Tuesday 10 April 2018 10 BUSINESS DAY C002D5556 COMMENT STRATEGY & POLICY The fallacy of Nigerian democracy comment is free Send 800word comments to email@example.com MA JOHNSON Johnson is a marine project management consultant and Chartered Engineer. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology, UK. Since Nigeria chose the path of democracy in 1999, there has been undulating progress made by successive governments in all spheres of the nation’s polity. Nigerians thought that democracy will provide a platform through which good governance will reduce the rank and file of the poor. Nigerians were fed up with military misrule. They wanted something different, and thus, settled for democracy. Many Nigerians accepted democracy because they thought it would build bridges and not walls between the rich and the poor. Since then, democracy has barely given the poor any hope. High inflation, underemployment and unemployment now make millions of Nigerians very miserable. Most Nigerians find it difficult to believe that current economic challenges facing the nation today have been conceptualized, orchestrated and implemented since independence not by colonialists but by the political elites. It has been realized that democracy alone will not solve all the problems of the nation with multiple ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds. Why? Democracy will only bring about national development when it is operated by a corps of sincere and committed leaders who are willing to produce more leaders and not followers. Rather than have a nation whose economy is improving, Nigeria is mired by insecurity, fragile economy and corruption. At the peak of corruption and impunity in 2015, Nigerians aligned themselves with a few politicians who thought there was need for a“change” in governance. The electorate was desperate to have a new government at the federal and state levels without due consideration for the quality of politicians and their agenda. The “change” mantra reverberated throughout the four corners of Nigeria. So, most Nigerians chorused change! change! change! They wanted the immediate past PDP-led government out of office at all cost and by any known democratic process. Nigerians wanted freedom from bondage immediately. But Nigerians missed the opportunity big time to negotiate a deal with politicians on how to reduce poverty in the land. So, the struggle continues! Though the nation’s economy is out of recession, there is still insecurity and corruption. With insecurity across the nation, there cannot be any meaningful development. The nation’s economy cannot be thoroughly analyzed without factoring corruption into the analysis. In Nigeria, corruption is now an invisible enterprise and a highly profitable concern that does not pay tax. There can’t be a better definition of Nigerian democracy if governors and lawmakers served for only 4 years and they haul severance allowance and pension worth millions of Naira when public servants who served for more than 15 years have not been paid gratuity and pension after retirement Secondus, the Chairman of PDP asked Nigerians to forgive all his party members. He has forgotten that forgiveness comes with repentance. Since he did not say that PDP members have repented, Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information released the list of looters-original and first supplementary. Other lists to follow. In the past nineteen years, the challenges of Nigerian democracy far outweigh opportunities it provides to the nation. The challenges are numerous, multidimensional and complex. Perhaps, that is why political scientists always say that democracy is a very complex endeavor. Although, democracy is a fallacy in practice, this writer loves it more than any military rule. Some Nigerians reason that democracy in Nigeria means “government of politicians, by politicians, for politicians only.” There can’t be a better definition of Nigerian democracy if governors and lawmakers served for only 4 years and they haul severance allowance and pension worth millions of Naira when public servants who served for more than 15 years have not been paid gratuity and pension after retirement. There is already an outcry in the country over senators’ N13.5 million monthly allowance. While workers minimum wage is still N18,000 per month. Lawmakers at state and federal levels have been short-changing Nigeria and Nigerians for many years. Such allowances paid to our lawmakers do not match Nigeria’s circumstance as a technologically and industrially backward nation. When Abraham Lincoln defines democracy as “the government of the people, by the people, for the people,” he was perhaps referring to Western democracies. Lincoln’s definition of democracy doesn’t refer to democracies practiced by politicians of African genre. Some commentators and analysts expressed some condescending perceptions about Africans in their remarks. One George Louis Beer claims that the “black race has hitherto shown no capacity for progressive development except under the tutelage of other peoples.” Justifying this derogatory assertion, he affirms that Africans existing stage of civilization in the late Twentieth Century is far below the potentialities for progress. Other commentators and analysts painted an apocalyptic portrait of African nations more than two decades ago because of the immense human tragedy that pervaded the continent at that time under assorted military regimes. These commentators need to see Africa now, and find time to visit Nigeria where some states are barely performing their statutory responsibilities of providing security to citizens. Due to high level of insecurity in the country, Olusegun Obasanjo’s clarion call for a coalition of Nigerian movement was issued. While Ibrahim Babangida released his letter titled “Towards a National Rebirth” to the APC-led federal government. Their concerns were followed by Theophilus Danjuma’s controversial self-defence strategy which is considered a call for anarchy by critics. These are not calls for anarchy but wake-up calls to those in the government to do more for Nigerians. When one reflects on these messages, it is difficult to have a contrary opinion because most of those serving currently in the APC-led government have not demonstrated sufficient knowledge of the imperatives of good governance. When all known indices of good governance are examined, Nigeria is always at the end of the ladder. Indeed, the economic profile of Nigeria in comparison to most industrialized nations is embarrassing because democracy has not improved the quality of lives of citizens. Democracy has made many poor such that poverty in Nigeria is at a disturbing level. Nigerians want democracy to open windows of opportunities to them. As 2019 approaches, development challenges facing Nigeria are numerous and could better be solved when committed and sincere leaders emerge at state and federal levels of government. Nigeria needs visionary and committed leaders across board. Leadership is key to national development. Send reactions to: firstname.lastname@example.org CALEB ADEBAYO Caleb Adebayo is a lawyer with WoleOlanipekun and Co., where he straddles the busy dispute resolution team and the nascent commercial team. He is keen on the intersection of Energy, Finance and Environmental Law. He can be reached at email@example.com In recent times, a lot has been happening, and rapidly too, in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) in terms of regulations, guidelines, policies, and laws. Only about nine months ago, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing announced the Eligible Customer regime, and with it came much furore from the various value chain participants. Recently, a new set of regulations emanated from the industry, the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) regulations. Amongst other things, it seeks to close the metering gap which it estimates stands at over four MAP regulations and the hope for a more efficient distribution regime million meters, attract private investment and of course, eliminate estimated billing. I must commend the regulations, and the firm posture it adopts in mandating Distribution Licenseesto ensure metering for their customers within a set time period. It is also economically advantageous, as it, while stretching the NESI value chain, opens new vistas for investment in the industry from private sector players. The matter-of-fact tone of the regulations has ensured that a carte blanche standard of metering is not adopted where every Meter Asset Provider (MAP) operates at his behest in terms of quality, instead it has laid down certain technological benchmarks for MAPs seeking to participate in the procurement process. In addition, the process for approval seems to be quite well thought out, commencing with the ‘No Objection’authorization which is granted after conducting due diligence. For me, the interface of the public sector and organized private sector at the back-end of the NESI value chain, meeting at the intersection of providing value and solving a problem which has for a long time affected all players along the chain, is a welcome development, and one that must be extolled. It is equally impressive the high level of transparency encouraged by the regulations. The necessity for a newspaper publication of the monthly metering service charge and detailed roll out plan evince a system that intends to provide close monitoring not just from NERC, but from everyday consumers. Additionally, the alienation of companies for the bid rounds who have in them any participatory interests from distribution licensees aids the process to be as open as possible. The clear distinction too, of the metering service charge from the energy charge and the ring-fencing of the payment of the metering service charge to a dedicated account from which payouts will be made to the MAPs is a step in the right direction. The requirements for MAPs to acquire insurance and the mandated securitization framework for distribution licensees are very laudable steps that will ensure the financial sustainability of the metering drive.It is a value-add too, that under the regulations, the rights and obligations of all players in the metering activity are outlined, with the end-user being assured in no mean terms that he has the right to be metered. Furthermore, the capping of unmetered customers after a defined period will serve as a motivation to accelerate the rolling out of meters. I am worried though, about certain provisions. First, while I have no bone of contention regarding the length of time as per the 120- day deadline given to the distribution licensees for procurement, my worry is that the ‘Nigerian Deadline’ factor that has affected every other thing from BVN to National Identity Card Registration, possibly to the VAID scheme, will arise here again, and defeat the essence of the provisions under the MAP regulations. Perennial excuses like technical glitches, counterparty failure and late funding are likely to arise at the point where the deadline looms and the law is to be enforced. The requirement for several permits where a Meter Asset Provider intends to provide its services to a string of distribution licensees is worrying too. To my mind, it would be an overly herculean process, and except the turnaround time for the process is fluid -which is an unduly high expectation considering the bureaucracy surrounding government exercises- then investors will also be discouraged by the repetition of the same process. It would have been preferred if all that was required was perhaps a No Objection authorization for the Meter Asset Provider to deal with another distribution licensee, or like upstamping, in property law parlance, the Meter Asset Provider could only have to obtain an ‘upstamping’ on their permit in order to deal with a different distribution licensee. With all said, the regulations have come a perfect time; a time when electricity consumers have started to ask questions, protest estimated billing and demand accountability from these privatized distribution companies. It is hoped that the regulations will birth a more efficient distribution regime, attract investors, and aid the troubling illiquidity in the industry. It is likewise the hope of the public that the regulations will live up to its firm and nononsense mandates for all the relevant actors and will continually demand the highest levels of performance, transparency and optimal delivery from the MAPs and distribution licensees. Send reactions to: comment@businessdayonline.
Tuesday 10 April 2018 COMMENT RAFIQ RAJI “Dr Raji is chief economist at Macroafricaintel. He was previously an Africa Economist at Standard Chartered Bank, London, UK. (Twitter: @ DrRafiqRaji)” The United States hasn’t had a trade surplus with China in 40 years. They must end unfair trade, take down barriers and charge only reciprocal tariffs. The US is losing $500 billion a year, and has been losing billions of dollars for decades. Cannot continue!” This was American president Donald Trump venting about China in a recent tweet. At the ongoing Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) in Hainan, China, today (started on 8 April), Chinese president Xi Jinping would finally get an opportunity to make remarks in public about the trade spat between his country and the United States. His officials have been the ones responding to President Trump’s rhetoric since America fired the first salvo in February by announcing tariffs on aluminium and steel imports. Mr Trump escalated trade tensions further in March by C002D5556 comment is free America cannot stop China’s advance announcing tariffs on goods more directly punitive to Chinese interests. (China is a fringe exporter of aluminium and steel to America.) The Asian nation has announced retaliatory tariff measures of its own. Even so, Mr Xi is likely to be conciliatory in expected remarks on the issue at the BFA on 10 April; that is, even as he would likely make sure to echo China’s capacity to beat Mr Trump at his own game. Already ahead America has also filed a complaint against China at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), claiming it has been stealing American companies’ intellectual property; on the back of its compulsory technology sharing policy for foreign companies operating on its soil which must enter into partnerships with local ones. As the slow-winding process of the WTO is not likely to the taste of the restless American president (“The WTO is unfair to U.S.” goes one recent tweet), the complaint is probably just a formality. Mr Trump wants results now. Of course, this is wishful thinking. Even if he were a magician, he would find conjuring up a trade surplus with China to be an arduous task indeed. In any case, China’s advance could hardly be stopped now. What …as Africa’s trade with America is quite meagre and is in fact declining, there is probably no cause for significant concern. Considering Mr Trump’s volatile nature, however, I suggest the continent’s leaders should not be complacent. its engineers and scientists do not already know is not likely known to any of their contemporaries in America or elsewhere either. America can only slow China’s advance a little bit by creating a few difficulties here and there. But such an approach could hurt America more than it does China over time. With China so integral to global supply chains, there are limits to the punitive trade and investment actions the Americans can undertake. Besides Mr Trump does not have the capacity to play the long game like his Chinese counterpart could. Unsurprisingly, Mr Trump has left the door of negotiations open; even as he maintains his stern anti-China rhetoric. China is currently well-posi- Send 800word comments to firstname.lastname@example.org tioned to be the leading innovator of the next century. With some clairvoyance, the Asian nation not only aggressively invested and built enviable capacity in new technologies like electric vehicles, solar power, robotics and so on, it has more or less locked in the primary resources that would be needed to power them. Mr Trump’s irritation is understandable. Still, it is probably too late for America or any other country to do anything about it. Most of the goods China produces and sells to the world, it is able to manufacture more cheaply. Those that it cannot do less dearly, its neighbours are taking up; with some bound for African countries like Ethiopia. And for the high-end manufactures it is now focused on, it is increasingly attaining cost leadership. And if Mr Trump’s protectionist measures make China jettison its hitherto feigned posture of obeying global trade rules, it is marketdriven economies like America’s that would probably suffer in the long run. Mr Trump is undeterred: “Trump Defiant as U.S. Adds Trade Penalties, Will End Barriers And Massive I.P. Theft.” Be alert Should African economies be worried about the Sino- American trade squabble? My views on this are published in BUSINESS DAY 11 the current April 2018 issue of Forbes Africa magazine (“Will Trump’s trade war hurt Africa?”). I argue that as Africa’s trade with America is quite meagre and is in fact declining, there is probably no cause for significant concern. Considering Mr Trump’s volatile nature, however, I suggest the continent’s leaders should not be complacent. Soon enough, after going to press, Mr Trump announced plans to suspend duty-free treatment of clothing from Rwanda under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The move was a potential retaliatory measure to Rwandan restrictions on American used apparel and footwear in the event that it did not reverse them 60 days from the date of the announcement in late March. Tanzania and Uganda were similarly warned for the same measures but were allowed their AGOA benefits after corrective actions. Still, the Rwandan example brings to light how even small economies might find themselves in Mr Trump’ firing line. Send reactions to: email@example.com GBOYEGA ATOYEBI Gboyega Atoyebi, FCA, is a Financial Services Executive and an alumnus of Lagos Business School. He wrote via firstname.lastname@example.org As an avid student of history and a keen observer of the sociopolitical transmutations in my country Nigeria since 1983 being my personal socio-political awakening, I have been intrigued by so much change yet everything remains the same and some people will daresay worse. I remember in Technicolor December 31, 1983, the outburst of joy and jubilation that greeted the news of the ouster of a democratically ‘selected’ government midwifed by a certain General Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ). The juntas’ action was justified by one Brigadier Sani Abacha with the opener “you are all witnesses to the great economic predicament and uncertainty which an inept and corrupt leadership has imposed on our nation in the last four years”. Thus a group of ill trained civil managers hijacked the country and plunged us into a worse 18 months period of excruciating socio-economic tumult signposted by a foreign exchange conundrum, unprecedented inflation, general scarcity Who has beguiled us? and factory shutdowns. This general economic downturn combined with a physical and verbal assault on the citizens’ human dignity aka war against indiscipline resulted in buyer’s remorse and suddenly the Alhaji shehu Shagari led government was no more as distasteful. Enter August 1985 and yet another intervention justified in the coup speech opener thus “the intervention of the military at the end of 1983 was welcomed by the nation with unprecedented enthusiasm. Nigerians were unified in accepting the intervention and looked forward hopefully to progressive changes for better. Almost two years later, it has become clear that the fulfillment of expectation is not forthcoming”. This ushered in a new ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida (IBB), another intervention by a small select ill equipped gang determining the destiny of the majority. This intervention was an extended period of experimentation and certainly lots of motion but little progress from SAP to MAMSER, political transition to election annulment and finally from a Federal Military Government to an Interim National Government. Due to the brevity and impotence of the Interim National Government, I fast forward to November 1993, where I see nothing but a power grab with no raison d’être or vision for the nation thus leaving the country in an impasse with a self acclaimed elected president in prison, a sitting president leading a pariah nation towards Armageddon, then suddenly another intervention (where from, I know not) and tea drinking and apple eating became suicide missions. Permit me to skip the bearded one and fast forward to 1976, apologies 1999 to re-introduce a born again general now democrat nay civilian President Olusegun Obasanjo. In my mind, another intervention masterminded by yet a few to ensure continued dominance of the many. This was a civil rule rather than a democratic government. This period was very symptomatic of Nigeria with flashes of individual brilliance but yet a collective lackluster. Subsequently bitten by hubris, he sought to elongate his stay, but was battled by his vice, Abubakar Atiku (AA) not for love of country but personal glory and in retaliation bedeviled the nation with a retiring sick former governor of a provincial state and a reluctant lucky governor as his vice. From assumption of office in 2007 to his death in 2009, Nigerians were subjected to a pseudo government of sorts in a captured presidency led by a very sick president and a weak vice. The President was either a prisoner or too sick to resign neither could the weak vice act until the doctrine of necessity was activated by ‘well meaning Nigerians’ as if the constitution did not suffice. Thus entered the shoeless but lucky one, President Goodluck Jonathan (GEJ) with a promise of transformation. His tenure was however stigmatized and very likely characterized by ineptitude and or corruption just like Shagari’s 30 years earlier. And with the same gusto albeit without force or guns but a media blitzkrieg and an unusual congregation of a few strange fellows, an unprecedented one party to another party democratic transition was effected in 2015. This heralded the triumphant enthronement of, wait for it President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB), not the son of General Muhammadu Buhari of 1983 fame, just a tuxedo wearing born again general with the same promise of CHANGE! As it was in 1983-1985, so it has been so far; the government says it’s the mess they met, the previous government (aka opposition) says they are being victimized and tried via media and the people as usual are groaning. This brings me to here and now, the eve of another intervention, the threshold of a transition and the same coterie of voices (fill in any acronym alias here) that have beguiled us these 40 years oscillating between their anointed surrogates are shopping for a replacement. And that’s when I had the nightmarish thought that if General Sani Abacha was alive or General Ibrahim Babangida was strong enough, either could have been packaged for us as an alternative. But as it stands, we might be faced with a 1983 reincarnate in PMB or 1999/2003 sub incarnate in AA, either way, as it was for me in 2015, it may still be in 2019. Six and half dozen, same difference. Send reactions to: email@example.com