CHARELS IYORE, studied chemical engineering at the University of Ife, Nigeria (now Obafemi Awolowo University), but he is better known in the world of investment banking research and analysis where he provides penetrating insights on developments in the local and global economy. He is chairman of Deon & Associates, the high level international consultant with over 25 years cognate experience; and he is the principal partner of the United Kingdom based research and data services company, Dion & Associates Ltd., as well as a director of GTI Asset Management and Trust Limited. His depth of knowledge makes him the delight of financial journalists who are driven by the workings of the markets. He walked into the offices of business a.m. to say ‘hi’, and a team of editors and young reporters could not miss the opportunity to engage his mind on the Nigerian economy, its management and where he thinks it is headed. Following are excerpts from the encounter: PHOTO CREDIT: JAYEOLA ISAAC
What is your take on the state of the economy as we have it now, especially projecting into 2019, which happens to be an election year, how would you assess the Nigerian economy?
It is unfortunate that I had to say the things I said about the Nigerian economy in 1986. The Nigerian economy is like a fantastic building. You know, when you want to build your house, you bring in your sand, cement and other components, but you cannot dig a hole in the sand and call it a home. What you need is a proper architect that will put all those components together and make them “fit for purpose”, as the English would say. So my fright with the Nigerian economy is that most institutions are not fit for purpose and often tend to operate as silos. That’s the first one. The second one is the idea that public service or civil service can husband our resources that well to make an impact on the common good as intended; but the situation whereby the reason for governance itself becomes the support of those who are supposed to serve rather than the other way round, and we still haven’t been able to curtail our running cost as against what we have to spend for capital expenditure.
Taking capital and recurrent expenditures, it is as if the ratio has become a monster and now we are talking about deficit budgeting as if it is the new normal and in a country where ideology doesn’t come into play, the issues don’t get tackled. How do you deal with this issue of a high recurrent expenditure?
Deficit budgeting itself is not necessarily bad, it just expects the economy to grow over that period and wipe out the deficit, but when the deficit becomes the reason for driving the government itself then you are in serious trouble. What you will see is reducing productivity, where an awful lot of people who go to work do nothing other than just show up to be paid. Yes, it helps you do what is called ‘distribution’, because there is no money in the economy to buy goods and services, so if you are giving out money like that it is okay. In England, we have what is called the dole, but that should not be the mainstay of the government. I think one of the key problems we have here is we run the economy based only on distributing wealth. Now, if somebody has come to try to stop that, he needs to replace it with proper production architecture. I guess what they are trying to do is to better the ease of doing business with the rest of the world. For me, I think that the sequencing is very flawed because more than 70-80 percent of the food produced in this country goes to waste. In fact, if you go to fruits and vegetables, that number will go even higher, in a country where more than 60 percent of its population can’t get a full day’s meal, so there is a difficulty there.
We are in a situation where we still don’t know how to evolve from colonial rule to ruling ourselves. Rather than thinking of the country as a whole, we began to create turfs, regional strength and territorial areas, making assumptions on security, when we don’t have cohesion.
So, you asked me what can be done. Well, like I said, it is essential for us to know that we are getting it wrong. If we refuse to accept that we are getting it wrong and hide under primordial issues like tribe and religion, so it is the failure of the capacity of us, the educated, to provide direction and intellectual purpose, which we are failing to do. Most of the public debates I see in the paper, television and the likes, the issues we talk about are very unimportant. In our towns we have no hubs, there are no city centres, where there is a hub of activities, but we are just living on streams and it is a jungle, the road network doesn’t even help evacuate the people, the housing is way beyond the reach of people, and it makes it look as if the sacrifices you made to go to school is not a good one. We need to bring productivity back. I am not saying we shouldn’t decentralise power, because if you ask me, there are 774 local governments in Nigeria and these local governments have local government chairmen from those places, but I don’t think there are more than four or five local government chairmen who aren’t stealing these local governments to debts; and there are also 36 governors of the 36 states. How many states in this country can we say that the welfare of the people is more important than that of the governor? So, for me really, devolution or whatever it is called is important, but we must, first of all, find a way to increase productivity.
How can this be done because, sometimes, you get the sense that those who are in government don’t just understand it, and we have more people outside government who seem to understand it; how do you drive productivity in an economy like this?
Appropriate education! In those days, if you pass the common entrance, you were sure of going to college and you were going there via competition, but now that we have told the teachers that, they do not matter, you can’t build a moral compass where most people who go to teach are doing it not because they have the passion for it but because they don’t have a choice.
We need to transform the education of the people and make it such that, those who steal would be ashamed that they have stolen. It is good to have a leader who has fibre and structure like we have in Rwanda, where rather than allowing things to go anyhow, someone has said “this is my country and I have to make a difference”. It is not wishful thinking, if you don’t have the skills to achieve that, if you don’t have the intellect to put these things in proper sequence, it is just going to be garbage in, garbage out.
Let us return to capital expenditure. We know that from the fiscal side, you need to drive growth by spending a lot, especially when the economy is in poor shape, but we have had a situation where capital expenditure doesn’t seem to matter, sometimes it is not enough, sometimes it is not released on time. How can we change that margin?
I will ask you a question and I want you to answer as best as you can. If you earn N1 million every month as salary and you give your wife N250,000 to buy food and feed the house, if by whatever circumstance, either the currency has fallen or whatever and you begin to earn N100,000 every month, will you continue to give your wife N250, 000 for food? If you have to do that, you will have to borrow to make it possible, that’s what we call “kitchen economics”; you draw your ratios and based on your income, you divide based on percentages. Now, those who benefit from the government, I am talking about civil servants, who think they are now the reason for governance rather than being there to serve, would find a way to expand their demands.
Very often, when they design projects they are white elephant projects, which are not sustainable, all they are looking at is how big it is so that they can take a percentage of it. I spoke to a friend who is now in central government as adviser; I remember when he was adviser to Lagos State government, there was a meeting where they said they had increased capital expenditure marginally by two percent; I had to leave the setting because it was obvious they didn’t understand the issue, they are supposed to look at “okay, this is what is available to us, what percentage should we give to so, so and so…” You can’t do them in simple absolute figures, when you have a situation whereby ministry and agencies feel that because we spent this much last year, we have to spend more this year, it is not done, because it is not driven by need, it is not driven by purpose, it is driven by trying to capture as much as possible of the national pie. Someone needs to say that we can’t go on this way; someone needs to say that the only thing that matters is the people who live in the city centres. For me, I don’t know if I am the right person to say that. People call it political will, but I think it is just basic incompetence. I mean, if you can do it well in your house, why can’t you do it for the states? Not every doctor in Nigeria has a father who was a doctor, there are many people who their fathers were drivers and messengers, but they made the necessary sacrifice to take their children to the next level, if you can do that in your house, why do you refuse to do it in the states, that means you are not husbanding your resources. It is a question of saying that there is a conspiracy of us, the well educated few, against the uninformed, to keep as much of the cake as possible.
I will tell you the same thing, England until recently had the same problem until Margaret Thatcher came in. By all intents and purposes, all governments that run in England now are working right because they now have a market system that works for them. It looked bad at the time she wanted to do it but she felt that as a mother, this was what she needed to do. She privatised non-performing assets, she created new arrangements for PPPs to work, and the rest, like they say, is history. She transformed the economy beyond anybody’s wildest belief; she made sure that work now paid. So, if you are Labour or whatever political view you have in England, you are looking at Margaret Thatcher and the fact that when you spend money it reaps results, maybe if you give our ladies an opportunity here, it might change, I don’t know.
There is this issue about who should drive the economy. In the past few years, the economy has been shrinking and it would seem the monetary authorities have been the main drivers while the fiscal managers have abdicated. I remember that during the 2015 election campaign, the vice president came to Lagos and told us, “We are going to spend our way out of recession.” So, what’s your take on the performance of the fiscal managers of the economy?
First of all, let me say that what we have now is a crisis; we are talking about intervention coming from the Central Bank to fix the whole economy and there cannot be anything worse than that because, you are undermining everything. The Central Bank is supposed to be a lender of last resort; if you are not good enough to get your license, don’t give them the license. A situation where all lending is through the Central Bank and development agencies just channel them through the Central Bank is a recipe for crisis and it is not sustainable. There might be some little gain in it now, but that really is not going to achieve any long-term sustainable growth.
Now, what I see wrong with the fiscal side is that they are still looking at numbers, there is still no purpose and direction. Most economies no longer run based on geographical descriptions. There are 50 states in America but there a number of towns that transformed America for a purpose. You go to California and Los Angeles, you are looking at where fruits are number one, followed by computing, before you now have movies and big screens; then you come down to New Orleans and Dallas, that’s oil, they focus on oil and all of that; come to a place like Florida, they do small screens for television, sitcoms, all of the movies you see, come generally from there; you go to New York, financial centre; you go to Detroit and Illinois, they have a focus on auto industry and aviation industry.
One of the reasons why we can’t get power right is, you cannot be giving people power to watch Nollywood and “Black Magic” when you don’t have industrial centre nodes. So you can decide, for example, that you want 10 industrial centre nodes, five in the north and five in the south, then all the other states will gravitate to provide, intellectual services and that demand alone will justify the power you produce for these places, and that is how the economy will lift itself. But when you say there are 36 states and you want to distribute the money equally, whether you are getting the money or not, it doesn’t really matter, you can’t achieve anything. Look at England, as big as England is, it is clear, London offers financial services to some ministries, Liverpool is all about the shipping industry and the rest of them. If you go to Glasgow, you will learn all new ideas of insurance and the rest of them, Manchester and Birmingham, heavy industries and Coventry. So you need to have nodes, the only nodes we have is support distribution, just sharing, Lagos and Abuja; and since Abuja was created, all of the north is wiped out, Kano is now a ghost of itself , Kaduna is gone, no new towns have come up. So that is the case. You need to move to determine where are the nodes, so even when you are bringing in investors from outside, there is something called “absorptive capacity”- where will the money go, will the money just come and hang around for someone to steal it? Until we have a clear industrial policy that is driven for purpose, so that places are known for something.
In those days, Kano was known for pyramids of groundnut, Ibadan and all of them were known for cocoa, the Midwest was known for rubber and palm kernel; we need to be known for something, and all we are waiting is just the share of the money. You can’t do that if there is nothing the children can understand. The fishing industry; where is the fishing industry in Lagos for instance? Where are the trawlers? We still use all those small boats; that is a big industry on its own, the prawns from Nigeria are the best, but nobody knows. There is a small place in Malta where they make their own boats, we need to create clear industrial nodes, based on demands, and all these questions on development will be answered. If you like have up to a million states, all waiting to share money, you will never get it right, even the power won’t be gotten, because when you create big nodes, those power stations will buy power at the price you want to do, but when the price gets too much, they generate power by themselves and when they generate their power, they sell it to you; put it to you when it is over and buy from you at producer price. So the basis for producing power at all, is create nodes who can bring those checks and balances for competition. They don’t exist here and we are just waiting to watch “Black Magic” on television, but it doesn’t work that way.
You mentioned productivity as a way of growing the economy, how can our civil service play the role of shaping policies that will aid the development of the country? In other countries the civil service is made up of people who have the intellect and ideas to transform things but I don’t think we can say the same for the civil service in Nigeria because the recruitment process is flawed?
Civil services are not supposed to create policies but help the execution and achievement of government policies, but like I will tell you, when I was in the university, when you graduate, they came to interview you in the school and most of the brightest and the best went to the foreign service and civil service, so it wasn’t normal those days to want to work in First Bank or what have you. Usually, it is those who don’t do well in school certificate that you start as a clerk and work their way up the banking system. That was how it was in our time, so the civil service had the capacity to attract the best. The civil service is also supposed to be able to stand up for itself and also supervise the excesses of politicians because politicians have ideas, but they have the tendencies to want to protect private interest more than defending the public good. Now, after 50 years of neglecting public good you can see what is happening. In my time, they interviewed you and not many people would have left to say they want to work for First Bank; you would rather go to the foreign or civil service or the new areas that were coming up, or if you had a first class, they would tell you to go do your masters on the university scholarship and come back as a lecturer. That’s why I keep saying that the educational system is weak, a situation where you go to school and you don’t have self-worth. Those days, you will not go out and be eating ‘boli and epa’ [roast plantain and groundnut] on the street; right now, the teachers are thinking differently and they are the ones eating the ‘boli and epa’ themselves. I don’t know, but I think to a large extent, if you have a political class that knows what it is doing, as Margaret Thatcher did, create industrial nodes, allow competition; Lagos state, for example, can have four or five different distribution companies to compete, because basically, distribution is to the meter, so each of them can provide a different tariff and then you choose the one you want, although, that’s just for domestic consumption. But the critical thing is to look at most industrial estates, they are all gone – Ikeja industrial estate, gone! Ilupeju industrial estate, gone! Apapa industrial estate, gone! Isolo textile factory, gone! The same thing happened in Kaduna, where we had 16 different textile factories. I keep telling people, this thing is not technology, it is not hi-tech, it has to do with the three things that God has given us, which nobody can complain and you can find anywhere in the world – rain, sun, and land, and these three things are given to everybody equally.
Simple scenario; put five pieces of corn on the ground anywhere, three will probably die and one will survive and bring 5000 more and there is no technology on earth that has that kind of return on investment, so God has given these things to everybody on earth. Secondly, the real technology is not just computing, it is the ability to say from wool or cotton, you can pull out a thread, and that thread can go into your loom and the loom can provide you with a cloth, so, even though there are complex levels of logic, every human society is equally blessed, it is a matter of how you put them together to form a whole.
The appropriation bill, recently presented by the president, has a quarter of it assigned to debt servicing, whereas some critical sectors like education and health are underprovided for. I remember when Bill Gates came to Nigeria, he spoke about the government paying more attention to infrastructural development at the detriment of human development in Nigeria, for meaningful development, is it right to play up one and play down the other?
Basically, you talk about the debt servicing structure, the percentage. For me, that debt servicing is going to take care of external debt, but that is not the issue, the issue is 24 states out of the 36 states cannot pay salaries as at when due. What that means is that since civil servants aren’t getting salaries because civil servants consists majorly of middle-class, it means they no longer buy goods and services, and if they no longer buy goods and services, producers of those goods and services tend to shut down; if the producers of goods and services shut down, unemployment rises, if unemployment rises, your tax base shrinks. For me, what the government should have done so many years ago is to look at how these governments borrow; did the DMO offer appropriate advice? Clean the slate, and make it a must to be able to pay salaries, because when you don’t pay salaries, you are driving the economy to a halt. So, I would have thought that a large percentage of the so-called debt service, should not just be servicing the external debt position because that in itself does not produce, whereas paying salaries has a multiplier effect.
I don’t know how many people can afford to buy a newspaper these days. As a student I bought papers every day. But if you don’t buy newspapers, how will the producers of newspapers survive? If they don’t survive, who will set the agenda for government? How are you going to show that the opinion of the people has a role to play? So for me, I like the debt structure but I would have felt that inability to pay salaries must be the first to be tackled, and then you can start talking about the flaws in the government.
Let me tell you, the distribution of wealth is a major function of government, and I also think many of them are confused between being a socialist and capitalist. But my view of what socialists are saying is a belief in fairness and equity. So if you have a coin, and there are four people, you must cut the coin into four parts and everybody gets a quarter of a coin, but once the coin is cut, is it still a legal tender? Whereas, the capitalist says, “this is the person that looks most skilled, we give you all the money and when the wealth is created, every other person gets something.” You see, it is the same dogma that we apply to religion that we also apply to political ideology and in the end, we are neither here nor there, so this is the issue. If you give someone a contract and you say at the end of the month I will pay you, but if the government as the biggest employer doesn’t pay, the economy is gone. The only reason why the economy is still surviving, though on the brink, is “when your take-home pay, doesn’t get you home, you don’t get stuck on the street; so half of the guys who are working are hoping to get home based on tips and ‘egunje’ [bribes], and we are all in denial of it. How many professors can afford to buy a car in five years, except he can maybe buy a ‘tokunbo’ [second hand] in one year, that wasn’t the case when I was a young man, we need to be able to deal with those linkages.
Let me use this opportunity to urge the media, both print and electronic media, we need to set agendas, what we have just done is re-echo the bankrupt views of those in political office. business a.m. has done well. I saw you respond to the FBNQuest, who said the DMO has no fiscal responsibilities in the government. So for me, the challenge is yours and mine, how do we take the legislative officers to task? How do we take the executive officers to task? Because no one is challenging them, the level of our logic is weak, we have become bereft of our constructional thoughts, we can’t think constructively anymore, everyone seems to be decimated, it has become a matter of ‘will I survive till tomorrow?’ That, for me, is the issue.
The economic outlook for 2019 is very gloomy, judging by the report of analysts, issues like volatile oil prices, revenue sources declining, even the president himself has voiced concerns on the state of the economy and many are saying that it would get to a time that we won’t be able to borrow, but listening to Peter Obi, during the town hall meeting, he spoke about achieving efficiency at the ports and how it can bring some more money on the table for empowerment instead of the N10,000 from TraderMoni. How can we get out of this cycle of depression and recession?
I have told you before that Nigeria is an ongoing project, it is like a building site, with all the necessary resources on ground but there is no architecture and you have now dug a hole in the sand and you are calling it home. Unfortunately, some of these discussions are not meant for the media, they are supposed to be amongst a selected few, discreetly and quietly, set out an agenda. Okay, let me give you an example, we are a very religious society. I remember when I was in Ede, Ondo State, you’d see old people the age of 60, 70 years donating to churches and mosques but haven’t eaten in two days; now I ask myself, if it is possible that just like you are donating to churches and mosques, you could as well put aside a tin of milk, sardine or what have you, maybe to the Oba or someone, and create what is called a ‘soup kitchen’ so that those who are really desperate and are hungry can have something to eat. If there are 1000 people that are hungry, and they can only feed 200 people, they have done well. Not everything requires money, if we did this “soup kitchen” for instance, the number of people that are going to bed without a meal will be greatly reduced, and you know the man called Jobs [Steve]? I am sure you have read the story, for a long time, what he did was walk from where he was doing his work, to soup kitchen where he knew there will be a meal, he’d get his meal and come back to his work, he ran his life like that, because no matter what he is thinking about or designing, the money wasn’t going to come immediately, now how many of the kings and Obas, the Obis, can a stranger get a meal from? In our country, I know the way harvest is done, some of these produce are given to the kings and chiefs, so why can’t they come up with the soup kitchen idea? I keep asking, where is the togetherness, where is the spirit? I saw something on social media and the person was asking God to change someone and God replied asking if the person had no arm or legs, but Nigeria, it seems we have arms and legs but no spirit, each of the group is thinking they are smarter and can take over from the other group, as long as this rollercoaster continues, you can’t achieve anything.
For me, the young ones are the ones doing something. I was on a flight once with one of these musicians to Abuja, and he had bought a top class sit for him and his girlfriend, he had his sit next to his girlfriend’s but I think they had later sold that seat to a senator or someone and he was really mad. He was screaming and shouting, so I called him to the side and told him, “listen to me, you are the ones we look up to; you play music, we buy, we know how your money comes, so why will you be arguing with someone that you don’t know how he gets his money?” And the guy just went down and left the sit and people were asking for what I told him. You see, we might not want to accept it but the only pride we have left in Nigeria are these guys, the musicians and the rest of them, they are putting in so much work and are producing. Without the youths in Nigeria, Nigeria would have lost it completely. I remember those days when we were young, you’d go to a party in England and you will be lucky to hear any Nigerian song, but now our songs are all over the place. I went to my friend’s son’s wedding to a white girl, deep Surrey, they are as white as they can be, and for the whole period, they played Nigerian songs and all the white kids knew the lyrics to every song, knew the dance too. I don’t think they respect our legal system, educational system, engineering system or political class like that, that is what these young people have been able to achieve and yet we do not have a structure for it, most of their records are stolen, and their music has no intellectual properties in place. I will still have to admonish the press to set the agenda. I mean, without these young people and women, we have lost it. Another thing is that, if not for the fact that Nigerians are always buying aso-ebi and throwing big parties, the economy would have been dead. Assuming all the money stolen were spent like the Chinese and Indians, who will convert the money through FX activities and take it out, the economy would have been dead. It is the market women and our consumption pattern that still allows the money to circulate a bit.
So, the question is: How do we set and agenda? Setting an agenda is not beyond us, but it must be clear in our sequencing, the kind of information that we give and since I am a capitalist, make sure that whatever you are doing brings money for you.
You spoke on the CBN interventions, you said they are not sustainable in the long term, so what is the way forward?
They are not sustainable, there is a vascular system. What we have now is the banks were in a situation where all the branch managers were stealing money to lend to their friends. So what we do in Nigeria now is that, all the credit in Nigeria come to the head office, there is something called the credit committee, they determine who to get what and all of that. Very often they get it wrong, so rather than give to local businessmen they will give to someone who will import cement and orange juice. So, the Central Bank is now frustrated and has decided to intervene or else they will not be able to meet their inflationary targets, but that is not an appropriate solution. I remember meeting Kingsley Mogalu, when he was the deputy governor, so I asked him, “Kingsley, I heard you guys are so smart now, that the idea of branch management no longer exists.” He said no, but if the Central Bank doesn’t lay down the policy, they will keep missing it, they are only interested in getting their money back, the size of the person’s car, where he lives or the suit he wears. The CBN has no choice because if it doesn’t intervene, it would become a basket case, but it is not a sustainable arrangement. The Central Bank is a lender of last resort, not the lender of first resort because that is what they are doing. They are the ones doing the lending. There was a time I spoke to one of these development bankers, and asked him why they do these things and he said, “Charles, these banks have no money.” So, why can’t they take back their licences? In Nigeria, you won’t see a bank that specializes, because the need to specialize does not exist and again, because there is such bulking in the civil service, so many agencies, they don’t even know where the money is going but is being budgeted for. They give the banks all the money, they put it in treasury bills. Now the government has to sustain that joke because if the treasury bills are not there, the pension funds will have nowhere to invest. So we are just spinning around without affecting anything. I am not the CBN governor, but what they are doing is not sustainable. We need to go back to branch management.
Every community in itself must be able to sustain what it wants to do. If you have been to Osogbo, Osun state, you will see the secretariat in Abere, massive. It was built by Akande [former governor Adebisi] and the building of that secretariat was not done by Julius Berger, he used direct labour. So if you could build a secretariat like that, you can build things like that, and once we begin to live in an environment like that is appropriate, even our thinking will defer. I remember when they were building the Ikeja City Mall, they said, ‘oh, there must be local content’, tiling was then given to Nigerian boys to do, and when they finished tiling, after spending up to N30 million to N40 million, what they did was terrible, so they threw everything away and got some small boys from Benin Republic, young boys within the ages of 9-13, they had their infrared ray, worked day and night, what they achieved in a short period was amazing. So those skill sets are missing; is there are no NVQs?
I will tell you a story. In England they build with what is called burnt bricks. Most of those bricks are baked and done by people who are trying to achieve what is called National Vocational Qualification. In other words, they build those bricks to justify their certificate, so it is a win-win situation, you build the bricks, you get your certificate.
You need to understand how America beat the rest of the world in less than 180 years. America was a baby, but the difference between America and Europe is, if your father is not this or that, you will never enter the industry, the Fords and many of them like that. But then America said, no, there is no need for that, we can take the car apart and find those who will do the components; and so that gave rise to what is called assembly plants. These suits we are wearing, someone will do the cutting, someone will do the sewing and stitching, and because there is an arrangement, everybody gets his own money and the finished suit is standard. We need to look at ourselves. Initially, I thought that was what was meant by due process, but we must understand the economics of industrial production, how can these things be done properly, consistency must be in place, but we are a consumer economy. You see, whether you are consumer economy or producing economy, they are both bad, you must strike a balance, and that is the strength of America, it has a good balance, some other countries produce so much and have very poor consumption, it is only now that China is beginning to buy Rolls Royce because consumption is very important. We are lucky in Nigeria that we have a consuming pattern, so all that needs to be done is to tweak the production pattern and then we are close to having a balance. An awful lot of people may understand economics, which is good but might not understand the market, and the market is very important because we must understand the market for the economy to move.
Over the years and even over the decades, has government really understood the market and how can they establish what kind of economy it runs, because I think there is a fundamental mix up?
Your first question on if the government understands the market, the answer is no. You are correct when you say the government hasn’t been able to pin point the type of economy it runs, I wrote an article two weeks before the government was sworn-in, I said the government has to make up its mind if it wants to run the economy by market systems, but anytime someone mentions market in Nigeria, people see a conspiracy, like you want to just corner all the money. I remember going to someone in BPE, and I suggested something to him about the power system, and he said “you and your friends want to come and corner the power system.” Eventually the guy became a minister, but it was too short, he wasn’t ready for how the market works. Basically, if markets don’t work, nothing is going to be achieved because the basis of the fundamental definition of the currency and its dimension is the efficiency of the market. If the market is not efficient, there is no way that those three dimensions of the currency can maintain, if you don’t maintain those three dimensions, inflation comes in, if inflation comes in, goods and services go that way, and if then you don’t have any direction from the fiscal side, you are in trouble. The thing is, these sort of discussions are not supposed to be for the media, it is meant for people sitting down quietly, thinking on behalf of the rest of us.
One big problem the country has is the primordial issues. Let me tell you, when I was in the university, I had no idea which tribe anybody was from but I remember one day my car crashed, I was out of the car and one man who was passing was saying, “God has caught him. Let him even die. He only carries ladies in his car.” Funny thing was I rarely drove the car. If you know the University of Ife very well, chemical engineering and pharmacy students were always busy with lab work and had no time for social life. [But] that is the kind of hate that runs in this country. It gets worse when the poverty is not only of the pocket alone, if it is also of the mind, it is harder to cure, but don’t let anybody tell you that your generation is lazy. Davido spent up to N800 million for his birthday on a yacht in Florida, they should go and probe him now, there are some countries that all these people enter in Africa and the whole place will scatter.
They say entertainment can’t drive an economy, look at America. England doesn’t produce anything, but look at what football makes for the country. I am not saying the entertainment industry should drive the economy alone but it can do so much. So, what my gift to the young people is, what is that thing that you want to drive? What are the things you want to do, now you have a platform in social media, put it out there. I keep telling people that society does not move by invention, they say “necessity is the mother of invention”, that’s not the case for society. What moves society is innovation, and innovation only exists when there is excess, so you are here today because if you fail once or you fail twice, your parents will make sure you continue, some people if they fail once, that is it, so it is not because you are smarter than the other person, but because somebody was there to make sure that you continued, so society must find a way to create more than enough