By Abraham Ogbodo
I have been doing the wrong thing all along! I have been struggling since I left school 27 years ago to break even and join the privileged club of stupendously rich individuals. Nobody told me that I could rebase and cross over to the other side just like that. In fact, it is surprising that no Nigerian finance minister before now knew that there was some very simple process called rebasing in macroeconomics that could make Nigeria rich over night.
You see, I have always complained about this mediocrity in public administration in Nigeria. If former President Olusegun Obasanjo had not discovered Dr Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and dragged her from the World Bank to help us, we would still be here lamenting our inability to get rich quickly and overtake South Africa in prosperity. E se gan Baba Iyabo! God bless you for Nigeria!
If you ask me, I will suggest that Ngozi should be awarded the Presidency in 2019 without contest, given that President Goodluck Jonathan will still try his luck again in 2015. But if by some unusual twist of events, Goodluck decides to stop pushing his luck, Ngozi can pick the award right away instead of waiting till 2019. If the marvellous rebasing cannot qualify Ngozi for the presidency, I wonder what else can! If as a mere finance and coordinating minister for the economy, she could pull this through, it only can be imagined the miracles that will follow if she becomes oga madam patapata at the top. We will be aiming to overtake the US and not common South Africa.
I see a wonderful opportunity here for Ohaneze N’digbo, which has been asking for the presidency since the start of this dispensation to make dream come to reality. Instead of searching far and wide for a candidate that may not pass the national aptitude test, the best option is to adopt Ngozi at both ends as a daughter of Anioma in Delta State and as a wife in Abia State and field her as a united Igbo candidate. The chances appear brighter this way than otherwise.
I do not see how Nigerians across the divide are going to reject Ngozi. Who else in the history of Nigeria has been able to create such a tremendous turnaround from practically nothing? I say nothing because none of the indices we consider as vital to development actually added up to give this great result. Power generation is still at about 3000 megawatts for 170 million people, yet we have come this far. Imagine what will happen if generation peaks at 170,000 megawatts, which is the new projection, according to the just ended Lagos Economic Summit, that the economy requires to run efficiently.
It is clear at once that the issue of unemployment in the country has been deliberately over stated and orchestrated by enemies of the Nigerian state to achieve a sinister purpose. Countries with idle people do not expand their GDP in leaps and bounds over night. Only countries with active working population such as Nigeria can do so without stress. We can therefore safely say that the March 15 tragedy, in which some 20 people were trampled to death in different locations across the country had nothing to do with an alleged mammoth crowd that had thronged the locations to participate in an aptitude test in lieu of placements in the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
One finding said some soccer promoters had put together a match between Chelsea Football Club and city rival Arsenal to be played at the National Stadium Abuja, Nigeria. It added that instead of live broadcast of the epic encounter to homes, the promoters mounted giant screens in selected stadiums nationwide as viewing centres and restricted the broadcast of the match to only these centres. Those that could not make it to Abuja were given the opportunity of watching the match live on these big screens. The finding concluded that the crowd that invaded the Abuja stadium especially, and other stadiums on that fateful March 15, were actually irrepressible soccer fans that wanted to watch live their darling clubs play in Nigeria.
This sounds more like it. I am happy that the truth is gradually coming out. It is now left for the Information Minister, Labaran Maku to ask the National Assembly to appropriate some good money for him to finance an intensive media cum publicity campaign to correct the wrong impression. It is possible that enemies might have had inkling of the good news (Rebase) well ahead and decided to distort the facts of the March 15 tragedy just to detract from this glorious moment of Nigeria becoming the biggest economy in Africa.
Whether the enemies like it or not, Nigeria has overtaken South Africa as Africa’s biggest economy and that is authoritative. They can jump inside the Atlantic and perish for all I care. It is also their cup of tea if they decide to lampoon this impressive record and say the size in question is not anything better than the size of a barrel without crude oil in it. At least for once, there is some content and substance to the claim that Nigeria is the Giant of Africa.
President Jonathan now has enough to take to the market if he decides to join issues in 2015. He shouldn’t rack his brain trying to create a captivating slogan to drive the processes. He should forget about ‘Transformation Agenda’ and stuff like that and look in the new direction and make good electoral capital from the rebasing windfall. I can give a working guide right away: With Jonathan, Nigeria Is First In Africa, Continue With Jonathan And Nigeria Will Be First In The World. Wow!
The President’s handlers can work around this and hammer out dependable catch phrases in the 2015 electioneering. Expectedly, other good news has been following the rebasing breakthrough. In fact, it is like Nigeria has begun shifting from the spectator stand to the field of play in the global market engagement. Last week, global rating agency, Fitch said a few more nice things about the economic strength of the country, noting that as a result of the new GDP figure of $510 billion, Nigeria’s sovereign and overall balance sheets, current account surplus, debt service ratio and external liquidity are all stronger than previously. The Ministry of Finance took time to push all of this added value across to the media so that the public would know that, in truth, the Sleeping Giant has woken up and ready to contest.
But pessimists are not relenting. They have come up with a diabolic arithmetic that makes the enormous gain look like peanuts. They say if spread among 170 million human beings that live in Nigeria, the celebrated GDP leap from $258.55 to $510 billion, representing an unprecedented 90 per cent increase, would come to a paltry $3000 per head. In the same breath, they contend that South Africa’s $384.3 billion GDP would give every human being living in that country about $7,336, more than twice the per head income in Nigeria. This is called Per Capita Income in technical jargon. These critics are saying in effect that we are poorer than South Africa in real terms. What kind of thing is this now? Why can’t we have one good version of a story in this country without somebody, somewhere coming to spoil it with a bad version?
Anyway, so much for Nigeria! Let me talk about myself. I opened this page with my desire to rebase so that I can represent myself to rating agencies for proper rating. I left school, I mean the university, 27 years ago and I have remained in gainful employment for 25 of these years. If the one-year compulsory youth service is added, it will be 26 years of working nonstop. I have been to all the continents of the world except Australia.
Also, I have raised graduates outside my own children. I have mentored a whole lot of people. In fact, many of those I taught English Language and Literature as a corps member teacher at New State High School, Mushin Lagos between 1987 and 1988 are very big people today. One of them is Sandra Achums, the Nollywood actress who has somehow become scarce on the screen. Now and again, I run into a few others in my day-to-day operation and they are all too ready to render to me the reward of a teacher. Once, Sandra offered to pick my bill when we met at a supermarket in Isolo, Lagos. I felt proud being a teacher.
All of these taken together, I am of the humble opinion that I should rebase to a rich man. I don’t know what you think but I have successfully rebased and I shall send my name immediately to Forbes Magazine and other rating institutions for proper listing among the world richest.
– This Best Outside Opinion was written by Abraham Ogbodo / Guardian