Nigeria’s BIG Challenge and The Illusion of Empowering Millions

Nigeria’s BIG Challenge and The Illusion of Empowering Millions

This is not looking good. Mr. President, Nigeria needs a new playbook. Do not ignore this trajectory. Sudan is a good case study – acute food crisis is something no one wants in Nigeria.  My thesis remains: find  few credible farmers and support them, and stop this illusion of empowering millions of farmers at once. I know doing that will not win votes but Nigeria needs to recalibrate fast.

When you want to empower one million traders with $200, instead of focusing on the top promising few with capacity to scale, you end up wasting resources as nothing changes. We have been running that policy for decades and nothing has changed. We can all believe whatever we want to believe. But the fact is that food prices are going up despite some “alternative facts” created by political hitters. That trajectory is very dangerous right now.

Sudan’s fallen ruler, Omar al-Bashir, won many fights for three decades. He mastered the politics of UN. He overcame America and South Sudan. He triumphed over IMF and World Bank. He fought rebels, friends and enemies – and won. But at the end, he fell because of BREAD. Yes, bread – so simple and harmless- brought down one of the last surviving yoyo men of Africa.

This piece by Awoyemi Olumide has some insights Nigeria needs to consider.

In this piece I argued that the reflexive fixation of Nigeria’s policy makers on import eradication as a solution to our economic problem is misplaced. I submitted that policy intervention should be informed by the peculiarities of our trade reality.

It is arguable that, one of the reasons Nigeria has remained hobbled by the scourge of multidimensional poverty may be the unfortunate mismatch between our manifest trade realities and Government policy interventions. Oftentimes, policy intervention is aimed at curing us of chronic import addiction. The former Minister of Agriculture Audu Ogbeh was seen in a video making the rounds on social media in 2018, lamenting with evangelical zeal   Nigeria’s shameful importation of trade merchandise. What was most embarrassing and unacceptable to Ogbeh is our lowly importation of something as mundane as toothpick. This unrelenting anti-importation crusade that is at odd with our trade reality has fostered a pervasive, erroneous and injurious believe on the street of Nigeria that our lingering economic malaise is nurtured by our insatiable appetite for all things foreign. While it is nominally true that Nigerians have an appetite for foreign consumer merchandise, our trade data for the year 2018, the same year Audu Ogbe launched his anti-Importation tirade shows altogether a different reality.

Nigeria’s Rice Delusion

 

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