Between Usman and Soludo

by Femi Sobowale

That Finance Minister Shamsideen Usman, and CBN Governor Charles Soludo are working at different levels towards the same goal can not be overemphasized. The recent pronouncements of the two men at the top of Nigeria’s banking and finance sectors in respect of the country’s debt portfolio create the impression of a divided house. According to reports, Soludo made a case in New York, that the country will not incur more debts in order to meet her financial obligations. In Abuja, Usman reportedly said that Nigeria might borrow, especially with the lure of a zero percent interest available on such loan from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

Having worked together at the apex bank before his present position as the nation’s finance minister, one expects Usman and Soludo to have established a cordial working relationship that will serve the country better in the present dispensation. Be that as it may, the differences in their arguments on Nigeria’s economic directions should have been dealt with within the government’s official bureaucracy before public pronouncements by the gentlemen.

It is more expedient and desirable for the good of the country to avoid unnecessary diverse views about the country’s economic policies at this time. Given that the controversy generated by the suspended Soludo’s currency redenomination policy is still fresh in Nigerians’ minds, it is important that any cross purposes public statements should be avoided at all cost.

Nigeria is a complex country with diverse views on every governmental activity, and this has made the citizens to be critical of government’s policies they feel very strongly about, be it economic or political. It is on this premise that government officials in the caliber of Usman and Soludo ought to be careful and relate closely to prevent the type of scenario reported from Abuja and New York.

While both men made their points through various analyses as they deem appropriate, the bottom line is that Nigerians are obviously tired of any situation that will further enslave them to western creditors, while the payments for such loans lasted. It is ironic though that, with the present huge revenue accruable from crude oil sales in the international market, Nigeria is still looking for external loan of any nature that might end up gulping up the profits so realized.

Not a few Nigerians will agree that reckless acquisition of somewhat unnecessary and government sponsored loans in the past contributed in a large measure to the country’s present economic woes. It is instructive that the regime of President Umaru Yar’Adua ought to avoid the same pitfall, as history will judge him as incapable of living the country better that he met it. If he has to, he should call his men to order and let them realize the importance of serving the people of Nigeria without bringing along their personal ego to affect their official duties as top members of the government. Nigeria can not afford to let individual error of omission or commission get in the way of the country’s economic development.

The whole world is watching Nigeria as events unfold given the importance of the country in continental Africa. No matter what criteria used to measure countries’ level of development, Nigeria, at least in Africa is a force to be reckoned with. And Nigerians are looking forward to good governance if the dividends of democracy they crave so much are to be realized. All hands must be put together to ensure that corruption, especially in the highest level of government is reduced to the barest minimum. This must be a duty for all Nigerians wherever they find themselves. Fighting corruption entails the cooperation of all citizens, as the EFCC and ICPC represent the vehicles through which corrupt government officials will be made to face the full strength of the law.

To achieve the desired economic and political upgrade, Nigeria and indeed Nigerians ought to be prepared to act in such manners that suggest their readiness to square up with other successful nations of the world in all facets of human endeavors. Nigerians are surely able to do this, and they should do it. We can not keep our present attitudes to life and expect manna from heaven. This is practically impossible in a world where the so called advanced countries are striving to do better for their already improved economy.

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