By Bala Ibrahim
Former president Obasanjo has once again exposed himself as a man that is intellectually incapacitated or simply ineptitude in calculus. Although I failed mathematics with honors, but I can still remember what my teachers used to call, calculus. They used to say calculus, is a particular method or system of calculation or reasoning, and it deals with summation and differences, amongst others.
I used to fail that subject, but with people like former president Obasanjo, demonstrating their mathematical incompetence in public, by not knowing how to sum up figures and calculate differences, I think I must contact my former teachers, for the reassessment of my performance. Perhaps, not even perhaps. Certainly, I would come better than Obasanjo( in calculus), for sure.
In his usual attention seeking antics, the former president raised alarm about Nigeria’s current debt situation in Lagos last Friday, saying it is closer to the prevalent situation in the 70’s and 80’s, that led the country and the African continent as a whole into unserviceable debts.
He said Nigeria risks bankruptcy with its penchant for loans under the current administration, and the amount used in servicing the loans. Although he agreed that it might not be totally wrong to take loans to finance growth and development, such decisions ought to come “with a high degree of discipline, responsibility and foresight”, qualities he said, the present Nigerian government is “notoriously” deficient in.
“As at 2015, total external debt was about $10.32billion. In four years, our external debt grew to N24,947 trillion or $81.274 billion. To service this current level of indebtedness, we must commit at least 50 per cent of our foreign earnings, such a situation tells about an impending bankruptcy, because no entity can survive while devoting 50 per cent of its revenue to debt servicing.”-Obasanjo.
Let me start by asking Obasanjo how he arrived at such a huge difference in the volume of Nigeria’s debt within a period of four years. He is simply saying the country’s debt profile jumped from $10.32b to $82.27b under the leadership of PMB. This is exactly where I have to teach Obasanjo basic mathematics, and he has to take it, despite the fact that I failed that subject in school.
In 2015, the exchange rate of naira to the dollar was 199, i.e. for every dollar, you need 199 naira. Whatever was Nigeria’s debt at that time, was calculated at that rate. Today, the exchange rate of the dollar is 360, i.e. for every dollar, you need 366 naira. If Obasanjo were to calculate Nigeria’s debt today, at 199, the figure he would get would not be $82.27. Also, if he were to calculate the country’s debt in 2015 at 360, the figure he would get would not be $10.32b.
Obasanjo also failed to understanding the difference between his regime and the present regime of PMB, where every loan is tied to a particular project, with laid down guides for monitoring and regular evaluation. It wouldnt be like before, where the loans were taken, and the money diverted to private pockets and poultry farms.
Aremu is being economical with the truth, as well as exhibiting utter misunderstanding of basic mathematics and the procedure for computing figures. To say a leadership under PMB has no discipline, responsibility and foresight, is akin to calling a spade with a different name.
It is the same Obasanjo, who in the past, eulogized Buhari in one of his books, where he said, “As minister of petroleum and member of the supreme military council, Buhari is one officer that is diligent in his duties, who carried out whatever assignments that is given to him, with high sense of responsibility, patriotism and prudence”.
To make a total U-turn on the assessment of such a person, within a short period of time, gives me room to suggest one thing- the fear of going back to prison. Obasanjo is nervous and terribly jittery about the likelihood of returning to the Yola prison, as such, he wants to look for some inexpensive excuses.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has since begun the probe of the $16 billion power project of the administration of Obasanjo, while the Governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai is also heading another investigative committee that has gone far on the same issue.
It is curious to know that, Obasanjo had terribly chastised El-Rufai in another book before. But few weeks back, pursuant to his lobby to water down the investigation, Obasanjo went to Kaduna to change position, by eulogizing El-Rufai with the most sugar coated words.
Obasanjo’s dilemma are undoubtedly many, amongst which is the magnitude of the $16b he squandered on power without the power. At what rate would the money be calculated? At 360, 199 or whatever was the value of the dollar at the time?
Whatever happens, and no matter his level of lobby or manifestation of mathematical ignorance, the road to prison is increasingly becoming signposted. Because that $16b is part and parcel of the problem, that increased the debt profile of Nigeria.