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The Lamentations Of Yemi Cardoso

The Lamentations Of Yemi Cardoso %Post Title

Unlike his predecessor, Nigeria’s current central bank governor, Olayemi Michael Cardoso, is unlikely to print money without the president’s approval. Tinubu did not pick him out of the blues. You could describe him as a BAT Boy. Usually decked in zany suits, Cardoso’s shorn appearance must delight his fans.

Central bank governors occupy a difficult role. If they are lucky and the national currency is stable, only those who bother about who signs their naira gets to know them. Nations have economic ministers so that they carry the can. But then in the last few decades, CBN governors have risen in prominence often out explaining the inexplicable, providing insights to why the nation’s currency fights the value of toilet paper. To exonerate themselves, CBN governors have faced the press with less conviction. Mr Cardoso is entering that league. 

In the past couple of weeks, he has had cause to explain why Bola Tinubu’s boast that a ma ja wálẹ or restore the value of the naira has failed. In Mr Cardoso’s first explanation for the state of the naira, he blamed our penchant for foreign-made goods especially our propensity for health and education tourism. I believe he is not a card-carrying member of the ruining All Progressives Congress, APC. If he is, he will not be excused for blaming the Nigerians that patronise foreign hospitals or send their children to foreign schools. He would know that governance is a continuum and that his principal’s party has been running the show for nearly nine unbroken years.

 When it comes to lack of confidence in home remedies in both areas, Mr Cardoso must agree that his party leaders have been leading by example on both fronts. It was estimated that Muhammadu Buhari, Tinubu’s predecessor, spent more than three of his eight years in office treating an unknown ailment in a London hospital.

Buhari and national pride should not be mentioned in the same sentence. During his many junkets, Buhari jettisoned his pre-election frugality poise of flying economy to parking Eagle One on tarmacs in Heathrow for weeks while his doctors waited on him. His media hands even gladly told us that Nigeria had special concession from the Brits. They were less forthcoming on how deep the many officials and aides that travel with him spend of our local and foreign reserves. 

I know it will soon be sacrilegious to input that Bola Tinubu’s tri-monthly trips to France is connected with health tourism. That would be speculative, and Tinubu has assured us that social media speculations would soon attract the force of law. Instead of regaling us with the huge dollars Nigerians spend on health tourism abroad, Mr Cardoso would have earned our respect if he said such junkets have been stopped by the president and that within a specific time-frame no Nigerian would need to go abroad for any medical procedure no matter how critical. 

We keep reminding those in government that Nigerians know where the average problems lie. They are waiting for those they voted into office and their appointees to tell us how those problems would be solved.

Buhari once described Nigerian hospitals as mere consulting clinics, but given a second chance, he did not build or equip a single functional hospital in eight years. Instead, he jetted out as Nigerian-trained doctors dropped their stethoscopes and later began to leave the country in droves. It got so bad that a clueless APC member wanted legislation to prevent doctors from migrating. That thoughtless motion was roundly shouted down.

Tinubu’s has gone through the backdoor to bench nurses for two and a half years post-graduation. This is without thought to how many health institutions could accommodate those who graduate or what would be the quality of care a nurse could render when they are being forced to serve an ungrateful nation. The adage, you can force a horse to the river but you cannot force it to drink is lost on these people. 

It would be interesting to see how keeping nurses against their will pans out with practically doing nothing to address the underlying problems necessitating their exodus. Issues such as irregular payments of inadequate salaries and allowances, poor infrastructure and broken facilities are left unmitigated. As long as Tinubu goes to Paris, no legislation that stops medical practitioners from leaving Nigeria can save the collapsing medical institution. If Cardoso is still governor this time next year, his last excuse would continue to be more excuses. 

Mr Cardoso, who appears to wear foreign suits, lamented the penchant of Nigerians for foreign goods over the locally manufactured ones. The leading group that elevates the patronage of foreign goods into national pastime are in government. A South West governor recently returned from a birthday party in Grenada. One will excuse Mr Cardoso’s pain once we know that his suits are made in Isale Eko, his ties in Oshodi and that his shoes come from Aba. It’ll be hypocritical to excoriate Nigerians for patronising okrika goods when the government’s official bulletproof SUVs are not made by Innoson Motors. 

We know that the president’s staff car and his long convoy are not made in Nigeria. Leading that ostentation, other official vehicles – those of ministers, justices and federal legislators are foreign-made, chipping more into our reserves than citizens that drive Tokunbo.

With that in mind, Aso Rock kitchen would have to convince us that it serves ofada rice and that the multimillion naira cutlery it budgets yearly for its kitchen is made in Nigeria. We would need to see the circular President Tinubu endorsed mandating his ministries and agencies of government to patronise only Made-in-Nigeria goods and services. It is not enough to be a professional crier without a concrete plan to change the status quo.

Our CBN governor laments that $30 billion has been squandered by Nigerians on pursuing foreign education. We will disregard Mr Cardoso’s English-earned degrees since they were acquired earlier than 10 years ago. However, except our new CBN governor has been holidaying on another planet, he would have heard that the ruling party plunged Nigerian education into its abyss. 

For three of the eight years that Buhari spent in Aso Rock, tertiary education virtually halted while Buhari’s own children were schooling and graduating from foreign universities. Ministers and appointees randomly flaunted the matriculation and graduation ceremonies of their children outside the country. The Tinubu administration is yet to release a plan of action to rescue Nigeria’s collapsed education. 

What more? While only children of people in government with foreign degrees get employed in privileged institutions and agencies of government. Nothing should stop the children of the poor with the means from aspiring to study abroad too even if the end goal is reserved for them returning home to serve their privileged peers.

Nigeria does not need an official who bamboozles with screaming figures about how we love good things. They need them to bring back the country that once provided all they needed in goods and services; one that retains expertise and encourages healthy competition. They need them to lead by example, to repair the broken breaches and to block the leaking valves. They need a blueprint that punishes corruption, cronyism and other vices making living in Nigeria a living hell. 

•Written By  Tunde Asaju

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