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Nigeria now effectively a failed state – Donald Duke

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Nigeria now effectively a failed state - Donald Duke

 

Mr. Donald Duke, former governor of Cross River State, has noted that Nigeria is technically a failed state, as it cannot meet the basic expectations of its citizens, which according to him, is the hallmark of a failed nation.

Mr. Duke said this while delivering his opening remarks as chairman of the occasion during the Prince Emeka Obasi Inaugural Memorial Lecture held on Thursday at the Muson Centre Onikan Lagos, with the theme, ‘If This Giant Must Walk; Manifesto for a New Nigeria.’

He noted that Nigeria has been moving backwards since the 1970s, while remarking that the question is not whether the country will walk, but whether it’s walking backwards of forward.

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“Between 1979 and 1983 when Shehu Shagari was president, Nigeria’s annual budget hovered around $25bn. Our population was about 80 million to 90 million at the time. That was over 40 years ago. Today, our population as they say is over 200 million, but our annual budget is $19bn,” he said.

“I said this to bring into context where we are as a people. It’s not not for Nigeria to walk, it’s how are you walking? Are you moonwalking or are you walking forward? Moonwalking is what we’ve been doing for the last 40 years. We’ve been moving backwards. So, you can now put into context the pressure if the annual budget of our nation is $19bn 40 years after it was $25bn and the population has more than doubled. Then you can understand the challenges we’re facing, whether it’s banditry, or farmers herders clashes and everything in-between. The fact is that there are more people sharing smaller resources. We have not grown.”

Mr. Duke argued that growth is not about adding zeros to the currency, and presenting budgets that run into trillions, which he said is mere deception. According to him, the country is simply living a lie.

“You can put all the zeros behind the currency, but we’re deceiving ourselves because we’re living a lie. Recently, treasury bills were sold at about 22 percent in dollars. Where in the world will you get 22 percent under 12 months? So, they now turned around to say it was oversubscribed by 245 percent. Of course, It would be oversubscribed, but at the end of the day, can you pay back? What are you doing with the money that will generate 22 percent to enable you pay back in 12 months? He wondered.

“So, you could see a nation that is walking itself into a trap with eyes wild open. What are the policies that would generate growth? You are fighting inflation, it’s good to fight inflation, but which is more important? Inflation or growth? You can’t get a loan from the bank for less than 35 percent. That’s enemical to growth to start with. Then, you are micromanaging the exchange rate, yet you are not producing. If you are going to import everything as we do, and there are those very sexy economists that would say, let’s have marked forces. For you to have marked forces, there must be some equity.

“You can’t have an open, competitive system with countries whose economies are much stronger than yours. It doesn’t work that way. In life, water finds its level. We have to manage what we have; we have to be productive. In the 70s and early 80s, we had some level of competition. We had industries that were trying to thrive, but today we are importing toothpick. So, it’s an economy that’s not productive, yet it wants to reign in on its foreign exchange. We’re still living as if everything is okay. We’re are sending our children at the age of nine to school abroad, then you go to London for medical check when your eye is hurting. It’s a tough one.”

The former governor noted that contrary to the popular belief, Nigeria has one of the smallest economies in Africa despite being the most populous on the continent.

“We turn around and say we’re the largest economy in Africa. That’s a lie. If you are 200 million people, and you are producing almost nothing, you can be big in absolute terms, but if you take it per capita, you are one of the least economies in Africa, and that’s the truth. So, we have to be real. We have the potential to be one of the greatest nations on earth, but it remains a potential if you don’t take it to actuality,” he said.

“We have to recaliberate our thinking. We can’t go on this way. We’re are a failed state, that’s the truth. Failed state doesn’t mean that you can’t exist any longer. Somalia is still existing, but when you fail to provide the basic expectations of your people, you are technically a failed state. Which sector have we not failed in? Is it education? Is it healthcare? Is it infrastructure?”

 

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