Another kind of recession
Like the prophets of old, the CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele has been all over town with a bell in hand, prophesying the coming of the kingdom of prosperity in Nigeria after the current biting state of lack. He says given the sacrifices already made to the gods of prosperity, the impending boom can be as soon as next January, which means Nigerians only have at most four months to endure hunger before the glorious moments of salvation.
He is a prophet of hope and the perfect person for this moment. Nigerians should thank him for being markedly different in this season of anomie when every prophet, real and fake, is seeing doom. But there is a little problem and I shall explain. His language is off mark. Economists do not talk like that. There is this phrase that they usually do not forget to inject into their presentations. It is called ‘All Things Being Equal.’ They say it as if there is equality in natural selection or God created all things to be equal in the first place. But that is what they say and I cannot understand why Emefiele, while making his prediction of a better tomorrow did not say: ‘the current recession will be over by first quarter of 2107, ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL.
I witnessed everything and so, I can say for sure that Emefiele didn’t attach the phrase, which to me was reckless. Instead, he was sounding almost like a dibia. In short, who told Emefiele that the economy will come as a priority in 2017? In case he does not know, by next year, the journey towards 2019 will be half way through and there will be great expectations, not strictly in the sense of good governance and accruing benefits. The politics of succession shall set in to create a fresh set of concerns and the economy even in its bad shape shall take a back seat.
I am just worried that Nigerian politicians shall remain in their character even in the face of a suffocating recession and play their role the way they have always understood it. The disturbing pattern since the start of this democracy in 1999 is that real governance goes on recess at mid-term. And this is not going to change under the Change Agenda and sternness of President Buhari.
Nigerian politicians are like principalities. They do not accept any red liquid in place of blood when they get thirsty for power. Buhari, who is more military than civil, may not understand this and could throw red oil at the politicians when they start baying for blood in 2017, ahead of the big event in 2019. He shall continue this business of fighting corruption as usual and shut out access to all monies including expected accruals from the sale of national assets and deny political office holders the vital oxygen for the 2019 race.
The President will be resisted big time. Some of the centrifugal tendencies within the APC that have remained largely latent and subterranean shall become more manifest. For instance, the one called national leader of the APC, Asiwaju , who has been denied a definite role in the Change Project in spite of his huge investment may begin working very hard again to return to reckoning. There has been an undeclared but sustained war to contain Tinubu from spreading full course as evident in the events in Kogi and Ondo States.
Tinubu does not need anybody’s help as such. The Jagaban also known as the Lion of Bourdillon, can fight and win alone. A power tactician, he remembers even in the heat of battle to retreat when danger outweighs hope. Right now, the Lion is on a tactical retreat, having suffered series of defeats in his hunt for big preys in the last one and half years or so. He is strategizing for the main game in 2019.
Elsewhere in the Northeast flank is the Turaki Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who tries to come across as the only detribalized Fulani man in Nigeria. He has also not earned commensurate dividends in the joint venture and may be itching to divest to look at other available investment options. Equally very tall in strategy, Atiku who was deputy to former President Obasanjo for eight years has been afield lately on serious political evangelism, delivering sermons most Nigerians want to hear. His message on restructuring is resonating across the Niger Delta, in Ibadan, Enugu, Benin, Port Harcourt, Calabar and all nooks and crannies of Southern Nigeria. He has even recorded a handful converts up North.
His hands seem to be in every pie-making process as calculations towards 2019 gain traction. He has been mentioned in the PDP governorship primary in Ondo and other high-wire intrigues within the opposition party. More or less, he is rightfully sowing in this sowing season in every available arable political space in anticipation of a bumper harvest in 2019. Whatever political IOUs he issues now will be due for retirement in 2019.
If truth be told, Buhari just picked the Presidency on a platter of gold in 2015. Till date, he does not understand the real cost of the presidency. He does not know for instance that good politics is the price of power. In 2015, others paid the price while Buhari only followed smoothly along a cleared path to pick power. And now, in less than two years into a celebration that is structured to last for four years in the first instance, Buhari is already drunk with power and staggering off the path that led him to power. Since there is no other clear path to power other than party politics in a democracy, the option, if Buhari must continue beyond 2019 is autocracy. I will not say more.
For now, the 2015 pathfinders seem bent on making the path very rough for Buhari in 2019. It is their game and they dictate the rules of engagement. Dr. Bukola Saraki has not known peace since becoming President of Nigeria’s 8th Senate on June 9, 2015. He is one of the pathfinders. In the unending battle to gain respite, he had alluded to a cabal of just three or less than half a dozen men leading President Buhari off the narrow path. He is not a happy man and may be patiently waiting in the wings for the best time to take centre stage and make a show about his prowess.
There is also one Rabiu Kwankwanso, former governor of Kano State now a Senator, who is currently stranded between Kano and Abuja because nobody wants him in either place. He is one of the pathfinders in 2015. There are many more, too numerous to mention, who are itching to reclaim their path and leave Buhari with his core/con men and guns to do a successful battle in a democracy.
These are the violent variables that must be forcefully held in place to gain the presidential concentration to tackle the economy out of recession in 2017. I am not too sure ‘Prophet’ Emefiele saw all of these in his crystal ball. Now that I have helped to recreate the forecasting environment at no cost, Emeifele should return to his crystal ball and say the right thing.
And the right thing is: ‘all things being equal’, recession will end in 2017. One major thing that must remain equal for the sick economy to be revamped is the politics of 2019. It must not begin too much ahead of time in 2017. Another is the ambition of Buhari. If he decides not to extent his tenancy at Aso Rock Villa beyond 2019 (and he must make this known early enough), the economy will be cured. Buhari has complete control over the latter and I shall dutifully advise him to stay with it.
If however he choses to renew his tenancy, there will be serious politics in 2017 and if there is serious politics, government will go on recession and there will be nobody to attend to the sick economy. This is the other kind of recession which is more dangerous.