It is a tenuous concept, this thing called Hope. That means it’s a bit difficult to grasp, particularly when you’re on a bumpy ride. So, let’s see; how does the road bend today? 300 to the Dollar. That’s the value of the Naira. And 30 to a Barrel. That’s the value of Crude. Meaning that the most popular work of fiction in the market at the moment is a missing budget, with its assumptions of our Naira exchanging at 197, and our Bonny Light selling at 38, this year.
It worries me, you see, because 27 states had to borrow to pay salaries in 2015, and if 2016 unfolds exactly how the 2016 budget hopes it will the Federal Government will make just enough to pay staff. And borrow every kobo it needs to invest in Water, Light and shining new Roads. It worries me; because Borrowed Money is like that over zealous Camp Commandant, while the Nigerian Public Sector would be the fresh-faced corper with plump palms who has never done a day of hard labor in his life.
You know, that was how we ended up with the debt Okonjo-Iweala had to negotiate us out of the last time; borrowing to import the cement we said we were going to use to build schools and dams and steel mills. But it piled up at the harbor, and got dumped in the sea, because nobody really thought it through, the mechanics of tightening the proverbial belt so the Man could man up and pay his loans. Tell me then, in 10 years time, will we arrive again in 2004, cap in hand for debt forgiveness, because the loans we took built some roads, yes, but not efficiently enough to lift the economy to that place where Taxes paid enough to keep ourselves and pay off our debtors?
So, my brother, seeing as we have valiantly seen off the government we said was hopeless, may I now ask for Hope. Yes. If Oil does NOT return from its southward journey soon, what shall we do? Tell me. For this Hope we ask is a tenuous thing, difficult to define, unless one adopts the approach of our stubborn sister, the one who wags a finger in her boss’s face and yells, “So because of this job you want me to take off my bra? You are a fool. Take it! You hear me? Take the stupid job and stuff it where the sun never shines. Last-last, I’ll go back to the village. Idiot!” Yes. This is Hope, simply put, to be able to make an honest sentence that begins with ‘last-last’.
So, again, I ask for this elusive thing, Hope. If Bonny Light and Forcados do NOT come home soon from their journey South; if we revise the price of Crude to 35 and then to 30 and then to 25, and it is still not low enough; if the marriage of Saudi oil politics and China’s declining growth has indeed birthed a recession destined to outlast our reserves (excess and forex) by a Quarter too many; if the day we long feared dawned the morning last year when OPEC saw rising shale and refused to cut supply – tell me, last-last, what shall we do? Mister President? Please, give me Hope.