About 37 years ago, co-incidentally my birth year; Nigeria’s economic situation was not competing with American Dollar but with that of United Kingdom’s Pound sterling buying it at N2 to a £ 1. Nigeria is a country blessed and also bedeviled by myriads of hydra-headed problems. Back in the days, when 65k was exchanged for a dollar, there was no such thing as brain-drain, human trafficking and what have you. Back in those days, do you know that the government of U.A.E. came to Nigeria seeking for loan from Nigeria? I don’t need to write about Malaysia coming to Nigeria, consulted some of our best brains and even exported our own brand of palm trees from the nursery to improve their agricultural sector. Today I don’t need to tell you how strong that economy is today. Thousands of our children troop to their embassy to either go for studies or business pursuits for greener pastures. In the cause of doing that we’ve lost some due to unnatural causes. Nigeria, a nation destined for greatness is still crawling on her fours. I’ll tell you why later. Where was America in the early 70s on the lips of little kids? We didn’t know about America, we only knew so much of London, England and UK as registers for accomplishments and destinations for young dreamers. Why? Because our economy was stable. So stable that we needed no application for Visa to go somewhere like America to be ill-treated to the extent of being deported or questioned on the system of government we are practicing today. In 1980, two years into the 2nd republic under President Shehu Shagari, Nigeria’s naira enjoyed the peak of her glory pegged at 55k in exchange for a dollar.
Since that time, like the proverbial one-legged man who, out of the praise and applause accorded him for an excellent dance performance threw away the stick that supported him in the dance. Upon throwing away the stick, consequently he also lost the dance. Nigeria got so excited with a thriving second republic, she threw away the stick of prudence, the stick of the fear of God ( a common phrase of the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto, “Basu da tsoron Allah?”) Our leadership also threw away the stick of Accountability. From that moment, the naira got a dent. Which led to the Buhari-Idiagbon coup with the then Brigadier Sani Abacha, while announcing the coup emphasized the Squander-maniac state of the toppled or ousted leadership of the 2nd Republic. In 1981 61k exchanged for a dollar. 6k increment in the purchasing power of the currency to buy a dollar. In 1982 67k bought a dollar. In 1983 the naira fell again buying the dollar at 72 kobo. On the re-entry of the military, thinking the country has come to roost. In 1984 about 76kobo exchanged for the dollar. In 1986 the naira nose-dived to N2.02kobo exchanging for a dollar. For this, IBB (General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, first military president in Nigeria) gave four reasons for that I think:
1. A decrease of our domestic production continues to increase.
2. Dependence on import for both consumer goods and raw materials for our industries.
3. A grossly unequal gap between the rich and the poor.
4. The large role played by the public sector in economic activity with hardly any concrete results to justify such a role.
Me thinks to this day we are still trying to confront these four “IBB Realities.” But when he stepped-aside, he left the naira down begging to rise at N22.33kobo in 1993, no thanks to him and his economic advisers. Could it be the reason he wants to return? To still confront his Four IBB Realities. In 1994 Abacha raised it to N21.89kobo sustained it at N21.89kobo until he died; thanks to Prof. Aluko his economic adviser,(not for Abacha’s death but for contributing immensely to the economy.) For five good years the naira was stubbornly pegged at N21.89kobo with all the sanctions and bans on Nigeria left right and center; yet, the naira survived it at N21.89kobo Gen. Abdulsalam left it to Gen. Obasanjo at a crazy shot of N85.98kobo. At the end of OBJ’s 1st tenure the naira had reached and roamed between N127-130 Naira in exchange for a dollar. With all the wonderful travels and monies spent on Esther’s Coat, oh I mean on estacode yet the naira soared high not like an eagle but against all winning formulas that will make it strong. Upon his second entry the naira suffered another blow, exchanging for the dollar between N132-136. But in 2005 the government gave the naira a slight lift between N128.50kobo-131.80kobo. Quoting IBB in August 27th 1985 “Events today indicate that most of the reasons which justified the military takeover of government from the civilians still persist.” I too after 25 years of that speech can see that the problems still persist. The almighty Legislative Houses (Both Upper and Lower) needs to go ask Prof. Aluko, what magic did he do to peg the naira @ N21.89kobo for five good years consecutively.
You may want to ask, why ask Aluko? Because he was Abacha’s economic adviser. Don’t you think he’ll do better in a democracy given the opportunity better than he did under pressure? I can’t answer my question for the reader. You have your own say. It’s in the constitution. Today you and I know that the naira is floating between N150-155. Nobody could stay it like Aluko. Probably I’m giving him too much praise here but then tell me what others did because I don’t know. No I mean I just don’t know. No man, they say has the monopoly of knowledge. The man who couldn’t travel out (Abacha) pegged the naira at N21.89 and those who dined and wined with kings and Queens and paid courtesy visits across the globe(Globe-Trotting everywhere) estacoded, shook hands with very successful and powerful leaders around the world, came back the same and left the office, I mean the naira worst than they met it. Before Aluko will go to the great beyond and maybe meet his boss and tell him that ” they can’t stay the naira, not even for ‘four years'” I’m not eulogizing the late military and near-despotic style of Abacha, I’m observing the honest and humble recognition of Prof. Aluko’s capacity to deliver by his late Boss. If you let this man die, I think both of them will go throw a party and tell the world of the dead that “the living can’t stay the naira yet we did it for five good years.” A word is enough for the wise.
Apostle Dr. Genesis A. Dawuda writes from Centre For World Rebirth, Jos Plateau State, Nigeria Website: http://www.drgenesis.com. Email: [email protected] or [email protected] Phone: +2348028063695 | +2347027001527