will need be the new face of a new Nigeria if we are to have one that is to our glory. His kind is the way the nation must go if we are to go from the sloganeering of the China of Mao, to the prosperity of the China of Deng. And it is supremely important to note that both governor Udom and Senator Bruce are minorities. More on this revelation latter.

QUOTE: To put it squarely the market does not rally to politics and politics cannot rally the market.

— Jan 12, 2016 @ 18:20 GMT


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