The father of a household told his family that his income has been cut in half and every member of the family must cut down on expenses by half: forgo frivolous spending, delay their wants for what is vital and needed for survival of the family. Few of the children grumbled but the mother complained about money the father spent on girlfriends. This is the dilemma facing the Gov. of Central Bank on dwindling foreign reserve. Should they borrow to maintain the same lifestyle?
Many of us still do not understand that no matter how rich we are, how highly endowed our country or our continent is; it is the buyers’ market that is dictating our prices. There are many predatory and opportunistic investors willing to buy all our resources for almost cowries’ worth. One to a million Zimbabwe buck. It does not matter how much oil Nigeria or Equatorial Guinea has; how much gold there is in Ghana, Bauxite in Zimbabwe, diamond in Sierra Leone or Congo.
If you do not print dollars or pounds, no Central Bank can satisfy the needs, wants and desires for foreign currency to buy materials and commodities your country do not manufacture or produce. Any country that does not get its priority straight, must fail in its pursuit of currency it has no control over. What we have control over is our desire for that currency. But our avarice, sugar tooth and selfishness have taken over our cranium. They sell products high, buy ours low.
Those making a case for free dollars or pounds are ignorant at best, saboteurs at worst. This is reflected in what they use foreign currencies for. When the Governor of Central Bank decided to prioritize limited foreign reserve for vital industries and needed oil to grease the machinery of the economy, some manufacturing sectors that should have been self-sufficient ages ago, lined up to be counted in. Coca-Cola is now competing with Pure Water for foreign reserve!
Do we really think industries that depend on cocoa as raw material like Nestle and others since Independence should continue to count themselves as vital industry in dire need of allocation? After all these years, they still cannot produce machineries where the cocoa is located but still have to order parts, sugar and milk from Europe and America to sell us chocolate and candy at home. In return they buy our oil, diamond and gold; refine these and sell them back to us high!
Bread has become the food of the common man around the world. Wheat became the world standard taste for bread. Bakers hold countries that do not grow wheat to ransom that unless they import wheat, the common man will starve. Therefore, the common man has rejected “adulterated” wheat mixed with anything other than refined wheat itself. We preferred white bread to any other. One of us even discovered that amola and kenki made from wheat is great!
However, those who grow wheat and refined it to white bread changed their taste for health reasons. White bread is pure carbohydrate that turns into sugar aggravating type II diabetes along with other refined and artificial products. Indeed, the more refined our food is, the more it turns into sugar. For health reason, the closer our food is to the ground the better: called organic and pure. So bread is better when it is whole wheat.
Fortunately, bread can also be made from barley, oats, rye as well as multi-grain. If that is the case, why do we reject our cassava bread, corn bread, guinea corn bread and breadfruit we can make palatable as healthy bread that is closer to the ground and more “organic”?
Look at how much money we can save from the importation of refined wheat, pure sugar water or Coke, mineral water and champagne that have become a drain on our foreign reserve. But bakers, Coca-Cola, Nestle and Irish Guinness have to find a way to get allocation for dollars!
We cannot count out the Beer Brewing Industries for seeking foreign allocation for imported materials. Before the coming of the Explorers and Missionaries, we always brewed our own beer and gin. It got to a point, Tai Sholarin reported himself to the police station to be arrested for drinking illegal gin. Whatever the undesirable health effect, after almost a century we would have thought that our legally constituted brewers would be competitive with minimum royalty.
When it comes to our health, foreign medical excursion has become a drain on foreign reserve rather than a necessity. No one wants to die without a care he can afford. But it is also a curse to want to die abroad, so that the name of Queen’s Hospital could be put on your obituary at home. They never patronize top teaching hospitals around the Country with special wards that rival worlds’ five star hotels or hospitals with world specialist of their choice flown in.
Realizing our preference for anything foreign, Indian hospitals, British and European schools are brought in as partners by Nigerians, the so-called foreign investors, hiding their identity behind shell companies and predator foreign opportunists that can only flourish in our local parallel and black markets. These are blood sucking Nigerians Africans call foreign investors!
We also have students abroad whose fees have not been paid and need their credit cards to cater for themselves and friends. Foreign reserve accumulated from sweat of poor workers in the mines digging diamond, gold and whose environment has been devastated by disaster created in the oil fields by International Corporations; must pay for spoilt foreign students. Yet, there are schools at home their parents did not invest in and left to degenerate.
Still there are African students in the same schools sending money home to parents, siblings, creating jobs by building houses. Many have to work full time and go to school full time while they watch their mates on scholarships drive the latest cars and live in luxurious apartments. Some of these spoilt brats have parents with multimillion pound houses. These parents shuttle between parallel and black markets round tripping and making millions for Europe and America
They scoop most of the foreign remittance sent from overseas in parallel and black markets. We must remember that Obasanjo military government made an example out of Harold Shodipo. He was humiliated, dragged as a criminal and jailed for his own hard earned money because of the same black market now legalized as parallel market. We called them enemies of the Countries that were unpatriotic and willing to sell their father’s land for pottage. What of those that have legally wasted our foreign reserve now?