by Dr. Peregrino Brimah
The direct policies of the central bank of Nigeria, CBN have been and continue to be at the helm of the current economic crisis and recession that is permanently and irreversibly destroying life and hope for the Nigerian masses. We have repeatedly pointed out these cabal-favorable, masses-exterminating policy decisions that have gotten Nigeria to this point. As support is lost, our teachers are resorting to stealing and the weak are taking their own lives. 4.6 million jobs have been lost according to the National Bureau of Statistics. This is catastrophic!
In January this year, in my article, “FOREX: Nigeria’s Economic Catastrophe From Godwin Emefiele’s Prison Economics,” I warned that due to unreasonable policies suddenly limiting Nigerians’ access to dollars, tens of thousands of businesses will fold up. I highlighted that business mogul, Leo-Stan Ekeh predicted the collapse of 99% of Nigerian businesses due to CBN forex policies. In April this year in an interview with the Tribune, I again raised the same concerns.
Cabal Favorable, Masses Exterminating Policies
The cabal are the smallest employers of labour in Nigeria. The government employs about 10% of labour. Big business employs a paltry 9% of labour while small businesses (Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs) are the largest employers, employing over 75% of labour. You kill small businesses, you kill the country. It’s as simple as that; not just in Nigeria but across the world. Godwin Emefiele with the apparent blessing of President Muhammadu Buhari protected and promoted the cabal who continued to declare juicy quarterly profits while they killed SMEs.
Small businesses employ over 100 million Nigerians while the cabal industries collectively hire less than a million. Atiku Abubakar recently touted that he is Nigeria’s largest employer. “I employ 50,000 Nigerians” he bragged. This is how minuscule the numbers employed by the chronically government-favoured big corp. are. Those Buhari in his AlJazeera interview promised will get exclusive access to CBN subsidized dollars employ less than 9% of labour. The cabal-protective policies as enforced by the CBN had one predictable outcome as Leo Stan had warned: death of small businesses and mass unemployment. Millions of us small-scale employers who were suffocated, packed up, and threw our employees onto the streets. 4.6 million without jobs and a means of survival in times of hiked fuel prices and inflation were the result.
Godwin Was Busy Dashing Dangote $100 Million According to Reuters
Reuters in a recent article by Ulf Laessing and Himanshu Ojha, revealed how Godwin dashed Dangote $100 million dollars within a year under Buhari’s new government. Dangote got one in nine dollars the central bank sold, at sometimes one in eight, the report stated. Similarly a handful more fellow cabal got the bulk of the rest of the half-price government-subsidized dollars that the masses were deprived of even for importing their petrol (thereby leading to an unbearable price hike). We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars given to a few dozen Nigerians.
At this time small businesses/businessmen were not only limited in amount of dollar they could purchase with prison-like restrictions suddenly imposed by banks on order of the CBN and against the constitution, but they were never allowed the advantage the Dangotes were accorded to even occasionally purchase 197-rate dollars. SMEs were thrown to the blackmarket and even then, tightly limited in what they could transfer for purchasing their goods and raw materials. As former CBN governor Soludo criticized, sudden unreasonable import ban lists by the apex bank before local availability was established put more nails in the coffin. Whereas, promoting small scale local manufacture should have been done by subsidies and other encouragement methods to preserve businesses during a needed foreign-dependence transition.
In November last year, Soludo is quoted to have summarized,“For the better part of this year, the external shocks to the economy have been complicated or accentuated by a gamut of the “tried and failed” command and control policy regime: de facto fixed exchange rate, largely fixed CBN monetary policy rate, crude capital controls, veiled form of import bans through a long list of ‘ineligible for foreign exchange’, de facto scrapping of domiciliary account established by law, etc. At first, I thought this was the usual kneejerk response of policymakers to a ‘sudden’ shock. We tried a milder variant of this for a few months during the 2008/2009 unexpected/unprecedented global crisis (with global liquidity squeeze and massive capital flight) but even then, it was communicated as a ‘short-term crisis response’ and it was quickly dismantled. We now know what works and what doesn’t even at a time of crisis.”
As has been chronic of Nigeria where big businesses get billions of dollars in waivers, they continued to get billions in subsidized dollars, while the largest employers of labour, SMEs continued to be further crippled by the Buhari government. They died.
In return, of course the masses got Dangote and co’s charities. Donations of trucks of food. This chronic government SME crippling, cabal favoritism is what US inteligencia calls the Dangote “beggar-thy-countrymen” model. The cabal then sponsor politicians and the deadly cycle continues cycle after cycle. It was he same in the US during the robber baron era before the labour union riots.
We could have suggested other alternatives that would have protected Nigeria. Rather than subsidize Dangote and co alone, if Buhari had kept his promise to encourage mushroom refineries in the Niger Delta for instance, these could have been built on a franchise template with each community given shares in a small-scale refinery. These community projects should have gotten the $100s of millions gifted to Dangote and the other cabal for their personal projects. This would have not only provided a stimulus for a wide-spread growth of real jobs across localities but it would also discourage terror in the Niger Delta while addressing the local manufacturing problem. Several similar citizen-friendly policy choices could have salvaged the largest employers of labour and the larger nation instead of saving only the cabal.
Again, for too long, Godwin Emefiele rejected our better advise to devalue the already devalued Naira. Keeping a duplicity in prices to enable the amassing of billions by his private sector billionaire friends at the expense of the masses. The rich got richer.
Today the CBN under Godwin Emefiele continues to manipulate the dollar (availability) figures to satisfy his cronies, akin to “inside trading.” Nigeria is in the hands of Jim’s boy, described by many as one of the worst crooks at the center of the Jonathan era of gravid corruption. Indeed the CBN governor is as implicated as Dasuki in the open astronomical looting of Nigeria’s treasury. It is immoral to continue with such at the helm. Nigeria’s fall into recession is the direct consequence of this violation of the trust given to the new administration.
Ultimately the buck rightly stops at the president’s table. While we cannot deny the president’s role in the job killing policies of central bank under governor Godwin Emefiele, it is more useful to directly underline the failure of this highly autonomous department. Hence the article heading. President Buhari unlike his predecessor has disappointed Nigerians by not even portraying the slightest posture of a wish to sack the CBN governor or get him investigated and prosecuted. I would not encourage the accusations that the media exposed nepotism by the apex bank has something to do with Buhari’s acceptance of the man who opened Nigeria’s vaults for Jonathan and company to steal the nation dry.
Senator Ben Murray Bruce tweeted, “It is called the Central Bank of Nigeria not the Central Bank of Rich and Powerful Nigerians. This nepotism must be investigated & punished!” It wasn’t, but rather the central bank since continued favoring the rich and connected and overseeing the loses of millions of jobs for Nigeria’s dying masses.
Dr. Peregrino Brimah; @EveryNigerian