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What Africa Must Do To Mitigate the Damaging Effects of Coronavirus By Atiku Abubakar

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What Africa Must Do To Mitigate the Damaging Effects of Coronavirus.

Before the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the globe, Nigeria spent 42% of her earnings on debt servicing. We have arrived at a new reality today: even if we devote 100% of our income to rebuilding our economy, it still will not be enough.

COVID19 has wreaked such damage to the world’s economy, and this is now very evident in the West. But we should not take solace in any false sense of security that nations like Nigeria are either immune to the vagaries of this plague or that we would not be as hard hit. The reason countries in the Western Hemisphere are reporting more significant numbers than developing nations is primarily due to the availability of testing and real-time information.

Ignorance is not bliss in this instance. We shall soon know the truth and, sadly, this truth will not set us free. It will shock us. Had we closed our ports of entry early, we would probably have had better reasons to be hopeful. However, the past is gone, but we must be proactive in going forward.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Nigeria and other African nations are yet to see the worst of the effects of this scourge. That is why we should unite together and seek debt forgiveness, as a direct consequence of the impact of this pandemic on our economies.

And we have a perfect case because almost every African nation with a COVID19 infestation had an index case that originated outside the continent. Nigeria’s index case was Italian, Liberia’s was Swiss. Ethiopia had a Japanese index. South Africa’s index case was South African, but he and his family got infected in Italy.

This crisis should force a commonality of purpose in Africa. And more so in Nigeria. This is beyond politics. Beyond religion. Beyond region. And beyond ethnicity. As crisis go, this one can be described as existential.

While it is true that in a situation like this, the international community should invest in all countries needing help, we must be mature enough to see that that is not going to happen. The only thing that is standing in the way of the coronavirus in Africa is ourselves. And we should not give in to panic by the doomsday scenarios being painted by analysts. They mean well, but if they only shout fire in a crowded theatre, all that their good intentions will cause is widespread panic.

We must remember that many of them had predicted that Nigeria would cease to exist as a corporate entity by 2015, but here we are.

We had the Wild Ebola Virus, and we defeated it because we did not panic. We must apply that same level-headedness to this crisis. But this does not mean that we should go to the other extreme and become overly optimistic or pollyannaish.

Even when we are able to avoid a high human toll from this virus, we would not be able to escape a much higher economic toll. We may have a recession. The challenge right now must be to mitigate it, since we cannot avoid it. Already, we see forced currency devaluations from the Cape to Cairo. These will no doubt lead to internal inflation, which will spell trouble for nations like Nigeria, that have a high external dollar debt burden.

Already, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa is projecting that Africa’s growth will at least drop to 1.8%, and maybe more. Bear in mind that, thanks to nations like Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania, we had been projected to grow 3.2% this year.

Faced with this crisis, Africa cannot even think of falling back on China, or the West. When a country like the US is struggling to supply its own healthcare workers with personal protective equipment, Africa will not feature high on its priority. Where China is wondering how to explain itself to the world when this dies down, our challenges will be far from their minds. We must fall back on ourselves, or we will fall headlong. We must take responsibility for navigating our way out of a challenge that was forced on us from outside the continent.

This is the time for every money made in Africa to stay in Africa. We have hospitals to build. We have economies to reboot. We have citizens to care for and return to work. We certainly should not be sending money out of Africa and into Asia and the West. Not now and not for the foreseeable future.

Oil prices have crashed, and that by itself should not be enough to trigger a crisis. After all, the current price of oil was lower than it is today when President Obasanjo and I assumed office on May 29, 1999. Yet we paid off Nigeria’s entire foreign debt.

However, there are two remarkable differences. The first is that we had a stellar cabinet between 1999-2007. We had the right people manning our economy. We certainly would not have proposed to take out a $500 million loan to digitalise the Nigerian Television Authority, or devoted ₦37 billion to renovating the National Assembly complex (which was built from the scratch at less than 20% of that amount).

Today’s Nigerian government is severely lacking in qualified hands. And nothing proves this than the state of the Presidency itself. To think that after devoting ₦13 billion to the State House Clinic in the last five years, it is virtually useless as we face the most significant public health challenge of our national life. That is a pointer to the state of our federal government.

The second and perhaps more important thing is that we did not have to deal with a worldwide pandemic of this extent (although we had the H5N1 incident).

As it stands today, the world is too preoccupied with its challenges to prioritise Africa, and so we have to prioritise ourselves. The issue of Nigeria wanting to borrow $6.9 billion at this time shows the almost delusory state of our government. No one has that type of money to throw about.

China and America, previously our two largest creditors, have taken hits to their economies to the tune of trillions of dollars. If they could, they would consider taking from us at this stage.

Why is it that the Nigerian government is always quick to want to borrow at every instance? It shows a lazy mindset and an inability to take those sacrifices necessary to get the economy into shape. Worse still it proves that we do not, as of yet, have the ability to think outside the box for genuine solutions. We cannot be looking to borrow huge sums at the same time our officials are taking delivery of foreign made luxury cars. We cannot be considered a serious country when we refuse to cut down on profligacy and instead seek outside help to fund our inefficiencies.

Even in our own individual houses, when things get tight, the first thing we should do is cut down on unnecessary expenditure and then you look for creative ways to generate funds and develop our household economy, before we even seek outside funding. A situation where the Nigerian government always seeks outside funding, which, by the way has to be repaid if ever granted, displays an inadequacy in the thinking process of our leaders at the moment.

So, other than asking for debt relief, what can we realistically do to protect ourselves from the type of economic collapse that could lead to social upheaval in Nigeria?

We can start from where we have the most influence, the global oil industry. To save our economy, Nigeria must engage in immediate shuttle diplomacy to get Saudi Arabia and Russia to settle their differences and end the price war that is affecting the price of oil almost as much as the pandemic.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel is more vulnerable than Russia right now. Yes, Russia is also vulnerable, but so are we. Russia has an almost stable gas market in Europe. We do not. So we are much more vulnerable. This price war is not just affecting Nigeria and Angola badly, it is also affecting the valuation of ARAMCO and delaying vital decisions, which are troubling signs.

Nigeria must bring her weight (like we had done in the past) to bear to force an early cessation of hostilities so that oil prices could start looking up.

And secondly, we must insist that the Abacha loots held back by various Western governments must be immediately and unconditionally returned to Nigeria. We have a humanitarian crisis on our hands. I believe that President Trump is a reasonable man. He knows that if nothing is done to avoid the foreseeable dislocation of African economies, the next wave of mass migration to the United States would not be from Mexico.

The worst thing we can do now is to wring our hands and look to outsiders. Not now. The leadership in Abuja and the rest of Africa cannot afford to be lethargic while the rest of the world is scrambling to save what they can of their economies.

In Nigeria, it is already clear that we must abandon the 2020 budget and come up with a more realistic budget. Our oil benchmark is way off the mark. And we are certainly no longer in a position to budget ₦100 billion plus for our legislatures and almost ₦50 billion for the Presidency (in truth, we were never in a position to do that).

Other African nations must likewise re-budget and reassign and reduce expenditure. We can not spend on luxuries when our necessities have exploded.

We are at a crossroads, and we need to think and act our way into taking the right road. History will forgive us if we make the wrong decisions, but it certainly will not forgive us if we take no decisions in the misguided belief that others will save us. If Nigeria does not save herself in this season of a global emergency, we may find that a new world order will emerge and we will no longer be the Giant of Africa. We may not even be the Giant of West Africa if we do not take decisive action immediately.

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ENTERTAINMENT

TOP THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MODE 9

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Babatunde Olusegun Adewale is a popular Nigerian rapper and lyricist who goes by the stage name, Mode 9. The rapper has been in the industry for a very long time and is one of the leading rappers in Nigerian music history. He has recorded several albums and also had mixtapes released to his name. He is also a multi-award winning rapper, having a record of most wins at the Headies Awards. He owned the “Lyricist of the Year” award category for a long time and no one has been able to dominate as much as he did in recent times. Join me as I take you through his early life and childhood, music career, personal life and some of his songs.

MODE 9’S EARLY LIFE AND CHILDHOOD

The rapper was born on the 14th of June 1975 in London, United Kingdom to Nigerian parents who hailed from Osun State. He is the third children of his parents. His secondary school education was at Agboju Seconday School and then he proceeded to Federal Polytechnic, Bida in Niger State where he bagged a degree in Building Technology. His music influences were Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five. 

MODE 9’S MUSIC CAREER

Mode 9 started music as far back as the early 2000s. He released his debut project in 2004 for “Malcolm IX”. The album enjoyed a fair amount of success and it helped gained the rapper popularity in the industry. He was known for his incredible rap style and fast became one of the lead rappers in the industry. He released another album two years later in 2006 for “Pentium IX”. At the time, he was already recognised as a good lyricist and rapper and he was already bagging awards for it.

Mode 9 didn’t stop at that, he released several other albums. He has recorded eight studio albums and five mixtapes to his name. He has also released five featured albums with the most recent recorded with Black Intelligence for “Hence4th” in 2018. His most recent album was in 2019 for “Monument”. The rapper, at a time, stopped releasing his albums in Nigeria because he felt Nigerians gave up on him.

His awards list is quite the collection. He has won 9 Headies Awards to his name and bagged the Lyricist Award of the Year seven times in a row, which still stands as a Headies record. He also has won a number of Channel O Awards for music videos. 

MODE 9’S PERSONAL LIFE

Mode 9 loves to keep information about his personal life private. There is no known information about if the veteran rapper is in any relationship.

MODE 9’S SONGS

Some of his songs include;

  • Where Una Dey
  • Nigerian Girls
  • Insulin
  • Elbow Room
  • Nine
  • Cry
  • Kaiser Flow
  • 419 State of Mind
  • Collage
  • It’s a Goal
  • 360 Poetry
  • Super Human
  • Polymath

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ENTERTAINMENT

TOP THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MO CHEDDAH

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Modupe Oreoluwa Oyeyemi Ola is a Nigerian singer, rapper and songwriter who goes by the stage name “Mo Cheddah”. She always loved music as a child and even started singing from a young age. Her big break came with the release of her song titled “The Finest” featuring Sauce Kid and Tito. Following the release of the track, Mo Cheddah went on to drop even more songs and then her debut album. “Komaroll”, “If You want me” and “Destinambari” featuring Phyno are three of her other big songs in her career. Join me as I take you through her early life and childhood, music career, personal life and some of her songs.

MO CHEDDAH’S EARLY LIFE AND CHILDHOOD

The talented singer was born on the 26th of October 1990 in Lagos though she hails from Osun State, Nigeria. She was the fourth of five children. She had her early education in Lagos with her primary school education at University of Lagos Staff school and her secondary school education at Our Lady of Apostles school in Yaba, Lagos. After that, she proceeded to the University of Lagos to pursue a degree in Creative Arts. 

MO CHEDDAH’S MUSIC CAREER

Mo Cheddah’s music career started from when she was 12. She got signed to a record label named Knighthouse Entertainment when she was 13. At the time she was still in school and she expected to be a child star. She used to spend time in studios during her holidays. She released her first song when she was 17 and from there she became popular. The first single was titled “Las Birdie”. She went on to record the song with Sauce Kid and Tito titled “The Finest”. The song was a hit upon release and helped her gain even more popularity. The song ultimately launched her music career.

Following up the previous successes of her singles, she dropped another hit titled “If You Want Me”. The song also enjoyed a period of success and got her the award for Best New Artist at the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA) in 2010. The video for the song also got Best Female Video at the Channel O Music Video Awards. Her debut album dropped in 2010 for “Franchise Celebrity”. She left her record label, Knighthouse Entertainment, after a while and went on to start her own which she called it “Cheddah Music”.

 Mo Cheddah took a break from music when she was 21 because she wanted to enjoy a normal life. She came back after a couple of years. 

MO CHEDDAH’S PERSONAL LIFE

She is married to longtime boyfriend,  Bukunyi Olateru Olagbeji. Asides music, she is a fashion designer. She also runs a blog.

MO CHEDDAH’S SONGS

Some of her songs include;

  • My Time
  • Bad ft Olamide
  • Tori Oloun
  • Coming for You ft May D
  • Destinambari ft Phyno
  • Survive
  • See Me
  • Shampoo
  • No be Money
  • Wole Pelu Change

 

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ENTERTAINMENT

TOP THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT PRINCE NICO MBRAGA

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Prince Nico Mbraga might not be very popular but his hit single titled “Sweet Mother” is one of the greatest African songs to be released till date. The song sold over 13 million copies, even more than any of the Beetles classic songs. Together with his band for a couple of years, Rocafil Jazz, he recorded several  other songs though none of them was able to match the success and greatness of “Sweet Mother”. His style of music is known as Highlife. Unfortunately, the singer died in 1997. Join me as I take you through his early life, music career, personal life and some of his songs.

PRINCE NICO MBRAGA EARLY LIFE

The “Sweet Mother” crooner was born on the 1st of January in 1950 to a Nigerian mother and a Cameroonian father. He was born in Abakaliki part of eastern Nigeria though he hails from Obubra in Cross River State. His father was a music lover and he worked to get salary from sawing timber. When he was still young, his father bought a Phillips radio and from there he listened and grew interest in music. He listened to songs like Bobby Benson’s Taxi Driver and Rex Lawson’s Yellow Sisi. He spent a couple of years in Cameroon growing up in the late 60s during the Nigerian Civil War. While in school, he learnt how to play several instruments such as conga, xylophone, drums and the electric guitar.

PRINCE NICO MBRAGA MUSIC CAREER

His music style was influenced by his time in Cameroon. In 1970, he started music professionally as a member of a hotel band named “Melody Orchestra”.  He later returned to Nigeria in 1972 and formed his own band, Rocafil Jazz. Their debut single wasn’t successful as they expected but they moved on to release a second for “I No Go Marry Your Papa”. The song enjoyed success locally in his part of the country.

Eventually the hit came with “Sweet Mother”. It came at a time when their recording contract had just been dropped by EMI. They got signed with an Onitsha based label named “Rogers All Stars”. He dropped the hit single with the band and then went as popular as going outside the country and then the continent. The huge success gained by the singer helped him go on tours in different countries including England. He performed with the likes of London based band, Ivory Coasters.

“Sweet Mother” appeared to be the only hit song the band would record and Prince Nico Mbraga quit music after a time when his band split and then he formed a new one. His hit song has been tagged as the best selling song in history by an African singer and was once voted as Africa’s favourite song by BBC. The song was also called “Africa’s Anthem”.

PRINCE NICO MBRAGA PERSONAL LIFE

After he quit music, he focused on managing his hotel in Ikom, Cross River State. He named the hotel Sweet Mother Hotel. Prince Nico Mbraga died in a motorcycle accident on 23rd June 1997.

PRINCE NICO MBRAGA SONGS

  • I No Go Marry Your Papa
  • Sweet Mother
  • Christiana
  • Family Movement
  • Wayo Inlaw
  • Stella
  • Good Father
  • Free Education in Nigeria
  • Love and Unity for Africa
  • Adam & Eve

 

 

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