Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2 Days to VOTE for Wennovation & Make a Difference

You have two days to vote

Wennovation Hub is 1 of 11 Finalists at the Ashoka/SAP Power of Change Competition. We hope you're rooting for us!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Obama's Definition Mistake, and a Simple Retort

OK...the Presidential debates have begun. The Veep's was more interesting if you ask me. VP Biden had guts to call out GOP hypocrisy on the debt, on Stimulus and on Iran/Syria/Libya. Nothing works magically than delving the other side an hypocrisy (or inconsistency) blow. That is exactly what Prez Obama failed to do the first time. No GM, no 47% - all of the very core of Mitt Romney's inconsistencies and hypocrisy. The guy discovered Middle Class true religion overnight and Obama let him get away with it!

I personally always thought Obama had a less than stellar summer even though some pundits thought otherwise. When he went about defining Mitt Romney with millions of dollars and precious campaign time, he did it with a very pastel and faint brush. Taxes, Bain and Cayman Islands do ring a bell with those at the middle and lower class, but independents come from all economic classes.

The strongest argument against Mitt Romney is now what Obama and Biden are having to make at the closing hour: that the guy will say anything to win, that he is inconsistent and is playing to pull a fast one on both his base and the American people. It is the flip flopper, etch-the-sketch argument and can permanently damage any candidate. If this job had been done in the summer, Obama like Biden can easily laugh his way through the debates and turn to the guy saying: "There he goes with the etch the sketch again!"

Another shallow faux pas argument of the  Mitt that his lack of details on taxes was because he wants to work bipartisan need to be dinged. You don't outsource the presidency to congress; leaders take responsibility. We need details and need no tax-hideout tactics which Mitt is very good at with his hidden taxes and Cayman accounts. And by the way, if you want to talk about our taxes where are your returns?

Lastly, the Obama campaign has been spectacularly inept in countering Mitt Romney's closing argument (granted it shifted...from the convention argument of "are you better off today than 4 years ago?") of "Why will the next four be different than the last four?" The answer is blowing in the wind! In the last four, the mess created by the used car sales man party was being cleaned up. Now the economy is set to roar back after four years of putting a floor under the mess, and successful progressive policies. Coming off 4 stabilizing years, the next four will be better. Now is not the time to go back to creating a mess.

Ultimately, in the Townhall Obama must not only variously call Romney a flopper and fipper, he must also make it clear that voting for Republicans is a vote for recession in the next 4-8 years. Just say it; that is what people want to hear. Make it stark. Their policies of no regulation, shallow recoveries based on disappearing tax cuts and rising deficits, and trade agreement giveaways do lead to recession. C'est Finis. 

Saturday, September 08, 2012

It will come down to 4 States...and why Unemployment won't matter

Don't forget that map up there. It will come down to Iowa, Ohio, Florida and Virginia. If "Myth Robme" loses one, that is it. Right now, once one factors historic trends, presence of Hispanics, Labor organizers, Minority & Women votes, the other so called Swing States are not really swing. They just have a bunch of procastinators with same slight of hand year in, year out. The 4 real purple states from our analysis based on their tendency to switch back and forth between the parties even in up years for the party in favor were as such identified.

It is very unlikely Nevada, Colorado, Winsconsin, New Hampshire and Michigan or Penn will vote GOP, in as much as it is unlikely that Missouri, Indian, North Carolina or Arizona will ever go to the Dems. Short of economic disaster of cataclysmic proportion or some huge major scandal by Mitt, these scenarios will never play out. If they do, all bets are off!

This essentially leaves us with these four hard fought states: tells you why Obama is suing in Ohio and Iowa is only his constant trail. Indeed, Romney has a big task before him to snatch all four of these battle grounds, but his chances are more decent than you think. If Obama is not solid in Michigan and Wisconsin then you can assume he just lost Iowa and the rest of the four. For Obama as such, an Auto-Osama strategy in the Mid-West to blanker Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa makes sense especially since his team is headquartered in centered Illinois. In the end, it may be this home court advantage that carries Team Obama across the line. Time will tell.

And here is something else you need to know about the much vaunted unemployment numbers: it doesn't matter what it is nationally, it matters what it is locally. And here are the numbers in these 4 states:

  • Iowa - 5.3%
  • Ohio- 7.2%
  • Virginia- 5.9%
  • Florida - 8.3%

This is all compared to the national average of 8.1%. Clearly Iowa, Ohio and Virginia are doing a whole lot better; and herein lies why the President will win regardless of how close it gets. We are watching.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Watching the President

Anyone that reads this blog, knows I have been stoically pro-Obama from time immemorial, and remain perhaps the very few that was enthusiastic if not even more than they were 4-5 years ago about his presidency. Forget about the historic relevance of this Presidency, focus on the results. Fact is, America will never get a more common sense, nose to the grind President that has achieved against all odds. And therein lies the legend and achille heels of this President. He has confronted historic recession, unheard of obstructionism and put-downs by the disrespectful opposition and a lot of bad luck to pull a far above decent presidency.

From Healthcare to Energy Policy to Innovation, the President is building historic records that even an iron clad Republican government will find very hard to dismantle. The other day, I was reading about how the Department of Navy is utilizing biofuels and increasing energy efficiency to prop up the alternative energy industry. This are the below radar achievements that Obama will be remembered for: more than Healthcare, more than Killing Bin Laden/Undermining Al Qaeda or Keeping GM/Chrysler alive. He is remaking the economy through clean energy, domestic manufacturing, education and civil rights. In the real sense, it is this very last reason (Civil Rights) that really have the Conservative Movement up in arms against the man...and they'll regret it. If not November 2012, in November 2022 when Texas will vote solid Democratic, and Republicans can kiss the Presidency goodbye for another half a century.

Some on the left are disenchanted. They wish he was a King-Magician that will just make all their wish list come true. Immigration, Closing Guantanamo, Campaign Finance, Combating Inner City Poverty are among their wish list. The far genuine one is the lack of decisive action of leveling the wheels of justice, even though one can argue revising the crack-cocaine sentencing disparity was a first step (and that was Civil Rights too). But far above these, the left wish he crushed and destroyed the livelihood of every republican. But that is not his style: and for this the nation should be grateful.

As the President heads to the stage in Charlotte, his speech will pivot very nicely from Michelle's wonderful introduction and Bill Clinton's masterful lawyering of his case for a second term into what the nation should expect to overcome its problems of employment, deficit/entitlement and  growth  in that order. Here are 7 ideas, he can put on the table:

On Employment: He should reiterate his $440bn Jobs (1.8 million new jobs) Bill paid for by removing Bush Tax cuts for millionaires (see third point below), and also throw the GOP something by way of tactical support of the JOBS act that seek to help start-ups go public faster by reducing Sarbanes-Oxley requirements. This will make GOP look more like the obstructionist; while helping his own base: Silicon Valley.

On Deficit: He should state his support for balanced type approach of the Simpson-Bowles commission with some type fiscal reordering while emphasizing he does not support removing mortgage interest deductions for middle class families and the first $1million of their home values as Simpson-Bowles does mostly. He should say Billionaires should pay more, so middle class can get this tax benefit as they've always done. On Entitlement: He also should eliminate the current cap on payroll (Social Security/FICA) tax on income beyond $250k instead of taxing up to $140k as suggested by the commission. Time for the rich to pay up. Eliminating the distinction between capital gains and ordinary income is also long overdue. Income is income. Also, eliminate ALL corporate loopholes and leave their rate at 25% (below the 28% GOP wants). Arithmetic folks. Eliminate AMT for individuals. Yes, 3 tax brackets.

On Growth: He should recognize the complexity of the tax code and how it impedes planning. He should enumerate a plan to convey a tax writing commission to codify a simple tax law with most of his ideas. Indeed, to grant relief to current corporations and spur short term growth, announce an amnesty of 10% token tax rate in the next 18 months to repatriate foreign profits and tax credits that can allow them pay as low as 0% tax if jobs are created with it instead of granting bonuses or dividends. He should state his preference of putting in place deeper tax cuts for the under $250,000 earner for the next 3 years while the tax reforms states above is being written and the economy recovers. At the same time, any income above $250k will go back to Clinton years, capital gains inclusive.

Other topics: Announce a full throated desire to fix immigration as the second cardinal goal after the economy.  Link this to a desired program to revamp inner city education, insist on achievement and help big cities reform their schools by insisting on being tough on teachers and parents. The DREAM Act and Revamped Smart for Greencard program should be a base for this. Announcing a support for technology incubators in universities will also be a clear policy proposal likely to change the economy in the coming years.

On Foreign Policy: Stay the Course

On Healthcare: Stay the Course; use savings to shore up Medicare.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Welcome Nigeria's Gilded Age...or is it? The Niger Delta Palace

Up there is not a Middle Eastern Palace, neither are you looking at something built in the Mediterrenean or Europe. That is Nigeria's own Niger Delta. Yes, that Niger Delta. Exclusively built by Israeli Architects, details about this monumental construction can be found here. My estimate is a cool $30 million to achieve this kind of feat..mind you, much of the accessories will be imported, aside from the very expensive expat brainpower that pulled this off.

Yes, it is that Niger Delta- the same one that is supposedly sorrow, blood and grief. Never mind the statistics that 70% of Nigerias live below the poverty line. We still have the richest man in Africa, and many more yet undeclared probably richer than him. If you're a lover or student of architecture like me, this is sugar high for you. If you're a social activist, you're probably miffed. In any case, the question is: will this set off competition of country home villas among our elites? Chances are before they're more likely to pull something regal in Lagos or Abuja, and reserve a simple building for their home villages. Well, the Gilded age is here!

Enjoy the video below..

Friday, August 03, 2012

The 4 Nigerian Economic Classes...

Okay, Nigerians complain a lot about lack of a middle class. But more interestingly, we might actually have a whole of lot of classes- just not in the middle. Here is my categorization of the different economic classes in Nigeria..tell me if I'm correct

Class 1 -The  Class of Contractors & Connected: Okay, if you belong to this class your last name is possibly Danjuma, Babangida, Obasanjo, Tukur , Gana, Maduekwe or Ojukwu. You get that contract and you don't even know what to do with it. You drive in big cars, nice houses and the oil wealth of Nigeria either via subsidy scam or otherwise flows into your pocket. Your family get a first stab at political appointments, concessions, contracts and import waivers. You subsist on the state and could care less if the rest of us are suffering. There is an emerging sub-category here, the folks closest to the oil in Niger Delta. You may also be one of those rising indigenous oil contractors. Your recent $30million oil vessel contract flows out of where you come from, and the militants that protect your community than what you actually know! That said, you're also politically exposed; your fortune rise and fall with the ebbs of power play. You are the 0.1%.

Class 2- The Tycoons: Okay, you are the true movers and shakers of this society. You are the one Class 1 rely on to get the job done, to cover their tracks if need be and to make this society at least work. There are three sub-categories here: the Inheritance Manager (yes, you the Dantatas, Abiola, Ibrus, Folawiyos, Igbinnedions and co). You owe your good fortune to Daddy, but got a great education along the way to inherit and manage this empire. The second sub-category are the hustlers. From nothing but with good fortune and friends, the sun is shining on you. You built that company from scratch..even when you didn't need. You're the Ovias, the Elumelus, the Dangote's. A third sub-category are the launderers. You built that empire using the money of Category 1 and smarts, and some good connection without putting yourself in harms' way. Well, need we mention Globacom and NICON. Enough said. Aside from occasional worrying of your asset being taken over by the  Class 1, or the inconvenience of kissing up to politicians- you're fine! You get that MOPOL plus some protection by the hungry journalists! You are the 0.9%

Class 3- The Biz Owner, Top Managers, Consultants and Gainfully Employed: Brother and Sister with a fine education, great upbringing in those years of yore and some smarts. You end up working with the Bank, Oil Company, media or telecom outfit. Great salary, great benefits, nice homes, good tidy savings and pretty contented. You can even afford the European Summer vacation, and top that- you get to sleep well at night! Aside from your occasional insecurity and strays of reminders from your Class 4 relatives that life is not all that your boss have built it up to be, you have very little to worry about.  If you're really lucky, you get that break into the Tycoon rank if one spoilt brat mismanages his father's empire. Oh well, your luck- their loss! A sub-category in this class that is often overlooked is the One man Consultant. Oh you miss him? he has 4 projects running at every time, no contracts, got his own website and brand and the Class 1 and 2 virtually depend on his big brains. No commitments though. He makes big bucks, but lives dependable income means his savings are often bigger than his house. He runs that NGO, and he/she is the one the foreign donors always gravitate towards: they trust him..if he deserves it, is something else. He sometimes becomes the Personal Assistant/Special Adviser/Aide etc. to Class 1, or the CEO of the Class 2 Foundation or Non-Profit. Love that gig! You know him (Class 3 guys), he is your "rich, connected" Uncle that can land you that NYSC reposting, through his "friends". Third sub-category? even the relatively independent  business owner, small scale industry proprietor or emerging entrepreneur belong to this category (at least you write your own check, even if small) . You are the 24%!

Class 4: Unfortunately, you're the struggling class. You literally make anything between $1000 a month equivalent and nothing! You may be ungainfully employed (barely can your salary cover transport, talk less of rent). You depend on the largesse of brothers, uncles and relatives to survive. You have translated your job to a means of survival and you barely see the upward mobility to transition into other classes. If you're lucky- your current job is your best hope. You survive on bootlicking, being a yes-man and staying to the oft beaten path of complacency and conforming! Oh my, you live on less than $1 in some instance. You are the 75%.

So , where do you fall? What are your plans for moving up in Nigeria or staying up?

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Mexico for Republicans

Much have been made of the SCOTUS judgement on the POTUS' Healthcare Law, and its impact on the "American Way of Life" by the right wingers. Of course Rush is threatening to move to Canada (that has more or less a socialist healthcare system) and many have much more options like Costa Rica, Mexico, Somalia (with absolutely no government control) and would I say my dear Nigeria where life expectancy averages 44 years, as opposed to nearly double that in the USA?

Speaking about Mexico, I do truly believe that the Mexican experience; a country that have been around about much the same time as USA..with somewhat parallel history, but a totally different foundation and national philosophy, is a lesson on the superiority of the American ideals of can-do, rule of law and above all building the middle class as a bulwark of the economy. Mexico is a right wing paradise, with the 12th largest economy in the world (the richest man in the world lives there) and low regulation- one should expect the heavenly results promised by NeoCons. But nay, you get poverty, great income disparity and crime!

People often underestimate the role social programs like social security, medicare, unemployment insurance etc play in the entrepreneurship eco-system of United states. Often times, entrepreneurs take risk because at least they know even if they fail they won't die in penury; that when they get old they will get taken care of and that last 99 weeks of unemployment check could build their next business dream. Adding healthcare to this roll, only ensures that entrepreneurs (many whom I interact with,and who don't carry any health insurance because they can't afford it while building their dreams) will only make this ecosystem better. They are the ones that create jobs not the top 1% that sock money away in Cayman Islands and Bermuda.

Much have been made about socialism, government control and quality of care with concerns of opening up the healthcare system to the 30 million (10% of population) that don't have it. But fact remains that short of requirements that health insurance company have minimum level of payouts (85%), the Affordable care act is the closest the right wing will get to market based reform that covers most people without government control. What is not to like about no Public Option, Mandates (personal responsibility) and state operated exchanges? All these policy choices were suggested by Republicans against the Clinton Era Universal Health Coverage, and now upon adoption by the President it suddenly becomes socialism? Hypocrisy!

We ignore the link between lowering risk, improving middle class incomes and consumption on economic growth at our own peril. The Republican philosophy of make life easy for the rich and it trickles down to the rest of the economy flies on the face of consumers being the mainstay of an economy. I agree with Nick Hanauer that "giving business people credit for job creation, is like giving squirrels credit for evolution". Business people invest to change their society, be independent, of course make money but not just for that. No one invests because they will pay low taxes, because you get taxed only when you make money. People invest because there is a market for their product, and they believe they can make healthy return on that investment pre-tax! That is why increasingly reducing taxes, while lowering incomes because of lack of investments in the broad economy as the GOP prescribes is just dumb economic policy! Hey, how is austerity working in Europe?

Just Reading: Mastering the VC Game: A Venture Capital Insider reveals How to Get from Start-Up to IPO on your own terms by Jeff Bussgang is an exciting page to page read for any start-up type, intending to take the unpaved road to IPO glory. In the end, patience- luck- and intuition is what is required toe survive this game. Next Up: The Money Culture by Michael Lewis and Hopefully catch up on the perennial but Voluminous Master of the Senate on LBJ. It is shaping up to being a busy reading season. Bunch of periodicals to catch up on as well.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Obama's Campaign Error, Booker's Political Suicide

Much have been made of New Jersey's Mayor Corey Booker's rebuttal on Meet the Press last weekend of President Obama's critique of Romeny's Bain years. While we can all agree that Corey is plain suicidal, at least politically, the jury is still out if Obama's strategy of making Bain the center of his definition of Mr. Romney will really work.

According to its proponents, defining you challenger earless crucial to winning elections. Using their supposed strong suit agains them (John Kerry's Vietnam record, remember?) is also supposed to be a game changer. Since Romney have decided to make his years in Bain as the core qualification for his intended Presidency, the reason goes that Obama has to puncture that believe. To Newt Gingrich that said it never worked for him, the retort was that he never had enough money to make that case, and he was often hedged in by the GOP Elders.

Well, yes and no.

It is true that when the case of Bain is being made, substantial focus on Wall Street and its destructive effect on Main Street works. But the strategy also hold very dangerous omen and the Obama campaign has to be very careful. It is not as simple as saying this is a Wall Street guy that became rich because he flipped companies, some sort of connection to the current pain of the people and private equity have to made: and here it where it gets really difficult. Basically put, slandering works (i.e. call Romney a Wall Street candidate that screwed  up our lives), but the details are iffy (i.e. work on shells here, buddy!) Clearly the President must be willing to alienate some of his Party's most loyal donors, piss off the whole of Wall Street and basically run an industry wide slandering campaign if he hopes this succeeds. Or May be not...

I for one think that attacks on opponents have to be cascaded and the Obama campaign might have started from behind with the least effective story on Romney. Here are three lines that work for Mr. Romney, in their order of potential effectiveness:

  • He will say anything to get elected i.e. etch the sketch
  • He is clueless on National Security & Foreign Policy...basically a novice
  • His understanding of the economy from Wall Street is flawed and largely got us to where we are 
I think the Hope train chose the least effective one and are not even consistent with it as the Corey incident shows. Why can't the President find himself strong surrogates beyond Mr Biden? Even Mr. Romney look better surrounded with a full team, cabinet and party in place than Mr. Donkey! May be Chicago need to start dusting up Karl Rove's swift boat playbook. 

Attacks on opponents character works better on a blank slate like Kerry and Romney, and the flip-flopper of 2004 should be the etch the sketch of 2012. Only after this is established in voters' mind after 6 months of badgering will the pulverization of the strong suit aka swift boat ad, or Bain capital bomb be thrown with the kitchen sink!

This is going to really be fun! Can't wait for mud to start flying. It is a 3 billion dollars election baby! Thanks to our clueless Supreme Court! 

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Early Problems of An Infant Nation: Nigeria

Watch 3.13 of the second video. The Sardauna expressing an apt political decision not to stand for a federal seat and "choosing to live among his people" I wish Awo did the same.

It is interesting to note the mutual suspicion between the North and South from day one, and how the rebellious (Awo) vs status quo (Zik & Ahmedu Bello) personalities of the then leaders might have contributed to everything going amiss!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Occupy Nigeria: Fuel Subsidy Crisis & Way Out

We understand Labor and Government are finally talking after much prevarication by our stubborn President. A starting point of compromise and negotiation should look like this:

1. Immediate reversion to the ex-fuel price of 65 naira up until the end of current budget year of March 31, 2012.

2. Empowerment of a joint task force of the EFCC, ICPC, CBN and Nigeria Police under a Sitting Judge to investigate the cabal that have milked fuel subsidy in the last 10 years, recommending fines and jail terms where appropriate. Tax fraud, racketeering and forgery should all be on the table for use to nail the offenders. 

3. Implementation of the following in the new budget:

a. Drastic reduction in the allowances and payments to political in both arms of government with a view to reducing net overhead expenditure to 45% of budget size. This includes removal of security votes, removal of constituency projects, reduction in number of advisors/assistants, reduction in the size of the presidential fleet, and reduction in the size of pools of vehicles maintained by the FG.

b. Law to mandate the RMAFC to tie basic salaries of political officers to the minimum wage (as a multiple) and remove ALL allowances. All benefits to political officers are to be provided as line items in budget, and must be justified by MDAs and agencies. Nigeria's president (as the highest paid) should not earn more than the equivalent of $200,000 per annum and should feed his family from it. Period. 

c. Immediate dissolution of the PPRA, and transfer of powers to meet domestic fuel demand shortfall due to NNPC's moribund refineries to a new agency governed by a board of 2 Representatives of the Executive, 2 Representative of Labor, 2 Representative of Civil Society and 1 Representative of Fuel Marketers. All organizations present their nominee.

d. KPMG or Price Water House is invited to recruit true professionals into this quasi agency. Also, Agency accounts is to be audited by KPMG every three months. 

e. New Agency to put out invitation to tender on supply contracts for open bidding by local companies only- investors in "under construction" private refineries being given preferential treatment, 3 months ahead of anticipated demand shortfall. Where good prices are not secured by bids, agency is empowered to negotiate for direct consignment from international refineries. 

4. Upon implementation of the above in six months, labor shall engage with government with a view of securing some contribution from Nigerians towards reducing the cost of subsidizing importation, in return for elevated level of investments in new local refineries with 3 years. 

5. Pass the Petroleum Industry Bill immediately, split up NNPC into manageable parts-separating the refineries into various companies while commercializing them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Occupy Nigeria: Debunking the Subsidy Propaganda

In recent times, we have seen an upsurge in falsehoods and false arguments propagated by the propaganda machine of the federal government. These disinformations are particularly effective now that the strike is on and we are all glued to our TVs.  Of course, as the day wears by the goal is to make our resolve wane by these false arguments. To prevent the planned disillusionment, we must counter the false arguments. Here is a list, and we shall add to it as we go, of falsehoods “your government” is propagating:

1. Deregulation is good in telecoms, Banking etc. It will be good in Petroleum Too – By NESG Chairman, Fred Nweke (Former Information Minister) & Others

Response: Well, not exactly. Deregulating the marketing of petroleum (which is usually money losing) and not the upstream production (where the easy money is) is analogous to government owning MTN and Globacom, but privatizing sale of recharge cards! Our right to subsidized petroleum is a derivative of government’s insistence on managing that asset directly in trust for the people: who demand it cheaply. Moreover, in developed countries (like the US) where the price at the pump is deregulated, if you find oil in your backyard you also own it. In these countries as well, important resources like food are subsidized. What has the Nigerian government done for you lately?

2. Subsidy breeds corruption and the cabal benefits – By Governor Sanusi
Response: This argument is basically saying the government cannot deal with corruption or is not willing to confront their buddies that are the “cabal”. Was Femi Otedola (the Diesel Prince) not the biggest sponsor of the President’s ambition in 2011? What happened to prosecution, forensic accounting, investigations, trial of these cabal for anti-market tactics, fraud, forgery, tax evasion and perhaps treason? Guess the President does not take his Chief Security Officer role very seriously!

3. Oil is lower in surrounding markets and if lower in Nigeria it will lead to leakage – Minister Okonjo-Iweala
Response: This argument is preposterous. If this were true, then refined oil prices will be the same around the world except for islands! Think about it, every nation have a border and oil prices vary widely across them because those borders are monitored for smuggling. If the government cannot do its job, with simple technology, why should the people pay? Moreover with 75% spent on overhead, we still cannot find people to guard that border to avoid seepage? Moreover, these surrounding countries don’t produce oil. Cameroon that produces mere 85,000 barrels per day, subsidizes petroleum with up to $100 million per year. 

4. Only the Middle & Upper Class benefit– Governor Sanusi & Minister Okonjo-Iweala
Response: This argument is bogus. The price of energy affects everything in every economy and more so in Nigeria. In the US, for every 15 naira rise in energy price at the pump, the GDP is reduced by 0.5%. In Nigeria it will be worse since we are not just poorer (by many thousands) but also depend on it not just for transport but power and cooking because our government is inept! The price of everything, on everybody is going up.

5. We are borrowing money to pay subsidy – President Jonathan & Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala
Response: This is a big fat lie. The NNPC pays money for the current subsidies from sale of crude oil directly to PPRA before the balance is deposited in the Federation Account. Albeit illegal, this is what the Senate found out. How then can it be said to be borrowed? If Nigeria is borrowing, it is only because our political class of less than 10,000 people arrogates 30% percent of the budget for itself, allocates 45% for its work force (of about 350,000) and asks the rest of us (149.5 million) to make do with 25% of the budget which never gets to us!

6. The money saved by subsidy will be spent on job creation and infrastructure – President & Ministers
Response: Again, the previous point they make is the answer to this. Where will this be saved if the money is borrowed? See, we received the 2012 budget and they did not indicate any subhead as SURE Projects or whatever that is called. Fact is the SURE Initiative was an afterthought. Evidence is slowly emerging that document was put together hurriedly by his spin doctors, in the last few weeks to the end of the year before GEJ sprung us a surprise of the year. By the way, how can a government with 4.3 trillion and no evidence of good spending convince 1.3 trillion will make a difference? Or a government that cannot even organize a medal ceremony be trusted with huge infrastructure projects? The best way to restore the economy is to increase the buying powers of the people not reduce it by 1.3 trillion naira that will go into foreign accounts! Tax cuts not increases!

7. 25% cut in salaries of political officers is sharing the pain- President Goodluck Jonathan
Response: For one, let us be clear here: basic salaries amounts to nothing to political officers. They make more from security votes and allowances than anything else. They get enough freebies from us including free fuel and house helps; they basically dash away their salaries. Also, the President has no such powers to reduce salaries of political officers. They are set by the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) which sends it to the National Assembly for approval. The President also did not reflect this reduction in his budget. Nice! 

8. The protests are sponsored and being used to discredit the government – Reuben Abati & the Statehouse Press Folks
Response: No, it is the policy that is sponsored: by World Bank and IMF types. The protesters need no sponsors like the President and his cabinet does; we have our minds. Being an opposition politician does not disqualify anyone from voicing their opinion against arrant policies especially popularly unpopular ones (emphasis mine). What is the point of being in opposition anyway?

To the leaders of the movement, the Save Nigeria Group or the Nigeria Labor Congress or the Occupy Nigeria movement, it is important to keep the momentum and think strategically. The enemy is foxy; they have at their disposal the resources of the state and it is important we undermine that advantage especially going forward. Education of your followers with the above rebuttal points is important but that is just part of it. Motivation will soon run in few days as the economy of the common grinds to a halt. Food will run low; energy will run dry. It is important we start thinking now of how to sustain this movement and to make the government feel the pain quickly.

The government of Nigeria fortunately lives and dies by one resource. This makes them an easy target. Ask the MEND boys who got the attention of the Federal Government by doing the same targeting albeit in a more innocuous ways. We should be planning on how to shut in as much oil production as possible. Make it impossible for the IOCs to service their wells, onshore or offshore. Ban the lifting and transport of materials to support oil production. Block the operations of the big energy players and see the federal government go literally broke in one week! The earlier we do this, the quicker the outstanding issues will be resolved. The Nigeria Labor Congress and Civil Society must flex its muscle, and remind this government where the true power resides: with the people! 


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