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Okonjo-Iweala: A Patriot Blinded By The West

By Kali Gwegwe

September 7th, 2011

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In one of my books, “Western Democrats in Glass parliament”, published in 2000, I have argued that western democracies will never tolerate Africa’s economic independence owing to the direction of their national ideologies. It is no secret that the economies of many western countries are energized by the inability of Africa’s political leaders to deploy sound fiscal policies aimed at stimulating rapid economic growth. This sad development has continued to keep Africa as an export- dependent economy despite the fact that the bulk of the raw materials used in the manufacture and production of finished goods imported by African countries are sourced from the continent.

There is no doubt about the fact that Nigeria is blessed with great brains and patriots. Among them are Wole Soyinka, Dora Akunyili, Oby Ezekwesili, Lamido Sanusi, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala among others. What is in doubt is whether all of them are aware that the developed democracies will be too willing to do anything under the sun to promote and protect their national economies. Colonisation, the Cold War, civil wars, tribal conflicts, and the several international humanitarian/peace-keeping missions are all tools used by western democracies to secure economic victories over the African continent.

It has become evident that both the World Bank and IMF are tools in the hands of western democracies. As long as African intellectuals refuse to accept this overflowing truth, their brains and patriotism will do the continent very little or no good at all. Is it not surprising that the many Africans in diaspora have not been able to make meaningful differences whenever they are given the opportunities to serve their countries in various capacities?

Perhaps, I should also point out here that Structural Adjustment Program, Currency Devaluation, and Subsidy Removal are examples of some of the pills western democracies such as the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain prescribe as cure for the continent’s economic problems. In actual sense, they hide behind these false fiscal policies to cripple the economies of African countries. As part of the plot, they task international institutions such as the World Bank, IMF, and world class universities to recruit the best brains from the continent. These intellectuals are hurriedly thought the Core Values of human and economic management. This is aimed at arousing the patriotic fiber in them. At this point, they are drugged (paid far more than their contemporaries at home), blinded (unable to recognize the evil in their employers), and given a pair of “western eyes.” At this point, these intellectuals no longer see things from the
African perspective. They both reason and look at Africa with “western eyes.”

It must be noted that every society has its own peculiarities. As a result of this, what has worked in country A may not necessarily work in country B. Africans wearing “western eyes” will never realize this fact even though it is profusely clear. For instance, the governor of Nigeria’s Central, Lamido Sanusi and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala are all bitterly agitating for the removal of fuel subsidy simply because same has worked elsewhere in America and Europe. Since they are wearing “western eyes”, they have failed to realize that: (a) Unemployment figures are very low in America and Europe (b) An average American or European worker earn as much as $130 or N19,500 per day. With this kind of salary, Nigerians can afford to buy fuel even at N150 per liter.

There is no doubt that both Okonjo-Iweala and Lamido Sanusi will not try stampeding government into removing fuel subsidy if they were earning monthly salaries of N50,000 per month. While tens of millions of Nigerians are earning less than $2 daily, they go home with outrageous salaries and allowances. One had expected them to suggest better ways of putting the nation’s economy back on track. The poor masses cannot continue to sacrifice the little they have while the few well-heeled federal government officials are allowed to laugh away in the comfort of their cars, offices, and houses each time government decides to find solutions to the problems of the country. Okonjo-Iweala and Sanusi do not need to be reminded that the removal of fuel subsidy will translate into the sharp upward movement of the prices of goods and services such as food, rent, transportation, education, health care, and building materials among others.

But if one may ask: What is wrong in subsidizing fuel? Are the beneficiaries of fuel subsidy not Nigerians whose interests the president, ministers, legislators, governors, and governor of the Central Bank all swore to protect? As a matter of fact, owing to the collapse of the culture of sound political leadership, fuel subsidy has turned out to be the only sure way Nigerian masses can benefit from the oil and gas revenue accruing the nation. There is no citizen that does not benefit from fuel subsidy direct or indirectly. Removing it will therefore bring out the fire in the heart of millions of suffering Nigerian masses. This is what the west is looking for. President Goodluck Jonathan must therefore not allow American and European powers to tie his hands behind him and plunge the country into the abyss of socio-economic instability. The west does not want Africa to gain economic independence. It is only through orchestrated socio-economic instabilities
that they can achieve such evil plots. This is the more reason why despite all the noise they make about corruption; American and European banks still accept billions of stolen dollars from Africa.

With the way Okonjo-Iweala and Sanusi are going about the fuel subsidy removal debate, I am pretty sure that they will one day ask the federal government to stop spending billions of Naira to construct roads. While our fiscal policy formulators and advisers are busy giving subsidy a bad name, agricultural subsidies accounts for more than 40% of the total budget of the EU. Who is fooling who?

Hugo Chavez is definitely on my mind. The time has come for President Jonathan to call all the anti-people members of his team to order or fire them out rightly. There is enough evidence to show that the nation’s fiscal policy formulators and advisers are out of touch with the vision of the present administration. They have clearly run dry of ideas. Spending N600b to assist Nigerians buy fuel at an affordable price is not a crime. Rather than call for the removal of fuel subsidy, the anti-subsidy apostles should task their brains and think of better ways to increase the revenue receipt of the nation without worsening the already bad plight of ordinary Nigerians. In this regard, government should be serious with the war against graft, reduce the monetary rewards of elected officials and political appointees, stabilize electricity to expand industrial production, increase investments in the non-oil/gas sectors, improve basic socio-economic infrastructure
such as roads/railway/waterways, provide affordable quality health care service, and provide free quality education from primary to secondary levels. All of these will help energize and expand the national economy. With this, the likes of Okonjo-Iweala and Sanusi will not have any reason to bother about how much government spends to subsidize fuel.

More than that, concerted efforts must be put in motion to stop the continuous importation of petroleum products. This is part of the wider agenda of western democracies. They simply coopt a few willing Nigerians to ensure that our refineries do not work at optimum capacities. With this, they will be able to import crude from us and sell petrol and kerosene to us with a very appreciable profit margin. The same thing applies to the power sector. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala should wake up from her slumber and return the “western eyes” she is wearing. Also help Lamido Sanusi do same.

Kali Gwegwe
CEO, Nigeria Democracy Watchtower
2, Greenvilla-Customs Link Road
Bayelsa State