Thursday, September 08, 2011

Fresh air and hard work

I feel the breath of fresh air promised by the campaign of Jonathan - well, not the peace and prosperity itself, but that we are turned towards it in our journey as a country. The way I see things, Nigerians have learned to apply pressure on the leadership, this is coupled with the fact that Jonathan has chosen to plug in and be guided by the wishes of Nigerians.

So for instance, in about two months, the Electric Power Reform efforts have gone from lost at sea, to somewhat more free: in the news are a few Independent Power Projects of 10MW and up, and a bulk trader has been set up. This is the right direction, especially if we quickly move up to 100MW projects and above. Bear in mind that demand is at least 10x, but closer to 20x, above current output of 3000MW, that is, for this country of 150million inhabitants to move from 20W per capita to about 200W per capita.

Give us electric power and we can forgive other wrongs.

I feel confident that there is committed economic leadership, for a change. A Ministry to raise investment in the trillions of Naira ($100bn) over the next few years, a Central Bank that has insisted on lowered corruption in banking - including sanitizing balance sheets and imposing cash withdrawal limits - and that is also driving hard to promote lending to the real sector, a deregulation team that self-criticized the massive corruption in privatization deals, and as mentioned before, the way anti-corruption and popular demand have just recently reshaped the pronouncements of the Electric Power team.

It is also fantastic to see that Jonathan did something, anything, about the appallingly rotten legal/judicial profession. In today's top Nigeria news, his predecessor, President Yar'adua could not sack former Chief Justice Aondoakaa even though he knew he was disastrously corrupt. Other top Nigeria news for today is, refreshingly, about the economy:
1. CNN interviews Hajara Adeola, MD of Lotus capital, for an explanation of Islamic banking, as Islamic finance spreads in Nigeria.
2. Bloomberg has the Central Bank predicting that the yuan will appreciate given the strength of China’s economy. Nigeria plans to reach a target of holding 10 percent of its foreign-exchange reserves in yuan; will start holding the Chinese currency next quarter. The $32 billion in Nigerian reserves are now 79% held in U.S. dollars, with the rest largely in euros, Swiss francs and British pounds.
3. We can't get away from corruption: Reuters has a story on Nigerian politicians, and even the Joint Task Force against oil-bunkering, actually "benefiting from" oil theft. "Some observers compared the relationship between the JTF and major militant groups to arrangements between rival gangs in U.S. urban areas; generally each JTF unit and militant band had its own territory in which they operated and from which they derived their illicit incomes," it said.

Jobs, we need jobs. Without the reforms in all the aforementioned areas: access to capital, electric power, anti-looting policy, the incentive to do honest work would remain weak.
But now that the government has started to move the major obstacles away, it is time for us to bring out all our best work:
we need to export agric farm products and arts and crafts, not just oil.
We need to make our own computers and steelworks, not just import.
We need employment in building rail networks and expanding power systems.
We need our historians and scientists and shopkeepers and town planners.
We need to kill this corruption beast - if you're still giving or taking bribes, what's your excuse?
We need intelligence and police to fight organized crime (including corruption rackets)
We need Arabic and Islamic scholarship to combat Boko Haram with the clear message that Boko (Western Education) is Halal (Permitted by Islam).
The Ministry of Finance has (correctly) stated that job creation will be its focus. Nobody can perform such a huge miracle alone. Time to stop blaming and start working.

2 comments:

Kay said...

really nice read. Something hopeful about the motherland in my newsfeed is always welcome with open arms :-)

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