Anatomy of a big blind country

Abuja: Philipe Troussier, the French Football Coach [would] never have had the effrontery to tell Bukina-Faso that a job he purportedly applied for, he could no longer take […] on a trumped up excuse of knee injury, through international media network.

This is because the Bukina-Faso Football Authority would never have sent a delegation to interview a European in Europe for a job that [would] be done in their country. Chief Obasanjo likes to drum up the rhetoric that things are getting better. But all manner of public office holders are putting lie to his insinuation. How could things be getting better in a Nigeria, where the NFA sent out an unwieldy delegation to go to London, to interview short-listed coaches for the National Football Team. Football experts generally believed that a coach input to the success of a team is mere 30% of other inputs of the total effort.

It is simply unimaginable that the best acknowledged football coach in the world could make 11 “yours sincerely” defeat a national football team of even the Niger Republic.

The National Political Reform Conference has just ended. Everybody who followed the proceedings of the confab knows that the quality of discourse did not surpass the veracious debates in pepper soup joints, motor parks and coffee shops.

The resource control matter and the tenure of Obasanjo, whom his friends and acolytes wanted to be a life long one, were not only the dominant issue but were controversial enough to make the conference inconclusive.

Chest-beating and grandstanding not withstanding, the conference served out only one purpose – to confer legality to the electoral farce of 2003 when Obasanjo made himself the Chief of Nigeria.

The federal government has decided to put itself in a festive mood for nothing. It claimed to have obtained a debt relief of about $18 billion. Actually no such relief was obtained. What happened was that the debt has become not only unsustainable but unpayable and the creditors know it.

It is not only the condition in which the loan was obtained and the way it was used, that was odious and repugnant, but in strict financial and economic terms, it was a bad loan. Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, the Finance Minister, claimed that sovereign debt cannot be repudiated. But this [flies] in the face of historical fact as [the] United States and other western powers at one time or the other, [have] repudiated foreign debts for political reasons.

And in the case of Nigeria’s excruciating debt overhang, the political imperative is to repudiate it. And not to negotiate relief and palliative measures that pushes the country to the precipice of dependency and [sic] agonizing periphery.

The argument that Nigeria would be boycotted by the international community is as senseless as to argue that the international business will be boycotting China and Vietnam because communist parties are in power in those countries.

Ironically, China and Vietnam are the largest recipient of foreign direct investment. The debt relief has automatically conferred Nigeria with the status of a banana republic in whom decisions about economic policies, political ideals and values, social framework are no longer the sovereign choice of the Nigerian people and their government, but the prerogative of distant, unelected, unrepresentative and unaccountable international bureaucrats who [jiggle] the fate of mankind in abstract economic graphs, indices and theories.

The full import of Nigerian debt relief will not be fully understood now, until some few years ahead when the country would have reached bankruptcy and insolvency in matters of productive base, human capital and above all in any meaningful popular confidence in the Nigerian project.

In summary […], the debt relief for which Obasanjo’s economic team popped champagne and slapped backs will most certainly share the fate of post-soviet Russia and other countries in Eastern Europe that were encouraged on this line of reforms but ended with the result of greater poverty, greater crimes, mass-emigration of young people and experts and the general malaise of a dependent neo-capitalist economy.

The Nigerian case I dare predict will be [worse], because we did not even attain the level of infrastructural and economic development reached by the former Soviet Union and other countries in the Eastern block.

The third term agenda of Obasanjo and his clique can only surprise those who cannot see through the chicanery of a bankrupt cabal driven not by ideas and vision but by the passion of wealth, power and arrogance.

The bigotry of this cabal is rested on their belief in the infinite power of [the] organized instrument of state violence and the invisibility of themselves. Their obstinacy is rested on their pitiable ignorance of history.

For heaven’s sake, even if Obasanjo has offered to rule Nigeria beyond May 28, 2007, can’t he for once do a self-reappraisal and see his inherent limitations and constraints? The fact remains that the third term campaign for Obasanjo is the most concentrated expression of the elite enfoolment and idiocy that is generally advertised to the revulsion of the enlightened world. If Obasanjo want to know how popular he is, let him organize the announcement of his own death and see the mood of the street.

It is painful that a country like Nigeria, with unsurpassable possibilities, immense probabilities and endless opportunities could be lurching in the [dark] for such a long time, while the rulers of the country try to find [their] way in the daylight with torch lights.

Charles Onunaiju, This Day (Lagos), August 7, 2005

Categories: Africa, Nigeria, Odious Debts

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