THE LYNX EYE: Time Not To Listen To World Bank, IMF | By Taiwo Adisa


Some six months ago, the World Bank and its brother institution, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), praised President Bola Tinubu for making the decisive “fuel subsidy is gone” policy statement.

Remember that the Bretton Wood institutions have painted the fuel subsidy removal policy like the famous gbogbo nise, aporo epa Ijebu (one cube cures all medicine) which could heal Nigeria’s economy.

The World Bank, in June, said that by removing subsidies, Nigeria would save N3.9 trillion of its GDP in 2023 and N11 trillion by 2025.

Months down the road, the World Bank is singing a new song. It is telling our leaders that Nigerians need to pay more for petrol, even though fuel prices now hover around N560 and N700 per litre depending on your location in the country. It said the current prices are not “cost reflective.”

Speaking on the fuel subsidy situation in Nigeria, World Bank’s lead economist for Nigeria, Alex Sienaert, said last week: “We think the price of petrol should be around N750 per litre more than the N650 per litre currently paid by Nigerians.”

I believe the World Bank and the IMF are too engrossed with the macro-economic machinations of the Nigerian economy such that they either blindfolded themselves to are blindfolded to the micro-economic realities in the land. I have also concluded that economic expatriates in the Bretton Wood institutions are making the mistakes of the earliest Development Communication experts, ignoring the sound bites from the particular location.

The thesis of World Bank and IMF postulations on our economy is that when the government is rich, the people should rejoice. The government would be able to undertake welfare programmes, fund people-oriented projects and orchestrate development.

But that’s far from what we have in the developing world and I think that should have been obvious to the Bretton Wood institutions by now. Since 1986, when the World Bank and the IMF started applying drugs to the ailing Nigerian economy, something should have told them things are not working. The theories are not interpreting the situations and the hypothesis kept failing. It is time for a review.

Is the error in the hypothesis or the theories or in the sample population? That’s the question the World Bank and proponents of the theories should ask. I think the fault is not just in the theorists but largely in the local implementers.

Rather than have the type of explorers Europe sent to colonise Africa, centuries back, what we have in Africa is the example of Oba li ni ile (the king owns the land surface and underneath). The African model is such that once the leader takes charge, he colonises the wealth of the nation, leaving the people with little to scavenge.

Africa needs development but the Oyinbos, failed to ask us how we intend to get there. With the Oba lo ni’le posture, African leaders hold fast to the entitlement mentality. They amass public wealth for personal use and where they have enough, they hide what they don’t need in some foreign lands. That’s the exact opposite of what developed Europe and others.

So by saying that the people should keep sacrificing such that the government in Nigeria or Africa would gather more wealth for public good, you would only end up drying the blood that flows in the citizens.

Rather than perpetually taxing the Nigerians, I will recommend a clean-up of the opaque management nature of the nation’s oil sector. The World Bank should impress it on our economic managers to stabilise the Naira, keep exchange rates stable and note that any change to the price of petrol alters everything in the economy, inflationary trends inclusive.

The bank and IMF also need to note that the challenges we are trying to fix were brought about by the government’s failure to manage public infrastructure, expand the economy and account for its wealth over the years.

Okomu Oil is calling…

Fidelis Olise is the Public Relations man of Okomu Oil Palm Company PLC. Just like every other reader, he read the last piece on this page titled “Okomu Oil, Gbelebu community, and what big corporations can do.”

But he has to take more than a passing interest because the subject directly affects the company he works for. He immediately got in touch and attempted to straighten the story. Some slides showing the Corporate Social Responsibility activities of his company in Gbelebu community were the first to land on my phone. He had also got in touch with Suyi Ayodele, South-South Bureau Chief of Tribune newspapers, who was also in Gbelebu community for the burial of Pa Aaron Ponuwei Ebelo, the trip that exposed to us the harrowing experience the people of Gbelebu had been contending with in the name of access road to their homes. Suyi had earlier done a piece titled “Gbelebu as agbelebu of misgovernance.”

The slides contain pictures of the overhead tank of the first borehole project in Gbelebu; the first block of classrooms at the Gbelebu community; the second block of classrooms at Gbelebu community; the third block of classrooms at the Gbelebu community; the Gbelebu Town Hall and a picture showing the graded earth road that leads to Gbelebu.

Though Okomu Oil’s CSR activities were not the subject matter of this column on December 10, Fidelis had gone that far to substantiate his defence that his company was not involved in marginalising or maltreating the people of Gbelebu and environs, the host communities of Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc.

He had also earlier engaged me in a lengthy telephone conversation to explain the pain of his company in the whole saga.

He said in a brief write-up on the matter: “I was at the function referred to in your write-up and I passed through the same road. I can sincerely tell you that your analysis is incorrect.

The road in question is the main road to the Gbelebu community but as Nigerians, we look for shortcuts to everything and the only shortcut the people of Gbelebu found is to pass through our (Okomu oil) plantation which is illegal.

The tarred road referred to, ends in our plantation and Okomu did not dig a trench across the road, we only dug a trench at our boundary. You can verify this from anyone in Gbelebu.

“You can draw the attention of the state and Local Government to the (earth) road. As a company, we have our limitations but within the capacity of our resources, we are doing well for communities around us.”

That notwithstanding, Okomu Oil and the host communities need to work together to fix the pains. That would go far in easing the pains of its operations as well.



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