FG LYING ABOUT GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
“Journalists say a thing they know isn’t true in the hope that if they keep on saying it long enough, it will be true.” Julien Benda, 1857-1952.
The quotation which was most troublesome when compiling the BOOK OF QUOTATIONS was this one. I was in 1965 embarking on a career in medicine. There was only one reason for me to be reluctant to include a broad indictment of journalists in what was after all an intellectual exercise in the United States. But, the journalist I grew up knowing from reading the DAILY TIMES, WEST AFRICAN PILOT and TRIBUNE were great individuals like Ernest Okoli, Peter Pan, Sad Sam, Aiyekoto, Allah Dey etc. They never told us lies. Was I living in a different world then? But, I went ahead and included it. Now I know that a journalist working for a paper is distinctly different from one working in the White House, 10 Downing Street or Aso Rock.
The minute a journalist crosses the threshold from the Fourth Estate of the Realm (i.e media) to the First or even Second Estate (i.e Executive or Legislative) branches of government, he changes colours. From a seeker after truth, he becomes an active purveyour of whatever falsehood his employers choose to peddle for political gain. No lie is too big to be uttered if that is what is required to keep the well-paid job. Naturally, they all deny what everybody knows. They claim they are not in it for the money. They must be the only people who believe that nonsense about themselves. They are as mercenary as those fighting for Boko Haram for money. That is why every administration since 1999 had succeeded in destroying the towering reputation of one well-known contemporary journalist after another. For those whose professional mandate includes informing and educating others, my colleagues in journalism have demonstrated a knack for not learning.
About two weeks ago, another famous Nigerian journalist joined the growing list of those who made US journalist I.F Stone, 1907-1989, to explode in anger by declaring that “Every government is run by liars; and nothing they say should be believed.” Stone was universal in his indictment of governments. Recently, an ex-President of the Guild of Editors (you can’t be more journalist than that) stated that the World Bank had declared Nigeria one of the ten fastest growing economies. He then wondered why everybody is not talking about that wonderful achievement by the Buhari administration. The astonishing thing about that statement is that it is totally false. But, before presenting the evidence which totally refutes the falsehood presented by the “journalist-in-government”, it is pertinent to again note how every single day, the Buhari administration sinks lower into a cesspool in terms of credibility. Apparently, no lie is too big. If it not a phony Martin Luther King, Jr, award; it is self-proclaimed dubious economic achievement. What sort of people do they think we are? We now know what sort of people occupy government house; hopefully temporarily.
Facts available at the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, a few kilometers from Aso Rock, would tell the Presidential spokesman that the Nigerian economy was in recession in 2016. More investigation would have revealed to Fg’s propagandist that the economy grew only by 0.8 per cent in 2017. Meanwhile, the global economy grew by 2.4 and 2.8 per cent in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Granted, “journalist-in-government” did not read Economics at the university, but simple elementary school arithmetic would have suggested that it is impossible for an entity which contributed -2.4 per cent in 2016 and 0.8 per cent in 2017 in Gross Domestic Productivity, GDP, to be among the fastest in the world. The World Bank, WB, has a lot of faults, but, engaging economic illiterates is not one of them.
But, it is not only the World Bank which would not rank Nigeria among the world’s top ten. Even evidence from Africa refutes the claim.
In January the same World Bank, accused of promoting Nigeria as one of the top ten economies, already published Nigeria’s projected performance in comparison with global and expectations from Africa. In an unpublished piece written three months ago, here is what the GDP growth picture looks like.
“The World Bank recently released its 2018 economic growth forecasts for nations all over the world. Global Gross Domestic Product, GDP, is supposed to grow by 3.1 per cent during this year. Sub-Saharan Africa will grow marginally faster – up by 3.2 per cent. But, Nigeria, the presumed largest economy on the continent will manage only 2.5 per cent growth – if it succeeds. By contrast Kenya will jump by 5.5 per cent, Tanzania 6.8, Senegal 6.9, Cote d’Ivoire is expected to expand by 7.2 per cent and Ethiopia by a whopping 8.2.”
Even in Africa, Nigeria is not top ten; add the nations of Asia like China, India and South Korea, among others, and you can see that our 2.5 per cent only drags down the global average. How on earth does the nation reducing the average rank as topmost attraction? Don’t ask “journalist-in-government”; he will only release another whopper!!
Late last month, Quantum Global Research Lab ranked Nigeria as the 14th most attractive economy for investments flowing into Africa. We were ranked 13th in 2014, Jonathan’s last full year in office, and 29th, Buhari’s first year in office. Ahead of us are nations not suffering from delusions of grandeur and lying government officials. They include Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, Ethiopia, Zambia, Kenya and Senegal. How a nation ranked 14th in Africa and dragging down the global average for GDP can be called “one of the ten best in the world can only be explained by Buhari’s officials. But, don’t ask them. They can never tell the truth.