Wednesday, 11 May 2005
Debts: As External Aggression, Against Nigeria
By Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
Nigerians at home and abroad must for once, speak in unison, with one voice, regarding the impact on Nigeria, Nigeria’s external debt burden on our country; we must be seen to speak and act cohesively. We must be seen as such, by the whole world in our demand for debt cancellation, debt forgiveness and such other complete solution to our debt overhang and burden, we must consider, among other things, unmentionable words, such as default or repudiation of these spurious debts for which our creditors have not demonstrated any good faith.
Asia was bailed out of its economic dire straits in 1997, Russia was bailed out of its economic crisis in 1998, Mexico was bailed out in 1994 and Argentina was bailed out in 2002 as well, and in each case, billions and billions of dollars were involved; Similarly, foreign aid to the tune of $5 billion a year goes to Israel, a country with a population, only a little over five million people, Israel also received loan guarantees of more than $10 billion dollars at once, in the 1990s, without the “usual IMF and World Bank strictures/controls, Israel was not required to cede its sovereignty! There is nothing peculiarly unique about bailing out Nigeria! Let us free Nigeria, cancel these debts!
Nigeria’s quest for the removal of our nation’s debt burden and overhang is so crucially important it is therefore no time for petty-squabbling! This is the time to ignore family disagreements as we focus on external aggression towards us as Nigerians with common interests and national objective. There is nothing spectacular in fending off aggressors!
A Nigerian, with the handle, Eezeebee at www.nigeianvillagesquare.com commenting on this debt gridlock headaches, reminded us how after September 11, 2001, the United States government rushed financial aid to New York City to bail it out, the US government similarly bailed out various Airlines in America, have also spearheaded efforts to write off billions of dollars owed by Iraq before the invasion and occupation war in Iraq, with just mere telephone calls to American friends and allies.
Nigerians and Nigeria must demand passionately, an end to these stifling debt-servicing, that has deprived Nigeria of chunks of national resources meant for development of our nation. We must demand the removal of the stifling retarding impact already borne for far too long by our economy, our people and our country.
We must be committed to making this clarion call and advocacy, for the removal, eradication, the elimination without reserve, without hesitation or equivocation, these debts that have for too long suffocated Nigerians.
It is rather frustratingly annoying, to still find some Nigerians with this inexplicable ambivalence, in connection with what Nigeria should do with these foreign debts! Even with the glaringly clear implications of these debts’ attendant crushing effects on the bodies, minds and spirits of Nigerians worldwide! http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=debt+cancellations+adujie&btnG=Search
Clearly, on the one hand, the servicing these debts with such big chunk of Nigeria’s national income, surely deprive Nigeria of direly and sorely needed monies to rehabilitate long neglected infrastructures, infrastructures that have been allowed to decay over the years; On the other hand, what is worse is the additional fact that, the monies that ought to be directed at development of new infrastructures, or devoted to enhancing social amenities including the provision of education, healthcare and much more, are the revenues that are now earmarked and directed to the singular purpose of repaying our recalcitrant creditors.
Nigeria now on a regular basis, gears billions of dollars, towards the repayment of debt that was foisted upon us, under questionable circumstances as to the original amounts, projects and purpose, not to mention the continued escalations of the interests and principal debts, which have not witnessed substantial or significant reductions, despite continued regular payments on billions of dollars on these spurious debts, the seemingly endless foreign debts foisted upon Nigeria without imbued with payments without a corresponding decrease or marked reduction in the amounts of debts Nigeria still owes and remains outstanding today! Nigeria owed $19 billions in 1980, but even after paying $40 billions, Nigeria still owes $32 billions, or more what is just in that? What is fair in that? This is the new slavery and colonialism!
Gradually, debt has become an ominous word in the most pejorative of senses it is the new colonialism of sorts! As when the IMF and the World Bank come to Nigeria literally dictating our national budget and public expenditures “because we owe” and they need to discipline our voracious appetite for public spending in the deficit department, they in their infinite wisdom, need to impose spending discipline or curb our enthusiasm.
Frequently these days, IMF and World Bank official routinely lecture Nigeria on why we can sustain our debts, after all, Nigeria now makes more money from higher petroleum oil prices in the world market, these Breton Woods institution officials are apt to make silly remarks, remarks to which political opponents and some idle journalists on slow news-days graft unto, take too seriously and used as weapons, sensationalized by tabloid genre publications.
It is now the case that these dubious and spurious debts, have become the opportunity for those, who would want to only deal with us, as if we are second-class citizens of this world, they now speak about us in code words, both derisively and derogatively, again, as if Nigeria is some colony or an occupied territory and principality of these overbearing creditors also known as the London Club and the Paris Club, the offspring for which Berlin Conference Western power were progenitors.
The foreign debt is and has become, a control tool with which outsiders, particularly, former colonial powers (America and Europe) control debtor nations, according to Mr. John Perkins, who authored a book, “Confessions of An Economic Hit Man” in which he recounted the evil machinations and cynical manipulations to which these former colonial powers have been engaged, in order to foist endless debts on politically independent nations sought to be controlled economically, if not politically, by these creditor nations!
The eminent Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, an American, has written tons of researched data on the impact of debts on developing countries, including Argentina, Brazil and Nigeria etc, in his latest book, The End of Poverty, he succinctly states his case for making the world a better place, without the crushing debts etc.
What then is the use of political independence? It is assuredly meaningless, as debt nations such as Nigeria, now have budgets and public expenditure dictated by the dictates and conditionalities imposed by IMF and World Bank, debt nations are dictated to in arbitrary and most summary of manners, what constitutes their national priorities, as though debtor nations no longer possessed political independence, territorial integrity or sovereignty etc!
What are these concepts worth, if national budgets or expenditures by debtor nations are summarily determined or dictated by London, Washington and Paris through the IMF and the World Bank?
What I worry about the most, is the seeming reliance on these same foreign institutions and the foreign governments controlling them, or for whom these institutions serve as agents; And what is worse? The naïve implicit and explicit trust by too many Nigerians, including those at the helms of Nigeria’s affairs! There appears to be a palpable fear by some our officials, not to cross or offend the IMF and the World Bank in these officials’ pronouncements and actions.
In policy formulations and implementation, you would hear some Nigerian officials repeat the IMF and World Bank guidelines as slogans or refrains, to which Nigeria must not deviate or else! You would hear lectures on financial discipline, the avoidance of deficit financing for public infrastructures, even though our creditors themselves never practice these “prudent” expenditure models! In 2004, the US engaged in deficit financing of more than $412 billion dollars, and borrowed trillions of dollars more from governments and institutions overseas. US spent $300 billion deficit dollars on needless war in Iraq, where is the financial or budget discipline in that?
America and Europe are quick to provide subsidies and other manners of social safety nets and cushions for their citizens, to prevent the harsh or brutal effects of capitalism, if and when it is practiced with blinders on. Whereas, Nigerians are often told by these same creditors, why we must swallow unbridled capitalism, with privatizations, deregulations, subsidies removals etc, the exact opposite of what our creditors often offers its citizens as shield from the harsh realities of supply and demand or the market forces of the ever-elusive free-market
I have repeatedly wondered why the same Nigerian officials, who often stridently advocate hook, line and sinker, wholesale free market, and pure unbridled capitalism for Nigerian, the long-suffering Nigerians, as these officials demand insist that there is justification for frequently repeated petroleum price increases at the pump in Nigeria, are the same officials, who would as if magically, turn around, fretting and moaning about the possible adverse effects that upsurges in the prices of our major export, crude oil/petroleum in the world market, would have on the world economy and the entire world! Without even a mouthing of the consequences or spiral effects on prices of goods and services occasioned by sudden increases in prices of petrol at Nigerian pumps, while its dominoes and translates into more expensive cost of transportation of head of plantain from Iguobazuwa to Kano and Lagos, a direct derivative of fuel price upsurges!
The same Nigerian officials, as if in some sorts of sunshade and umbrella policy, would swing around and mouth concerns for Americans, Europeans and the rest of the world’s risks if our national income earner and major export may command a higher price of say, over fifty dollar a barrel, only because of the same demand and supply forces of free market and unbridled capitalism, speculative buying and market volatility and all!
Some Nigerian officials at NNPC and CBN, engage in these public fretting about the implications for others, (non-Nigerians) when the prices of our export go up; Why should any Nigerian official be more concerned with the effect of higher prices of our export product on others or whether the world economy overheats? So what? Especially, when the Nigerian economy has overheated for decades and exploded from such overheat repeatedly, and yet, our creditors are not the least concerned, they are not dealing with us in good faith, they just want their cold-hard-cash! If the rest of the world could care less, regarding the plight or predicament of the Nigerian economy or Nigerian citizens, why can’t Nigerians visit the rest of the world with same exact attitude on the part of our creditors? It is strictly, business is it not? It is pure capitalism determined by the forces of supply and demand of the free-market sorts, isn’t it? The nonchalance toward Nigeria’s plight has been amply demonstrated by these creditors, and we have been told again and again, that our debts are sustainable, meaning that we have oil money to pay them? So, we mush charge full price, without interfering with market forces!
The questions that I have been asking, are, why do some Nigerians worry about the health, wealth and happiness of those, who do not worry about us Nigerians? Why would Nigerians give a hoot? Why would any Nigerian official worry about the effects of petroleum prices on foreigners who are for the most part, oblivious of our existence and concerns? Why do Nigerians officials not reserve the expressions of such concerns for Nigerians when prices of petrol fuels are increased arbitrarily, summarily and frequently imposed on the long-suffering Nigerians?
Why do we worry about what non-Nigerians pay for our petroleum products, when no one worries about what Nigerians pay for cars, computers and other factors of production in Nigeria, be such imported from America, Europe or Asia? Why are some Nigerians, more royal than the kings? Why do some Nigerians cry often louder than the mourners? Why do some Nigerians always more objective than the rest of the world is willing to be? Why are some Nigerians always seeking fairness for the rest of the world, that applies no fairness in dealings with Nigeria and Nigerians? Why?