tyro Profile picture
22 Nov, 13 tweets, 3 min read
Here’s something that illustrates a depressing reality about economic policy making in Nigeria - some ideas are so pervasive across the Nigerian elite that no matter who you elect, they just won’t change
Aganga’s auto policy is a perfect example of this. A completely nonsensical policy that was doomed to failure the moment it appeared in his head. Yet he went ahead with it with so much energy and conviction
This idea that if you simply lock up Nigeria, whatever it is that was being imported will magically start being produced in Nigeria. So simple, so seductive, so stupid. That was the auto policy did
Before long the folly of the thing was clear. But what was the reaction? Doubling down. People started manufacturing ‘evidence’ to show it was working. All sorts of claims that car makers are setting up in Nigeria were in the papers daily aguntasolo.co/spot-the-diffe…
Even PwC Nigeria joined in helping the govt manufacture evidence that the policy was working. Yet in reality car importers were removing the tyres and side mirrors of cars before shipping and then ‘assembling’ them in Nigeria to dodge the stupid tariff
By the time APC got into office, it was clear even to a blind person that this policy was a failure. But what did they do? Since one of APC’s core beliefs was that policies didn’t work under PDP because PDP were bad people (and APC are good people), they continued it
The idea of blocking imports to magically induce local production is of course music to APC’s ears. How exactly tariffs would cause someone to set up a plant costing hundreds of millions of $$$ in a market where <100k new cars are sold yearly remains a mystery
We have finally reached the point where terrible policies get rolled back in Nigeria - when they have done so much damage and cost the country so much that there is simply no other option but to rescind them. It has killed whatever car industry Nigeria had. Time for change!
Again, there are many examples of this. Obasanjo as military leader rolled out the local ownership policy. After it did immense damage and allowed South Africa to overtake Nigeria economically, Abacha - Abacha! - was the one who finally rolled it back
Or if you want a more recent example - fuel subsidies. As recently as 2016, if you gave Buhari the choice between his life or letting go of the fuel subsidy (a ‘temporary’ policy that started under IBB), he would have laid down his life. Today fuel subsidy is gone
Buhari finally gave up the fuel subsidy after it had completely destroyed the government’s finances and the govt could NOT pay it anymore. That is, it was the only option available.
But in a country with no memory, don’t be fooled into thinking all these ideas can’t return tomorrow. They die hard in Nigeria. And more disturbingly, the generation waiting in the wings also believe them in worrying numbers.
A country’s economy can never be more than what the majority of people believe. I pray that the next generation will at least be more economically open minded than previous ones.


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More from @DoubleEph

8 Nov
Short rant on politics and the economy
After Biden took the lead in GA, all of my Nigerian timeline was taken over by stories of the role Stacy Abrams played in making that happen particularly with her Fair Fight PAC
But I did not see a single comment on the economic context in which she made that happen. Here it is - the GDP of the state of GA - at $540bn - is almost 40% bigger than Nigeria’s. To add insult to injury, there are less than 11 million people there
Read 8 tweets
7 Nov
The Great Ali Kwara is dead. I came across his story when I used to do the daily paper review and I immediately installed myself as the Chairman of the Ali Kwara Appreciation Society leadership.ng/pmb-mourns-leg…
This link has some of the stories I shared going back to 2013. Completely bizarre of course but perfectly normal in Nigeria twitter.com/search?q=doubl…
Basically, state governors and the police used to hire the guy to go help them catch some thieves or castle rustlers. He apparently had the best charms in town and he always delivered often in spectacular fashion
Read 5 tweets
20 Oct
This idea all over my TL that the violence at the protests is sponsored by the govt is just depressing. Even in the U.K. with the mildest police, violence broke out to say nothing of Chicago or New York. Come on guys
The key ingredient is able bodied young men with nothing but time on their hands. And no country in the world has more of that constituency than Nigeria. Govt or no govt instigation, you should be surprised if protests *don’t* degenerate in this way.
I hope this incredible opportunity to drive real change is not now lost. Protests are a powerful tool in a democracy but they’re one of many tools to drive change. They should lead to a ferment of ideas for reform that lead to real change
Read 5 tweets
18 Oct
What if you focused on Nigerian Police Colleges for overhaul? Potentially, you can start seeing results in under 2 years and it will cost almost nothing #EndSARS
How does one become a Nigerian Police officer? The ‘training’ can be as little as 6 months. And whatever it is they are teaching them is obviously not very useful #EndSARS
There are only 4 Police Colleges (?) [Ikeja, Kaduna, Maiduguri, Oji-River]. What if you made a demand for an overhaul of the curriculum? Do you think they’re taught things like de-escalation or community relations?
Read 7 tweets
14 Oct
By the way this option has a precedent. When Tafa Balogun became IG, he set up a handpicked team that went around raiding other police checkpoints (often with cameras). They would search the pockets of the police officers there and if they found money, arrest them
It was quite fun and it did work for a while. Look, I know Tafa Balogun eventually went to prison for stealing money meant for police salaries and pensions but we are discussing options here so let’s focus please
This leads me to a funny story I may have shared before but is worth sharing again. During this period I was in University in Nigeria. One way the police reacted to Tafa’s regime was to constantly keep their bribes in a can or box somewhere away from them. Never in their pockets
Read 11 tweets
14 Oct
So how do you actually end SARS? This a LOT harder than people think and will involve an incredible amount of work. But these protests have presented an opportunity to get it done that is better than previous opportunities
Again, SARS is the textbook definition of a rogue unit. It ought to be painfully clear to anyone watching this drama that the Inspector General of Police has zero control over them. He doesn’t even know how many of his men are in SARS
Not long after the IG announced he was ‘replacing’ SARS with the brand new never before seen SWAT, internet archaeologists dug up these ImageImage
Read 11 tweets

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