The rate of change in our time is so swift that an individual of ordinary length of life will be called on to face novel situations which have no parallel in the past. The fixed man for the fixed duties, who in the old society was such a “god-send” will in the future be a public danger— Alfred North Whitehead, 1861-1947.
THE rate of change globally had accelerated several hundred fold since Whitehead wrote his observation. There was no internet then. Major economic developments affecting the lives of other nations took several months to be known to others and their reactions became manifest several months or even years after. First, the globalisation of economies changed that; then internet completed the job. Today, a change, up or down, in the price of crude oil registers its impact on prices of shares in all the capital markets around the globe. Every nation on this planet is now like a glass-house from which nothing can be hidden from outsiders.
One of the saddest aspects of the Nigerian government is the pervasive belief that those in the Federal Government can still lie to Nigerians and the world as well concerning the situation in our economy. Buhari was a Military Head of State when we could still bluff our way out of bad economic reports. Today, he is President of a country, which like others, has been stripped naked by the internet and global institutions monitoring economic results independently of governments and which can neither be stopped nor intimidated. Unfortunately, our current top government officials are yet to learn that simple fact. Each unfavourable report on the Nigerian economy receives the same treatment. They collectively deny the facts and question the motives of the organisation issuing the report. If that fails, they issue a rejoinder which does not address the issue raised in the report.
Four reasons account for why rapid economic growth will continue to elude Nigeria under Buhari and his economic advisers – led by Vice President Osinbajo. They are ignorance, inability to learn from past mistakes, embrace of falsehood and lack of ideas. Permit me to start from repetition of errors made even in the recent past.