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Senator Ihenyen: What does the presidency expect – Pat on the back or kick at the balls?

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Senator Ihenyen: What does the presidency expect – Pat on the back or kick at the balls?

By Senator Ihenyen

But would you blame Nigerians for remembering Squealer in George Orwell’s Animal Farm whenever Dr. Reuben Abati starts talking? Disinformation is of course a dangerous weapon in the hands of political oppositions anywhere in the world, just as misinformation from the Presidency is not likely to save its face in public.

Dr. Reuben Abati in a recent interview with the Vanguard accused Nigerians of the attitude of believing the worst about our leaders. According to the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, “the biggest challenge I have faced is disinformation by the opposition, mischief makers and evil minded persons. People take a position just to rubbish government, discredit it with the aim of embarrassing President Goodluck Jonathan.

“How disinformation works is that Nigerians like to believe the worst about their leaders.”

I began to wonder if there is any evidence to the contrary after long years of repeated rape of our nation by those we call our leaders. Corruption has destroyed the system. Poverty, unemployment, insecurity and hopelessness has resulted. With renewed hope, majority of Nigerians voted a shoeless president who now appear to be clueless. What does the Presidency expect? A pat on the back? (or a kick at its balls!)

However, as much as I hate to say this, there is an element of truth in what the Presidency has identified as a serious challenge. Leadership without followership is mere power. And except our President turns a bully overnight, we can’t be easily booted in to join the queue.

But would you blame Nigerians for remembering Squealer in George Orwell’s Animal Farm whenever Dr. Reuben Abati starts talking? Disinformation is of course a dangerous weapon in the hands of political oppositions anywhere in the world, just as misinformation from the Presidency is not likely to save its face in public.

Time and again, we are told by people like Abati that “a lot has been achieved in the aviation sector, in education, in power sector. This is what Nigerians should be talking about…”

Well, if the recent reports and analyses on the Nigerian economy are anything to go by, the vision of putting Nigeria among the top 20 economies in the world by the year 2020 may be realisable. Dr. Abati must now be smiling again!

Political economist, Prof. Pat Utomi, has said the Nigerian economy is about to witness a remarkable growth. According to the Professor, “in the next few years, Nigeria’s economy will be growing at two digits. The Nigerian economy is about to take off. Nigeria is going to do remarkably well.

“Today, business leaders want to get into Africa. If you look at the numbers, half of the 10 fastest growing economies are in Africa. The frustrations in Western Europe, in particular, are making people who are looking for better returns to look towards Africa. And Nigeria would be at the heart of Africa rising. In the next few years, Nigeria’s economy will be growing at two digits.”

Prof. Pat Utomi is not alone.

According to a recent report by the United States National Intelligence Council, NIC, Nigeria could be one of the countries including China that would drive the world’s economy by the year 2030. The NIC report is a product of expert opinion from the US intelligence community released last December. In the report on Global Trends 2030, “In addition to China, India, and Brazil, regional players such as Colombia, Indonesia , Nigeria , South Africa and Turkey will become especially important to the global economy,” the report says.

Also, latest reports on the Nigerian economy by the African Institute for Applied Economics (AIAE) show that the economy is expected to grow by more than 6.5 per cent in 2013.

Not every expert quite agrees.

A senior lecturer, Department of Economics, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Dr. Usman Muttaka, said economic growth was useless if it did not translate to better living condition for Nigerians. He said, “What is the use of having 13 per cent or even 15 per cent growth without jobs and without improvement in people’s standard of living? As an economist, I’m interested in how economic policies affect the living standard of Nigerians. Why don’t they predict and give us figures for reduction of poverty level in the country in the coming year?”

Another Economist, Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, who was Vice Chancellor of Crescent University, was quoted to have said he doesn’t see “Nigeria’s economy growing at the seven per cent that they have predicted. Even if there is growth, it would be in the oil sector…”

“To me, that is not real growth, because it is not in the real sector. The growth is not coming from agriculture, which is where we should be seeking growth. It is good to aspire for economic growth, but we must redirect our economic focus.”

We cannot achieve economic development that will have a meaningful effect on our current poor human development index if corruption remains in the system. I know and I believe most Nigerians know that when you fight corruption, it fights you back. However, we need to begin to see concrete results in 2013. With overall global growth estimated at 3.6 per cent in 2013, and Nigeria’s real GDP forecasted to grow by 6.7 per cent in the same year, we hope the figures will count this time

Senator Ihenyen is a lawyer and an author. When he is not in court, he is researching the law. When he is not researching, he is writing. When he is not writing, he is working on the next big idea or managing a youth NGO. When he's not doing any of these? He's busy contributing on politics, policies and current affairs on The Scoop because it's the smart thing to do. Disclaimer: Senator is Senator's given name even though Facebook doesn't believe and so shortened the name to 'Sen' on that site. Unlike those who bear the name as a title, Senator has never accepted the millions of Naira which they receive as allowance - not like he's ever been offered though.

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