Privatization Pill and The Drama

The IMF tablet for ailing countries seeking help in its healing store is widely popular. It is cure to dilute the poisonous potion of government and state owned enterprises. Since Reagan-Thatcher grabbed the narrative of the global space, government is the problem and we need to tame Leviathan.  No wonder when the foolishness of the Greeks after loose borrowing provided IMF another patient; the medicine was the golden template. Cut down spending, increase taxes and put up for stale state owned companies for privatization.

Now we know that IMF cure was proven deadlier than the disease in likes of Japan, Argentina, Latin America and when the Western governments rush into crisis- the next narrative is not cuts but stimulus. To the likes of Russia that wanted to banish the ghosts of communism, it found privatization as an absolute tablet. An overdose of privatization exposed the cruel form of capitalism. It drove a wedge into a social contract creating overnight oligarchs like Khodorkovsky and Abramovich. This was the creation of Boris Yeltsin, Russia late hour hero who braved the military tanks of Kremlin.

In Nigeria, we love the narrative that government screws up badly which is really true. Look at your feeble switch, mounds of filth in gutters, schools that mirror poultry pens, decaying hospitals and even the black uniform guy that demands bribe; its of embers burning in ashes with flames whizzing out.  Government enterprises have been outsized repositories of beauty, crumbling pieces leaden with theft. We can count here a graveyard of public enterprises with unmarked epitaph.

The narrative becomes plausible when we need to sell off a nation’s patrimony to those privileged to afford it. The process to do it demands government. Here government proves to be the headache again. Government is to ensure that this process is thoroughly clear and represents the best interests of the community. But here, we did in a firesale style consummating the whole process the hands of gluttonous men. Men privileged to grab the reins of power, in a psychotic thinking arrogated the enterprises to their friends and family. The overruled rules and ethics putting up phosphorent patch on the looting of a nation’s patrimony.  As the recent Senate hearing shows,   a leadership battle of Obasanjo and Atiku turned the privatized assets of a state, the aggregation of toil and sweat of the past in a personal cult deciding who owns what.

We have taken this democracy as another pill doctored from the West. In the last twelve years, we have denounced all reasoning if this tablet had healed our multiple woes.  Accepting that free speech in this experiment makes this overrule every senseless leadership we had in the past. We have not decided if we are not creating a cult of wealth that hijack state enterprises, disabuse public privileges to put up a tent of enormous wealth.

The last investigation on Power by Ndudi Elumelu is gathering dust on the Senate shelves, now this round of theatrics on privatization starts again. I am sorry the movie has come to an end because this is a Nigerian movie.  It ends at the spot of the untouchables. The likes that deemed Oputa panel not worth attending, were deemed too big for Ndudi Elumelu Panel, and have no question to answer on Halliburton and Siemens Scandals. It is the likes of Obasanjo and the political family that lords over us. This is where the investigation hits the brakes and we reinvent another item for the news cycle. Gani would have continued this new episode by racing to the courts but God bless his unrelenting fight, it worked him till death. Even the courts after plea bargain dish out 2 years imprisonment template to most reviled looters after being boxed a team of senior advocates. I am sick and tired of this theatrics adding myself to this guttural part of history.

Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph. Evil becomes a sitcom, history and posterity won’t forgive and forget us. 

Bright Pupil of an Arab Class

“One must tell clearly to these great people that are Turkey that they are meant to be the heart of the Union of the Mediterranean but not the heart of the European Union.” – Nicholas Sarkozy

Worried about bringing 78 million people of Turkey into the European Union and its impact on voting rights in the region, French President does not want a mass of Muslims to determine fate of its region.  Turkey shares borders with Iran, Iraq and Syria and one would wonder what is really European about Turkey. Yet Turkey has chosen to be best in class economy, striving to close off inequality, stabilizing democracy and blessed with a trove of young people when likes of Germany have an ageing future.

The miracle of Turkey makes one believe that a decade is a long time in the history of a nation.  Just a decade ago, it was mired in acute economic paralysis visiting IMF’s shop to heal its bleeding sore.  Now Turkey has dumped the IMF and can take a swipe at the likes of Greece stuck in the Euro with no saving grace of monetary devaluation.  Turkey seems to me like Nigeria after founding its space in global map after being a patch of vassal states known as the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman Empire was a Muslim clan that existed from 27 July 1299 to 29 October 1923 before Turkey’s visionary founder Ataturk wanted independence.  Rather than be mired in needless war with Israel or seeking to create a conservative Islamic territory, it has accepted a secular status. Turkey’s is the West bright pupil of the class, a model to other Arabs and prominent contributor to NATO.

According to the Economist Magazine “Turkey is now a vocal member of the G20 club of important economies. It held a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council in 2009-10. It is knocking on the door of the BRICs club of emerging giants…The average age of its 72m people is only 29, against over 40 in the EU. By 2050 its population will have risen to almost 100m. If by then Turkey has managed to get into the EU, it will be its most populous member, far ahead of Germany, which will have a mere 70m people”

Turkey is now the world’s biggest cement exporter and second-biggest jewelry exporter. Its construction orders is surpassed only by China’s. It is Europe’s leading maker of televisions and DVD players and its third-biggest maker of motor vehicles. Though it has an impoverished region with the Kurds in the south East, quarrels with the Greeks over Cyprus and an economy swollen on debts, it is taking as  a step further to a great nation scoring all the class in the an untypical Arab world that has no single natural resource. It has a  backyard ridden with war-mongering  territories like Iran, Syria and Iraq but its economic garden continues to blossom plucking the fruits of a globalized 21st century.

The Puzzle of Germany

One of the puzzles of my private study has been the rise and rise of Germany.  Germany was the sick man of Europe with mounting War debts after the First World War. Part of its area known as Rhineland was annexed to France until the War Debts were fully paid. It signed an agreement to be of “good behavior” known as Versailles’ Treaty.  As economic conditions tightened after the War with massive hyperinflation and more than half of the population out of work, Germany found a hero in Hitler who started another World War. After the World Wars were the shining moments of US as it smiled on European powers who were stricken with debts and devastating losses. US was long in depression until the World War II provided them opportunity to spend and grow the economy.   As it became a creditor to Britain and rest of Europe, America consolidated its power with the final straw being the Britain-France Suez war with Egypt.

Let’s fast forward to our own days. Germany has taken deep pain of reforms profiting especially from the rise of capitalism in West Germany. It finally paid it World War debts in 2010 and now runs on a surplus like China. Every Euro country in distress looks unto Germany for help.  It is competing with China having built the strong Mittlestand- a coalition of family businesses that powers the country and represents a large pie in its surging export to the World.

To likes of America, it has been convoluted cycles of boom and bust. Rather than save in times of booms for the days when capitalism drives off the edge and slows the economy, it cuts taxes for rich and poor, expands entitlement spending and runs a consumerist society powered by debt.  It finally nailed it by running to Iraq; mainly using borrowed money to fund wars.  Greece is another country of immense lessons. It had an economy surviving on tourism but cooked books to join the Euro when underlying competitiveness does not qualify it.

It’s a lesson we should hold in a prism that life runs in circles. That today we could be  swimming  in cash does not make life a straight line; a bend may be looming ahead.  Let’s not be the America who sits on the fortress of world power and as holder of global reserve currency, spends at will with no sight of the future.  Let’s be careful of follow-follow that wrecked likes of Greece when they had no ability to compete in the Euro-Area. Germany, Europe largest economy is a glittering example. Even in the last global recession, it didn’t cut jobs. It merely cut working hours and it has found a way to evolve a mild variant of capitalism known as stakeholder capitalism. Germay is not crying that China is taking the jobs but matching them with superior products at competitive prices. After tearing down Berlin Wall, Germany rewrote its page of history by deferring gratification on a platform of sound leadership.