Like Jonathan’s Subsidy Scam, Like Buhari’s Forex Scam


Publish date: April 2, 2016

The implication of these two government facilitated processes is virtually the same: Nigeria’s cabal benefit and make billions while the masses wither and die.

The Subsidy fraud of the Jonathan era was a “legitimate” policy of Goodluck Jonathan and PDP presidencies before him to bring down the cost of gasoline by enabling a handful of cabal import fuel and get paid the subsidy so fuel sells at a cheaper rate to Nigerians.

While a subsidy per se is/was quite beneficial and reasonable, the process was a conduit for corruption as it created opportunities for the crooked cabal to submit receipts of  product shipments that never took place and receive billions in emoluments. They also received subsidy payments and fuel ended up selling to Nigerians and to the country’s neighbors at above the “subsidized” rate. To this end Nigeria was convinced to bring it to an end and deal with the actual cost of petroleum products rather than encourage “unsolvable” corruption.

The foreign exchange crises bedeviling the Buhari administration is practically identical. Nigeria has insisted on retaining a Naira to dollar exchange rate of 1:197. President Muhammadu Buhari has insisted on not devaluing the Naira at the Central Bank. However while this seems like a position of strength, the Naira has depreciated at the parallel market to over 300 digits to a dollar. An average Nigerian cannot buy a dollar at the official 197 rate, but again as is the typical destiny of Nigeria, the cabal and the cabal alone can purchase dollars at the official rate.

Nigeria’s Presidency recently brazenly announced that it will ensure cabal like Dangote acquire as much dollars as they need for their businesses at the official rates. This while common Nigerians have absolutely no access. Dangote has recently accused of receiving billions of dollars from past administrations for his pan-African projects with no terms of refund. Nigerian banks are now allowed by the Central bank in what has been criticized as open fraud and a perversion of the system, to sell dollars to Nigerian masses at the parallel market rates. Transactions and withdrawals from Nigerian Naira cards abroad/to overseas are officially done at parallel market rates of between N305-325/dollar by all banks. In effect, under Buhari, Nigerian banks are now an official parallel market.

This policy has allowed these banks in concert with their highly placed cabal friends and politicians to buy dollars at the official 197 rate and roundtrip it immediately at 50% profit margins of 300+, making millions to billions for doing nothing, and on the heads of the multitude.

SMEs Are The Greatest Employers And Backbone Of The Economy 

Why should there be a disparity in foreign currency access between the cabal and the masses? Who cares about Dangote’s refinery? We the small businesses are the largest employers of labor in Nigeria as is the pattern all over the world: data clearly shows that we, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) employ tens of millions, 75% of labour in Nigeria while Dangote employs less than 50,000 people.

And while the government clamps down on Nigerian travelers, disallowing them carry other then their personal ATM cards; and the nation institutes the BVN verification method to ensure ordinary masses cannot purchase more than $50,000 a year, with a $1000 monthly cap per card, all a cabal business man or politician with access to dollars has to do is look for a friend who is ready to purchase let’s say a million dollars worth of goods at the parallel market rate of 300/$ and use his access to arrange the Form M and import the goods with his official rate 197/dollar access, instantly making a whopping $500,000 for doing nothing.

Nigerian banks and their cabal friends and strong politicians thus empowered are once again taking merciless advantage of the system and making billions while the Nigerian masses once again remain at their mercy.

The Naira Is Already Devalued

To this effect, Nigeria has been advised and perhaps righty so, to devalue its currency, perhaps to N250/dollar or/and allow natural laws of economics take control so these banks and their highly placed politician friends and cabal can no longer take undue advantage of the system and masses, making billions and ensuring the system remains so skewed to the disadvantage of the commoner.

Governor Fayose got it right advising the Nigerian government to devalue its currency. The currency is already devalued to all of us anyway, save the cabal and friends of the government, the likes of Dangote. So who are we fooling? Tell me if you can buy a single dollar at the official rate? If you can’t then why are we lying to ourselves?

President Muhammadu Buhari recently defended the politicians and cabal who still have access to dollars at the for-the-influential-limited official rate. He answered Martine Dennis, his Al Jazeera interviewer’s tough questions on why he should still be allowed purchase dollars at the official rate for his children abroad while the rest of the nation’s poor could no longer afford such “luxuries” and had to buy at the devalued semi-official for-the-poor rate, with the words, “those of us who can afford it can.” It’s not being able to afford to send our kids to school that differentiates us from Buhari. It is being able to afford the connections to get dollars at the official rate that separates us – a benefit left for the cabal, politicians and the banks, to which we are deprived.

I join the call for an official free devaluation of the Naira and a closure of any differential access to currency for the cabal and politicians and their friends.

Nigerian banks and the Apex bank must sell dollars at one rate and with equal access to all or sell to none.

No more chancing!

Dr. Peregrino Brimah; @EveryNigerian