Wednesday, 10 February 2016 14:05

INFORMED COMMENTARY January 1-15, 2016

January 1-15, 2016

The President’s December 30 media chat, the visit of the IMF boss, Christine Lagarde, and the landmark birthday of a marketing communications guru form the focus of this week’s commentaries.

Where is President Buhari’s think tank?—Ayo Olukotun, The Punch

We begin with Ayo Olukotun of the Punch, who January 8 is quite unimpressed with President Muhammadu Buhari’s faux pas on two issues. The first is his confession of ignorance on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s foreign exchange management policy; the second, his “pre-emptive remark on the judicial processes regarding former public officials accused of corruption”. In “Where is President Buhari’s think tank?, Olukotun wants the President’s passion and candour to be matched by surefooted knowledge of public policy. He recommends the establishment of a think on sundry issues to help him out....READ MORE AT

Interrogating the Budget of Buharinomics

Femi Aribisala January 5, expectedly shreds President Buhari’s first budget. He accuses him of squandering time in putting the budget together, describing the budget as pretentious in its assumptions. “The oil, on which the lion share of the nation’s income depends, has suffered a drastic decline in price in the international market. But the government has decided to pretend as if nothing has happened. No austerity whatsoever is entertained. As a matter of fact, in the name of stimulating the economy, the president has decided to present a budget that assumes Nigeria has suddenly become richer overnight, when in fact we have become poorer”. He cites various figures in the budget to illustrate his point that rather than cut spending, the administration plans to spend more. He is not impressed that a good deal of the budget will be funded with loans. “Suddenly, the same government that complained it inherited a huge burden of debt from the PDP now argues that Nigeria is under-borrowed. That is the new truth now being dished out by government spin-doctors. Kemi Adeosun, the new Finance Minister, now says Nigeria’s debt to GDP ratio is low at 12%. She compares this conveniently to Angola (57%) and South Africa (48%)”. READ MORE AT....

When undertaker knocks at the door—Louis Odion, The Nation

Louis Odion of the Nation January 8 cautions Nigeria on the 4-day New Year visit of Christine Largade. In an ominous headline, “When undertaker knocks at the door”, Odion acknowledges President Buhari’s nationalistic refusal to devalue the Naira, even as he cautions that “in the largely globalised economic order of today there is a limit to how far nationalist zeal can take you,” noting the real challenge “is what further creativity the economic nationalist can muster to navigate the obviously shark-infested waters of global capital”. Odion charges that “the tightening of our monetary policies by Buhari has helped to stem further run on the Naira through unbridled capital flight”, citing the aviation sector as an example. “It is no secret that the foreign airlines are now ganging up again CBN for not granting them forex to repatriate hundred of millions of dollars from ticket sales in Nigeria. As of October last year, the figure was put at a whopping $550 million. Considering the last Yuletide boom, the figure must have doubled by now. Of course, among them is Air France, the national carrier of Lagarde’s native France. While no one should begrudge the foreign airlines for such bountiful harvest, the sad truth is that most of them engage only few Nigerians on casual jobs. So, imagine if CBN had yielded by now, the little that remains of our foreign reserve would have been further depleted.” While Odion seems to justify these measures in the short term, he cautions that “if sustained for too long, the already anaemic real sector may as well succumb to asphyxia.” READ THE FULL ARTICLE’.........


What We’re Going To Miss This Year—Azu Ishiekwene, Leadership

Ishiekwene humourously takes the reader back to some of the stories that made the headlines in 2015, not the least some of the gaffes of former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan; an example being telling a television crew not known to be friendly to her husband’s administration: “So you people are here, eh?, thank God oh! You came to cover us alive?” He adds: “We will be missing the letters as well. It doesn’t look 2016 will be the year of letters; except of course, letters to the EFCC, a few of which are already embarrassingly being jointly written by some Papa & co, who raided the treasury.  But that’s not the type of letter I’m talking about. I’m talking about the famous letters between Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and Jonathan over the missing $49.8 billion? $20 billion? Or $12 billion?....... READ MORE AT

Steve Omojafor: A good man turns 70

This is a celebratory piece on a leading light of marketing communications, Steve Omojafor. In a land well known for celebrating men of office rather than substance, the piece shows Omojafor’s qualities that need being emulated in a land requiring a redefinition of values....... READ MORE AT

INFORMED COMMENTARY January 9-15, 2016

Reactions to the 2016 budget, the January 6 destruction of the Oshodi market in Lagos, and unending disclosures of wanton sharing of public funds by politicians dominated the press in the second week of the year.

The Buhari Social Agenda

Kayode Komolafe in his midweek column, “The Horizon” in Thisday passes a vote of confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari’s budget. In a significant respect, it is a fitting reply to Femi Aribisala’s charge January  5 in Vanguard that the budget is a pretence budget. Komolafe, in “The Buhari Social Agenda”, calls for “urgent need for these social policies and programmes to be better articulated”. He finds it intriguing “that the social welfare provisions in the budget have been greeted with enormous scepticism if not cynicism in some quarters”, citing the N500 billion programme to address school feeding, conditional cash transfer to the poor, and post NYSC grant to the unemployed. Komolafe justifies these programmes, chiding members of the upper and middle classes who cannot “imagine that in many parts of this country feeding could be a factor in educating the child”. Says he “In a country in which over 10 million children are reportedly out of school, a government with a social conscience should adopt a radical intervention to solve the problem”. Invest in such programmes, he submits “will on the long run lead to economic development”. He draws inspiration from Prof. Joseph Stiglitz , a Nobel Prize winner in Economics, who chides advocates of austerity measures in the face of high unemployment: “An expansion of spending can actually expand production by creating jobs that will be filled by people who would otherwise be more than its revenues, cannot change the macro-economy. A national government can. And the increase in GDP can be a multiple of the amount spent by the government”.  READ MORE AT...

Oshodi Market and Other Related Tales

Frank Nwosu, in his reaction to the dislodgement of traders from Oshodi market, dismisses the ethnic colouration given to the action. The Lagos Government had premised its action on the need to redevelop the market for its action, but many had read other motives to it. Nwosu, in “Oshodi market and related tales” in Daily Sun January 13, says “Today, when I drive past Oshodi, I’m more convinced that the demolition was the right way to go, convinced that shanties must give way for the Mega City of our dream to emerge. My only plea is that it must be given as much human face as possible”. Whilst questioning the viability of the alternative, government has provided, he discountenances ethnicity as a factor in the policy. “You can’t just displace 10, 000 traders and provide for the resettlement of only 1, 500....What has failed to impress me is this idle talk about ethnicity and political witch-hunt. Religion and ethnicity are of no importance to politicians. They only use these to distract us while they focus on the only thing that is really important to them—looting our collective treasury”. READ MORE AT......

Published in Informed Comentory

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