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EKITI 2018 – SO FAR July 3, 2018

Posted by seunfakze in ECONOMICS, POLITICS.
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Lessons From Ekiti 

The stark contrast between living in a developed society and transversing Ekiti communities on the campaign trail with Dr. Kayode Fayemi (JKF) can be distressing, depressing, and overwhelming. Given that I monitored the campaign in 2014 and visited all the communities, I can say first hand that things are worse off in the state. Here I present my experience so far.

I have traveled to 118 communities of the 133 campaign ground with Dr. Fayemi. What I have seen is enumerated here. 

  • Ekiti’s poor population has increased despite the high (record) debt profile of the state. I did an economic survey in each community I visited. I will have that posted later. 
  • There has been no improvement in 89% (where I asked questions) of all communities visited in Ekiti state with respect to infrastructure or providing social programs.
  • Economic impact investment in agriculture, tourism, and services have significantly dwindled. I have spoken to farmers in all of the communities I have visited. Credit access, loans to businesses have stifled while there has been increased taxation on commodities and reduced productivity in agriculture. 
  • The plans to have a tourism cluster – the tourism corridor of Ikogosi, Ipole Iloro, Efon Alaaye – has failed. The N1.2bn invested in Ikogosi springs is perhaps wasted. The resort has been abandoned. So much for “government is a continuity” mantra. 

WOMEN POWER.

Women are the game changers.

The overwhelming number of women I’ve met in each community largely outweighs the men. If this election is fair, there’s no way Prof Eleka escapes the flogging everywhere. Truly, if the elections are not rigged like 2014’s elections, the noisemaking of Ayo Fayose will start dwindling from the 15th of October. I met many women whose heartbreaking stories about their economic frustrations, and their resolute convictions and assurances about voting for JKF in the forthcoming elections are beyond description. if this is free and fair, they would decide Ekiti’s July 14 elections. 

Also, a significant number of the total beneficiaries who made judicious use of the social benefit program under JKF has been women. Their success testimonies of several businesses have been revealing and encouraging.  I’ve seen them pray, cry, sing, dance and come out in huge numbers across all the communities visited. In some communities, e.g. Iwaji and Irare Ekiti, JKF met with people that were not up to 30.  All of them were women. It’s interesting to see that he does not consider any community irrelevant, from the small to the hugely crowded. Every vote counts, no vote is irrelevant. 

THE VILLAGES – Verdict on other towns.

If This election is free and fair, JKF will comfortably win all the hinterland votes, split Ikere, win Ado votes and win Ekiti North and South West. Comfortably!! Forget the noise.

In Eda Ile, Ayegunle (Ise Ekiti), Orisumbare, Isinbode, the stern rebuke to Fayose’s government was uncontrollable. Each community regaled their ordeal in a distinct fashion. Gbosa’s public rebuke of Fayose in Ikere is there for all to see.  In some other communities, (Egbe, Are, Ikere, Ise, to mention a few), JKF did not have to campaign: it was a festival.  In all of the 118 communities, The utmost rejection of Fayose’s overtures because of his lack of any sensible or reasonable project in 44 months is telling. In Ikere, the hometown of Eleka, the massive welcome and standing ovation for JKF was very surprising given how significant the town is in current politicking. 

While I observed JKF’s reiteration of the different projects he executed in each community while in office, I noticed a stark contrast with NO significant project executed by Fayose. Community members chanted a recurrent theme “He has not paid salaries but increased taxation on everything. We pay for school fees now”.

WHITHER THE INFRASTRUCTURE, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PROGRAMS

Isinbode was our first community visited. It is the most traumatic experience of my road trips in Nigeria. There are no words to adequately describe that road. It took us about 1 hour to get there. Given that Agriculture is the only viable sector in Ekiti, I do not see any sensible investor investing in Ekiti communities given the decrepit infrastructure and the lack of connecting road networks I have seen everywhere on farm access roads. Roads connecting to farmlands are in distressing conditions, increasing the cost to agricultural products and cultivation activities.

From Oye to Ifaki, Iworoko, Ilawe, Ikere, to mention a few. Some of the roads are dilapidated and in horrible form. The complaints in many local governments (Efon Alaaye, Are, Afao, Ijero) that Fayose simply used a “divide” between roads already constructed by Fayemi and named them as his programs. To me, that’s not even relevant.

What is missing is that we lack the data to accurately prioritize road access for farmers so as to ease their business ventures and incentivize more investments. the ministry of agriculture allegedly has just ONE tractor. Economically, its unjustifiable to me how Fayose has collected N251.9bn (with a high domestic loan of N87bn in 3 years) but without significant economic and social programs in Ekiti state. (DMO https://www.dmo.gov.ng/debt-profile/sub-national-debts/2476-states-and-the-fct-domestic-debt-stock-as-at-december-31-2017/file)

The high level of joblessness in Ekiti state is scary. Also worrisome is how the debt profile will be a considerable burden on JKF hopefully when he wins the July 14 elections. How would he pay the backlog of salaries (least of which is 7 months), the pensions, complete abandoned projects, begin new ones, provide jobs, improve lives and communities, and essentially CREATE INDUSTRIAL CLUSTERS which are the ONLY WAY to economic prosperity in Ekiti state? How will he gather data given the paucity of information in Ekiti state? How will he process information and analyze them and apply these data to govern efficiently?

FAYOSE’s CRASS OPPORTUNISM

The charlatanism of Fayose makes me cringe, I know it applies to other well-meaning citizens who feel ashamed at the indignifying way that Ekiti citizens are treated. Doling out chicken, eating on the roadside, buying corns make for good TV, but does not improve lives, create jobs, or build a better future. Many of you are now aware of the video on social media where The jobless governor Appeared suddenly on the scene of a walking-but-fainting woman. Of course, this went viral. It is the theatre of the absurd, shameless and gullible. Fayose’s handouts of stomach infrastructure have been nothing but the fraud that he is. 

DEPLORABLE VALUES

I believe that the entry of Fayose to Ekiti politics was the beginning of the desecration of social and cultural values and the erosion of dignity and honour in Ekiti state. I am miffed, upset, and shocked when, on several occasions on the campaign, I hear young children (some as young as 6) ask for money. On many occasions, “e ju owo’le” – drop the money were the repeated chants everywhere we went by many of our unemployed young. Threats like “if you don’t drop, we won’t vote” was also pervasive. And it is not covert, they tell you to your face. 

I also sat in union interface meetings, where the concerns of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) was more about if JKF will support their pilgrimage ambitions, or if JKF will give prominent seats in the case of Islamic Council of Nigeria. In fact, a comprehensive list of positions was given out (read: demanded) to JKF (as perhaps the conditionality for support). Politics is funny!

…AND MIGRATION TO APC

The number of people who migrated to APC from Fayose are too many to count: Hon Akinniyi Emmanuel aka Gbosa (Ikere), 4 honorable members, former deputy chief whip, Ekiti state PDP women leader (Efon Alaaye), Hon Oni Atiba, Hon Afele aka Uncle T (Ara Ijero), Hon Odunayo Arinka, Former LGA Sec Ado Ekiti. I was informed that these are big wigs in the politics of their communities. The elections will indeed prove their worth. 

GESTURES ARE IMPORTANT

Physical touch and a sense of belonging are high among the list of endearment amongst my Ekiti people. I watched how faces brightened each time JKF engages in activities line dancing and handshaking on the campaign. On many occasions, when he walked, engaged in conversations, and took part in social activities, I’ve seen how people lightened up. 

N200 IS A BIG DEAL, GETTING INVOLVED IS THE ONLY WAY

Money is a big deal in politics. Nigeria’s case is a different ball game. In the case where poverty is rife, and values are downtrodden, it’s worse.

“If I’m going to leave my day job to run for office”, I kept wondering, “why would I bribe you to get your votes when I have no plan of recouping the money?” “Why would I spend N20m on a campaign when there is no assurance I would win the election, let alone get my investment back?”

“What have you benefitted in this community in 3 years” were my repeated questions to many of the young people I spoke to who asked for money.  We need electoral finance reform if the smart and bright amongst us will vie for political office.

I also discovered many local politicians who are stunned at the level of conversation I sometimes marshall in communities and they often ask “why are you not running for House of Rep elections” (Smiles). I also discover that the people cannot rise above the level of their enlightenment. Many have never heard about constituency votes or budgets for their communities. They are simply amazed when I open the Nigerian budget and show them. Whilst explaining the debt profile of Ekiti to a citizen, he simply asked me for proof. After showing him the DMO website, and now in the face of truths, he still doubted the information. Many also only know what Mr. Lere Olayinka tells them. To verify as truth or not is irrelevant. He is their source for all information on Ekiti’s public debt or perception. 

POVERTY IS RIFE

Poverty is rampant in Ekiti state. Don’t be deceived by whatever narrative you have been told. The contributions of the current government to this is also not mistaken. Here is an example: JKF had 40,000 he employed during his first term. Fayose has not employed up to 5,000 people. JKF had 20,000 elders earning N5,000 on monthly social benefit “owo arugbo” program (which then was 10% of the elderly population). This too has been scrapped. So even if these numbers are few, that about 30,000+ people who were on government pay have lost their source of livelihood is worrisome. Consumption is down, so is consumerism. This loss of income – enough for livelihood even if not enough for spending (disposable income) is telling on society. It is important to mention how, on the campaign ground, many testimonials from many people about the impact this made in their lives, and how this has since faltered. 

MASSIVE NUMBER TURN OUT

In Ise, Ikere, Ado, Emure, Egbe, Iyin, Igede, Efon Alaaye, Are, Isan, Oye, Ikogosi, Igbara Odo, Ido Ile, Ikun, Igogo, To mention a few. 

In Ikere and Ekiti south, the political structure of Prince Adeyeye was seen in high numbers in Emure, Ise, Eporo, Ikere, and even elsewhere in Ado Ekiti and Parts of Ekiti North. Senator Arise’s popularity is undimmed in Oye LGA. The popularity of Bisi Egbeyemi is not even in question. Just pay a visit to Ado Ekiti and go around. 

EKITI: FAKE NEWS HQ OF NIGERIA

During the mega rally, I witnessed how some folks took an early event picture of the aerial photography of Oluyemi Kayode stadium to distort the facts. They simply showed an early-stadium crowd to project a conclusion that the crowd didn’t show up for Fayemi, only to go dumb when the true pictures emerged. I have also seen how they go quiet when pictures of massive campaign crowd across the communities emerge but only regain their voices when JKF campaigns amongst the remote communities not even numbering up to 300 people. 

As an Ekiti citizen, I was saddened to see the deplorable use of falsehood and propaganda in Ekiti but this is now a global trend. It is not only depressing, it is mentally disturbing. I recall that the 2014 elections witnessed lies (e.g. That JKF had a university in Ghana, that he paid billions on flowers, all that) but these are nothing compared to the 2018 lies (Fayemi is coming to sack teachers, Fayemi’s convoy killed someone, Fayemi will give land to Fulani, Fayemi is coming to revenge, etc) The lies peddling by Fayose and his sidekick Lere Olayinka has not only permeated Ekiti politics, it is pervasive and has been the most eye-opening and interesting part of my conversations in Ado And Ikere especially. People fall easily for them.  

The long-term impact of this on social and civil conversation is left to be seen. I am also amazed at how so many people are gullible and cannot reason beyond and above partisan lines in Ekiti, especially many of the otherwise educated folks in Ekiti state.

However, despite this, I am glad that the vibe I got Four years ago when I traveled around Ekiti while getting my first election baptism is different today. The energy is more, the reception is incredible, and the overall perception of JKF is not what you get on social media.  

SUMMARY

I pray for JKF, but the challenge before him is herculean. The debt profile of Ekiti state provides no inspiration for any loan or help from any international body unless it is a grant. I am still wondering how N98bn got spent in Ekiti state in 3 years because I have not seen anything to justify the expense” poverty is rife, there is no infrastructure, data is scanty, there are no industries, precious thriving businesses like Ikogosi and Ire Burnt Brick have been abandoned, and the roads are in horrible form.

I am glad that he is running again for this position because if he wins, Ekiti state will be better off. I know this because, given his history and record, given his first-term public record, he is the most performing, most cerebral and most well-meaning amongst those I have seen in the public discourse about the path towards rebuilding Ekiti state.

There can be no doubt about our future if Ekiti state is placed in good hands.

– ‘Seun Fakuade

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AMERICA: NOVEMBER 8 & THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE November 9, 2016

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, ECONOMICS, MORALITY, POLITICS.
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On November 9, many across the world woke up to a new reality: President-elect Donald Trump. As a Nigerian, I am glad I will not have to say that in any capacity.

Commentaries have since kicked in. Even though it is less than 24 hours, it is interesting to notice that everyone now is an expert on the outcome of the US election: offering similar sentiments and scientific evidence on why Hillary lost. The same election that has dumbfounded historians, media, reputable pollsters, and economists the world over.

It is now clear that projected voters who failed to turn out for Hillary led to her loss; but the impact of this loss (to her and believers around the world in a glass-shattering dream) will linger for a while to come.

Going forward.
Trump’s mandate reflects on populist nationalism accompanied as usual with less specifics: economic growth rhetoric (even if many low pay jobs are done by immigrants), anti-immigration: close borders, build walls; and shockingly, offer sweeping crude and proven failed security tactics to challenges confounding our world.

Trump rhetoric won over a disgruntled, angry and frustrated middle class who blamed job losses to stifling business environment and trade deals that has shortsighted America (job losses to China and Mexico).

This despite America’s economic growth (jobs) which steadied from the recession 8 years ago (Obama has brought about 11 million jobs since the 2008 redefining – a 73 month consecutive job growth).

With platitudes, he intends to restore job growth with little or no specificity, no concrete economic paths out for his “winning big” economically.

He has promised to “replace and repeal Obamacare” and render about 26million people without a competent replacement health policy.

The implications of a Trump presidency reemphasizes the everlasting axiom: all politics are local. Here is an unusual person who went against a system and stood viciously against it; offering sound bites, and playing to the sentiments of an angry demography, indeed populist ideas to the wide majority of angry and frustrated voters.

With Trump, scandals rather energized – than deter – this core angry base especially against an equally untrusted, though more experienced, alternative in Clinton. This is a man who delights and feeds on shocking declarations bordering on the incomprehensible to the unbelievable: from murdering people in New York to groping women.

When America nominated Trump, I expected a win. I did this because I have been involved in elections in my home country Nigeria, and at one point, a performing incumbent was replaced by a man of similar behavior as Trump. Once Ekiti State happened, I knew America could (even if the anthropology differed)

Although there is more to this narrative, the clear verdict so far is that the world is rallying against globalization; from Britain’s outcome to America’s.

However, Trump’s win (even if a judgement of American voters) is still not a win for me. I could never and will never, in good conscience, vote for a man of Trump’s caliber: economically ignorant, intolerant, bombastic, arrogant misogynist, and above all a racist who’s promoted (accentuated) the divisions in America to heights unseen.

I am ashamed that someone with perverse ideas (protectionist, right winged, etc) and ideals (accused rapist, woman grabber, sexual assaulter) just became the president of the free world. America, we hail thee.

Away with 2016 and its woes.

2017 cannot come soon enough.

THIS VICTORY BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE July 16, 2018

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On Saturday 14th of July, 2018, the people of Ekiti state spoke through their votes, electing Dr. Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress party as Governor of Ekiti state. They spoke resoundingly against tyranny, despotism, charlatanism, and opportunism that trounces economic and social justice.

The election outcome validates the injustice of the 2014 election during President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, and the absurdly undemocratic imposition of Mr. Ayodele Fayose on the people of Ekiti state. It is a victory for the people of Ekiti state, whose brightness and hope never dimmed even when faced with the most traumatizing, disrespectful and draconian government under Mr. Fayose’s corrupt leadership.

This victory validates our hope, that nothing can stand in the way of a united people. It assures us that it is impossible to thwart a people’s destiny or subvert their sovereign will. The people of Ekiti state chose Dr. Fayemi four years ago before that historical travesty of justice was imposed upon them.

My first contact with Dr. Fayemi was in a 37-minute conversation about his government’s program, outcome and impact assessment. I was surprised at his ability to understand public frustrations, his patience to meet with his critics, and the healthy and constructive discourse way in which our conversation petered out. Having received some of my recommendations, he had directed me to heads of agencies to put forward these recommendations and monitor their implementation.

I never lost my vigour about objectively challenging what I thought was not well implemented, but I never waned in my respect for a man whose conviction of purpose, and whose genuine ambition to make society better were unquestionable. I saluted his commitment to transparency and accountable leadership, as he set many firsts with regards to unbundling the crooked and covert way in which governments conducted business, which in many ways, was unusual in Nigerian governance.

I saw through the misunderstanding of his person – the pedantic and myopic arguments now marshalled at many quarters about his detachment – and unfazed, saw him wade through the most trying of times after he was rigged out of the 2014 elections. That in itself, conceptualized and perfected through the highest political machinery of the presidency, is another story for my forthcoming book.

I became more alarmed at the quality of our education and public conversation, when, though an unprincipled, brazenly corrupt, and incompetent person had just been – unbeknownst to us – rigged in to office, the public regaled voyeuristically in Dr. Fayemi’s “defeat”. Rather than vociferously condemn and express worry about the path of our democratic exercise and the travesty of leadership, I witnessed many “respected” folks descend into verminous conversations, baseless accusations, and affirmations of half-truths even though they were totally disconnected from what truly happened when “Ekiti Decided” in 2014.

Their voices rioted through public lamentations: “He is proud” “He does not give stomach infrastructure”. Others expressed their faux concern about why he lost, ululating publicly while secretly disparaging Fayemi. I remembered the hard conversations I had with friends, family, and loved ones, who had watched as I thrust myself into that political time space in 2014 with such commitment and hoping to see the continuation of economic and social programs as imperfect as they seem.

Many thought his end had come, in fact many reveled in this evil thought. Indeed, a preponderance of worthless articles, memes, and trite opinions about his relevance or what he stood for became public discourse – and not in the least way intellectual. Many were consumed by his brief stumble, others intended him to stay there. Many, envious of his public standing and academic rigour, regaled themselves in his “downfall”, plotting step after step on decimating him forever.

Even though I came on as an external adviser on the last 8 months of his first term, the political journey of 2014 made me see the ordeal of running for office in Nigeria, especially when one is considered an elite and not “connecting” with the common man. In those 8 months, I watched JKF leave office 2am daily and resume earlier than anyone. The price of making true change, of servanthood leadership is steep and often thankless.

In that space too, my eyes opened to the reality of our failure to see the true state of our communities – our population growth, the decrepit infrastructure, the lack of adequate economic planning (social, infrastructural, human capital), which altogether has continued the struggles of our lower class and those who cannot make ends meet, and the painful journey of helping those who live in-the-instant connect the dots of the benefits of delayed gratis.

JKF campaigned like the under-dog in 2014 visiting 133 communities twice, which was surprising given the reach of his economic, human capital, and social investments programs. I went through the state with him, seeing for myself the hinterlands, my hometown, and of course, the very many possibilities of what our communities could become if we had visionary leadership. This fueled further my passion for public policy and data integrity, birthing my second company in the process.

And June 21, 2014 happened. The pain, the agony, the despair, the hurt – not of any material benefit – but of investment in time, effort, and resources on broadening the levers of Ekiti governance and improving the lives of people in the community was real. I remember that morning vividly – the quiet, the detachment, the graceful speech (23 minutes long which he gave at his Isan residence), his candor, his grace, and the unbelievable composure with which he spoke to so many inconsolable people are forever etched in my memory.

The stolen mandate of 2014 brought about the desolation of our birthplace, and the disgraceful disrespect that was birthed in our country home, Ekiti: the propagation of lies and falsehood, brandished not only as a weapon to undermine, demean, and deceive the public, but belittle, discredit and harm us all; the faux stomach infrastructure which instead worsened human living, and the capital flight of investment of development partners. Our state became a bastion of lies, deceit, corruption – both morally and financially – and the highly exalted office of our land became the threshing grounds of a bombastic combative but empty barrel!

This is what makes this great comeback a sad victory. The weaponization of money as a tool in politics is not only now brazen, it has become commonplace and in disgraceful demeaning display in everyday Ekiti. I daresay, not only must we redeem healthy political and democratic conversation, but we must FIRST help elevate the lives of our citizens through dignifying jobs so they can earn a living and not be pawns in the hands of demagogues and charlatans.

In these 4 months, I saw in Ekiti abject poverty, it broke my heart the many trying stories of the aged in our communities, I saw the despair, I saw the shame of many of our young trying to make it through each day. Worse, poverty brought about the debasement of values and morals – a challenge which would require the best of us and all of us putting heads together to restore.

The current status of Ekiti state is the greatest challenge of Dr. Kayode Fayemi. The lack of reliant resource, downtrodden values, massive unemployment, and a burdening debt profile of Ekiti state – which could take between 6 -19 years to pay – would require that Dr. Fayemi put his best foot forward, and marshal all his energy to rebuild this state and leave a legacy that surpasses him – a task which his political comeback will be defined by.

Dr. Fayemi must ensure that his past track record is now obliterated, as he must start afresh – on a clean slate – to redeem, reclaim, and restore the lost glory by which Ekiti has been known; while ensuring that the said-disconnection through which he is perceived as distant is corrected.

Dr. Fayemi will make Ekiti state better – even great. This I have no doubt of! I intend to make my contributions known – I intend to fight for my state, by all means possible, in all humility, with respect, but with my head deep in work, till our elders live in dignity, our young with respect, and our children with the hope that we will lay a foundation for their economic and human capital development that will ensure their dreams are realized and their imaginations broadened beyond their thinking.

It is on Dr. Fayemi to assemble a team of selfless people, a lean core team of committed competent individuals whose expertise on economic reforms and social justice are without question, whose understanding of the challenges ahead are without doubt, and who are ready to work more and earn less. He must elevate our conversation and restore the pride of our state as a society of academic pursuit and heritage, and restore the accompanying dignity, quality of thought and edifying values that accompany such quality education.

Indeed, this is the challenge of our lives and of this time. I will remind him, so help me God, that every day of the forthcoming 1,460 days will be about the challenge of fulfilling these dreams – for ourselves, our children, and our state.

 

‘Seun FAKUADE

EKITI 2018 – REJECTING AN EMPEROR July 11, 2018

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On the 9th of July, 2018, as the Chief Security Officer of Ekiti state, Governor Ayodele Fayose, in an alarming broadcast, gave two “ORDERS”. He did this, in anticipation of the massive crowd that would welcome the candidate of the APC (Dr. Kayode Fayemi) in the forthcoming elections to the venue of the Oluyemi Kayode stadium where the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other APC bigwigs would make an appearance:

  • That markets should close
  • That public transporters (bus and Okada drivers) should not work, so as to prevent them from conveying the supporters of Dr Kayode Fayemi to the venue of the rally.

By this doing, Governor Fayose trounced several fundamental human rights: Right to Personal Liberty, The Right to Dignity of Human Person, Right to Peaceful Assembly and Association, and Right to Freedom of Movement. This is how emperors and oppressive dictators emerge.

Mr Fayose showed the world the true nature of his character – being a petty, oppressive, tyrant – by subjecting the great people of Ekiti to a suppressive tormenting experience. A leader is tolerant, well-intentioned, and seeks after the economic and social well-being of his people. The operative word being A LEADER. Fayose is an evil, wicked, and a belligerent individual who seeks nothing but the absolute torture of his people: mentally, emotionally, economically, and physically.

Governor Fayose ordered the complete closure of markets – blighting economic revenue for the majority of people, a people whose salaries he has failed to pay. Emperor Fayose’s orders failed in his attempt to distort the narrative, show a conceited sense of loyalty and love for him, and publicly impose himself as the one and true Lord of Ekiti.

Breaking News:

He failed, and woefully too. The people of Ekiti defied his order. They came to the Oluyemi Kayode stadium in record numbers. Some trekked and others helped to transport others in the process. The Ekiti people protested the wickedness of Emperor Fayose, and expressed their resentment of the subversion of their will and his imposition in the 2014 election manipulation through the tacit knowledge and approval of former President Goodluck Jonathan. The Ekiti people showed that no manner of tyranny can deter them from voting out his repressive government on July 14, 2018.

As a poor student of history, Fayose would not know how the Ekiti people despise oppression, and the protest it took to wrestle back power in 2010: women protested stark-naked, markets shuttered, and eventually, the will of the people prevailed. It is the same protest that will lead to his ouster and the rejection of his stooge on July 14.

No one can subdue the desires of a determined people; No one can erase their commitment to social justice; No amount of mental, economic, and physical torture can suppress the WILL OF THE PEOPLE OF EKITI STATE.

 

AGRICULTURE – PATH TO ECONOMIC PROSPERITY FOR EKITI STATE.  July 9, 2018

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Ekiti state is home to a number of farm settlements with promise: the Orin settlement, Igede settlement, Odo Oro settlement, Igboroko, Aba Audu, and the Aduloju farm reserve settlement in Ado Ekiti. Prevalent poverty is a sad sight in Ekiti state, given that at a point in its agrarian history, it was one of the states in South Western Nigeria with the most cultivated cassava, cocoa, groundnut, and oil palm farm areas. Its lands are fertile, but improving productivity remains a recurrent challenge.

Poverty has traditionally been a dominant issue in Nigeria, even though this should never be. Considering the high and rising unemployment rates in Ekiti State, poverty reduction strategies should be a government policy priority. This is because a high level of poverty inevitably affects social capital, human capital development and blights consumerism, a critical component required to boost economic growth.

Worse, a highly unemployed and growing population is a recipe for social chaos and instability, resulting from economic frustration and mass poverty (where able-bodied adults live below the poverty line). Economic frustration typically breeds citizens’ apathy with the democratic process, or sometimes, they protest against the political order (as evident across nationalist movements’ happenings across the world).

Widespread poverty poses the greatest threat to democracy, especially with widening inequality. Poverty leads to erosion of public interest in democracy and weakens the peoples’ resolve while depriving them of freedom and independence of thought. Politically, they become pawns in the hands of a corrupt political elite.

Poverty reduction in Ekiti was at the core of Dr. Kayode Fayemi’s first-term mandate. With a competent team, he aggressively pursued the implementation of poverty-reduction objectives by spearheading an agrarian revolution and social programs unprecedented in the history of the state, leading to employment that guaranteed food at the table and sustainable living for many households.

Employment assures better living standards which translate to a strong and pro-active involvement of citizens in a democracy (enabling them to hold governments and leaders responsible through a social contract), increased taxes, and the generation of sufficient revenue that helps governments in executing development initiatives.

YCAD – AN AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION PROGRAM

According to his compendium which chronicled his economic programs, Dr. Fayemi’s government invested heavily in agriculture through the establishment of the Youth in Commercial Agriculture Development (YCAD) program to incentivize young people back into farming practice.

YCAD employed 430 youths: YCAD arable (cassava 150, rice 159), livestock (39), Nursery (25), Aquaculture (40), Afforestation (12), Oil Palm (5). According to these records, this program added 15,000 indirect jobs to the economy of Ekiti State through the supply chain activities from the productive output.

Under YCAD, Ekiti state began rapid investment in the revival of cocoa plantations that had been consumed by wildfire; repositioned the agricultural sector to contribute up to 50% of Internal Generated Revenue (IGR); invested in credit loans to farmers, and began training and employment of Ekiti youths in mechanised agriculture.

Also, youths under this program achieved both the largest productivity (yield/Ha) and cultivation in Nigeria. Under Dr. Fayemi’s watch, Ekiti State’s yield was at 15T/Ha, higher than the national average of 12T/Ha.

PRODUCTIVITY OUTCOMES.

  • 150 YCAD youth cultivated between 5Ha-15Ha each of cassava.
  • A total of 1,025Ha was cultivated in 2012, while an additional 700Ha was cultivated in 2013.
  • YCAD program facilitated the cultivation of a total of 100Ha and 165Ha of watermelon in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
  • 460Ha of maize was cultivated in 2013, 1000Ha of land was opened up in 2013 for arable crop cultivation.
  • 200 youth farmers were trained in modern rice farming while 600 youth including traditional farmers were assisted to cultivate 3,000Ha of rice.
  • A total of 106,000 juveniles were raised to smoking/table size fishes. 18 tree nurseries raised 20,000 cocoa and 10,000 oil palm and seedlings.
  • The unit raised 360,000 cocoa seedlings and distributed to farmers at N15 per seedling while 209,560 oil palm seedlings were raised and ready for plantation in May 2014.
  • Fayemi’s government ensured that the Garri processing factory established at Eporo Ekiti was managed by a YCAD participant which employed 25 people.
  • Palm oil processing plant was also set-up and manned by 7 YCAD participants in Ire Ekiti
  • 37Ha of grasses and 5Ha of legumes was planted, tendered, sprayed, weeded and fully established
  • 150,000 Cocoa seedlings and 60,000 of oil palm seedlings were distributed to farmers at highly subsidized rates; 209,560 oil palm seedlings were distributed in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
  • Cultivated farm settlement land during Dr Fayemi’s administration increased from 1,849 hectares in 2010 to 4,349 hectares by the end of 2014 adding 2,500Ha, a 235.2 per cent increase.
  • Over 1100Ha of cassava was cultivated in 2012 and ready for harvest in 2014.
  • Over 1,000ha was cultivated under the YCAD-Rice Expansion Programme in 2012 and 850ha in 2014.
  • His government implemented the YCAD Nursery Operations – YCAD Participants which nursed over 300,000, ready for distribution to farmers across Ekiti.

YCAD accelerated the establishment of Fish farms in the following areas: Ado Ekiti (6), Efon Alaaye (8), Igede and Ijesa Isu. Indeed, Ekiti state was on the path of rapid agrarian revolution. Under his watch, the government embarked on the upgrading of Forest Governance in partnership with the European Union and Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). Institutional Buyers, such as Thai Farms, Nigeria Starch Mills, and DADTCO were on the queue for all year round off-taker supply.

As a visionary leader, there was a successful drive for the involvement of the private sector in agriculture with over USD $300m commitments from both international and indigenous agri-business as of January 2014, including:

  • AGCO establishment of 2,000Ha mechanised farm centre in collaboration with EKSG (USD $7m)
  • Dutch Agriculture Development & Trading Co (DADTCO) establishments of high-quality cassava flour processing factory with the introduction of the amorphous mobile processing factory unit across Ekiti with the state holding 15% equity.

However, the re-entrance of Mr Ayodele Fayose into Ekiti politics in 2014 marked an end to all these agrarian programs initiated by Dr Fayemi, as all of these programs were stopped, while others failed to get the required funding they deserved for sustainability.

Historically, Mr Fayose’s first entry into Ekiti politics heralded the era of bombastic, morally corrupt and incompetent people in Ekiti’s leadership. Today, under his feckless administration, every social and economic program in Ekiti revolves around a trite: stomach infrastructure, a lingo that has now become the play word of every politician-wannabe.

His lack of imagination with a cult-like following symbolizes our changing times, and a radical clarion call for the rise of the best and courageous among us, to step up to the challenge of dumb-ass leadership who are only interested in blowing their own self-enlightened interest, political survival, and nothing else!

debt profile 2006-2017 new.jpgGovernor Fayose – a vacuous showman and populist du jour – believes that poverty reduction policies are a public show: by providing stomach infrastructure pittances through an embarrassing display that is not only economically unsustainable, but one that ridicules Ekiti citizens, disgraces their academic heritage, and insults their dignity.

It is public knowledge that Mr. Fayose turned down an opportunity to access financing for Ekiti state farmers under the CBN Farmers Anchors program, as well as his Commissioner for Agriculture’s refusal to access agricultural funds under the Federal Government NIRSAL credit program. Mr. Fayose sacrificed Ekiti state’s agricultural productivity for shortsighted partisanship and traded the well-being of farmers for his arrogant ignorance.

The College of Technical and Commercial Agriculture, established in 2014 in Isan Ekiti, has not been funded since September 2014, while the equipment and tools within the college rot away.

It is unsurprising that most of the tractors distributed by Dr. Fayemi’s government for mechanized agriculture have broken down, where others have been looted under the watch of Mr. Fayose. The agrarian sector which contributed over 50% of the state IGR of during Dr. Fayemi’s tenure has declined in productive output. Roads to farm settlements, which recorded 81.2km in construction to improve productivity and reduced the burden on farmers under Dr. Fayemi, have been abandoned, contributing to the non-competitiveness of farm produce.

Today, transporting produce from important farm settlements such as Aduloju and Orin is a problem for many poor farmers – each trip is undertaken using motorbikes (Okadas), where the exorbitant prices add to costs which are either passed to consumers (chipping away their disposable income), and end up making farm produce uncompetitive in the market.

The Debt Management Office’s (DMO) domestic debt profile statement in June 2018 showed that Ekiti state government under Mr. Fayose borrowed a total sum of N87 billion between 2014 and 2017 while the external loan reached $31.6 million. Considering that Dr. Fayemi’s N25 billion capital loan (where N14.5 billion has been repaid by June 2014) achieved record programs, less is seen with the huge revenue and high debt burden under Mr. Fayose’s current government. In fact, the DMO disclosed that the administration still had a fresh application of N25 billion in 2017 awaiting consideration.

The failure of Mr. Fayose’s administration to rise to the occasion and continue (even improve upon) the economic programs that would transform Ekiti state’s economy has left the society in a limbo. The collapse of democratic ideals, and of noble values and social ethics is antithetical to what Ekiti state is known for, or what its citizens stand for. There is much that has to be repaired and addressed in Ekiti state before it can make progress.

It is ironic that the campaign of the Prof. Kolapo Eleka (deputy to the incumbent Governor – Mr. Fayose), has centered on continuity. As a major player in the decision-making, poverty-centered, backward policy matrix of Ekiti state in the last 44 months, one is compelled to ask Professor Eleka the grounds on which his continuity manifesto is based.

Continuity of what: zero investment in agricultural farmlands, destruction of farm access roads for farmers, reduction in agricultural productivity, the rise in poverty, unemployment, helplessness and despair? Or is this continuity about the unstopped public oppression, continued assault on social values, the unabashed per-second concoction of lies and falsehood, dehumanization and the insult of basic human dignity? Is this continuity about economic and social insecurity, and hapless state where many of our elders have found themselves in Ekiti state?

As Election Day draws closer, it is left to the electorate to decide the future prospects of an agrarian revival in Ekiti State. The electorate must think about the future of the state and the greatness that beckons under the right leadership: competent leaders with the appropriate tools, network, and clarity of thought required for radical ideas that will transform the state and improve its prosperous standing among the committee of states.

Dr. Fayemi’s mission in public life has always centred on transforming living standards. According to his October 2014 speech, this revolves around three objectives: “breaking the yoke of ignorance keeping Ekiti people down; liberating them from ill-health and other limitations that restrains them from achieving their potentials, and breaking the stranglehold of poverty which keeps people from living full creative lives.”

This means prioritising investments in education, agriculture, healthcare and other social interventions that reduce the cost of living while raising the quality of life, and improving human capital development which are the foundations for sustained prosperity.

Public policy programs and capital infrastructure are only possible when the revenue and size of the economy are guaranteed. The one and true path to economic prosperity is improving the productivity of economic sectors and industrial clusters, enough for local consumption, manufacturing (for added value chain processes), and export; while ensuring that pipelines to these sectors are fully developed to guarantee sustainability.

Highly productive economic clusters assure a buoyant economy. With a specialized agrarian sector, farm produce and cash export crops can serve as the base towards agricultural industrialization – developed into manufacturing blocs, where districts are grouped into economic zones for export-driven manufacturing.

With fertile soils, a mechanised agrarian sector will not only change the status of Ekiti State in Nigeria but will also offer a tremendous opportunity for wealth creation through productive farming activities across the agricultural value chain. Creating this environment requires serious-minded leadership. This is the task of the July 14, 2018 elections when the citizens and residents of Ekiti state cast their votes.

This election is a choice between two radically different paths: one that points to the continuation of retrogressive ideas that has subdued the state’s economy for 44 months, and another path whose track record of hope and economic growth is public record.

Despite his human flaws, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has proven that change is possible when the sound, bright and best of our citizens represent the interest of the people. With his governance track record, his emergence presents, in my singular opinion, the best chance to rebuild the state, help revive the agrarian sector, set the path for a long-term (perhaps 30 years) economic growth masterplan through industrial clusters development by which Ekiti state’s pathway toward economic growth and prosperity can be repositioned.

Ekiti state deserves better than charlatanism and crass opportunism.

We The People deserve better.

‘Seun FAKUADE

AN INTOLERANT WORLD! October 18, 2017

Posted by seunfakze in Uncategorized.
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THE TERRIFYING ORDEAL OF EXTREMISM
 
Different!
Religion/Belief. Culture/Tradition. Race/Ethnic
Tags. Labels. Boxes.
 
The conquest of imperialists across the world led, not to stability and the promotion of peace and freedom, as many of the advocates did desire; but more to chaos, instability and disintegration. Though economic in their original intent or ideology, the idea that economic conquest led to the domination or obliteration of cultures, traditions, beliefs, and in some cases, of groups brought damning consequences for global peace.
 
It is obvious, now from history, that the domination of a group led to resistance, and more resistance (The Scramble for Africa).
 
In efforts to imprint their nationalistic ideals on others with unique (and existing) traditions and cultures, “conquerors” or conquistadors have led the world more to intolerant and bigoted views than anticipated; and more to systemic and uncontrollable disintegration.
 
Intolerance and in recent times, open racism/bigotry has led more and more to self-inflicted wounds, as social chaos and disintegration – led by ethnic cleansing and social strife/war – breeds more intolerant new generation, dogged and unrepentant in their new crusade to avenge historic wrongs or chart a new intolerant course.
 
Hitler’s intolerance to a “different” breed birthed a crusade which annihilated millions. Boko Haram’s social suppression and their terroristic rise bled thousands. More recently, the “persecution” of Rohingya in Myanmar, will not end well if the suppression goes unabated.
 
History lends credence, that harmful, hateful, and intolerant behaviour leads to more crises, instability, political and social disintegration, and economic woes around the world. A cyclical and vicious trend.
 
As regenerated “crusaders” and survivors of previous intolerance spring up, they unleash vengeance and wrath on the public, destabilising economies and disrupting peace and social stability.
 
Economic and Social Injustice around the world leads to cyclical systematic oppression. The world will finally be at peace when we understand and appreciate that we are, and ALWAYS WILL, be different.
Perhaps we can try a new plot, by understanding our differences to appreciate each other, without bias or prejudice!
 
 

ERIC ARUBAYI & THE FAILURE OF NIGERIA’S HEALTH SYSTEM February 12, 2017

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ERIC ARUBAYI & THE FAILURE OF NIGERIA’S HEALTH SYSTEM

Eric Arubayi – the charming smile, the personality, the finesse, the poise – one of Nigeria’s most prominent amazing voices. His music versatility complemented his down-to-earth humanity and pleasantness. I last saw him in Abuja in November, 2016. He spent the night before travelling to Delta for another concert. My consulting experiences over three years took me away from Lagos more and more, and ultimately House on The Rock choir where I had many friends. HOTR remains that family where people of all tribes and culture and background blend.

Studying Pubic Policy had been uppermost on my mind since 2012 when I gained admission to McCourt School in Georgetown University and the Lee Kuan Yew School (LKY School) in Singapore. For lack of sufficient funds, I was denied student visa to the Georgetown University and unfortunately, I had deferred my admission to the LKY School. Studying public policy became more convincing after two back-to-back rigorous political campaigns with Dr. Kayode Fayemi and Mallam Nasir Elrufai. I reapplied for MPA, got a full scholarship at the LKY School ultimately leading me to Singapore in 2015.

Counterfeit drugs have long been a problem for Nigeria, and a lack of data does not help us do justice to the perpetuation of fake drugs in our polity. A short documented history is found here

Nothing drives home the inefficiency of our institutions like the immigration system, the educational system and the Health System: three systems where most Nigerians have continuous interface with. The appalling level of unprofessionalism and mediocrity in these institutions are worthy of rigorous study and analysis. Here, I give a short analysis on the health institution.

Nigeria’s Human Development Indices – a strong indication of a nation’s human capital resourcefulness – stands at 156 out of 173 countries. Nigeria, a nation with population growth of 2.5% (meaning arguably 5.1 million births annually) has fewer medical institutions per capita, and where they exist, are massively under-equipped by competent staff and resources. The implication of Nigeria’s acute shortage of human and resourceful capital in health means that any Nigerian with serious medical condition stands more than 80% assurance of death.

Investment in health is acutely deficient. Nigeria’s healthcare expenditure is 5.6% of GDP, lowly when compared even to Burkina Faso 6.7% and the Democratic Republic of Congo 7.9%. Nigeria cannot boast of one world class medical institution, this is a nation of 193 million people (billed to reach 400 million by 2050) Under 5 child mortality annually is one million annually due mostly to neonatal causes followed by malaria and pneumonia. Maternal mortality is 560-814 per 100,000 live births (third highest globally) which is comparable to low-income countries such as Lesotho and Cameroon.

Most health facilities (where they exist) lack access to clean water and a reliable supply of electricity, face shortages of medical equipment, and are missing necessary medications or blood to treat their patients. Birth attended by skilled workers stands at 35% (sixth worst in Africa). Life expectancy stands at 56, below the African average. Nigeria’s out-of-pocket expenditure is third highest in Africa (after Sierra Leone and Guinea), this is a nation that earned over $400bn in 30 years from its oil extractive industry!

Nigeria’s medical tourism is at $1.6 billion annually, 47% of this goes to India ($260 million in 2014)

Having spent time in BEACONS DEVT. FOUNDATION, I was deeply aware of the failure of developing our human capital, and the imminent dangers it posed for our future. I arrived in Singapore with much optimism and hope, to find out how nations developed economically, and how they invest their resources in their most prized assets: human capital development. I was also keen to learn about Singapore’s renowned value- for-money policy principles. Among many shocks in Singapore after arrival was that I could not procure medicated drugs over the counter as it is in Nigeria.

In Singapore, like many advanced countries, all medicated drugs CAN ONLY be procured via prescription from certified personnel (doctors in this case). For me, it was stressful, it was in fact (at first) a needless prerequisite. Needless to say, that throughout my study at the LKY School, I resorted to the University health centre for diagnosis before I could be sold any medication.

Since then, not only have I consistently consulted my doctors for the simplest of fatigues, but I have paid due attention to my medications, checking expiry dates of medications as “harmless” as Panadol. Singapore’s method contrasts highly with Nigeria, where citizens procure medication over the counter, without checks, without verification, without hassles! Cheap and available medicated drugs predispose Nigerians to life threatening situations.

Nearly two-third of Nigerians live below the poverty line; 80% work in the informal sector. As the national health system mostly covers the formally employed only 3% of the population is covered by the NHIS. Private prepaid schemes are unreachable for the poor as premiums are unaffordable. With the overburdened public system unable to deliver, people have no option but to pay for health care out-of-pocket.

The late and beautiful Dora Akunyili fought corrupt health entrepreneurs and their fake drugs in our system till her death. Her enforcements of procedures for validating medications brought her enemies. Lack of funding in our health system leads to many inconsistencies in our policies, lack of trust in the medical system, and very low investment in resources: human and infrastructure. Bad roads are fast routes to accidents, and these accidents, without access to good hospitals or skilled health workers, are ultimate recipe for deaths. At the end, our lack of investment and commitment to standard healthcare kills us all.

Make no mistake about it. The deaths of our citizens, f some friends that I know – of Eric, of Deborah, of Hassan, of Salihu, – is the direct failure of our leadership, a direct failure of years of corruption and under-investment in our health institutions, of improper regulations and oversight of our health agencies. Nigeria has continuously and successfully politicized its institutions, rewarding politicians with little or no idea with critical positions in crucial institutions.

Rest on Eric Arubayi. Rest on many other Nigerians who have died from the carelessness and incompetence of our institutions and the failures of our leadership.

November 5, 2016

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, ECONOMICS, EDUCATION, POLITICS.
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GIVE THIS SOCIAL INTERVENTION A BEFITTING FACE!

Aliyu (not his real name) has just settled in Abuja. He is one of Nigeria’s poor, he barely spends $2 a day on feeding. $2 daily post-inflation is N940, that is N28,200 monthly. How can an intervention scheme at N30,000 involving jobs suffice if you add transport fare of N8,000 (N400 daily) to his feeding cost! This besides other personal and family issues (clothing, and health challenges)

When exulting the policies and programs of government, numbers are important. The Federal Government of Nigeria this week announced the provision of 200,000 jobs in which N30,000 will be paid as monthly allowance.

Launched under the Social Investments Programmes (SIP), the program aims to “effectively and efficiently touch the lives of Nigerians especially the poor and unemployed.” This is intended to run for a period of two (2) years. The impact of this on the budget will amount to a sum of N144 billion. This is a massive 28.8% given the whole SIP is N500 billion, one which the President already asked for N180bn intervention.

The impact of economic stimulus injection in the economy in the United States of America is most salient as the November 8 elections draw to a close. The Labour Department of the United States announced an added 161,000 jobs for the month of October, a 73-months of consecutive job gains contrasted with October 2008 where 603,000 people increased the number of unemployed to 10.1million people.

In a country with sparse economic data on jobs provision or real unemployment rates (considering that not all unemployable are captured within the National Bureau of Statistic’s unemployment claims), there is a need to accurately turn the page and offer new narratives on the provision of jobs and especially, the impact of such jobs on the economy. N144 billion is a lot of stimuli if well utilized, especially in an economic downturn. Thus, while the jobs provision scheme is laudable, questions arise:

  • How did the government arrive at or derive the N30,000 for the unemployed and poor since the criteria for programme intervention draws on “effectiveness and efficiency?” What analysis is being provided to reach this monetary conclusion?
  • What is the selection criteria for the poverty alleviation policy program: efficiency and or effectiveness issue, or equity? How exactly will N30,000 effectively and efficiently touch the lives of these beneficiary Nigerians? This is significant especially seeing the inflationary trends (and Aliyu’s case study)
  • Given it has not been expended and seeing we are already in the third quarter of a recession, what led to the delay of this program? How serious is the government and lawmakers about injecting life into the economy?
  • How will the program be sustained? Given N144 billion will have been expended in 2 years, will the recipients be abandoned after 2 years? What happens after the 2 years expiration of the project? Are recipients absolved into jobs program across board? What is the transition into full labour market economy? Or is this another NYSC beautifully rebranded?
  • Who implements these projects? How are middlemen and corrupt practices avoided? What monitoring and evaluation mechanism are employed?
  • What economic impact will these social intervention program bring to the economy: is it taxable or is it pension-viable (doubtful because of its short term)
  • What productivity improvement will it result into? How engaged will they be in impacting the economy? What lifelong skills are they being trained with? How will these skills impact the economy on a long-term basis? How does this fill the void for skills needed within the workforce?

The SIP represents a social transfer scheme, and I believe that this policy will result in an overall positive social impact if well implemented. Given scarce or dwindling resources, economic efficiency is the most important rationale for analyzing social cost benefits. Thus, the efficiency of implementing a policy/program differs greatly from a policy program criteria selection based on efficiency.

As such, a much better argument (by the FG) for effectiveness and efficiency of the poor as criteria selection would mean a reduced number of projected employed (100,000) and improved monthly (N60,000) pay, which helps Aliyu while retaining the N30,000 monthly pay justifies equity as criteria selection! Both still arrive at N6 billion monthly pay.

Again, the Nigerian Government loses the narrative of this “laudable” economic injection by not fully expatiating on the ripple implications of these job provisions given it is an attempt at expansionary fiscal spending. Provision of jobs boosts spending confidence and helps families (social intervention) and equipping of workforce contributes to human capital development.

Other ways the Federal Government would have leveraged on this program implementation to shape national conversation include:

  • Net social benefits: taken the social benefits on the people vis-a-vis cost analysis to the state (especially with numbers and implications on families)
  • Economic impact of this project on the economy: given that these jobs helps to restore confidence in spending and in the markets. (Government spending – especially on productive sectors of the economy – adds confidence to the market and improves aggregate demand)
  • Long-term implications of the intervention: economic growth is the number of people involved in a productive economic activity, and these definitely qualifies for long-term growth if well designed.
  • Equipping a competent workforce, bridging skills and improving the employability of citizens in Nigeria. Low skills remains a crucial challenge for employers of labour in Nigeria, as they have to grapple unemployable people with low value adding skills within the workforce.

Using crunched data, projected economic forecast and overall social impact and channeling the crucial takeaway from the economic program to Nigerians through its communication channels; the government would have effectively managed the narrative of short/middle term social rejuvenation and long-term economic impact of the stimulus.

By failing to expand and stir crucial conversations while expatiating on the benefits of job provision and sustainable plans, the government again loses control over encouraging critical discourse which will embolden and validate its actions as well as an opportunity to allow citizen’s inputs, participation, and engagement in government programs.

Amongst other qualities, this administration came to power as a viable alternative to an ineffective incumbent. So far, it is losing the core strengths of its overwhelming mandate, worsened by a terrible communication gap: a similar ineffectiveness with which predecessors were measured. How these lapses escape this government dumbfounds me!

Oluwaseun Fakuade

@seunfakze

 

NIGERIA, AFRICA & THE LIBERAL AGENDA May 31, 2016

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, ECONOMICS, POLITICS.
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In April 2016, I had taken to Twitter, the microblog platform, to express my views concerning Nigeria’s ailing economy under President M. Buhari. Amidst persistent calls to salvage Nigeria’s economy had been the most unsettling (for me) but widely perpetuated wisdom: devaluation. On twitter, I had argued that the dangers of allowing peddled economic panacea for struggling African economies without reason were incredibly high.

Unfortunately, given Nigeria’s economic sustainability strategy (over-dependence on oil), and serious financial dilemma in Nigeria; the clamour to accept Western economic ideology – neoliberalism – as the panacea for economic quagmire was not hard to see. President Buhari chose (still choose) to ignore the IMF and instead, borrowed from China to address economic concerns.

It is not hard to see why Mr. Buhari believes devaluation could be harmful to Nigeria’s economy. Devaluation benefits, essentially, an export-driven country, much-developed economies. It hurts importation. It improves the viability of export and also increases employment (as export-based companies sometimes have to add labour to meet export demands in the international scene.) Besides, owing to international capital flight, Nigeria currency is already depressed with the reserve base suffering with the pegged exchange. There seem not to be much to gain from much devaluation, except intense hardship!

Nigeria’s exports are few, besides the negligible agri-products and of course crude, which we end up importing in a refined form (more cost if we devalue.) It is a tough choice to be President at this point, seeing the hard choices and the severe trade-offs between pluralistic economic policies.

I had written a paper on International Political Economy, analysing the impact of International governmental organisations (IGOs) in Africa in the past decades. I had stated the mixed outcomes overall but categorically, criticized the failures of the IMF and the World Bank in Africa.

The crises of the 1970s plunged most African countries into financial doldrums, and the conditionalities set by the IGOs included (amongst other things) austerity measures. In Africa, this was part of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP)

The IGOs, by many standards, brandished western policies which were not essentially suited for African societies; given the weak institutions, lopsided political leadership as well as the stringent conditionality upon which most of them were based. With their bowls, African countries approached the International community; and remember, beggars cannot be choosers!.

Many of the African insolvent nations, poor countries in short, suffered from wide-ranging economic challenges. These challenges were not meant to be addressed with the generic solutions or applied at the same time. But African leaders, challenged by logical thinking, their greedy self-interests or an eagerness to soothe western conditions of globalisation (to save face from domestic crises and uproar) accepted the band-aid. The panacea was the same: just open your markets, lower your tariffs, and cut spending; and everything will be alright!

I had written this paper in-depth based on wide research. Agricultural tariffs and manufacturing exports were the source of many African economies. I had looked at many cases for my arguments; certain that the IMF and its sister organization, the World Bank, were fully aware of these shortcomings too.

I had seen the weak infrastructural mechanisms of African states, the uncompetitive manufacturing standards and manufactured products, the weak or failed institutions, and the bad managers: African corrupt leaders and bureaucrats. The IMF’s policies, needless to say, came upon heavy criticism because of the terrible outcomes. Africa is not alone in this post-mortem regret. The IMF had applied the same band-aid during the South East Asian crises of 1997.

I had also argued about FDI and the implications of MNCs with green and brown investment conditionalities, evasive tax mechanism for host African countries, or the wildly touted selective success stories of privatisation. Ironical, global financial liberalisation had both helped South Asian economies to boom and also led to its eventual plunge.

The IGOs argue for openness, yet proposing for expenditure cuts at the same time (austerity). They ask African states to open its fledgling economies to the dictates of foreign capital flow, a weak manufacturing base, and the high risk of premature capital withdrawal when markets fail.

I had argued, not against free markets, but against the unwholesome acceptance by African leaders without thought on the local economy, without consideration for its markets, without regard for its manufacturing base or industries or its competitiveness standing. I had written this paper for my respected IPE lecturer, Razeen Sally. I expected the worst!. Writing a paper essentially against the band-aid of free markets was/is not going to bring many friends. Not even Paul Krugman got away with such!

Very few dispute the benefits of profitable trade. However, African intellectuals today still think or mostly believe this strategy, that unconditional open markets/liberalisation are the best way at stirring and improving ailing economies. Through their selective arguments, they canvass for devaluation, austerity, conditionalityity of trade, financial liberalisation (FDI without conditions), amongst many other liberal ideologies as the way towards economic growth and development. A short revisit of history about markets will perhaps do us justice.

The pre-war (first and second) growths of the hegemons have been on the precondition of manufacturing and heavy protectionism, with occasional trade in-between. Japan, South Korea, U.S.A, Britain, Finland, Germany, to mention a few; were economies whose advancement came at the exception of this much-touted ideologies. Today, having achieved economic sustainable stability; the hegemons canvass and advocate liberalism as their magic wand for economic growth, the IGOs as their tools.

Neoliberals explain China’s growth by virtue of its open economy. I daresay partly true. Despite its openness, China’s economy would most likely not experience such growth were it not for years of building skills, and achieving competitiveness through selective economic strategy, and opening gradually too.

China’s manufacturing prowesss is because of its selective approach towards neoliberalism.  Today, it is still the world’s most mercantilist nation, with preconditions for FDI, skills transfer and severe protection in many cluster sectors. It simply copied and applied the same handout through which Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and others grew.

The IMF recently came out with an article highlighting what seem as a mixed evaluation of austerity, a liberalism tool of the IMF. In this report, the IMF research economists, cloaking the failure of IMF policies, weighed the exaggerated application of neoliberal agenda in the spate of economic shocks the world over.

In castigating the overplay of austerity, the report downplays the impact of other liberal economic measures that were proposed and sold to Africa, and which have played devastating role in African economies over the years. The IMF even challenged George Osborne‘s view for austerity as a panacea for the UK’s struggling economy in 2010. The same austerity championed for Africa!

For African states to truly grow, they cannot rely solely on the panacea espoused by the West and its “seasoned” economists especially when it does not work for Africa’s own advantage. It is high time African leaders stopped being the puppets of ill-concieved ideologies. For this to happen, there has to be a new thinking, or a thorough way of looking at policies that have failed (and still fail) to bring economic growth. This will require new-found courage and desire to be the exception.

This is where I support Muhammadu Buhari. I hope the painful steps towards economic growth can be smooth and quick; and that through the 2016’s budget, expansionary spending  in the productive parts of the economy (tapered with other economic policies) to can ease the ecomomic hardship. Truly, for me, the most important point is to identify what the obstructions for growth are and address them with laser precision, rather than apply the band-aid that appeals but truly ineffective.

With a population boom incoming (400million by 2050), I also believe this is the time for Nigeria to start getting serious with a compelling blueprint for its economic strategy: skills for the future, and a diversified economy based on manufacturing and not just export of commodities.

Will this happen?

Oluwaseun Fakuade

 

RENEWED FOCUS ON MANUFACTURING, NOT JUST MINING, TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC GROWTH January 25, 2016

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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img_6431On 29th December 2015 I made frantic calls home to reassess the true dollar exchange rate to the Nigerian Naira. When I left Nigeria in July 2015, the dollar: naira exchange was $1: N157 and in the black market, it was N196.
On the 29th of December, it was N300 at the Black market (varied prices) and the official rate a little over N200. Needless to say, this halted my effort at finalizing an international transaction initially quoted at reduced exchange rates.

The impact of oil on Nigeria’s economy has volumes of articles written on it. The impact could not be more noticeable than now. Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari faces a multi-pronged challenge in resolving the economic decline in Nigeria. Besides diversifying the economy, commitment to providing social infrastructure, corporate policies (taxes and reliefs) and recreating a business friendly environment that encourages investment are not only crucial but necessary in reinvigorating the struggling economy and sustaining it.

Nigeria has huge challenges ahead especially seeing the volume of public and social infrastructure requiring attention. These were a core part of the President’s campaign as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The President canvassed and campaigned on increased infrastructure and social welfare. I am not convinced of the need for a salary for the unemployed and it remains to be seen how viable or realistic or sustainable the program will be.

The economic focus and emphasis of President Muhammadu Buhari rest on wealth creation; from job creation and diversification of the revenue base while securing its borders and ensuring the country is viable for foreign investment. The belief is that economic growth premised on the successes of businesses, will hopefully spur economic growth and create mass employment. However, the ease of doing business in Nigeria still remains a difficulty given the challenging and prevailing socio-economic and political factors.

He also emphasized on a diversification of the economy (revenue base) during his campaign. However, while being the first President to embark on a non-oil budget, it is unclear, for instance, how much of the revenue accruing from taxes or this diversified economy will go to establish or rebuilding the manufacturing sectors (if at all.); manufacturing (and exports) represents a significant economic activity spurring economic development. The need to reassess and reevaluate industrial and trade policies or the focus of manufacturing has never been more important.

One important priority should be on export. Export will drive economic growth, both from efficient production capacity and mass employment. By export, I mean the export of finished products/ commodities and not raw materials. Increased government expenditure on infrastructure (roads, energy, customs, and others), improved ease of doing business or policy reform on tax incentives and other sustainable practices will lead to expansionary growth. To achieve this growth, clear direction on these parameters need to be communicated.

Many facts from UNECA point Africa in the direction of where it is missing (missed) the true opportunity to drive iconic economic growth: manufacturing. 16% of global cotton exports in 2012 came from Africa. Of this 16%, only 1% were finished cotton products: only 1% of the global export were already manufactured/processed from raw materials into final products.
Take Nigeria for instance. According to ECA, crude oil exports were $89billion in 2012 and, in turn, Nigeria spent $5billion importing refined oil back. Why? Nigeria’s comatose oil refineries.

Also, export of finished products from manufacturing of raw materials in Africa rather than export of raw materials will truly improve the rise of African economies. Truly, Nigeria’s renewed commitment to a diversifying source of economic growth is a welcome development but will it be enough?

Mining other resources will add the much-needed boost to economic growth. However, will Nigeria export the mined raw materials or start developing specific industries to turn them into final products for export?
Unfortunately, skewed Trade policies and African leaders’ handling of economic growth (lopsided policies, lack of will to fight for better trade policies, improve capacity for manufacturing, etc) and even institutionalized stealing (corruption) amongst other things; has led to the stagnation or in most cases, the decline of growth of African economies. I must salute the resilience of the government however in the pursuit of true justice especially on recent corruption cases that crippled the Nigerian state.

What trade policies will restrict Nigeria’s commitment to the export of finished products? If any, does the President have the necessary political will and leadership grit required to push an African trade (industrial) policy review that favours African export of finished products? Or will Nigeria (Africa) continually become the prey grounds for developed countries or dumping grounds of processed foreign exports?

Faced with pressing public concerns, some of the promises made could be delayed in order of priority. Nigeria’s economic realities require its leaders to be forthright, pragmatic, honest in helping to shape public opinion on its promised programs while employing precision-driven policies to address national challenges. In reassessing his promises, President Buhari needs to employ more direct communication strategies in speaking to Nigerians.

If Nigeria will truly rise, every citizen has a stake in making it so. It is, however, hard to make already frustrated citizens to participate or sacrifice in any rebuilding effort if they have no feeling of shared responsibilities. What Nigeria needs now are necessary reforms that will payoff on the long-term, accompanied by clear communication strategy from leadership; even if these reforms will attract intense criticism and derisory bipartisan attacks, rather than embarking on unsustainable populistic measures.

‘Seun Fakuade

MPA Candidate,

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy,

National University of Singapore

Twitter: @seunfakze

Facebook: Oluwaseun Fakuade

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