Archive | April, 2018

Volunteer Statesmen? To be Governor of a Heavily Indebted State..

17 Apr

David O. Kuranga, Ph.D.

The author is the Managing Director and Principal of Kuranga and Associates, a full-service investment, political and economic risk consultancy, and asset management firm that specializes in Africa. He is also the author of The Power of Interdependence with Palgrave Macmillan Press.

Currently most Nigerian states are fiscally unstable. They collectively account for about half the debt attributed to Nigeria. Many even had to seek emergency relief from the federal government in the form of bailouts. The current crop of governors have crippled their states with an ever increasing debt burden that their states cannot service. Coupled with this there are chronic arrears in both salaries and pensions with a few exceptions. Without federal government backing and bailouts, most states in Nigeria completely insolvent while almost all the rest are close behind. Accordingly, going forward it is imperative that all the states implement a solid fiscal plan to rip states from the edge of the cliff of financial collapse.

Given the dire state of finances in Nigeria’s States, it is a shock that there are so many vying to become governors. It is safe to conclude that either they are totally ignorant of the current financial crisis gripping their state, or are ignorant of what will be required of them to address it, or they know but have no intention of addressing it in accordance with state needs. Not surprisingly, not a single person who has been elevated as a candidate (potential candidate) for the states governorship has tabled a government financial plan to address the states fiscal deficits. If the people want to put the days where salaries are 6 months in arears, and pensions are unpaid, in the rearview, they are going to have to pay much closer attention to the gross deficiencies in the acumen of current aspirants and their collective lack of a concrete plan to address the states dire need for money.

#1. Deny Himself & Shoulder His Cross

In-kind of what Jesus says in Matthew 16:24, Luke 9:23, Mark 8:34, if anyone wants to be the next governor of a highly indebted Nigerian State, they must first deny themselves daily, shoulder their cross, and like a common house servant–work diligently for the people of their state. The next governors must be willing to work as governor, without any compensation, salary, allowance, pension, or benefits. In a state like Kwara State, the government spends 16 million annually servicing debts, and spend another 10 million on the office of the governor alone! Its no surprise that the states debts continue to grow. Further the corrupt budgeting practices utilized by states like Kwara State include vague unspecified line-items like “Overhead” that accounts for 100 million dollars of the states budget annually. With no real forensic auditing, there is no telling how much of this has gone to the wind over the past 8 years. All the while, the debt has continued to grow at an unsustainable pace.

Going forward governors will not be able to dip into the states finances to provide themselves with any of the perks of office that their predecessors enjoyed unless of course they can afford to provide those things for themselves through their own means. Just recently Kwara State borrowed N4 billion simply to partially clear a backlog of salaries and pensions. Typically, when a government borrows responsibly, the money is spent on capital projects that generate revenue, like toll bridges, transit systems, and state-owned businesses or private sector loan schemes. Given that paying workers and pensions are not capital investments, the state is obviously broke, too broke for an elected governor to pay themselves anything or to utilize any of the perks of office. For the next crop of governors to actually lead a fiscally responsible state, they must lead by example by denying themselves while carrying out duties. Further if the governor (the Oga at the top) is willing to volunteer their time, it is quite likely that they will be able to find special advisers and aides also willing to volunteer and serve with little to no compensation as well.

In the past (& present), the disposition of the leadership has been to pay themselves while leaving the masses to suffer and to be paid last. The new leader has to turn this disgraceful conduct on its head, and make themselves the last to receive anything. This will save the state a tremendous amount of money when statehouse wastes at e channeled toward plugging the fiscal holes, servicing debts, and ensuring that state workers and pensioners are adequately and properly taken care of without further irresponsible and unsustainable borrowing. The current administrations have repeatedly asked for permission to borrow even more than they currently have, which thankfully has often been refused. This borrowing is basically a dirty band aid being used temporarily to hide a gaping wound. Going into elections, this type of behavior is likely to continue at an even more alarming clip. This will make taking over governance in the state, financially more difficult than ever before.

#2. Internally Generated Revenue

While there have been some improvements across the country in internal revenue collection, states still ranks relatively low on internally generated revenue nationwide levels nationwide. Many states like Kwara State adopted the current Buhari administrations policy of not introducing new schemes to generate more revenue. This has clearly been a colossal failure (hence all the new borrowing) at national and state levels. The no new taxes policy should be scuttled within the first day of office by the next administration. Nigeria ranks at 6% tax to GDP ratio, one of the lowest ratio’s in the world. States like Kwara State are likely collecting even less than this national average. With all the new borrowing, the state must generate new revenue and introduce new schemes. It cannot rely solely on enforcing existing laws (which just began a year ago). There are a number of new measures that previous administrations should have undertaken to rectify the states fiscal imbalances that are yet to be done. For sake of  this article I contained just 5 examples below (which is unfortunately more concrete policy proposals than anyone who has claimed they want to be the states next governor has done):

  •  Motor Vehicles: Parking in the three major cities and on state campuses should be regulated and metered, new bridges on various roads should have tolls in place, luxury vehicles should be taxed, and any household that own multiple vehicles should also be taxed.
  • While the government banned alcohol, it would make more sense for them to use it as another means of generating revenue. The taxes and fees levied on those that consume in the state and the establishments that serve/sell the commodities will serve as a deterrent while also generating revenue for the state. The current policy, only encourages proprietors to go underground and for patrons to cross state lines and take their money outside of the state rather than keeping it with Kwara State. Both alcohol, tabacco, and gambling within the state should be targeted for new taxes and fees.
  • Out-of-State cattle and livestock herders known for abusing Kwara State lands and terrorizing its people, should no longer be able to operate in the state and/or bring their livestock to graze without paying taxes and fees to graze livestock. All herders must register, upon entry with the state through the LGA office, and pay for a governors consent livestock grazing permit, that will be determined based on the number of livestock in there possession. Failure to do so will result in stiff fines for herders and/or loss of livestock.
  • State “big boy” taxes should be considered. In the VAIDS scheme, we are identifying new tax payers previously not paying and ripping off the state. These individuals own property and business in multiple states and at times multiple countries. Despite this many of them have little within the state, except a village home or a residence in the states capital. These are the people who the state needs to invest in the state, create jobs, and start businesses. However if our “big boys” are only invested outside of the state (country) and only own a token home in the state, the state should levy additional taxes on these individuals and their property in the state that will be waved if and when they decide to invest in the state and create an agreed amount of jobs.

Ultimately the Nigerian people deserve better, but they collectively must call for it. Ongoing right now is the usual bribing of traditional leaders and community groups with pathetic disingenuous handouts where failed, unaccountable, and unqualified political elites give small fractions of their looted spoils around election time. Already in Kwara State we are seeing all of this take place. If people want the past to continue to repeat itself, they can participate and accept this token patronage and sell their future and that of their children in exchange for it. The days where we could afford to have personalities and those with connections as leaders are long gone. Moving forward, only the right policies (which should be stated in the agenda of every candidate) can transform and rescue Nigeria’s States. Nigeria has received numerous warnings over its ballooning debt burden and investor sentiment surrounding it.

Kuranga and Associates Limited is an investment management advisory firm and an asset manager with a principle practice area of Africa. To learn more about Kuranga and Associates LTD contact us at theassociatesincubator@gmail.com. © Copyright 2018 David Kuranga. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Dr.Kuranga

David O. Kuranga; Ph.D.
Managing Director
Kuranga & Associates Limited
Phone: 646.481.6263
david.kuranga@gmail.com
https://kurangaandassociates.wordpress.com

Kwara: The Unappologetic Incompetence of “Governor” Ahmed

15 Apr

David O. Kuranga, Ph.D.

The author is the Managing Director and Principal of Kuranga and Associates, a full-service investment, political and economic risk consultancy, and asset management firm that specializes in Africa. He is also the author of The Power of Interdependence with Palgrave Macmillan Press.

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Following the Massacre in Offa, the Second largest city in Kwara State, the states “Governor” reactively finally announced that the state would be purchasing armoured carriers for Offa to supplement police and bolster security in that city. He then pleaded with onlookers that he not be blamed for the violence and carnage that engulfed the city.

I have a few questions for the “governor” if he is even worthy of being called that. Did Governor Ahmed purchase armoured vehicles for himself and his wife? Did he supply them to his deputy and his wife? If so, then certainly he cannot deny knowing the utility of them and thus allocated the states resources to protect those he wanted to protect. The fact that these supplies were not present in the states second largest city up until the Massacre means clearly that the “Governor” and his predecessor did not view the people of the city of Offa as being worthy of the expenditure. If they believed Offa was worth protecting they would have acted accordingly.

The city has been attacked 3 times in the past decade, twice now under “governor” Ahmed. In Lagos, and other states, police have surveillance drones and armoured carriers that are supplied to them by the state governments to safeguard the citizenry. Yet in Kwara these attrocities were followed by inaction and a complete and total disdain for the wellbeing of the citizenry by the “governor” and his predecessor. This last attack on Offa lasted about 2 hours, not 2 minutes, or 20 minutes, but TWO HOURS, meaning there was no resistance at all! The fact that no drones, and no armoured carriers were presents in offa, until this “governor” paraded his pathetic armoured motorcade into Offa to pretend as if he cared, speaks volumes about the total neglect that has been shown toward Offa by the states “government”.

Unfortunately it is not much better statewide. For the past 8 years, Kwara State has been completely and totally leaderless. The stooge put in place at the statehouse has made that very clear at every juncture. After all, this is the same “governor” who paid his predecessor a pension (who was also collecting salary and allowances from another well-paid government position), while AT THE SAME TIME was failing to pay poor retired state pensioners throughout the state, many of whom died while waiting, and failed to pay actual State workers for over six months! One of whom, Biodun Bashir, hung himself in agony, after being unable to provide for his family not receiving pay for over 6 months! The people of Baruten LGA have no government to speak of in Nigeria, an thus are now joining Benin Republic! Thus a sitting “governor” found it more important that his predecessor could collect two streams of government checks and benefits, while state workers, pensioners, residents from Offa to Baruten, in his state were left out to hang by their necks. The fact that these two people allowed this unspeakable injustice to occur speaks volumes about who they truly are as people what they truly stand for. While all this came to light as a result of a Code of Conduct probe, it is worth asking Kwarans what would these people have done if all this did not come to the light? It’s what people do when nobody is watching that tells you who they are.

It thus comes as no surprise that the people of Offa were left hanging for 2 hours to be slaughtered, and nothing was done beef up security after the same incident happened 5 years before in the “governors” tenure. Despite all this, every utterance of the “governor” has been tantamount to saying “it’s not my fault” and “don’t blame me”. He even had the audacity to say that by blaiming him critics were being disrespectful to the dead in Offa. This is the same “governor” that has yet to visit the homes of a single victim, has not attended a single funeral service, has not paid for a single funeral, something that any real leader would have done. Yet he is lecturing those pointing out his incompetence about honouring victims? It’s time we hold this disgraceful display of “governance” to account and hold “governor” Ahmed’s feet to the fire. Since he does not want to own up to his own failures and apologize, there is nothing useful the “governor” has to say at this point.

For all this to end, Kwara Must Change, and in that, the people of the state must stand together in unity. Any attempt by elites to divide the population along ethnic, regional, generational, or religious lines, will only result in the past repeating itself. When it came to unpaid pensions, Kwarans of every dispensation were affected. When it came to Offa, Kwarans of every religion and stripe lost their lives. When it comes to unpaid salaries, or school session being held under trees, and total abandonment of Baruten, Kwarans from every region, and every LGA have been suffering. If Kwarans stand together, shoulder to shoulder, with one goal of cutting down the tree that has left the state and its people hanging out to die, the future of the state lies firmly in their hands. Together, they can take back their state, and when they do, I believe that together there is nothing that the people of Kwara cannot accomplish.

#KwaraMustChange
#KwaraRescueAlliance

Kuranga and Associates Limited is an investment management advisory firm and an asset manager with a principle practice area of Africa. To learn more about Kuranga and Associates LTD contact us at theassociatesincubator@gmail.com. © Copyright 2018 David Kuranga. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Dr.Kuranga

David O. Kuranga; Ph.D.
Managing Director
Kuranga & Associates Limited
Phone: 646.481.6263
david.kuranga@gmail.com
https://kurangaandassociates.wordpress.com

The Human Faces of the Offa Massacre

12 Apr

David O. Kuranga, Ph.D.

The author is the Managing Director and Principal of Kuranga and Associates, a full-service investment, political and economic risk consultancy, and asset management firm that specializes in Africa. He is also the author of The Power of Interdependence with Palgrave Macmillan Press.

Earlier in the week, I wrote a scathing critique of the Nigerian Media establishment, and those within it that have relegated themselves, for whatever reason, into the mouthpieces of propaganda for political elites. By so doing, I argued, that they ignored the unnamed and unnumbered victims, and thus reduced and dehumanized them and the untold suffering that is affecting ordinary people in that city and region. I received a blowback from some in the media, who explained, that unlike other countries, the governments in Nigeria (Federal, States, Local), do not provide a public record or a list of names with documented death certificates for media outlets to publish and investigate the biographies of the deceased. Further, in most instances, the government tries to minimize the total the death toll, which in Offa has risen to over 50 victims. Thus, like many other things, duplicating in Nigeria what is the normal standard internationally, of naming and numbering victims and telling their story, is somewhat more difficult in Nigeria. In that, I do accept and understand this explanation.

Still, while I recognize that doing the right thing in Nigeria, may be substantially more difficult than it is elsewhere, it is not impossible. After several media outlets received my article, several stories began to appear, naming some of the victims.

  1. https://newtelegraphonline.com/2018/04/offa-robbery-how-officer-caused-policemens-death/
  2. punchng.com/offa-robbery-vigilance-man-died-rescuing-victims-colleague/
  3. http://www.informationng.com/2018/04/photos-of-the-police-officer-inspector-yemisi-makinde-who-was-killed-during-offa-bank-robbery.html

In addition to these stories, the statewide advocacy group, #KwaraMustChange, compiled the stories of 2 more victims of the Offa Massacre. The first is Mrs. Oyinlola Ajogbe Shakirat, a 26 year old mother of a 9 year old boy, who also left behind her husband.

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The second is Mr. Jamiu Adekunle Alawode, a 40 year old banker at Stockcorp Microfinance Bank in Offa (one of the 6 banks robbed that is not even mentioned in the press). He had 4 children, was a degree holder from University of Ilorin, and was a prominent figure in the Oyun local government area of Kwara State.

Alawode

In expressing our condolences to both families, and thanking them for sharing with us these photos of their loved ones, it is important for all to see them and realize how similar these real people are to ourselves and our own families. The suffering that is now impacting them, could just have easily have been any of us. In calling for justice for their killers, we need to also re-examine the total and utter neglect that the successive Governments of Kwara State have shown for providing security  within the state.

The City of Offa had been robbed before, and still had no armoured vehicles supplied to defend the town from such attacks despite numerous requests from residents. The state government has purchased and supplied armoured vehicles to protect the political elite, but somehow, did not find it necessary to provide the same equipment to its second largest city. Further surveillance drones, that are used in Lagos and other parts of the country, could easily and inexpensively have been deployed through Kwara to aid in early detection, and apprehending suspects. No such equipment’s were in Offa. Adding insult to injury, the states leaders have not visited any of the homes of the victims, or attended a single funeral. They have only paraded the city in their own armoured vehicles, only visiting the king, and retroactively passing blame to other arms of government. If the suffering ongoing in Offa today is to end, Kwara Must Change, and we as a people can support that change by unmasking the human faces of the suffering and demanding the change that will be a befitting memorial.

#KwaraMustChange

Kuranga and Associates Limited is an investment management advisory firm and an asset manager with a principle practice area of Africa. To learn more about Kuranga and Associates LTD contact us at theassociatesincubator@gmail.com. © Copyright 2018 David Kuranga. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Dr.Kuranga

David O. Kuranga; Ph.D.
Managing Director
Kuranga & Associates Limited
Phone: 646.481.6263
david.kuranga@gmail.com
https://kurangaandassociates.wordpress.com

Tragic Dehumanization of Suffering in Nigeria

9 Apr

David O. Kuranga, Ph.D.

The author is the Managing Director and Principal of Kuranga and Associates, a full-service investment, political and economic risk consultancy, and asset management firm that specializes in Africa. He is also the author of The Power of Interdependence with Palgrave Macmillan Press.

Last week, in the latter hours of Thursday afternoon, a group of 30 armed robbers stormed into Offa, Kwara State, (the second largest city in the state), and robbed 6 banks, the surrounding homes and market shops, killing well over 2 dozen people including police officers that were stationed in the city, and injuring scores of others. The operation lasted for almost two hours, while the robbers, without any resistance reigned terror for the third time on the city of Offa. The news was so horrific that the story was carried by several international news outlets. However, when I began to look at the local media coverage, I became nauseas from the disturbing trend.

While the tragedy of Offa is well known, to date, not one Nigerian media outlet has published the name or identity of a single one of the victims that were killed in Offa, not even those in Kwara State! There are videos and gruesome images of corpses all over the internet and social media, however, nobody knows the names of any of them. Nobody knows their families, their story, their dreams, their past accomplishments, or their promise. If you accept this narrative handed down by the unaccountable, bought and paid for, corrupt Nigerian media establishment, these people are not even real people or real human beings. So the rest of us should run along, hurry up and be going, and not think twice about who these poor souls were, who their families are, and what the impact of their loss is having on their surrounding community.  If they were human beings, the media would find out all their names, report on their ages, who they were, and tell us their story, especially those based right on the scene in Kwara!

Instead, the only names and stories the corrupt media tells the public are those of arrogant corrupt politicians, who in the aftermath, paraded through the city of Offa in motorcades of numerous armoured vehicles, the same city that because of their neglect, did not have one single armoured vehicle to secure and protect them despite numerous requests from residents. Let their be no mistake about it, while policing is still executed at the federal level in Nigeria, State Governments have a duty to supplement this and provide supplies and support to secure their territories. Other states, like Lagos, have purchased surveillance drones, and armoured carriers to aid police operating in their state to maintain peace and security. Yet in Kwara, the only armoured carriers that are purchased are used to secure the corrupt political elite and their families and not the population they were sworn to serve. Clearly in Kwara State, the states “leaders” did not do their job, but who cares? Who has really been affected? A bunch of unnamed and unknown “victims”? Unnamed, incorrectly numbered, and unknown “victims” who will be forgotten tomorrow are of no significance right? Clearly nobody human was lost. Nobody who had a name, a family, or a story worth telling. Nobody, that is, if you pay attention to the subtle message being delivered by the worthless Nigerian media establishment, and the compromised local Kwara outlets that have relegated themselves to spewing propaganda.

If you read the coverage, many names are mentioned in relation to this tragedy, but of course NEVER the names of the victims, but rather of corrupt politicians pretending they care. Further, when these useless corrupt figures visited Offa, they did not even go to the homes of all the victims, they never attended any of the funerals, (as you would see leaders in a civilized nation do), not even for the police, rather, they ignored the plight of these “subhuman”, “nameless” “victims” altogether, choosing rather to take their armoured motorcades only to the palace of the king to pay their lip service charade of sympathy. These politicians cannot name a single victim. They do not know where they lived. Could care less when they were buried, and/or who had to pay to burry them. An further, have no care for what their loss has done to their surrounding community. Their actions in the aftermath speak volumes for who they are and what they stand for. What is more shocking than their action, or lack thereof, is the fact that it has all been endorsed and normalized by the worthless, corrupt, coopted, and unprofessional Nigerian media establishment, and a group of highly compromised “journalists”, “bloggers”, whom are yet to question any of this nonsense. While the systematic and deliberate dehumanization of suffering is becoming all too common in Nigeria, no place is the concerted dehumanization of victims campaign more prevalent than in Kwara State.

Since the Nigerian media establishment is so worthless, so unprofessional, and so compromised, and all they respond to is money awashed in corruption and debauchery; forgive me, and let me speak their language. I will give N100,000.00 to the first “journalist”, or media “blogger”, that can name the 2 dozen Nigerian citizens gunned down in Offa, their ages, genders, and surviving family, I will give an extra N1,000.00, if you can secure a picture of them while they were still alive. Despite what the useless Nigerian media has been doing all this time, these people were real human beings, real people that had a real family, real hopes and real dreams, and real stories worthy of being told. I will not stop until they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Kuranga and Associates Limited is an investment management advisory firm and an asset manager with a principle practice area of Africa. To learn more about Kuranga and Associates LTD contact us at theassociatesincubator@gmail.com. © Copyright 2018 David Kuranga. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Dr.Kuranga

David O. Kuranga; Ph.D.
Managing Director
Kuranga & Associates Limited
Phone: 646.481.6263
david.kuranga@gmail.com
https://kurangaandassociates.wordpress.com