The BBC Shooting Itself in the Foot


Musician Femi Ransome-Kuti avoided being trapped by Bretton Wood’s agents in his recent conversation with Zeinab Badawi on BBC’s “Hard Talk” slot. He acquitted himself creditably and did not collapse to singing the tune of those zombies – IMF’s professors – who parade the corridors of power in Nigeria, as he dealt with misleading questions by the BBC’s interviewer. Badawi asserted that President Goodluck Jonathan was improving the people’s lot as certified by the IMF and that the removal of subsidy from petrol was for the general good. How uninformed those foreign-based African journalists, welfare cases, who serve the interests of their principals unreasonably! Should she have made such a categorical statement without facts about growth in Nigeria? Well, Elizabeth Ohene who got into favour with the British by deriding Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah at every turn in Ghana, rose to be BBC’s deputy editor of Network Africa which has been steadily deteriorating in the last 10 years that Robin White quit the stage. It now presents the worst types of news of readers and of presenters. One could pardon errors of possible inflexion in reading news in English but not that of phonetics and phonology. The grammar of presenters, like Akwasi Sarpong’s is awful. Peter Okwoche is not better.

The issue is the subtle support BBC’s staff give to capitalism a la Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, which has plunged the world into economic chaos, except for some eight years that Bill Clinton reversed it until a worse apostle, George W. Bush, came on the scene to take the world deep into depression. It is now worse than the one suffered under his father’s watch.

Femi Ransome-Kuti gave pride to the memory of his grandfather, Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, as he demolished all attempts by Badawi to justify that things were now rosy in Nigeria. How gratuitously can one sell one’s ignorance as Badawi displayed on the subject!

Femi said that in the 1970s, to be deprived of electricity in Nigeria for two hours was treasonable. Now, Nigerians, even in their new capital, Abuja, do without electric power for days.

Up till the late 1980s, Nigeria was an industrial power in Africa, serving the region’s needs in producing secondary goods. That has collapsed. Until the mid-1990s, Nigeria produced all the petroleum products for local use and for neighbours. It now imports petrol and other products from Benin, Togo and Ivory Coast. What has Jonathan done to alleviate this scourge of scarcity though Nigeria has four mighty refineries that now produce nothing?

Has he repaired the refineries to meet our needs? Must we import petrol? Who are these beneficiaries of the subsidy regime? Were they not the supporters of his campaign? Aliko Dangote opened one mighty cement factory manned mainly by Chinese workers. What has happened to Nkalagu, Ukpilla, Gboko and others that have been rendered moribund by bad government policy of the wholesale privatisation that the likes of Badawi are made to canvass for their principals?

Millions of Nigerian young men and women are estimated to be jobless. What has Jonathan done to scratch the surface on the subject of full and gainful employment with all the industries in Nigeria lying fallow, also from bad government policy? Visit Ikeja, Iganmu, Ogba, and Otta in the South-west kand see the damage the IMF and World Bank’s agents have done to Africa. Madam Badawi does not know that the names of the World Bank and IMF stink in Nigeria. Justifiably, Nigerians regard them as enemies as Dennis Healey, Britain’s Chancellor of Exchequer under Harold Wilson, once described them. Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealla, Jonathan’s economic miracle worker, is treated as a national youth service corps intern by those who planned the fortune Nigeria enjoyed in the 1960s, 1970s and part of the 1980s, that period of old that was egalitarian paradise. No policy can work without the mobilisation of the people. Nigerians do not know what Jonathan stands for, except that he still pursues the rot left behind by Olusegun Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar, two agents of the IMF’s privatisation project that set Nigeria back. It is gratifying that the court has just reversed the swindle of the sale of the Aluminum Smelting Company that the government spent billions of dollars to establish. It was one grievous bodily harm done to Nigeria to have sold a company worth $2 billion for $245 million! It was Ibrahim Babangida, earning $8 per barrel of oil, who established that company. How many were built under Obasanjo’s laisez faire regime? He sold it when Nigeria earned $100 per barrel from crude. It will be repeating oneself to speak of the illegalities of the sales of corporations established by acts of parliament and decrees for a song.

The National Assembly should take further steps to return the Nigeria Airways and other affected corporations to their old status. How can there be growth when Nigeria’s industrial life is comatose? The only thing Nigeria sells today is crude oil. She does not even enjoy the benefit of its derivatives. If we must ask, what is the octane rating of imported petrol from Ivory Coast and Benin? The Dana airline’s crash was said to have been caused by corrosion of its engine by impure fuel. Vehicles, machines and other plants that use imported fuel, have suffered from government incompetence. BBC has shot itself in the leg.

Femi really made his grandfather proud in his face-off with with Badawi, – a grandfather, who disagreed with the British in 1934 and caused the Yaba Higher College to be founded and in 1948 forced the University of Ibadan to be established. Nigeria must terminate this one-line chorus of “no government in business’’ because China, a command economy, has disproved that crazy talk. Germany is not laisez faire and it leads Europe.

Published in Opinion
Ben Lawrence

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