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MAGNUS ONYIBE

Magnus Onyibe is an entrepreneur, public policy analyst, author, development strategist, alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Massachusetts, USA and a former cabinet member of Delta state government. Since the return to multi-party democracy in Nigeria over 21 years ago, Onyibe has written and published over 200 opinion pieces on the Nigerian economy, business, politics, leadership, governance and foreign relations issues.

If care is not taken, President Muhammadu Buhari would inadvertently kill all of the Nigerian people in the name of combating corruption, writes Magnus Onyibe

So much has already been written about President Muhammadu Buhari’s unwavering focus of energy on the war against corruption, which has saved Nigeria yet-to-be disclosed huge amounts of money and won him accolades from all the right quarters – locally and internationally.

Owing to his no-matter-whose-ox-is-gored approach to combating corruption in Nigeria, of which a new mantra ‘kill corruption before corruption kills Nigeria’ has been coined, socio-economic activities in Africa’s largest economy are gradually grinding to a halt.

The clear tell-tale signs of a country in distress, which Nigeria is now are not just only manifesting as the dreadfully long queues for fuel on the streets that have been off-and-on for nearly one year, but also the unprecedented shut down of businesses resulting in massive unemployment and the inability of 26 state governments to pay workers’ salaries. This is leading to double digit inflation that has now gripped the economy, reflected in the spike in prices of basic, but essential commodities.

Empty products display racks in most pharmaceutical shops which are evidence of lack of basic drugs and medications for sale, due to paucity of foreign exchange to import them is in my view, one of the worst fallouts of the capital restriction policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. What this portends is aggravated increase in mortality rate as Nigerians may start dying of ailments that could have been cured with medications as simple as penicillin, which are rapidly becoming rare to find as they are out of stock.

The assertion above may appear to be alarmist, but the scenario painted is simply the truth and anyone in doubt should visit the nearest chemist/pharmacy and request for the ordinary medications that were readily available in the past and wait for the response. Usually, the most vulnerable people to be negatively impacted by the dearth of medications are new born babies, children, women and the elderly, particularly those suffering from cancer or cardiovascular diseases requiring chemotherapy or daily dosage of anti-high blood pressure medications etc.

Arising from the above, the CBN and those involved in rationing of foreign exchange must make haste to urgently consider intervening in that sector to avoid a looming health catastrophe.

To that end, the health minister, Isaac Adewole should come out of his shell and structure a deal as Ibe Kachikwu, Petroleum minister of state, did by sourcing foreign exchange for fuel import from upstream petroleum sector, which has now eased the fuel crisis. He needs to convince President Buhari that the health sector needs special intervention in that regard and that’s where the president comes into the picture.’

As the saying goes, old soldier never dies. This wise crack derives from the fact that once a soldier sets his mind on accomplishing an objective, he never flinches or relents until the mission is accomplished.

So, Nigerians have no doubt about the capacity and ability of president Buhari to fulfill his avowed promise of killing corruption before, corruption kills Nigeria, but at what price?
Like most Nigerians, I applaud our hard-fighting president for the courage to want to pull our country out of the economic doldrums that it has sunk into due to maladministration over the years, but I believe that the president, who is very sensitive to issues concerning the interest of the masses, wants to rule over the living, not the dead.

What’s more, the current feeling of misery hanging like an albatross over Nigeria, just like the 1933 Great Depression in the USA, is to say the least, not complimentary to the cult personality of PMB that Nigerians voted for as president, on March 28th 2015 to rescue them from the shackles of corruption-induced poverty.

Instead of applying 100% energy trying to crush corruption, 30% should be allotted and the balance 70% should devoted to finding solutions to the myriads of socio-economic challenges that are standing in the way of progress and development in Nigeria. As I have mentioned in past articles, China and India, which are the world’s fastest growing economies are cesspit of corruption, yet they are growing, why and how?
In fact, according to World Economic Forum (WEF), India used contracts in the construction industry as political campaign slush funds in the manner that funds for procurement of arms was used by the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) during Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

As the boss of International Monetary Funds (IMF), Christine Lagarde recently pointed out, the world losses about 1 trillion dollars to corruption annually and about 30% of global GDP is enmeshed in corruption. What the foregoing statistics suggests is that the world economy thrives pari-pasu with corruption but despite the unfortunate incident of corruption, development of society must go on.

It behooves every forward-looking country to strive to bring corruption to a manageable level to boost integrity internationally and earn respect as China is currently doing to sustain flow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and which Nigeria under PMB’s watch has also done.

The difference between the Chinese and Nigerian approach is that China devotes 30% of her time chasing corruption and the rest is invested in pursuit of progress, while Nigeria is devoting her entire effort in fighting corruption.
Clearly, Nigeria has the requisite human capacity and appropriate economic fundamentals to be great again, but all it would take for our country and economy to gain traction is for government to tone down the rhetoric of negativity and instead, our dear president should send powerful messages of hope and defined path to growth and strength to both Nigerians and the international community.

By charting and defining government’s solution to the myriads of challenges bogging down governance, confidence will be reposed in the economy of Nigeria and all the gloomy forecasts by global credit rating agencies – Fitch, Standards and Poor, Moodys – that have crashed Nigeria’s rating and forecast would become bullish again.
It is time to channel the anger against the rot left by previous governments into solutions that would bring the much needed succor to the long suffering masses.
-Onyibe, a development strategist and former commissioner in Delta State is an alumnus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA

Quote
The clear tell-tale signs of a country in distress, which Nigeria is now are not just only manifesting as the dreadfully long queues for fuel on the streets that have been off-and-on for nearly one year, but also the unprecedented shut down of businesses resulting in massive unemployment and the inability of 26 state governments to pay workers’ salaries. This is leading to double digit inflation that has now gripped the economy, reflected in the spike in prices of basic, but essential commodities

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