THURSDAY Column with Mohammed Adamu
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Not all ‘change’ is in the direction of ‘growth’. Or so say development economists. Because some changes are actually in the direction of rot. When things decay they change in the negative direction. Because ‘matter’ is always either in a state of growth, of decay, or of inertia. And so too, not all ‘movement’ is necessarily going forward. Because often some movements occur backward in the reverse of the distance already covered. This is without prejudice to the fact that sometimes it makes perfect sense to ‘move back’ first in order to effectively ‘move forward’. Because often it has to get damn bad before it can get better. When you have slipped off the precipice, no miracle will from a fall. You have to look forward first to a crash; and then pray you be alive to pick the bits and pieces of your shattered carapace, piece them together and see if you can get back to the dangerous climb -all over again. This was exactly where we were, just before or right after 2015: a sudden slump resulting from PDP’s massive looting of the economy had plunged us into an inevitable recession. Had Jonathan won the election and the scavenging had continued, we would definitely have been at depression’s door.
We had managed to ‘swim’ –even if amateurishly- under Obasanjo. And for the life of us, by the time of Yaradua we were already clutching at a stray giant raft at sea to stay ‘afloat’. But then under Jonathan, this turgid ‘raft of State’ had gathered so much moss, it was already ‘drowning’. We were sinking and rock-bound all at the same time. We could not have averted a shipwreck -or should we say a raft-wreck? We had slipped off the cliff already and could not have landed in one piece without a shattered carapace. And it had to take a man, Buhari, trained to waste lives by the gun and the bayonet, now to hold ‘knives’ and ‘pincers’ to set broken bones right and to stitch torn ligaments. But what has the opposition PDP members done to pay the man for their electoral defeat? They kept him perpetually in the bloody theatre of the absurd, minding an endless red herring of body bags when he should have been nursing a hemorrhaging economy riddled by the knives of their treacherous thieving. They had set farmers against herders, tribe against tongue to make the comatose state un-reviveable.
The message of the opposition had been loud and clear: ‘damn if we are in office to rule, damnest even if we aren’t!’ If they are not in office to make gaping wounds in the hapless body of the economy, they will make even more, such holes on the body polity. In the last almost four years they have been up knives and daggers, cudgels and cutlasses, redefining the rules of partisan opposition in a terribly self-harming, nation-hating perspective. They importune the gods daily to visit the nation with trials and tribulation. They are at their best in political opposition when the booby traps and mines they have set against the Government go off. They get even better hewing the effigy of the only man whose name alone educes the most inveterate hate man has been known to have for a fellow man. I captured this hate in a previous piece ‘Gawa Ta Qi Rami’ (The Copse That Defied Internment) where I said:
“They have laughed at his losses and they bemoaned his own gains. They scorned his feats and they derided his human foibles. And his frailties they have raised to the height of unspeakable sin. They dug his excellent past and they incitingly perverted it with untruth! They laced his military antecedent with an ill foreboding brush of divisive falsehood. They are so cruel they even celebrated his most harrowing bereavements -mocking at the spirit of his late sickle-celled anemic daughter and carving lurid conjectures on the grave of his late divorced spouse. These people are ravenous hyenas of our political barren playing field. All is flesh and bones that come to their greedy jaws. They said that at 72 he was too old to be President; and you wonder ‘what happens to the democratic right of the people to decide whether to be properly governed by the old or to be poorly governed by the extravagant energies of decadent youth?”
And so it seems that ‘head’ we had lost, having allowed a thieving party free rein to bring down our economy, and ‘tail’ too we are now having to struggle to keep them from bringing down the entire house. Getting the PDP’s leprous hands off the national cake in the first place has been no mean achievement. Nor can the instant benefits of that feat be overemphasized. Removing PDP from office –even if belatedly- at the very least had halted a steady regress even if –as they argue- it has not set a new momentum for moving forward. In truth it is the Buhari momentum for a way forward that has continued to unsettle them. It is the radical changes that he is determined to bring about, that they are desperately up in arms to sabotage! I had said, in my piece ‘Still On The Sick Economy’, that:
“Growth for us is that we have transited from a profligate Jonathan regime -even if- to a frugally prudent Buhari administration. Growth for us is that we have virtually put a stop to humongous theft, mismanagement, waste and leakages in the administration of the Commonwealth. Growth for us is that we are on the path of ‘re-generation’ –no matter how slowly so- and no longer in the throes of rot or decay. In fact ‘growth’ for us is that our pain today pleasantly comes from the healing hands of a ‘physician’ we can trust, namely Buhari -and not from the cursed fangs of a rabid canine that had afflicted us all, namely Jonathan”.
The only ‘constant’ in this our unending schism about ‘growth or rot’ is not that ‘all change is not necessarily growth’, or that ‘all movement is not necessarily going forward’. But it is that all stagnant situations eventually have to occasion decay. We cannot afford to stay stagnant. And so as the swimmer has only one of three options: to swim across, or to stay afloat or, inevitably, to sink, so too does a nation have only one of three choices: to move forward, to stagnate or to retrogress. The PDP is more than determined to keep us stagnant. And we all know the rule, that stagnant situations have a tendency to degenerate into decay. Ironically that has been the weapon of the opposition: creating opportunism for a partisan, loudmouth few in the midst of general decay. It is thos few opportune ones –and the restricted circles of those who pick crumbs from them- that insist ‘we want our corruption back’! It is the reason they preferred one of their own –a money-bag, Atiku- who is practically a resonant antithesis of everything that they had demanded of Buhari, and none that they envy in him. They have done what the Hausas describe as ‘tuuban muzuru’ (or the false repentance of the foul-thieving tom cat, because it’ll do it again)
And although it has to take a certified swimmer to make it successfully to the shore, it does not always have to take a certified economist to move a nation forward. Often even without the littlest economic savvy, a pint of sincerity has done for a nation what the most expert economic touch cannot. Every Tom Dick and Harry, with a little dose of sincerity can govern a nation. The worst administrators are those who ride on the crests of intellectual savvies to ruin the state. And it is the reason I wonder, from the vaunted virtuosity of internationally sourced economic ‘experts’ –ministers, advisers and all- what did we actually get from PDP’s sixteen years in office? Absolutely nothing! In spite of all the Okonjo Iwealas, the Obi Ezekwesilis, the Soludos and all the other gray-mattered economic boffins we were made to celebrate, we still got lost in the economic woods. In spite of the unprecedented, mind-numbing earnings from oil, we still got into an over draught, and had to be helped out by a man with ‘character’, rather than by one with brains.
To be continued