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(FRANK TALK) Recession: This NBS is working for PDP

By Steve Nwosu

If there is one thing the All Progressives Congress (APC) government of President Muhammadu Buhari has taught us, it is to read partisan politics into everything we see or hear in Nigeria. 

When you complain about insecurity and Boko Haram, it must be because you don’t like the face of Gen. Tukur Buratai and the other service chiefs. You want to replace them with your own tribesmen.

When youths protest against police brutality, it must be because they have been funded by the opposition to overthrow Buhari.

When you set up local vigilante to protect your community from bloodthirsty new age herdsmen,  it is a direct affront on President Buhari. When the Federal Government seeks to acquire land for agriculture, it must be Ruga, to turn Fulanis into landowners in foreign lands.

When the anti-graft war suddenly shifts gear to overdrive, it must either be a continuation of the inter-cabal war with the now-late Abba Kyari, or a subplot to encumber perceived 2023 dreamers.

It is for this fear of misrepresentation that I’ve decided I’ll no longer comment on the Lekki tollgate shooting until I’m very sure of what the final story of the Army on the matter is.

For now, I’m still holding on to the original story that the army did not send soldiers to Lekki tollgate, and that whatever mayhem we might have wrongly thought happened there was perpetrated by hoodlums in army uniforms. Shikena!!

All this other talk about blank bullets, bronze bullets, silver bullets, live bullets etc are still confusing me. All this talk about live-bullet-laden guns suddenly firing firecrackers and Knockouts into the air (and not into the crowd) is not comprehensible to those of us who did not attend Gen. Ibrahim Taiwo’s military courses.

Yes, the politicisation of everything in today’s Nigeria is so pervasive that government narrative has even moved from branding every critic, no matter how constructive, as a PDP Wailer (a sharp contrast to its apologists, fondly called Hailers) to outright hostility and mundane rationalisation of its own failings. We began to hear such unabashedly partisan refrains as, ‘it was worse under Jonathan”, “PDP did worse in 16 years” and “why didn’t you complain this much when PDP and southerners were in power?”

Everything (word or deed) just has to have a political undertone, the latest of which is now the permutations for 2023 presidency.

Understandably, therefore, when I heard the news that Nigeria’s economy had slipped into recession again, I automatically presumed it was another PDP propaganda, and immediately rushed to verified Twitter handles of key government officials to see how Lai Mohammed had dismissed the fake news and threatened to deal with the purveyors. To confirm who has been charged with Hate Speech.

Or confirm how much fine NBC had imposed on media houses for reporting such news from ‘unverified sources’. Or who and who DSS had invited for questioning over the incisive report. Or whose bank accounts the CBN had frozen over the matter. Or whose private security details the IGP had withdrawn.

But there was none. In fact, and to my surprise, the report emanated from data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), a government agency.

So, I did the next ‘logical’ thing. And it’s not dissecting the figures, stupid!



The logical thing in Buhari’s Nigeria is to run a background check on Dr Yemi Kale, Statistician-General of the Federation and Chief Executive Officer of the NBS. What are his real or perceived political sympathies? As a Yoruba man, could he be a Tinubu man? Having been first appointed by Jonathan in 2011, could it be that he’s a closet PDP man?

How can Dr Kale say that Buharinomics, which is the best thing that has happened to Nigeria since Lord Lugard, has led Nigeria to the second recession in six years?

This NBS man must definitely be working for PDP!!

But, politics aside, the reality of our economy is incontrovertible.

As early as 2014, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the then coordinating minister of the economy, had raised the alarm on an impending recession, warning that unless something deliberate and drastic was done, the economy would slip into recession by 2016, if global crude oil prices fell below a particular benchmark. Coincidentally, Kale was also running the NBS at that time.

That government, as prodigal as it is said to have been, made an outlay of policies and programmes to halt the decline and, hopefully, reverse the slide.

However, as soon as that floundering administration was booted out of power in 2015, the succeeding regime began a rather vindictive policy of removing every vestige of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, including discontinuing many of those programmes targeted at staving off recession.

Expectedly, the economy slipped into recession barely one year after.

Of course, as has been with everything else that turned out bad, the PMB regime blamed the profligacy of its predecessor for the recession. It, therefore, did very little to arrest the situation, as recession degenerated into depression.

A Nigerian economy, which was still trapped in run stormy clouds, was basically put on autopilot, tossed up and down by vagaries of the weather. The best the new managers of the economy could come up with was to procure a bigger begging bowl. And with that in hand, they headed for China, and just everywhere else they could find a mess of pottage, no matter how poisonous.

We became new converts to the gospel of “spending your way out of recession”. It did not matter if we did not have the money to spend. We could borrow and blow. And we have been doing just that: borrow, fritter it away, borrow some more, loot it into private pockets, and jump into the plane again to meet with the next creditor.

Divinely, crude oil prices stabilized a bit, giving hope that we’d exit recession by 2018. It is still debatable if Nigeria actually exited that first recession beyond what our creative accounting made us believe.

But just as it seemed things were beginning to look up (on paper, at least), Covid-19 set in, and, as Fela would say, “put everything for reverse”.

Now NBS says we’re back to recession.

Although I suspect these NBS people are agents of PDP, I doubt we’re just entering a recession. Or, maybe, the people in government are just feeling the pinch. For the rest of us were in recession before Covid-19 nudged us into depression several months ago.

The not-too-depressing thing about this recession, however, is that, for once, we’re on the same page with the government and its apologists on this natter of our parlous economy. It means we can now dispassionately discuss it without being branded PDP apologists.

This will make it a lot easier for us to find a way out together. Because this nationwide hunger is no respecter of party affiliation- real or perceived.

The only snag, however, is that while many of us are trying to fix the leaky economy, few others are busy inflicting more punctures. Or how else does one interpret these newfound adventures in the Niger Republic and other strange places?

How do we explain that the same Niger Republic, to which we accuse smugglers of smuggling Nigeria’s petroleum products, for a profit, is now signing MOU to sell fuel back to us? The same Niger Republic for whom we are building a refinery, and also using the money we borrowed from China to build a railway station, and a railway line to link them from Katsina.

This thing becomes more confusing with every passing day.

Where are they getting the petrol they want to sell to us? Are they going to import and resell to us?

Or is this curious MOU just a smokescreen for the Buhari government to “dash” money to the Niger Republic? Just the same way the CBN was dubiously alleged to have ‘proposed’ purchase of Zamfara’s gold for N5 billion?

Did we deliberately collapse our own refineries to relocate same to the Niger Republic? Has this got anything to do with Buhari’s policy of throwing open our borders to Nigeriens, Malians, Chadians etc?

Why do I get this impression that there is an unwritten agreement to carve a new country to be situated somewhere between the lower Maghreb and the more northerly states of Northern Nigeria? And that the idea is to establish that new country using resources obtained through subterfuge from present-day Nigeria, facilitated by agents of the Nigerian state?

Why do I feel there is a systematic asset-stripping of Nigeria currently going on? Is that why all the new military schools and transport schools, funded with collective resources, are going in one direction?

I hope while some of us are shouting ourselves hoarse with calls for restructuring, and half-heartedly threatening to break away, some others have not long resolved to break away, and have been slowly, but steadily, establishing their new country, at our collective expense – along the lines of defunct pre-colonial empires.

That may be why many of these people remain unmoved by the very clear signs of collapse staring our dear country in the face. That may be why the authorities’ response to protestations against institutional impunity is to unleash even more impunity.

It reminds me of the parable of the fowl. While we were still complaining that the fowl messed up its legs by stepping on faeces, it went on to make an even bigger mess by using its mouth to clean the soiled legs.

Now, with this return to recession, I’m getting really scared.