Nigerian President on the Guinness World Records By Babafemi A. Badejo, Ph.D - THE BUSINESS PACKAGE


Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Nigerian President on the Guinness World Records By Babafemi A. Badejo, Ph.D

The Guinness World Records (GWR), has always been around since about the time I was born. In fact, I was just a little older than the founding of the British reference book that was a thrill for me as I grew up and visited libraries to look it and Encyclopedia Britannica up. It used to be known as the Guinness Book of Records until its name changed in 1999. The new name accommodated the American branding of the same thing as Guinness Book of World Records. Trust the Americans. Since they rebelled against the British, they had been using their can-do spirit to ensure that their uniqueness from motherland is maintained. Aside from insisting on their spellings in their own Americana, they substantially altered the course of history by designing their electricity voltage as 110-120/60 instead of the British 220-240/50. This difference meant that British products will not work in America and forced their own local production until the Japanese started making products to accommodate both and we no longer needed to carry voltage step-down anymore.  

So, the frenzy that accompanied Hilda Baci’s getting on GWR for a sustained length of time cooking was amazing to me. The country was excited on June 13, 2023, that she was recognized. I equally developed affection towards her for her resilience and the efforts she took to know what was required and worked hard for it. All of a sudden, the Guinness World Records started trending in Nigeria. Nigerians featuring positively on international platforms build our goodwill in the global arena. Our goodwill has been very low for a while in spite of the great efforts of our Nollywood and Afrobeat Ambassadors on our soft power. Goodwill goes beyond not being discriminated against on tourism or the ease of attending conferences in another country. The son of a friend almost lost his Ph.D hard work for nothing other than the South Africans were not ready to issue him a visa to fulfill an obligation but they readily issued to his Nordic classmates. His father, had to find a number of who knows someone who knows someone who can change the sad situation.

GWR informed the world that there had been an unusual 1,500 applications from Nigerians to follow Hilda Baci’s footsteps. Two or three compatriots tried to upstage her and mainly got the wrath of Nigerians. This is a very bad Nigerian attitude. We should have encouraged others to see if they can do better. Finally, on November 7, 2023, Irish celebrity chef blew Baci’s record apart. We were unhappy and some, with a condemnable attitude, sent unprintable messages to Chef Fisher. 

With Hilda Baci being blown out, on November 21, 2023, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Jagaban Borgu joined the GWR race. According to The Cable, PBAT announced at the 10th German-Nigerian Business Forum, that “he deserves recognition from GWR for the economic reforms he has introduced since assuming office on May 29”. This is an important development. PBAT is asking foreigners to recognize that he has been improving the lives of Nigerians. There is no doubt that six months is a short period in office. But it is possible for Nigerians to do some trends analysis and examination of his reforms, before our President’s yearned for foreign recognition.

When self-styled President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida got us to go debating on whether we wanted IMF loan with its conditionalities and we overwhelmingly said, no. The maradonic dictator tricked us by introducing his Second-Tier Foreign Exchange Market as home-grown alternative. As a young senior lecturer, I was one of those on the crusade against the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP). I actually published an academic piece on SAP as Chief Olu Falaye and co were betting their lives on our long-term El Dorado. I am sure if anyone care to ask him or IBB today on what happened to the naira, they would readily quip about that popular scapegoat: implementation. 

The problem then, and now, is the failure of our knowledge industry to realise that the post WW II design of the world was to ensure the enslavement of parts of the Americas, Africa and Asia, as hewers of wood and carriers of water for the Western world. Some leadership in Asia realised this and succeeded in outsmarting the design. With leadership deficit across the board in Nigeria, we will continue to wallow drilling ourselves into a bottomless pit, using adverse theories taught to us as natural laws for human advancement without opening our eyes to see them as they should be - interests based worldview for the sustenance of the West. Of course, immediate interests of some of us are catered for as we pile up national patrimony in Panama, Paradise, and Pandora papers – again for investments and creation of employment in the West.

Our President is an ardent believer in these adverse to our interests, "laws of nature" on political economy. Please note that I wrote political economy and not economics because production, distribution and consumption are intertwined with interests - politics. Policymaking should be based on well thought through intentionality to change for the better and not show-off to be seen as an action man/woman.   

The President cannot avoid responsibility for the double whammy of fuel and exchange rates he imposed on an impulse without a strategic well sequenced effort that should have focused on our income profile (after getting Emefiele out of the way), and Nigeria’s corruption associated behaviour in storing value in dollars etc. This problem is more so when our President had prepared to be president for so long and had a 3-month transition to office after his election and no-one rushed him after his swearing-in when he gained control over the CBN as well as other information on the emptiness of our wallet. We must not forget that part of the campaign of Mr. President was to hit the ground running with the impression that he had many strategic thinkers already lined up. 
By the way, "our being almost bankrupt" should be no excuse because PBAT put himself forward as capable in fixing our situation. 

However, the impact on Nigerians of the policies that PBAT puts forward as enough for another Hilda Baci like heartwarming recognition on GWR, can be seen clearly – Nigerians are worse-off. Of course, the economists like Chief Falaye did, would tell us that what matters is the long-run. But in the long-run, we are all dead. Fortunately, Chief Falaye and IBB are still alive to see what they did to us in 1989. 

We are all ready for a tight belt that would improve the life chances of our children who have continued to seriously vote with their feet by engaging in japa. But we should not go down the same path of IBB/Chief Olu Falaye and 43 years later be saying these were good policies and we should blame implementation.

At the political level, the cost of governance, in the face of all of us, is skyrocketing under this administration. Borrowing has continued unabated. Femi Falana, SAN, reportedly put out a documented set of corruption (that economists, bereft of standing up for the truth, euphemistically call leakages) data that would immediately refloat Nigeria if PBAT’s body language on corruption could boldly change for the better. These billions in dollars are stored in Nigeria and around the world and can be brought back under various moves. $7 billion fixed in 14 banks that Falana pointed to can be recovered from these individuals if they want to continue having bank licences. The crafty use of AMCON to defraud all of us as dubious loans to friends are forgiven can be addressed. Different fraudulent thefts of oil can be traced and recovered. We were lucky that we escaped P&ID, but not because of PBAT. If we had lost that case, the naira may be knocking at 2,000 plus to the dollar by now.  

It is the duty of the president to ensure a fair balance between paper analysis by his advisers and anticipated impacts on the lives of Nigerians. It is on the basis of positive impacts that he should seek our affection. As a Professor and in the category of those who can recommend him, I would gladly nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize if he reverses our downwards trend on corruption. Leadership deficit and corruption are the main drivers of conflict. External dynamics is also important on conflicts in Africa. However, smart leadership can outsmart adverse external dynamics as some Asians have successfully done. To move on corruption, he would be signaling a significant move to ameliorate our toxic conflict environment in Nigeria, nay in Africa. The buck stops on our president's table.  

Babafemi A. Badejo, author of a best-seller on politics in Kenya, was a former Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, and currently a Legal Practitioner and Professor of Political Science/International Relations, Chrisland University, Abeokuta. Nigeria.

No comments:

Post a Comment