Heeding Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah’s voice in the wilderness on exit recipe from recession

Senator Ifeanyi Ubah
Senator Ifeanyi Ubah
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Once again, the Chair­man of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, has offered some free advice to the managers of the country’s econo­my on the shortest road out of our present economic woes. As the re­cession into which our economy has slumped continues to bite even harder than ever, there is no gain­saying the fact that there is no better time than now to seek for out-of-the-box solutions to it.
It becomes most pertinent, on ac­count that all the foregoing efforts by all the eggheads in the land ap­pear to have brought only but a little succour, if any, to the collective tears of the nation’s teeming populace.
This time around, the ebullient businessman sees the shortest way our ailing economy can be turned around in the taking of two deci­sive actions by government about the country’s foreign exchange re­gime as regulated by the current economic management team. His suggestion, if adopted and applied as articulated, will indeed see to the bridging of the yawning gap be­tween the official and parallel mar­ket rates of the local currency as it automatically attains its true value.
Expectedly, the first of the two schemes he has in mind will in­volve the downstream sector of the petroleum industry in which he is easily the leading player. He enun­ciated how important the industry is to Nigeria’s socio-political exis­tence, by explaining that the coun­try presently expends about 75% of its foreign exchange earnings on the importation of petroleum products. Thus, according to him, the easiest way to tackle the present dubious Naira-Dollar exchange rate differ­entials is to find an alternative to imported petroleum in the energis­ing of the nation.
However, as this will amount to a lifetime exercise, he posits the short-run way out of this as the establish­ment by government of modular refineries along the country’s water lines to refine our crude locally and save the huge costs incurred from the importation of refined products.
Bringing the recipe down to brass tacks, he explains that each of these top-up refineries will cost as little as $200million. As he imagines it, all it will take is for the government to take out a two-billion dollar bond from our reserves and share it out among ten Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) companies that will in turn each, consist of ten consolidated indigenous marketers made to work together for ten initial years. This done, he is sure that in just six months we can be refining our crude locally, thus doing away with the importation of finished prod­ucts and its concomitant complica­tions on the economy.
The second in this ingenious plan of his will involve the government doing all in its powers to see that all the foreign exchange assigned to applicants are used for the purpose for which it is meant. Prior to now, there had been calls from other voices for the government to call all the emergency Bureaux de Change operators that its present foreign ex­change regime has created to order. But unlike those in this group that just get foreign exchange at govern­ment rates and retail at the parallel market, Dr Ubah is calling on gov­ernment to also check those who get it with waivers for essential purpos­es – like agriculture – and only end up round tripping it for nothing but personal lucre.
To see this second agenda through, he suggests that the Eco­nomic and Financial Crimes Com­mission (EFCC) be empowered to set up a proper financial crimes desk. Thus, rather than be stuck at chasing out-of-power politicians, they will be made to be part of the dollar allocation process, to see that there is compliance to the reason for allocation. This way, apart from investigating financial crimes only after they have been committed, they can then have the capacity to monitor and pre-empt them. It is his belief that if people sign bonds of proper usage with the EFCC, they can now default at their own peril.
We believe that this unique recipe, formulated by Dr Ubah from the crucible of his decades of experi­ence acquired from playing big time on the high streets of the nation’s economy, should be paid more than a passing glance this time around.
Albeit pronounced at a religious gathering, to wit, at the Holy Ghost Adoration Ground at Uke, in his home Anambra State, which evokes the Biblical image of John the Bap­tist, as a lone “voice crying in the wilderness”, it is worth giving all the attention its purpose deserves. Sig­nificantly, much earlier, Dr Ubah’s gratis offer of help at rescuing the Naira when it was just getting out of the grip of our financial manag­ers was largely ignored for no rea­son, even though it is obvious that the man had done a lot in the past to salvage hopeless situations, in his patriotic zeal to salvage the nation, even as other people had marched forward to take credit for such ac­tions.
The AUTHORITY hopes that this current call will, in the least, make the government to set up a think-tank to look into them and to see how their timely application will affect the economy. It is our can­did prayer that Dr Ifeanyi Ubah’s original and obviously-inspired suggestions be spared the benefit of a doubt, as it will go a long away at making the Naira find its proper value in the open market. And thus­ly, diffusing the staggering dispar­ity between its official and parallel market rates, proper planning can be initiated in the economy with­out too much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.
It should be appreciated that ideas that revolutionize the society and turn things around are original and inspired ones of people with rare brains, and not those that pop up from academic postulations and fat books. Had recipes from academic theorizations been the issue, Nigeria would have since found itself in El Dorado.

– Authority

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