Nigeria: waiting for the executioner

What is the driving force of Nigerian politics and business?
No part of the Nigerian elite has any faith or confidence in the future of Nigeria. Any person from abroad of Nigerian ancestry with visions for its future will be punished until they squeal in pain. For our elite, even believing in Nigeria’s future is an offence. This goes way back. I remember speaking to the editor of Abiola’s paper. I mentioned that I had a proposal that would turn Nigeria’s fortune’s around. He almost spat at me. Without hearing the proposal he told me to go away. There is no solution for Nigeria and he would not publish any foolish article suggesting otherwise.

Why do they need to believe this? Because otherwise they cannot sleep easy with their behaviour. If the country has no future then their behaviour is not ruining the country. They are just getting theirs before the ship sinks. Why are they so confident? |Because that is what the Western governments and elites are telling them. Despite the public condemnation of corruption, it is the Western governments that advise Nigerian Presidents how best to hide their money. There are reports of British intelligence officers boasting how they arranged the siphoning of money for Jonathan Goodluck. Behind the scenes the Western government officials are advising our Presidents to get theirs while they can. Consequently, these same people and their advisers look on other Nigerians who think something can be done with complete contempt. ‘We have heard from the boss and you silly little thing know nothing’.

In 1980’s when Nigeria was richer than Singapore Alan Chan went to Singapore with a plan to reform Singapore and make Singapore a developed country in 20 years. Alan Chan was in the same business school as myself and we both came to the same plan at the same time. However, when I put the proposal to the Nigerian elite I was told I was ill and had to leave the country. Nigeria’s business elite needed to believe nothing could be done.

Now post structural adjustment the business elite has become totally predatory. The political elite has become venial beyond belief. Our political elite would rather the country fail than succeed. They know how to make money out of a failing country. Let me explain. Nigeria was offered free Covid vaccines but turned it down. Why? Because more money, much more money, could be made from the begging bowl. The political class preferred to order full price from US and seek charity funding from which they could seek a cut. No cut would be available from free vaccines. If Nigeria continues to fail there will be external attempts to assist Nigeria from which a cut could be demanded.

Major proposals have been made on how to provide state of the art education at fractional costs. Intel funded a demonstration which proved it would work. Nigeria’s political elite were not interested. Providing mass education at low costs did not offer opportunities for graft.

There is a myth of free markets. Anyone seeking to set up a successful business would face the challenge of obtaining foreign exchange and here the political system kicks in. Which part of the country are you from? Sorry, wrong answer, none for you. Then if it is not foreign exchange your competitor will seek political influence to close you down. To survive you need to wed yourself to the political elite and grease the wheels.

To the outside world a pretence must be made of seeking to sail the ship – otherwise how can one demand funding! So here is the pas de deux. Our political elite allow the country to fail and in so doing foreign interest gain say $50 billion profit. Our politicians seek aid of $5billion which is only 10% of what they have given away. Foreign institutions offer $3bn and the politicians take $600m as a cut. It used to be 10% but I am told that was years ago. In this scenario foreign players collect $50bn and return $3bn as a loan/gift etc. There was a popular English phrase for this: Nice work if you can get it.

We have a political elite that cannot accept free vaccines, cannot adopt low cost high quality education for its children so what can anyone do but — wait for the executioner.

7 Aug 22