Creating scapegoats, spreading misery

Oil companies are running out, throwing their workers overboard. Governments can’t pay salaries. Lucky doctors and other well trained professionals are on the queue to receive half pay. Their less fortunate colleagues are on the street looking for what to eat. Sitting in every verandah in every village, town and city, is an army of well trained jobless young men and women. In the idleness of their chatter, you could taste the bile of their anger at a system that is rigged against them. The depths of misery and joblessness are filled up, bursting at the seams.

Up there, the leadership eats, belches and farts. They truly do not know (and cannot know) that someone is hungry. Across the seas, a Nigerian senator unleashes his dance of joy video. He is well fed and over-blessed by the system. He does not care if there is anyone watching and cursing. It is the hater’s problem if he lacks what the senator has in excess. There can’t be moderation in celebration. In the distinguished senator, that will be a contradiction in terms. Our lawmaker’s till is filled up and it is marvellous in his eyes. The viral video clip tells the story of a nation of all possibilities. Poor market, rich palace. A rich nation controlled by poverty and misery. The country is tragically becoming unhinged. Where is the ship destined to anchor?

A report in the Washington Post of May 4, 2016 provides a window. It speaks about an oil-rich nation that should be rich but “instead, it’s becoming a failed state.” It talks about an oil-rich country that has been run down so much that it “can’t afford to brew its own beer, stay in its own time zone, or even have its own people show up to work more than two times a week.” How did this country get here? The report describes the tragedy as an entirely man-made catastrophe. “Economic mismanagement at a world-historical scale had barely left it with enough money to even, well, pay for printing money anymore.” That country got here by “spending more than it had and not having as much as it should.” That is a country that thought of spending money, and did spend money that it did not earn. “You can’t redistribute oil profits if there aren’t oil profits to redistribute,” the report says the country did just that and followed it up with policies like the president replacing “people who knew what they were doing with people he knew would be loyal to him at the state-owned oil company.” That action, among others, it says, scared oil companies out.

Again, because it has foreign exchange problems, the government  of that country has tried to fix this by “doling out dollars to select companies on better terms than anyone else can get them…” And the subsidised companies do what with the dollars? They “just sell their dollars in the black market for more than they can resell imported goods.” The government has also “opted for a game of whac-a-mole. It has tried to legislate inflation away by telling businesses what prices they’re allowed to sell at, and even tried to wish it away by saying it ‘does not exist.’..The result is, the government is bankrupt, the rich nation “is well past the point of worrying that its economy might collapse. It already has.” The only thing that is not failing there, the Washington Post says, is “nothing.” The only thing the government is good at is “creating scapegoats, creating lines and creating misery.” That is the summary of the report.

You are scared? The report looks very much like an exaggerated viewpoint on Nigeria. No. It is not about Nigeria. It is about a country called Venezuela. Venezuela mirrors Nigeria, and that is scary! That is a country that has gone “from bad to worse to horrific.” Imagine a country where millions queue daily for bread, eggs, meat — only to meet empty shelves at the end of the long wait. Inflation in that country, according to the IMF, has gone up by over 600 percent, and, by next year, it will climb to reach 1,660 percent. The government has responded by increasing the minimum wage four times (yes, four times!) this year alone. How did it get here? Uncontrolled huge foreign debt accumulation, incoherent policy response, a populace that relishes cutting corners, among others, conspired to wreck that country that has the world’s largest oil reserves — more than even the super rich Saudi Arabia and the United States. But it is the very latest in institutional failure. Suffering there is horrific. Whatever horror we see on the streets of that country is a warning for Nigeria. Some of the bad behaviours that landed Venezuela where it is today are with us right now. You know them. We all do. Some of the bad deeds in Nigeria did not really start with this government. The horrible past of greed and planlessness created them. But some have  the copyright imprint of the Buhari government. And one good thing about the world becoming a village is the opportunity to see and draw instant lessons from the misfortune of others. If we do not want to land where Venezuela is this moment, the only sensible thing is to stop doing what it did wrong.


Hillary Clinton and other women things

This is also about women and what good and bad they are capable of doing to the world. There is something magically positive about them. They would rather charm than be charmed. They do not succumb to any malleus maleficarium. No cursed palace can mute their determined voice. When they have to shout they shout. If tears are what is needed to get the job done, they shed tears. They are like the old bank, strong and reliable. When you put them in charge of the kitchen, the living room or “the other room,” they get the job done without whining as men often do. When their opponents “go low, they go high.”

It is one week to the making of history in the United States. A gasping pall of loss will most certainly soon fall on the arrogant world of men after the November 8 presidential election in the United States. With Hillary Clinton almost sure of making history as the first female president of America; with Angela Merkel as German Chancellor and Theresa May as Prime Minister of Britain, the world is clearly at the threshold of a revolution.

Maybe the one effective way (away from putative superstition) to save humanity, especially Nigeria, from today’s decay and certain death is to dethrone the patriarchal political elite misruling and spreading misery everywhere. Maybe putting good women in charge is that one way of halting the drift down the abyss. Maybe.