Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Throwing Money at Problems

I once read an article in the editorials of one of the Nigerian dailies (The Guardian of Feb 10, 2011) titled “ Throwing Money at Job Creation”. Part of that article read
“…As is typical with many government initiatives, every time there is a problem, they throw money at it hoping that the problem will go away…. Speaking at a recent event, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, confirmed that the FEC had approved N50billion to tackle unemployment. He was not specific about what the N50billion is meant to achieve, rather he makes a convoluted explanation that confuses more than it enlightens….. The easiest recipe in a profligate regime is to vote money rather than critically evaluate the entire spectrum of the problem…..”

I find this sort of solution-seeking rather shallow and devoid of any level of thinking (about the issue). What was the N50billion supposed to achieve? How was it supposed to do that? How long can whatever was achieved be sustained for? Or is the money going to end up in the hands of the Minister and his friends? We all know the obvious answer.

A friend recently made the analogy of our importation of refined petroleum products while we export crude oil as a case of a farmer who has a large (industrial scale) farm of cassava yet he imports garri (the most staple food in his home country) at cut-throat prices. What the farmer needed to do was simple – get the cassava crusher, pressure-mounting machine (to press out the water) and a furnace to fry the paste and voila, garri for his household as well as for sale to his kinsmen at a reasonable price. So let’s say the Minister mentioned something in line with using the N50 billion as a kick-off fund for starting a refinery, that is sure to generate some thousands of jobs depending on the capacity of the refinery. The ministry (as I expect) is not in isolation but ought to work together (to achieve the overall objectives) with other ministries such as Petroleum, for the project. As it stands, I do not know how the N50billion has been disbursed but
I am sure there’s no accounting for it whatsoever. Many of the poverty alleviation job schemes are a grand design to ensure monies allocated to such end up in the hands of the heads of such projects and their families/friends. It’s all a grand farce because there is no sincerity of purpose. Manufacturing industries, power stations, refineries, rail projects, education are all sector this particular Minister might look to partner with to increase job creation and not just a bogus scheme which enrich the man’s friends.

I do not find this reasoning appalling as I have found individuals who also throw money at problems which merely required a “little” thought on what ails – like telling themselves they will buy another item when the current one develops a small hitch instead of maintaining it and keeping it in shape so it can serve them better and longer. Buying another item even though the one in use is not bad doesn’t speak of riches but rather of waste and laziness. If such an individual gets into the position of a Minister, how would such perform? After all, habit is what one does over time. The only reason why such individual can get into such positions in the first place is due to the triviality we attribute to leadership and corruption which says gives opportunities to the highest bidders. Our electoral system is centred around some “big political players” and only people who are “with them” gets to the place of influence. Poverty as I have seen it is a strategy which has been used and still been used (a grand conspiracy) to suppress the common man’s voice and prevent it from gaining strength.

A leader doesn’t just happen in one day when he/she is elected into a position where he/she has to make decisions which would affect many people. A leader is one who takes personal responsibility right from when they have become old enough to understand what responsibility means. From school days, from when he/she got the first job or contract, managing the home front, and how those various situations were managed.

Job creation is not a big deal but is directly proportional to infrastructural development in the nation. Throwing money at problems is easy because it doesn’t lay much responsibility on the person (s) to think long term, act, hold accountable or sustain whatever was arrived at. It is similar to “spraying money on a celebrant at a party (which we have termed as our “culture”). You get praised by the people around while you are at it and you go away without care for the money anymore.


  1. "You get praised by the people around while you are at it and you go away without care for the money anymore." It's not just about you not caring for the money anymore. It's about the fact that even the people you sprayed dont remember you except in deprecating references to your obscene profligacy! Nice one Mary!

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  3. Thank you Mr. Popoola! The solutions are not far-fetched but the characters of the people who will implement those solutions are wanting. Thank you for being an inspiration to the younger generation.

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  5. The spate of reckless spending and lack of accountability in our nation is appalling. In America, Obama's Job Plan bill did not pass in the senate, despite the fact that all expenses on the plan were to be fully paid for through extractions and sacrifices from the budget. But in our Nigeria, money would be allocated for projects without a viable plan. Obasanjo threw 16 billion dollars at the NIPP at the end of the day, they told us they could not get gas through to the plants. Who on earth brought up the plan initially without thinking and making sure that gas would be easily accessible to the plants.
    That is the story of how money, good chunk money is wasted in Nigeria at will without proper plans made. Really, I do not think there is any solution to our problems without a revolution. Really. Because all these things are not mistakes, they are deliberate plots of looting for personal aggrandisement and party politicking by Nigeria's ruling party.

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  7. Yes J1, Nigeria has enough resources to feed the whole of Africa (from my own estimation) yet she can't even cater for her own citizens (attributable to the leaders some of whom you have made examples of). The revolution has started - of the mind - and it is the forerunner of the one for the street for without the 1st, the exercise might be ineffective and may even backfire considering the kaleidoscope of people we have have here and our history. Soon....
    Tx for dropping by.