Do Nigerian leaders read?


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Many of our leaders do not read. They either do not have the time to spare or they lack the inclination. Reading culture is generally on the decline, even among students – as well as teachers – whose job it is to read. These days, students generally study or read to pass their examinations, not to excel or be on top of the subject of study. Many also are the teachers who simply pour out notes that were constructed decades ago. That is why we have all manner of professionals who, at best, are only textbook gurus with no practical application of the knowledge impacted on them in the years spent at school. In those days, we formed study groups called Teach Your Teacher (TYT); we read “over syllabus”, as they say, and came to class prepared to test the preparedness and brilliance of our teachers. How to make money, and make it quick with little or no hard work, is now the vogue. These are no longer the days of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who burned the midnight candle while, for others, frolicking around and enjoying the goodies of the night were the spoils of office.

My experience around men in the corridors of power teaches that they are not as informed as we usually think they are; they are obsessed with what they think are the needs of the people which, unfortunately, are not always so; doing the wrong things, they think they work themselves out for the people and feel let down and disappointed to realize that their efforts are not appreciated. The feedback mechanism of many of those in power leaves much to be desired; which is why they always get wiser after they leave office. While in office, they are shut up from reality by the coterie of aides, palace and court jesters, and influence peddlers that mill around them. Bureaucrats are seldom pro-people but usually serve selfish interests. Whatever name it is called; government everywhere is a cult. Even in a theocracy, in churches and mosques, the elites rule. The masses everywhere are far removed from the levers of power. Who says organization, says oligarchy!

There are two things I think those in the corridors of power must bend over backward to do. The first is that they must find the time to read. They should read books, read news stories, read commentaries and opinion articles. They should read opinions critical of their person and government. They should also find time to go round to see things for themselves. Sitting in the office all day long receiving visitors, treating files and listening to the fables of court jesters is one of the greatest mistakes that leaders make. That way, they hardly can feel the pulse of the people they govern. They can hardly know the true state of things. They cannot connect with reality. It takes a lot of courage and persistence for any leader to break out of the prison of officialdom always woven around them.

It is usually not in the interest of those in the corridors of power for the Boss to see reality as it is and not what they say it is. The world is re-created in their own image to serve selfish ends. Make no mistake about it, a leader who disconnects – or allows himself to be disconnected – from the people, is a failed leader. That is the reason I have chosen, today, to bring some of the things I read during the past week to the attention of our leaders. It may be that they will come across them; find the time to read them and, possibly, find a few useful things in them.

The first is this: “In my opinion, the Tinubu administration should not introduce policies to improve the value of the Naira. ₦1000 to $1 is ideal because it will make imports expensive, which will force Nigerians to turn to locally-manufactured goods and services. The highest GDP growth rate in Nigeria’s history occurred during the Nigerian civil war when imports dropped to an abysmal level because most traders doing mass importation of goods fled Lagos. And because we were not importing, local manufacturing blossomed, especially in the Ikeja industrial zone and modern-day Ogun State, and we experienced a GDP growth rate of 24.20% in 1969 and 25.01% in 1970. Immediately after the war, when traders returned to Lagos and mass importation of goods resumed, our GDP fell from 25.01% in 1970 to 3.36% in 1972! As long as we keep importing, we will never have a strong and stable economy. Japan, India, Vietnam and Indonesia deliberately weakened their currencies to promote exports and local consumption, and it worked. We must do the same in Nigeria or else we will keep frittering our foreign reserves, importing needles and toothpicks from Asia, tomato paste and frozen pizzas from Europe, and other goods and services that can be made in Nigeria. And only traders will benefit. The manufacturing and service sectors of the economy will not. The more local goods and services we consume, the more our economy will improve. The only thing I urge the government to do is to reduce taxes and eliminate VAT on locally-manufactured goods and services”

The second is this: “We have sold forward crude contracts; so, our crude is encumbered as some of the crude we haven’t produced don’t belong to us. We have sold forward FX contracts; so, some of our future FX earnings are encumbered. Essentially, some of the FX we are yet to earn do not belong to us. Under the infrastructure tax credit scheme, some of our major company income tax payers were awarded roads to either rehabilitate or construct and are entitled to utilize the total investment cost incurred in the construction or refurbishment of the eligible road as Tax Credit against their future CIT liabilities until full cost recovery is achieved. In essence, some of the future Company Income Tax is encumbered. From inherited crude oil production volume of 2.05 million bpd in May 2015 (and a production capacity of 2.13 million bpd) which was close to our OPEC quota, by May 2016 production crashed to 1.4 million bpd, a 30-year low at the time but we had no idea that worse was to come. By the time the Buhari administration was exiting, crude oil production volume had crashed to 998,602 barrels per day in April 2023 (against our OPEC Quota of 1.8 million barrels per day), which is insufficient to cover our crude oil swap obligations and our Carry Arrangement with the IOCs, much less generating revenue! NNPC infamously was unable to remit a dime to FAAC as from January 2022. Do you now see why we cannot provide Dangote refineries with feedstock given that even our crude/PMS swaps are locked in future contracts? We have borrowed so much; such that our cost of debt service (interest and not principal) currently exceeds our revenue! So, all our future earnings are encumbered to service debt only. At N87 trillion debt stock, Buhari borrowed Nigeria back into colonization and spent our future earnings on top! In eight years, in an environment of depleted foreign reserves, we created so much Naira supply that we more than doubled the total Naira supply from N21 trillion as at May 2015 to over N55 trillion as at May 2023. So, this N1,000/US$1 exchange rate is morning yet on judgement day. I am not sure we have a full dimension yet of the havoc the Buhari government wrecked on our economy. The chickens have come home to roost”

This third one is specifically directed at the governors of the South-west states: “While the ANAMBRA State Government of Charles Soludo is PUBLICLY advertising vacancies in Anambra Health Sectors for ONLY ANAMBRA PEOPLE, Lagos State General Hospitals are filled with Anambra people while Yoruba medical professionals are doing “japa” to get jobs. And it is the same in private hospitals. You can have a company owned by a Yoruba man and see Igbos employed into high offices. But a company owned by Igbos, even on Yoruba land, will have IGBOS imported from all over their villages to fill it up. GTB was floated by the YORUBAS but you can find many Igbos employed there. It is a very structured organization operated by MERIT. GT doesn’t care about ethnicity. It is good. But go to banks floated by Igbo people; you will struggle to find non-Igbos on their staff list. Even their branches in the remotest parts of Yoruba land have far more Igbos than Yorubas. Go to Nollywood:6 You are not likely going to find a single non-Igbo in the cast and crew of any of their productions, not even messengers and drivers, even Yoruba Babaláwo roles are taken by Igbos who speak Yoruba well! But come to our own film productions, you find Igbos everywhere as stars and prominent casts and crew. When I was at the Anambra State University, everybody from VC to the janitors were Igbos. In those days, nearly every, if by chance not all, academic and non-academic staff of UNN were Igbos. But at LASU, OSU and all our state universities in the south-west, you can find Igbo academic and non-academic staff. Prof. Kenneth Dike and Prof. Eni Njoku, both Igbos, were the first VC of UI and UNILAG respectively. You can’t go ANYWHERE in the South-East as a Yoruba man and try to become the chairman of a school PTA, let alone a holder of political office! But the Igbo man will struggle to emerge as chairman of Residents Associations, CDAs and CDCs and, in fact, will want to emerge as governor in Yoruba land! For every ONE Yoruba man who is miraculously able to buy LAND anywhere in Igbo land, I will show you at least 1,000 Igbo men who own LAND even in Abeokuta. Lagos is a given for them. It is impossible for the Yoruba people to form a business community in Igbo land where they could have as much as ONE plot of land to themselves. I never saw any such thing in the six years which I spent in Igbo land. But in Yoruba land, you find Igbo traders forming ALL-IGBO business communities over several acres of land.
Many Igbos moved their polling units from the South-East into Lagos in particular and the South-West in general at the last General Elections. Our own people sang and danced for them under the banner of the Obidient Movement. But even the few Igbo who tried to vote for Asíwájú Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Igbo land were beaten mercilessly. Peter Obi got about 50% of the votes in Lagos, beating Asíwájú Bola Tinubu, but in Anambra, Asíwájú was so unpopular he got less than 1% of the votes! As the IGBOS are coming from the EAST, the Hausa-Fulani are coming from the NORTH, both pursuing the same agenda of upstaging the YORUBA from their ancestral land as a first critical step to taking over Nigeria. It has ALWAYS been about those two since 1914. Yoruba are OMOLÚÀBÍS. We are LIBERAL. We are WELCOMING and EASY-GOING. But we are COMPLACENT PEOPLE who do not seem to know the first lesson in SELF-PRESERVATION. We are a people being railroaded towards destruction. The writing on the wall is bold, so bold!”

Are these facts? Or were they exxagerated in any respect? Food for thought; all the same!

*Former Editor of PUNCH newspapers, Chairman of its Editorial Board and Deputy Editor-in-chief, BOLAWOLE was also the Managing Director/ Editor-in-chief of THE WESTERNER newsmagazine.

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