Who is Soludo?

Soludo -no solution

Soludo -no solution

In the post of February 2, 2009 by Fortune&Class magazine titled Yar’Adua under pressure to renew Soludo’s tenure as CBN’s governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo claimed that Nigerian economy was not in any way impacted by the world global economic crisis, the statement he had long denied.

Again, as our naira began its decline in December 2008, the CBN Governor made comments that ‘the devaluation was caused by currency speculations by some individuals and certain banks in the country.’

The Governor noted that, “the CBN was aware of the individuals responsible for the devaluation and the CBN will do all in their power to ascertain the speculators are punished”. However, several weeks later the CBN made an official statement that they are responsible for the devaluation of the currency. Again, this was denied too.

Now, it is beginning to look like the CBN does not really have a clue about the problems confronting the Nation. First Nigeria was not impacted, and then later Nigeria was impacted. Then speculators were responsible for the currency devaluation, later the CBN was intentionally letting the currency fall.

And for a man who is not sure of his standings, what sense is there in shifting blames by claiming that, “With the Obama government proposing to invest heavily on alternative energy sources, there is a permanent threat to oil as mainstay of the Nigerian economy. Unless we take urgent steps to address the situation by also finding an alternative to oil as the mainstay of our economy, we might be back to the similar crisis we witnessed in 1982 when the price of oil crashed, government revenue declined and it became difficult for government at all levels to pay salaries. There was also the abandoned projects syndrome, increased import of almost anything until government was forced to place a ban on foreign currency trafficking because it was being abused.”

Must the nation always depend of oil revenue for its GDP growth? What policies is he making in his on position as the nation’s apex bank governor in ensuring economic stabilities in the areas of agriculture? Has he forgotten the effect of policy somersaults on the masses? What actually are his achievements in the area of micro-finance banks, interest rates. Yet also to be forgiven is the politics he played in the uniform year ends for the financial industry? It is a pity what our leaders are turning us into. With this kind of comments, the African nations in general are being portrayed as beggars. But we are not.

Such missteps do not send good signals to Nigerians and foreign investors because what these pronouncements and subsequent contradictions show is that either the CBN does not understand the economic problems confronting the nation or they have intentionally decided to confuse or misrepresent the facts to the nation. These types of inconsistencies will eventually result in a great loss of confidence, because what it indicates is that if the CBN is unable to determine what the problems of the economy are, a solution may not be forthcoming or formulated to fix it.

A popular maxim says a person tries his whole life to rebuild a day tarnished reputation. No matter what, the history has been re-written of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo as the most confusing governor of the central bank of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And that is who Soludo is, a man without solution.

Story by Dman John.

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NIGERIA TO BENEFIT FROM OBAMA’s “USE IT OR LEAVE IT” POLICY

The expectant echoes of the Barack Obama’s soon to be inaugurated presidency in the United States of America might have recorded its first true translation of the high hopes of Nigerians over the Obama presidency to a commitment of assistance soon after the inauguration of the first black man to emerge president of the United States of America.

Yet, this support, in its present form, is not a programmed or any of the contemplated official aids or support for Nigeria by the United States of America’s president elect. Rather, Fortune and Class Weekly has been informed that a USA based non for profit, info-tech focused organization, Saigant Technologies, was alert enough to locate an immediate opportunity that can be utilized for the benefit of Nigerians in the first set of economic stimulus package the president elect as assured Americans he is going to introduce to revitalize the recession bound American economy.

Mr. Obama, had on Saturday, December 6, 2008, in a radio address on the economy reviewed how 533,000 jobs were lost in the US and how jobs lost alone in November became the single worst month of job loss in over three decades.

“Yesterday, (December 5, 2008) we received another painful reminder of the serious economic challenge our country is facing when we learned that 533,000 jobs were lost in November alone, the single worst month of job loss in over three decades. That puts the total number of jobs lost in this recession at nearly 2 million.” Obama said in the broadcast

Highlighting the areas of worries for the average American, Obama said:

“But this isn’t about numbers. It’s about each of the families those numbers represent. It’s about the rising unease and frustration that so many of you are feeling during this holiday season. Will you be able to put your kids through college? Will you be able to afford health care? Will you be able to retire with dignity and security? Will your job or your husband’s job or your daughter’s or son’s job be the next one cut?”

“These are the questions that keep so many Americans awake at night. But it is not the first time these questions have been asked. We have faced difficult times before, times when our economic destiny seemed to be slipping out of our hands. And at each moment, we have risen to meet the challenge, as one people united by a sense of common purpose. And I know that Americans can rise to the moment once again.”

The president elect thereafter informed the American public of his economic recovery plan when he assured that:

“But we need action – and action now. That is why I have asked my economic team to develop an economic recovery plan for both Wall Street and Main Street that will help save or create at least two and a half million jobs, while rebuilding our infrastructure, improving our schools, reducing our dependence on oil, and saving billions of dollars.

“We won’t do it the old Washington way. We won’t just throw money at the problem. We’ll measure progress by the reforms we make and the results we achieve — by the jobs we create, by the energy we save, by whether America is more competitive in the world.

“Today, I am announcing a few key parts of my plan. First, we will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work.

The economic stimulus plan which is now known in some circle as the “Use it or Lose it” policy has as part of the plans the creation of millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in America’s national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s:

“We’ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we’ll set a simple rule – use it or lose it. If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money.”

It is, however, in the president elect economic recovery plan to launch sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings and to repair broken schools by making them energy-efficient, and putting new computers in the classrooms that Nigerians stand to benefit in the immediate.

An official of Saigant Technologies, an organization that was established by a US based Nigerian, said a review of the US president elect radio broadcast of December 6, 2008, provided an immediate answer to the limitation to owning lap tops and desk top computers by Nigerian students.

“You should recall that the Mr. Obama talked about renewing American schools and highways, and about renewing information superhighway. For the president elect, it is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. He argued that in the country that invented the internet, every child should have the chance to get online, and promised that they’ll get that chance when he becomes President – because that’s how he wished to strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world. Now for us in Nigeria, the specific highlight of information technology overhaul as part of the economic stimulus plan of the president elect presented a begging opportunity to imagine what the incoming American government would do with those computers, lap tops and those IT accessories the government would be replacing in order to galvanize the American domestic economy.”

“We realized that the US government would have problems disposing off these equipment which, if compared to our standard of usage here in Nigeria, would look relatively new and in the light of the limited access to computer sets and lap tops in Nigeria, the simple logic was to approach the likely channel through which we could connect with the president elect to present our proposal of moving the American used laptops and computers to those that would need them in Nigeria.” The Saigant source said.

“We made a direct offer to the president elect through Change.Gov website of the president elect and the response is quite assuring. There is a commitment to accessing about 200,000 computer sets and laptops free of charge over the next two years that Mr. Obama would be implementing the first leg of the economic stimulus programme. Our responsibility will only be limited to footing the transportation and clearing cost of the laptops and computer sets here in Nigeria.” The source further affirmed.

“This will be the first major impact of the Obama presidency on the average Nigerian; our intention is to use the opportunity to present the 200,000 plus laptops and computer sets to Nigerians at a no price rate, to boost the nation’s capacity for information technology.”

THE OBAMA PHENOMENON: HOW IT ALL STARTED

It is no longer news that humanity is today basking in the Obama Phenomenon which from all indications is set to alter the socio-political equations both in the United States and the world over. Obamas’ emergence as the 44th president of the world’s sole super power is a thing that was unthinkable just some years back, more so, when his race is famous for anything but standard behavior. Worst still is the fact that his ‘ancestral home’, Africa, is notorious for an assemblage of poor leaders and political waywardness.

This is why I am still baffled that Kenya, barely out of a political violence that engulfed it as a result of electoral fraud, shamelessly declared a public holiday to celebrate Obama’s emergence on the world stage. You can also see those lazy folks in our national legislative houses, briefly suspending their theatrics of daily assailing our ears with one revelation or the other on frauds and pilfering of public funds and other sordid revelations from the probe of one ministry or the other, conducted in the most unserious manner, even in announcing their findings. Of course, we do know that such probes are more for public show-offs than solving our problems- probes that will never be concluded; these legislators are now taking turns to commend something they never will allow to happen here. What a shame!

Painfully, it is becoming obvious that we are about to miss the opportunity of learning the lessons embedded in this great change the Lord is thrusting on mankind through this messiah of the 21st century. Rather than sit down to study this phenomenon and see how and why it worked and probably, seek to know how we can best apply it to our own pitiable situation, we are busy clicking wine glasses to drink to a state of stupor.

As a matter of challenge, we need to remind ourselves that OBAMA became what he is today because he had a vision rooted in dreams dreamt by a fellow American, turned it to a mission with a solid plan, worked on it with all he has, focused and selfless, carrying every one around him along through persuasion and strong character base that assailed even the strongest of hearts, and he landed finally to our admiration and maybe, for some, consternation.

The dream referred to above was dreamt by the late highly respected Rev. Martins Luther King Junior quoted below in part, which was the seed sown back in 1968 hence this phenomenon called Obama. It also shows that with resilience, patience, focus and belief rooted in the strong faith that for a dream to be realized, you must have the vision and be exceptionally focused, carrying every one on the way along. This is what makes Obama. It is what makes nations great and that is the difference between us and the person we are celebrating. The dream as in the speech is as follows:

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the emancipation proclamation. This momentous decree came as great beacon of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous day-break to end their midnight of captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free, one hundred years later; the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and chains of discrimination, one hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the mist of the vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land.

So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we have to our nation’s capital to cash a cheque. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the constitution and the declaration of independence, they were signing a promissory note for which every American fall heir. This note was the promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men will be guaranteed inalienable right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad cheque, a cheque which has come back marked insufficient-fund. But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vault of opportunities of this nation. And so we have come to cash this cheque, a cheque that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of ***.

I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, we hold this truth to be self evident that all men are created-equal. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression; will be transformed into oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day in Alabama with its vicious racist with its government having its lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification- that one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers…”

Well, every society it is said has its own gifts. We do have in Africa our own Rev. Martins Luther King in the mould of Nkruma, Awolowo, Nyerere, even the Madiba himself, Mandela. They may have, unlike the great Dreamer, participated in the governing processes in their various domains and times. They may also have made mistakes along the way. But what happened to their dreams? And where is our OBAMA? Instructively, as it is in politics and governance, so it is in business. Which is why we are still searching for a Bill Gate, neither are we able to light our homes 48 years in nationhood. Not to worry, the Germans are here maybe to ease out the Chinese? That is the typical rigmarole that characterizes our way of doing things.

Obama will be a good president

Head or tail, history made

Obama: Head or tail, history made

Away from our beleaguered stock market and the yet roiling global financial markets. At least, a little bit of sanity is returning to the Nigerian stock market though not by way of positive market activities, thankfully, the management of the Nigerian Stock Market has finally discerned the wisdom that informs free market activities by removing the one percent down limit on stocks price depreciation. Good enough, prices are stumbling; curiously, most hurt in the crashing prices are stocks of banks and insurance companies. The manufacturing sector is curiously holding steady, prices of UAC Nigeria, UAC Property and even those in the health sector; especially the pharmaceuticals have managed to hold their own at relative sliding rate. Does this tell a story?

 

I think it does, the power of any economy is a function of its real and active sector. Investors seem to have decidedly held faith with companies that are producing goods and products they can relate with and have turned their backs on the services of the financial sector with the average fall in price of stocks in that sector calculated at more than 50 percent. I guess it all about fears and negative sentiment. Yet, I can still dare to propose that in that sector lies the redeeming prospect of the market. Why?

Financial sector players understand the Nigerian economic market, perhaps, much more than any other sectoral player, and of course, they know how to get things done. They have been at the commanding height of the economy since the military inspired economic structural adjustment programme as influenced by the International Monetary Funds. Nigerian banks and bankers had survived much turbulence since 1993 when we first witnessed the first wholesale crash of the national banking sector and had returned stronger and better.

  So if First Bank is selling for less than 30 per cent of its peak price in 2008 at N20 plus and Access at less than 100 per cent of its high this year, I am tempted to go searching for value in the finance sector.

Please, excuse me, the stock market was not supposed to be in focus this week. I am very sure, the most discussed issue that would be discussed the whole of this week will be the USA presidential election while the most mentioned name any where in the corners of the globe this week will be Barrack Obama, that genteel, lithe figure that suddenly happened on the American political scene and had since captured the imagination of American across age, gender and other persuasion.

It’s natural to expect an opinionated African to canvass an Obama presidency, isn’t it natural? Of course, to my mind, this is the final resolution of the opposites that had defined relationship among people across the world, and for once, an indication that Africa, will, despite the interface of all morbid attributions in national leadership of countries across the black African continent, is where ultimate civilization and prosperity is headed. This may not be more than 50 years, I feel a reordering of the global economic space, an Obama USA presidency will be the beginning of the process.

Is this some fanciful thought? I don’t know, but it’s not every time that an individual, seemingly unqualified for a position just suddenly start marshalling the most effective strategies to beat political institutions in the United States.

The fact that Obama, a black-white man, or put properly, a white-black man (still wonder why they still primarily describe him as a black man as if the white gene and pigmentation of his mum were of no consequence) subsumed the Clintons and veteran John McCain in the opinion of people across the USA should convince anybody that Obama will be a good president.

No need to cajole logic and other persuasive argument about the worthiness of Obama, he has proved this by taking the battle to republican states and even competing on favourable numbers in McCain’s Arizona. And even more interesting, he turned the institution of the republican into a bleary eyed pumpkin mask only suitable to be laughed at during Halloween. Obama is that awesome.

So, can we be practical enough to stop all those talks of a McCain miraculous come as he had done before in those other elections into the senate. This is a different ball game; we are talking here about a phenomenon who is just being introduced to the world stage. Something tells me the world will not be the same after four years of Obama…but that will be if he survives the first term. Now, that’s talk for another day.