Act 4: Scene I
Deities don’t read newspapers. Humans do. Orita Gbaemu is the crossroads in Osogbo where deities are appeased in August at the commencement rites of Osun Osogbo, the globally acclaimed riverine festival that uplifts culture and restores worshippers’ souls.
From time out of mind, the Ataoja, once in every August, sits in splendour under a royal canopy on Gbaemu Road to commune with the founding deities of Osogbo and herald the celebration of fecundity, purity, cleansing, protection and wellness in the land.
Orita Gbaemu isn’t only about annual deities, however. It’s also renowned as the newspaper distribution epicentre where people throng daily to read newspapers and aerate comments on topical issues. Ironically, at Orita Gbaemu, like in all newsstands nationwide, comments are free, facts are scanty.
Today, PhD students – Kiko, Beki and Solo – are doing their individual fieldwork in Osogbo, Kano and Umuahia respectively.
At Orita Gbaemu, Kiko examines how everyday people view governance and political leadership. He sits in the crowd with a rolling tape recorder concealed in his breast pocket, listening to the drift of conversations as readers factionally engage in political whataboutism.
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Now, whataboutism is the knee-jerk jagbajantis common among poor members of the public who respond to truthful allegations against their political leaders or parties by alleging that the greater sins lie with the accusers.
In Nigeria’s political whataboutism, very poor folks vigorously defend allegations against their political parties or leader(s) by bringing up counter allegations that don’t clear the air on the allegation levelled against their parties or leader(s). They’ll say, “Oh, you accuse Sai Baba of nepotism and incompetence, WHAT ABOUT the stealing-is-not-corruption mantra of the Badluck years and the holier-than-thou corruption of the Ebora era?”
For a once-in-four-years measly porridge, this is the whataboutism you’ll likely get upon raising questions on the disturbing funds found in the coffers of Mama Piss, which made her enter into plea bargaining: “Who’s a saint? Didn’t Mama Piss manage her matrimonial home more effectively than the beautiful hairdresser whose ceaseless domestic fights triggered guns on A-Sore-Rock. If you’re patient and have the stomach for political stupidity, you’ll hear: “The Bullion Vans of Bourdillon are not as sordid as the Article of Halliburton.” This is what you get when the masses, who should be grieving and protesting their futurelessness, hotly argue in defence of their candidates for the title of the Most Successful Thief after Saint Sanny Abutcher, Maradona and Ebora.
Act 5: Scene 1
In the Railway area of Umuahia popularly referred to as Isi Gate, hawkers run wildly after vehicles to sell their wares. At one of the newsstands, Solo is reading a copy of ‘Light’, a fearless newspaper that constructively criticises government policies. The cover headline reads, “Repeal ex-govs, speakers pension payment now – US advises.”
Reader 1: Wetin concern US with our country?
Reader 2: What rubbish are you saying? If you can collect millions of dollars in donations from the US, you must be ready to take advice on how the millions should be spent.
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Reader 3: The US should just leave our All-Pervasive-Congress-led government alone o. Did it advise the People-Dehumanising-Party when $2bn arms funds were being shared?
Solo continues to take notes.
At the Galadima Road newspaper distribution centre in the commercially-busy Sabon Gari area of Kano, Beki mingles well with the crowd. She watches poor members of the public, who are adversely affected by government’s corruption and inaction, defend to the death insane government policies. She buys a copy of ‘The Truth’ newspaper, and sits down on a wooden bench provided by a vendor, who orders a free reader to get up for her.
A cover-page headline, “Two presidential jets go missing,” screams at Beki.
Reader 1: Irresponsible journalism! The jets aren’t missing. Both are in Dubai. One flew Baba’s daughter to Dubai while the other flew her pinhole camera there for her graduation photoshoot.
Reader II: What nonsense! At whose expense? Even the American president and his family pay from their personal purse when they embark on private trips.
Reader III: We’re not in America, we’re in paraDIES.
The second lead story on the cover page catches Beki’s attention. It reads, “Anna-B bags degree in Wait-and-Get photography, paints Dubai red,”. From the illogical to the absurd, readers feast on the story, trading allegations for and against the vampires in government.
Soon, all hell broke loose with emotions boiling over and weapons and punches replacing speech. An hour later, the police, responding to a distress call, swoop on the scene, carting away edibles and arresting innocent traders.
Anna-B is having her graduation bash inside the $24,000 per-night Royal Suite of the 7-Star Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai. Unmindful of political, religious and ethnic affinities, children of Nigeria’s Who-is-Who grace the occasion in luxury automobiles. The MC introduces the super-rich children as Anna-B welcomes them amid booming music and perfect lighting effects.
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Anna-B: Oh, you made it here? I thought you said you can’t make it?
Moh Article: You know the airways are closed due to the pandemic. Dad had to tell one of his pilots to fly me down here.
(She leads him to the table where the scions of Ebora, Jona, Aibibi, Abutcher, Bourdillon, Hell Roof, ROtM, Weak-A, Oshy, Abbey, Ebory, Mack, etc are feasting)
MC: Make some noise for the son of 9ja’s articulate politician, Moh Article!
(The hall erupts in deafening noise)
MC: Hey y’all, listen to me real quick. I’ve the singular honour and pleasure to invite to the M-I-C, one of the land’s most gifted stand-up comedians, I-go-Faint!!!!
(The hall erupts in ecstasy)
I-go-Faint: Helloooooo sombory!!!!
Crowd: Hi, siiiiiir!!!!
I-go-Faint: 9ja no dey carry last! I’m so happy to be here tonight, I tell you. (He waits for the noise to abate)
I-go-Faint: Why una dey make noise like Magoo for custody? We funny die for 9ja: person wey dey detain people anyhow without bail dey cry for bail when dem detain am now.
(Audience bursts into laughter)
I-go-Faint: Where’s Hushpoopoo?
Audience: He dey jail!
I-go-Faint: I wish Hushpoopoo dey here make he come give una handouts to give to una fathers about how to electronically steal and transfer 9ja to white people so that dem go help develop our country quick-quick. Dis suffer too much.
(Audience screams in laughter)
I-go-Faint: This party shows the unity and love in our land. It’s the poor people on the streets, the uneducated and the unfortunate that are giving the country a bad name, portraying the country as terrorists and kidnappers’ enclave. 9ja na Turn-by-Turn Plc. You guys don dey take over from una parents. Una be the faces of Nigeria’s future presidents, governors, senators, ministers. Una fathers may quarrel occasionally, but dem dey settle their differences las-las. Why quarrel when resources plenty yanfu-yanfu to go round?
I-go-Faint: Una mothers no dey quarrel because enough time dey to gossip and enough funds dey to do manicure and pedicure abroad and also buy designers’ wears, pants, bras and bags.
I-go-Faint: Governor Pay-o-Lou do well in curbing COVID-19, but im state Assembly insist on physical sitting, a member don die now; what a great legislature led by a scandal-free Speaker!
Audience: Eko o ni baje!
I-go-Faint: Pandemic dey kill everyday but pastors and imams wan make dem open churches and mosques. Who go fight for the poor? Common man no fit think again because poverty don turn im head. Das why poor people still dey support una parents wey dey thief for government despite say na di stealing make dem life meaningless. I’ll be back after this musical interlude!
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Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ softly overrides the applause.
OPINION: Between The Content Of Our Character And The Colour Of Our Currency
By Suyi Ayodele
There was a Second Republic politician, a stark illiterate, who played a prominent role in helping a particular government to power. He was duly compensated with the post of a commissioner in the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. As time went by, the man had irreconcilable issues with the appointing authority, the governor, and he was fired. The commissioner boasted that nobody would ever occupy the office he left. Nobody took the boast of an illiterate seriously. The governor went ahead and appointed a replacement. When the sacked commissioner heard about the appointment, he approached the new appointee and said: “Bùòdá, èyin ni wón gbé s’íbè. Aso tí ìpìn bá bó sílè kò sí baba eranko tó lò wo láíláí” (Elderly one, you are the one appointed. Whichever cloth the insect, ìpìn, puts off, no other animal will ever wear it). But before the new man assumed duty, the government changed every piece of furniture in the office, changed the rug and repainted. They knew that the immediate commissioner was very versed in metaphysics. The former man laughed it off. He waited like the old vulture he was. The new appointee was sworn in and moved to the office. Then the unexpected happened. The new man collapsed and was rushed out. When contacted, the sacked commissioner said he was shocked at the ignorance of the government, which went about changing the office paints and the furniture. He intoned that whether the furniture was changed a million times and the walls painted as many times as possible, the curse he placed was on the nomenclature of that office. The government got wiser thereafter and never appointed anyone into that ministry until the government ended its tenure.
Ìkórè (harvest) season used to be the liveliest period of our Anglican Communion in the days of yore. We always looked forward to those colourful celebrations. The healthy competition among the various egbé (groups) in the church was infectious. The womenfolk were the most colourful. My late mother belonged to the Egbé Ìgbàlàyemì (Salvation Befits Me) group. Women younger than her were grouped into Egbé ÌwàbíOlórun (Character like of God). There were other groups, fighting for the Àsíá (plaque). Those women could sing. Most of their songs then were philosophical as they were didactic- speaking to morals, ethos and the dignity of humanity. One of such songs speaks to our discourse today. I crave your indulgence to render the lyrics in its native form. It goes thus: Ùwà l’ènìyàn – Character is the man/Hójé hùnkàn pàtàkì – It is of great value/ Olori Egbé yá múra súwá o – Leader of our group, pay attention to your character.
The women of my mother’s epoch (1927-2006) knew that character is of great value. At any given opportunity, they impressed on their leaders that they would need good character to be able to steer the ship of the groups to the shore of glory (ibùdó ògo). So, they constantly encouraged their Ìyá Egbés to be mindful of their character. Character is the man. What wisdom!
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The educationists, who designed our curricula for our early education, were equally wise. They included in the learning processes of those days, ethical orientation programmes that ensured that before we started our classes, we were made to affirm the place of good character above academic excellence. We called it “Àkósórì” (rote learning). Most of the “Àkósórì” were poems written by the best of that era in children’s literature, Joseph Folahan Odunjo, popularly known as J .F. Odunjo. As we assembled to pray and listen to the daily instructions from the headmaster, we would recite one Àkósórì or the other. One of such recitations has its first clause as: “Tojú ìwà re òré mi” (Take care of your character, my friend). The recitation says money, beauty and education without character is nothing.
For wrote another poem in his Alawiye Series, titled, “Ise Logun ise” (Work is the antidote for poverty). He emphasises the need to be self-dependent and rely on one’s efforts and cut off entitlement mentality. The import of the messages in all the poems is about good character. If any man, and by extension, a nation or a people must make any progress, the character of such a man or people must be above board. No nation without leaders of good character can make any progress. You may change the policy directions as many times as you can, without a change in character for positive dispositions, nothing will change. These are the lessons we were taught in those good old days. The question now is: How many of our leaders still remember those messages? How many are applying them in the running of the nation?
On October 26, 2022, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, announced that our currency, the Naira, in 200, 500 and 1000 denominations would be redesigned. The CBN top shot said that one of the principal factors responsible for the policy is the issue of hoarding of the banknotes by some Nigerians. Like edible commodities, some Nigerians are in the habit of hoarding the nation’s banknotes. According to Emefiele, over 80 per cent of the currency in circulation was outside the vaults of the commercial banks. He gave a worrisome figure. Of the total sum of N3.2 trillion printed Nigerian currency in circulation, as at September this year, a huge sum of N2.73 trillion was in the hands of individuals, outside the vaults of the various banks. What the CBN Governor was saying in the usual government diplomatic parlance is that some greedy Nigerians are in possession of over 80 percent of our entire money in circulation.
I was privileged to be taught elementary Economics in secondary school by two brilliant minds; Messrs Alebiosu in Form Four, and Fabamise in Form Five. These two gentlemen, if they were to explain the scenario painted by Emefiele, would simply say: because such a huge amount of our currency are outside the banking halls, where the banks could lend them to investors, our economic development is halted and where there are no companies and cottage industries, the unemployment rates will be high. Alebiosu and Fabamise would then swear that should that be the case, poverty, a very crushing one, would be the lot of the people. Simple Economics! That is exactly what we are experiencing in the country today. The CBN boss said that to arrest the situation, we would have to redesign our currency notes from the N200 denomination to the highest, which is the N1000 note. Then, measures were put in place to ensure that those hoarding the Naira notes would not be able to deposit them in large figures. I will not bother with all those measures for just one simple reason: those who have the capacity to hoard 80 percent of our money in circulation also have the capacity to frustrate any measure aimed at getting at them.
Why would anyone, for instance, bury say, N1 billion in a hole in his bedroom? What sort of human beings would mop up over 80 percent of a nation’s money in circulation and keep that to themselves while poverty walks the streets of Nigeria in three piece suits? The answer is, again, character. Only a man of character, and good character for that matter, would realise that a wealthy man among millions of poor relations is the poorest of all men. Character alone would teach a man that appropriating a communal purse for personal use is tantamount to pure madness.
That is why, on a personal level, I find Emefiele’s policy of redesigning the Naira as not only inappropriate, but highly ridiculous. I will leave economists and financial experts to deal with the issues of the implications of the policy on the nation’s economy. I will equally not bother myself with the negative effects many of the aforementioned experts said it would bring to bear on our already comatose economy. My point here is: how long, after the redesigning, will it take the same hawks to mop up the newly introduced notes and hoard them the same way they did to the ones Emefiele and the voodoo economists of the Muhammadu Buhari administration are planning to change from December 15, 2022 to January 31, 2023? How do you redesign a currency without a corresponding redesigning of the character of the players in the nation’s economy? It is amusing, you know. The policy reminds me of the story of a Second Republic politician told above.
Rather than changing the colours of our Naira notes like a chameleon, Nigeria needs to change the characters of the money bags, the politicians, the businessmen and women, who get tax reliefs without any corresponding effects on the lives of the average citizens. When the government gives the monopoly of virtually every commodity to an individual, such a government ought to go a step further to check how much such commodities cost in the Nigerian markets. When a multi billionaire gets tax relief for many years, we need to ask him what he is spending the extra money on. Is it on what is beneficial to the mass of the people or what? We need to put a punitive system in place such that once we discover a huge amount of money on someone’s farm; such an individual is heavily punished.
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If it is true that a few Nigerians are hoarding over 80 percent of our Naira notes, we need to ask ourselves questions. For instance, how many of our past governors have been indicted for financial infractions? How many billions of naira have we traced to them? Where did they invest the money? How many of them are in jail houses for such infractions? Was it not recently that the same government, which promised to fight corruption, granted amnesty to former Governors Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame of Plateau and Taraba States, respectively? These were individuals jailed for helping themselves to their states’ funds and before they could finish their terms, they were set free. What message is the government passing to the current and future hawks occupying leadership positions in the country? Is it our currency and its colours that should change or our orientation as a people? I can go on and on. For me, I think the issue of currency hoarding goes beyond changing the colours of the Naira notes. What Nigeria needs, and what it lacks in a very devastating magnitude, is the ethical orientation that would make such hideous practice a condemnable act, punishable by the laws of the land. What we need is a strong institution that punishes infractions like currency hoarding or currency decimation. A country which promotes, worships and rewards rogues like Nigeria does can change the colours of its banknotes as many times as it wishes; without a change in the character of those running roughshod over the affairs of the country, the currency redesigning becomes another hollow ritual! Like we say in my Ekiti dialect: hi a luffecti – it will have no effect. The exercise is like a woman who changes her husband without changing her character, she will still come back to the same old problem.
Suyi Ayodele is a senior journalist, South-South/South-East editor, Nigerian Tribune, and a columnist with the same paper.
OPINION: Adamu’s Lamentation Equals Buhari’s Failure
By Suyi Ayodele
Lord Henry Peter Brougham lived between September 19, 1778 and May 7, 1868. As a British statesman, Brougham was involved in the transformation of Great Britain. He participated actively in the birth of the 1832 Reform Act and the 1833 Slave Abolition Act. His greatest weapon in abolishing slavery was education. His most memorable quote: “Education makes a people easy to lead but difficult to drive, easy to govern but difficult to enslave”, remains evergreen. He followed his principle about the invaluable importance of education all through his political careers. The greatest of his achievements was the establishment of the University College London. He later became Rector, University of Edinburgh and also established the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. That is how good leaders transform the lives of their people. But not so with Adamu Adamu and the government he serves as Minister of Education.
Adamu’s Wikipedia entry says: “He is a polyglot and speaks Hausa, English, Persian, Arabic and French”. That is where the beauty of his personage ends. He has been in government as a minister in charge of the nation’s education for almost eight years now. In government and governance, Adamu Adamu is a monumental failure. He admitted that himself on Thursday, November 3, 2022. He spoke at the 66th Meeting of the National Council on Education (NCE), which was held in Abuja. Most media platforms that reported the event had similar and fascinating headlines; “I have failed – Education Minister Adamu Regrets Not Ending Out-of-School Children Crisis”, the platforms reported. We are in the season of elections. Adamu’s ruling APC is seeking a revalidation of the mandates Nigerians gave to it in 2015 and 2019. Like the witches of old confessed their atrocities at the village square, Adamu was out on Thursday to confess his abysmal performance in the Ministry of Education, where he has ruined everything noble and ideal about that sector.
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When you look at Adamu and his confession of failure, one cannot divorce him from his appointing authority, General Muhammadu Buhari. The elders say no one can cut the thumb into two and conclude that the head is not a relation of the neck. What the Buhari-led administration cannot destroy does not exist. Or, better still, what the Buhari-led administration has not destroyed since the Daura retired General came to Aso Rock Villa in 2015 does not exist. Fights against corruption and insecurity, which Buhari and his promoters anchored the Daura General’s quest for the presidency on, have since gone to the dogs. Name any segment of Nigeria’s national life that is still standing under the administration; you will find none! Many Nigerians believe that the latest medical tourism of Buhari to London at the wake of the migration of diplomats from Abuja, was his own stylish way of japaing! The arguments were so strong that one could hardly fault them. On a personal note, I don’t want to believe that Buhari ran away to London so that he would not be around when the security threat advisories issued by the USA, the UK, Canada and other sane countries become a reality. There is an old Ekiti folk song that makes nonsense of such a venture, to wit: ” “Ò dàrán Sule ò sà rí’Bádán, Íbádán he hi tì’rán hó mó bo hàlè ko yà júyá re” – he committed a crime and ran to Ibadan; Ibadan does not obliterate crimes; return home and face the consequences of your action. As much as I don’t believe the theory of Buhari japa, one cannot but question the wisdom in the timing of the medical trip, especially, when the president was not in any life-threatening medical condition. But how are we sure of that? Has Buhari ever told us what ails him since he has been spending our patrimony on his unending medical jamboree? Yeah, only on one occasion. He once told us that his ears were aching such that he could not fly to Lagos from Abuja for an official assignment. And, in all honesty, the president behaves very much like someone whose auditory canal has a perennial problem akin to what my mother tongue calls “eti ndun e” – your ears are paining you (transliteration). Don’t let us bother about the full semiotic implications of that clause in my mother tongue; lest we are accused of being uncharitable to the exalted office of the president.
But I digress! Let us return to Adamu and his lamentations. The minister, who once walked out on Nigerian students on a live TV interaction, said that he noticed that with almost seven years in the saddle as the Minister of Education, he is the longest serving minister in that ministry. That is highly commendable. Buhari has retained him in that position not because of Adamu’s sterling performances, but because the appointing authority does not appear to have put any measure in place to estimate the performances of his appointees. In a cabinet where the man in charge is truly in charge, an Adamu Adamu would not have lasted six months. So it is not shocking that the man came to openly admit that he had failed. According to him, his priority while coming to the office was to solve the problem of out-of-school children. Amend that to read: “not-in-school children”. Seven years down the line, Adamu’s scorecard reads: “Seven years ago, when I became Minister, I made it (out-of-school-children challenge) my priority and up till this moment, it is my priority. I recently received a phone call from one of our elders where he informed me that I am now the longest-serving Minister of Education. I didn’t know and I didn’t really care because the only thing that worried me was that I came into office with the resolve to remove out-of-school children and I have failed so for seven years. I have been unable to do this”. That is another novel happening in the Buhari regime; where a student will score himself F9 and will still be retained as the Head Boy!
Adamu is from Bauchi State. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), recently released its data on out-of-school-children. According to the report as published by most media in Nigeria on August 26, 2022, Bauchi State has the highest number of 1,239,759 out-of-school children. The records are there in the archives of the Ministry of Education, where Adamu holds sway as the tormentor-in-chief of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and other allied unions in our universities. It is also not an irony that Katsina State, the home state of General Buhari, follows Bauchi State with 781,500 out-of-school children amongst the educationally-disadvantaged states of the North. In performance, using all indices, Adamu and Buhari are dizygotic twins! One can now see why Buhari has not noticed that Adamu has been a non-performing minister in his cabinet. When an administration has the penchant to reward failure with political patronage like the Buhari administration does, an Adamu will be in that cabinet for its entire lifespan! Why should anybody be worried about Buhari again? A man who steps on his own white garment will not blink an eyelid before he sets another man’s babariga on fire! Little wonder that while the entire country is shouting itself hoarse about the insecurity and mindless bloodletting in the country, Buhari sits in his parlour drinking fura da nunu, picking his teeth while crossing his legs.
But Adamu should not be delusional that he has only failed in the primary education segment. The Bauchi-born “polyglot” (of what use?) should equally know that he has taken our educational architecture back to the Stone Age. While we will concede to him the garland of the longest serving minister of education, we will also like to add to his laurels, the trophy for scoring a hat trick as the only minister of education who has succeeded in keeping our children out of their campuses for nine months in 2022 and eight months in 2022. Yet, we are still on the verge of another ASUU strike! Why Adamu and Buhari have decided to attack education in such a vicious manner requires our collective enquiry.
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, a clear postulant in esoteric matters, thought he could pacify the wizards of the North by taking their out-of-school-children off the streets. He established 165 Almajiri schools all over the northern zone. When the agents of change kicked him out of power and handed over the leash to Buhari, the first thing the new administration did in 2015 was to discontinue the Almajiri schools’ programme. No explanation was given. One can only hazard a guess. The most probable cause is the lazy argument that the Almajiri phenomenon is a religious thing- an argument that flies in the face of logic when one considers the fact that the elites of the north have their children in choice schools outside the shores of Nigeria.
If indeed Almajiri is all about the Islamic religion, how come that Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) remains one of the most educated prophets in history. If Almajiri is about religion, is the north of Adamu and Buhari more Islamic than Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirate, UAE or Qatar? In the UNICEF report of June 2022, the world body listed the number of out-of-school-children in Saudi Arabia to be 177, 254 (2020); UAE, 947 (2020) and Qatar, 2, 947 (2019). But in Adamu’s Bauchi, the figure is 1,239,759 and Buhari’s Katsina State records 781,500. The ‘two gentlemen’ go to Mecca for the holy pilgrimage. Then you wonder what they learn from the holy land! In Qatar for example, an Education City spanning 12 kilometres was established to house multiple educational and research institutes. This is how one website describes the city: “Education City, our flagship initiative, is a pretty unique place. During just one short walk—or tram ride—around campus, you could be visiting an Ivy League university, cross the street to browse one of the region’s largest libraries, and then attend an open-mic at the neighboring university behind it”. Check how many Nigerian leaders go to these Arab countries for holidays and you will be tempted to wish them ill luck in their next voyage!
As we speak, due to the lack of fidelity on the part of the current government and its congenital tendencies to always break its own truces, our children will soon be back home as another strike action looms. Following the injunction secured by the government against the eight-month old strike action by ASUU, and the intervention of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the university lecturers called off the strike on the understanding that 50 percent of their withheld salaries would be paid immediately and the balance spread over months. What did the government do after the lecturers honoured their own side of the bargain? Rather than pay the agreed percentage of the withheld salaries, the Ministry of Labour and Employment advised the government to pay a “pro-rata” salary to the university’s teachers. Olajide Oshundun, the Public Relations Officer for the ministry, while justifying the government’s betrayal of its own cause, said that the lecturers “were paid pro-rata according to the number of days they worked in October. You cannot pay them for work not done. Everybody’s hands are tied”. Crass arrogance. But a more cerebral body, the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU) has faulted that, warning that the Federal Government cannot apply for no work, no pay policy to the university lecturers. Professor Yakubu Ochefu, CVCNU Secretary General, reminded the government that the lecturers reluctantly suspended their eight month-strike on the basis of “trust” and urged the government not to play pranks on the intelligence of the lecturers. You ask me: Ochefu can as well take his counsel to the Marines. This government is not just deaf and dumb; it finds it difficult to comprehend any logic. What will follow Chris Ngige’s “pro-rata” salary for ASUU members is pregnant, nursing a set of triplets and at the same time asking for conjugal benevolence from the husband!
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Already, the University of Jos chapter of ASUU has set the ball rolling. On Friday last week, the UNIJOS ASUU asked all its members to stay at home until their withheld salaries are paid. Professor Lazarus Maigoro, the branch chairman of ASUU who issued the directive in UNIJOS said: “In view of the bottleneck placed by Ngige towards paying our members the backlog of our salaries, the congress of ASUU, University of Jos met today 4th November, 2022 and resolved to stay at home, though not on strike until the backlog of the withheld salaries are paid. For the avoidance of doubt, our members are back to work, willing and ready to work but are unable to work. Based on the revised academic calendar for the 2020/2021 session approved by the senate of the university, lectures should have started already but the challenge of lack of payment of salaries has constrained our members from going to the classroom to teach. What this implies is that the students who have resumed already will have to wait indefinitely while we wait for our withheld salaries to be paid to us, unfortunately, the struggle continues”. Game! ASUU, as I was penning this, had called its NEC meeting to review the whole issue. It is now clear, even to the blind that Adamu has not only failed in his “priority” of putting an end to the growing out-of-school-children in Nigeria, he has equally succeeded in making our university undergraduates become not-in-school-children! May posterity judge between us and our leaders of this epoch!
Suyi Ayodele is a senior journalist, South-South/South-East Editor, Nigerian Tribune and columnist with the same paper.
Naira Redesign: A Misplaced Priority [OPINION]
By Richard Asoge
In a special press briefing in the Federal Capital City, Abuja, on Wednesday, 26th October 2022, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele declared the intention of the monetary policy authority to redesign the paper currency of N200, N500 and N1,000. Emefiele justified the need for such to control volume of currency in circulation, curb counterfeit currency, decapacitate kidnappers over ransom collection and as well fight wars of terrorism. All these are sound reasons but coming at wrong time.
It is no doubt that the volume of money in circulation has increased more than double from N1.46trillion as at December 2015 to N3.23trillion as at September 2022. The increase came without corresponding increase in production of goods and services. Then, inflation is not unexpected as we have in the country today. Even, the blind see the effect.
Which institution, in the first instance, is mainly responsible for money creation if not CBN? Was the CBN not thinking through the effect of N1.55trillion illusion money created through Ways and Means within the first four months of year 2022 to cover revenue shortfall? In one of my published articles, I disagreed with the CBN hiding under Ways and Means to create money as if it were ‘Santa Clause’.
The logistics and cost involved in redesigning N200, N500 and N1,000 currencies at this time when Federal Government is struggling with high fiscal deficit of N10.78trillion for year 2023 call for serious concern. As President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo introduced N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes in November 2000, April 2001 and October 2005 respectively in addition to the existing lower denominations. Of course, most of the advance countries change or redesign their currencies within ten years to lower the risk of counterfeit banknotes but they don’t do it during economic crisis.
Increasing the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) three consecutive times in the year to arrest the spate of inflation is good. In Septembe MPR was moved up by 150 basis points from 14 percent to the current position of 15.5 percent. This is huge upward movement but the effect has not really been felt as far as inflation reduction is concern. The reason may not be unconnected to the large volume of money outside banking system as alluded to by the CBN boss in his briefing. Increasing the rate further may have devastating effects on small and medium size businesses as cost of credit may be suicidal to them. So, there is need to apply other measures but not necessarily going straight for currency redesigning.
Putting all measures in place for stability in the foreign exchange rate would go a long way at resolving economic crisis and thereafter crown it with currency redesign. The way the announcement came and the time gap for the implementation put more pressure on already pressurized naira in the foreign exchange market. Infact, within the first three days of the announcement, exchange rate moved from average of N720 to N780 per US dollar in the parallel market. Manufacturers, Consumers, Businessmen and other users are gradually losing confidence in the local currency hence the rush for the foreign currencies. Building confidence in what and how we do things in Nigeria and hoping to get better tends to reduce the rate at which naira depreciates in international market. This is where individual or group of individual has one role or the other to play. Having confidence in the little things been produced within the country will have positive trickle effects in the currency, otherwise, redesign of naira again and again may not really bring the desired results.
Nigeria belongs to all of us. Your support and loyalty in what you do and that of mine, brings the best out.
Clappahouse Analytics, Ibadan.
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