I have a problem with the Chinese. You rent an apartment to one man and his wife and before you know it, there are dozens of little men and women swarming all over the place. And because they all look the same, you can’t even tell which one of them you collected rent from.
And as if that’s not enough, they would bring in everything they need from China – from kitchen utensils to beddings and flip-flops. Even the call girls that ‘service’ them are all from China. That’s bad business for our runs-girls and pimps. And to make matters worse, they’re always saving, saving and saving. No clubbing, no ‘dashing’ anybody anything. If you see them shopping, it’s likely to be at the grocery section. For he would wear the same set of clothes for his entire stay in the country. In fact, I suspect it’s the too much ‘sense’ in their heads that prevents most of them from growing tall.
But that’s not the reason I was not thrilled by President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to China. If nothing else, the visit would have afforded members of the president’s team the opportunity of seeing many beautiful and tall Chinese people.
But, on a more serious note, I’m one of those who believe that, in diplomacy, there are no do-gooders anywhere in the world. Everyone out there is looking for what would best serve the interest of his country. No free lunch anywhere! In fact, put more bluntly, every country is out there looking for what other country to scam. But every scam is packaged as a win-win deal that would have everyone happy. Yes, both parties are happy, but one of them is only happy because he’s too daft to know he has been scammed.
Nothing better captures the scam we call foreign aid and bilateral agreements than the fact that the UK and US are already kicking against Nigeria’s Chinese romance – albeit covertly. The same US and UK that had been singing the praise of President Buhari since last year are suddenly seeing so many things wrong with his administration. They’re suddenly talking about human rights (the same human rights issues they raised when Jonathan opted to look in the direction of China for arms to fight Boko Haram). But I see only one problem: Buhari has elected to be scammed by China, instead of continuing to live with the scam of UK and US.
That is not to say I’m enamoured by any of the partners. Far from it! My position has always been that no foreigner would build this country for us. Rather than worry our heads with foreign investors, we should first harness our local capacities. I would even prefer that we grant amnesty to all those who have looted our economy amnesty – on the condition that they would repatriate their loots to the country and invest them here, instead of hiding them in British Virgin Islands, Cayman Island, Monaco, Switzerland, Dubai, Panama, etc.
But that’s debate for another day.
So, with just one visit, Buhari just solved our importort-dependence problem of many years as well as the perennial foreign exchange crisis. And the solution? Instead of importing from Europe and America, we’ll start importing from China. Instead of running after the dollar, like we took a naked oath with greenbacks, we should be chasing after the Yuan. Oh yes! And the Yuan is never going to get scarce as the dollar currently is!
In fact, until Buhari and his team opened my eyes, I never knew that our problem was that we were importing from the wrong places. I foolishly thought that the problem with our economy was that we were not manufacturing enough at home, and that we were importing just about everything – from toothpick to vegetables.
No doubt, we would need a lot of foreign capital to give our comatose economy a shot in the arm, but I don’t see any foreign government handing us the money. Rather, I see that foreign capital coming in the form of a Dangote, for instance, going to negotiate financing from foreign banks and coming to build a refinery in Nigeria. That way, we take their loan, pay the clearly spelt out interests, build our refinery, give jobs to our people and add value to our crude oil. But this Chinese arrangement of taking a loan that the Chinese would warehouse and manage, help us purchase Chinese products (at prices they would fix), pay Chinese consultants from the loan, send their engineers and technicians to come do the work (and also get paid from the loan) is very dizzying. This is even more so when we consider that we still have to pay back the loan. And since the details of the deal are yet to be translated from their Mandarin versions, we wouldn’t even know if there was also a build-operate-and-transfer clause hidden somewhere between the lines. Now, that is not cheap!
…The CCT Amendment Bill versus The Grazing Bill
You call them herdsmen; I call them mobile Boko Haram – or the new face of Boko Haram. But rather than curtailing their excesses now and nipping the menace in the bud, the PMB government (emboldened by some voodoo DSS findings) is more interested in crushing unarmed Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) agitators.
In an age where the world’s largest producers of beef and dairy products do so in ranches and secluded farms, we are pushing to turn our entire country into one large grazing range, at the expense of crop farmers. We forget that man does not live by beef alone. We forget that to make even fura da nunu, for instance, the grains (fura) must accompany the milk (nunu or kwasam) – and the grains do not exactly grow on cows. So, we cannot afford to let the cows destroy the crops and expect not to have a food crisis at the end of the day – even if we have all the cows in the world. But that is assuming that this herdsmen issue is honestly about rearing cattle – without any ulterior motive.
Incidentally, it is the fear of that possible ulterior motive and the seeming endorsement, which the president’s deafening silence seems to give the actions of the rampaging herdsmen, that has got every host community very apprehensive.
Even more curious is the fact that the Grazing Bill is expressly speeding through the processes at National Assembly – giving one the impression that those who should oppose it may have traded it for the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Bill, which is enjoying an equally fast-tracked journey at the National Assembly. It’s like: ‘Support the new CCT Bill and we support the Grazing Bill’
The summary is that the government of the day – from the executive to the legislature, and even the judiciary, is still engrossed in politicking rather than governance.
While the executive and the APC leadership want Senate President Bukola Saraki out as soon as yesterday, the Saraki group is hurriedly amending the laws to blunt out their claws. Of course, the judiciary cannot be said to be apolitical in the matter.
Now, I don’t blame Saraki. If he will go down, he’s not expected to do so without a fight, especially when it is clear that those calling for his neck are no better. That’s why I’m surprised that otherwise discerning Nigerians are joining in the anti-Saraki chant, and turning a blind eye to the fact that we’re being nose-led to that conclusion. Or is it that we’re ready to be taken for a ride, so long as it’s not by Saraki and his friends?
And talking about anti-Saraki chants, we’re still waiting for the EFCC to swing into action over the Panama Papers, as the list of Nigerians ‘fingered’ (I’m not comfortable with that word, especially, when I’m not talking about women) continues to grow by the day.
Suddenly, the call for resignation and arrest from the “public” has suddenly died down. Hope this is not because some untouchables have joined Saraki in the Panama club?