by Farouk Martins Aresa,
There is this Yoruba proverb about the same bulala used to entice the first wife is waiting for the second wife. It is unbelievable that we can easily forget the hard lessons of Structural Adjustment Program in the Africa in general and Nigeria in particular. Again, we finds ourselves in the position where Buhari was overthrown in 1984. Number One Vagabond that melted the Country down has resurrected the ugly politics of Devaluation disguised as sound economics.
Structural Adjustment Program was debated during Shagari to Buhari’s first regime in Office. The consensus then was that Nigeria would not take World Bank or International Monetary Fund loans. It was an open debate on both sides. When that Son of Ba-Shiwere IBB overthrew Buhari, he promised not to take odious loans but would implement some reforms necessary to reach the same goal of fiscal responsibility. We believed him. He took us to the cleaners!
Maradona dribbled and fooled us. Most of the people that had worked hard and saved it all, lived the lives of middleclass, could afford simple pleasures without being a millionaire when naira worth naira, lost everything after SAP. This type of armed robber was different. He did not break into houses, snatched our belongings and forced everybody unto the ground. What IBB did by stealth-moves turned our money into sand-sand. Who say money no be sand-sand?
People could not build or complete their houses again. The last cars we bought, got so old, we could not afford repairs. We used to go to Central Bank to pay foreign business loans, school loans and fee with adequate proof. Some of us that had gotten 6,000.00 naira car loans. It good money. By the time this writer got out, he had about $9,000.00. It could have been better spent.
After paying some student loan, some outstanding credit card loan, bought presents and on the way back at Amsterdam got a brand new tiny Suzuki Alto for less than $3,000.00. The only car in town! Salary was about four hundred naira a month. By the time they took out car loan and housing, still had some respectable money in the pocket for the family.
Boy! Nigerians were mad when Umaru Dikko told people to stop complaining. After all, he saw people in America eating from the dustbins on the street, something that could never happen in Nigeria. We just had enough of them and decided NPN was going to be voted out. Got to go. We could not take it anymore. During the election, we were out on the line early waiting to throw out the bunch of son-of-ba gone that danced while we saw the Country smothering.
NPN won anyway, in some areas our votes were not even counted, in others on site numbers were ignored and fake numbers declared at the center. Therefore whoever thought Nigerians preferred military government because Buhari regime was welcomed on the street need some psychiatric evaluation at Yaba left. We were overwhelmed, a devil could have had his way at that point and time. The military took advantage of the situation and of our desperation.
Before the military, we heard respectable folks warning Shagari that Nigeria was going into a free fall. By the time IBB introduced SAP, big honest business men with foreign loans liquidated their businesses and those that built estates lost them to creditors. How were the mighty fallen. Naira became useless. Nobody in his right mind could predict Ibori, Tinubu or Saraki of today.
Devaluation is no more about economics, it is political. When you see insects disappearing and grasses dying, we must wonder why. It does not have to be human, you do not have to be an environmental activist. When poor folks suffer, think far, you may be the next on the line. Like most Africans, suffering Nigerians sometimes mix politics with ethnic sentiments. We know that at the end of the day, politicians only care about themselves and their families not us.
We thought President Jonathan was our Godsend messiah. The man is well educated and cool headed until we saw his other side. Most of the Country could not be wrong and we voted for him North and South, East and West. When President Yar’Adua became incapacitated, activists and fair-minded people rose up and asked for the crowning of Ebele. It was not surprising that that despite threat and prediction of doom day, he defeated Buhari like OBJ, even in the North.
Our Country have been fair by making sure that no matter where you come from, either North or South, you can become the President of this Country. For a long time Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba dominated the political landscape at the expense of minorities. Jonathan dissolved that notion. Ijaw do not have more numbers than other minorities like Edo but Nigerians in fairness and in compensation for the exploit of their resources saw it fit to elevate one of them to presidency.
It has never been a blank check for anyone. If Ebele did not create a vacuum, a hundred Tinubu or Buhari would never have stood a chance. People forget that even in Lagos as other places throughout the Country, the election was close, not a landslide that elected Ebele as President. The stars lined up for Buhari this time, not because we love him more than Ebele; but because Ebele took us for granted the same way Shagari, Akinloye, Diko, Ekwueme and Akinjide did.
When you drive Nigerians up the wall, we may not melt into the wall as usual. We would vote for a devil as long as we believed he would fight corruption. When people Buhari jailed under his authoritarian regime and Operation War Against Indiscipline came out to say they did not care. Saving Nigeria from the hands of kleptomaniacs was more important than their individual suffering under Buhari/Idiagbon, you knew they were desperate for a savior; even a devil.
Devaluation is no more an economic argument or discussion, it has gone political. Anyone that went through Structural Adjustment Program for which World Bank and IMF apologized, cannot be taken seriously if they say they are for constant devaluation of naira. What do we gain since Babangida started the slippery slope downwards?