Conspiracy of Nigeria’s economic and political elite

Unlike many other nations of the world, ours is a nation without a national interest, daily despoiled, repeatedly abused and plundered by her economic and political elite that have held her hostage since the end of the civil war in 1970. The former owns the country while the later reigns at its behest. Although we owe our survival as an organized society to the resourcefulness and brinkmanship of the latter, but because they are often regarded as unscrupulous and unprincipled men of many words driven naked ambition, all the ills of society are heaped on their head. As for the former, the real owners of the country, their laws are our laws. And government is therefore a pencil in their hands. It is they that draft government policies that government must implement faithfully to justify their position.

It was Olu Falae, a former Managing Director of Nigerian Merchant Bank, and Kalu Idika Kalu, who as representatives of the owners of the country, imposed on Babangida the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) which killed all our budding manufacturing industries and paved the way for bounty harvests by our parasitic economic elite who didn’t have to bother about manufacturing with its labour problems, infrastructural deficit and long gestation period before smiling to the banks. It was the economic elite that first created artificial fuel scarcity in 1999 before coming up with PPPRA which Obasanjo was forced to sign into law within three months and became an instrument with which N1.7tn was stolen according to a House of Representatives report. The ill-implemented IMF recommended privatization policy was the brainchild of the owners of the country who often draft policies for government implementation. Through the policy, the economic elite and their allies cornered the nation’s total investment of $100b for a paltry $1.5b.

The owners of Nigeria who for on-shore profit formed a cabal with multinationals to promote importation as against manufacturing have continued to encourage foreign divestment and relocation of industries to foreign countries notably Ghana and South Africa.

There is currently a trending advertisement of a doubtful source on the social media titled: “Guinness Brewery Ikeja Land and Property for sale”. Details include asking price of N8billion for the landed area of 9.922 hectares (24.52 acres). Other details include Administrative block: 498.68sqm2. Warehouse1: 23,369.68sqm; Warehouse 2: 9,029.99sqm,. Amenities block: 1,490.49sqm Silo block: 1,078.83sqm. Empty beer store: 462.66sqm etc. The advert further claims that “all machineries have been moved to Guinness’s new site in Ghana”. The relocation was said to be due to to macroeconomic instability, rule of law, insecurity, lack of ease of doing business, FX challenges, corruption, power, infrastructure deficit etc. which they say are impacting unfavorably on cost of doing business.

Although I am not aware of any official reaction from Guinness, but many believe because Guinness is a global brand which declared N4.03 billion as profit in 2018 and a modest N1.01 billion as dividends for financial year ending June 30 2021, the issue of relocation or divestment cannot be executed under the table. But some other believes nothing is impossible in a nation where what binds the parasitic elite together is corruption and opportunism. They cited GSK that recently exited Nigeria, moving the production of its key brands to South Africa and transferring the production of two of its brands to a local company and paid off its last set of staff in January this year.

They also cited the relocation of Dunlop Nigerian PLC established in Nigeria in 1961 as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dunlop Group to Ghana. Its exit was also attributed to inconsistent government tariff policies which gave advantage to imported tyres over locally manufacture ones. In 2005, DN Tyre spent $50 million on a truck tyre project. The federal government in 2006 reduced the tariff on imported tyres from 40 per cent to 10 per cent. This coupled with poor power supply led to the company shutting down operations in 2008. In a bid to pay off N8 billion in loans, the firm in 2012, decided to sell several assets which was eventually completed in 2014. There was also the exit of Michelin Tyre Services Company Ltd established in Nigeria in 1961 for similar self-serving government policies.

There is therefore nothing beyond Nigeria’s unpatriotic parasitic economic elite, 350 of whom owe 83% of Non-Performing Loan portfolio of N4.4tn. It was also not a surprise that despite controlling about 45% of those companies that relocated from Nigeria to Ghana and South Africa, they did nothing to protect Nigeria’s national interest when machinery and equipment for which loans were sought from Nigerian banks and which enjoyed tax waivers when first imported to Nigeria were ferried out of the country.

Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, one-time Nigerian External Affairs Minister once observed that there is hardly any Nigerian multi-billionaire who did not make his money through the state. Minus Dangote who by the way also enjoys generous tax waivers and monopoly on many product lines, we know of no manufacturing industries owned and managed by any of current Nigerian multi-billionaires. Apart from government, we know no other source of monies by those who today control mega banks that declare such humongous profits that will force workers in the homes of capitalism to embark on industrial showdown. We also cannot associate those who set up private universities including President Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar with any industry.

What is not in doubt is that many directors of some of the companies divesting or relocating collude with multinationals to trade manufacturing for importation. The result is the total collapse of our once thriving manufacturing industries whose factory building and ware houses have become religious houses. Why don’t you trade and have a turn-around in 29 days than get involved in manufacturing and wait for 29 months for turn-around?

Thus our unpatriotic economic elite create demand without supply, borrow to import what outsiders produce and not to produce what we need even when we have the raw materials to produce them, a violation of basic economic law of comparative advantage. And this explains why countries like the US declare periodically the number of jobs created by their economy. What we create here are hungry and angry youths.

Unlike Nigeria where our economic and political elite treat our nation as a land to be exploited, nations where economic elite have stakes in their country protect their nation’s national interest. If China was given an approval to export 5000 jean pants to the US, any additional unit cannot enter US territory through any of the ports in the US. In Switzerland, all those from surrounding European nations that have working visas to the country cannot stay a minute after midnight. But here, our economic and political parasitic elite after killing our budding industries and nurturing angry and hungry jobless youths, tell us killer immigrant herdsmen can lay claim to Nigerian citizenship or while some of them take a trip to China and India to import killer pharmaceutical products and substandard electronic and car spare-parts.

In 2015, Nigerians had thought President Buhari as an elected sovereign was the messiah to liberate Nigerians from the conspiracy of political and economic parasites holding the nation hostage. It is however a paradox that seven years down the line, he is using democracy as an excuse for failing a nation that massively voted for him not because of his democratic credentials but because of their nostalgic craving for his past outing as a dictator who they had hoped could treat those holding the nation hostage “in the language they understand”.

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