How The Nigerian Economy Can Overtake America’s Economy – Sunday Adelaja

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I can just imagine what must be running through the minds of those who are reading this extremely catchy title. I can almost envisage some remarks like ‘Pastor Sunday has come again’, while others will be thinking, “what a fantasy if not fallacy.”

I don’t claim to hold the key of knowledge, I do however, as a student of current affairs, wish to argue my case. I hope my efforts would give hope to Nigerians and Africans everywhere. It is also my hope that the newly elected Nigerian government will hear the voice of reason, study my hypothesis and work hard to actualize them.

Let me start by saying that the key to Nigeria’s economy overtaking America’s economy, is in CURBING CORRUPTION. I will examine this hypothesis more closely in this article.

“Corruption is Africa’s greatest problem. Not poverty. Not lack of riches. Not racism.” – Dennis Prager

Corruption, that monster that has crippled nations, economies and peoples is our biggest shame and inhibition. If Nigeria could successfully fight corruption on all levels with all our natural and human resource endowments, Nigeria’s economy is poised to overtake America’s economy in the near future.

To start with, we are going to be looking at corruption in terms of political corruption which is the use of power by government officials for illegitimate private gains. An illegal act by an officeholder constitutes political corruption when the act is directly related to their official duties. It is mainly done under guise of law and involves trading in influence.

I don’t think I need to waste your precious time my dear readers to try to convince you that our beloved nation Nigeria has broad based corruption. All through the length and breadth of our country, we see corruption everywhere. In the government offices, police check-points, schools, universities, military, Nollywood, media, entertainment industry etc. Friends, no doubt about it, it’s either we exterminate corruption or it annihilates us as a nation.

Let me tell you a short story that relates to each one of us Nigerians and our Ghanaian brethren.

One of the greatest news that has been heard on the African continent in the last decade, is the news of Ghana joining the league of oil producing nations. That singular discovery added so much to the Ghanaian economy that it catapulted Ghana’s economy into one of the fastest growing in the world. It is believed that Ghana currently produces about 400,000 barrels of oil per day, which is equal to 40 million USD per day, based on the 2014 price of $100 per barrel.

Now, listen closely friends. The same amount of money that has hugely enhanced the economy of Ghana, creating many opportunities and bringing joy to the lives and families of millions of Ghanaians, is the very same amount of crude oil value unaccounted for daily in Nigeria.

In the words of Coordinating Minister and the Minister of finance Ngozi okonjo-Iweala while addressing the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Appropriation/Finance in Abuja in 2013 said, “We are losing revenue; 400,000 barrels of crude oil are lost on a daily basis due to illegal bunkering, vandalism and production shut-in.”

That is the government official’s way of saying that 400,000 barrels of oil is stolen daily in Nigeria. As of the year 2003 when oil was selling for way above $100, that could be anything between 40-50 million USD per day. Furthermore, if we count 5 working days, it makes 295 working days a year, which equals to 118 million barrels per year, which means 40 billion USD a year. This is only for the year 2013.

Please note, I don’t want anyone to think I am attacking President Jonathan or his administration. Whenever I mention any name in this article, it is for clarification not condemnation. The election has been won and lost. Let bygones be bygones. I am simply referring to his government as a matter of fact or reference not for accusation. My appeal to Nigerians is, let us move forward.

If we are going to count how much was lost, only during the government of President Jonathan, then it becomes easy to believe the calculations done by the former Governor of the Central bank of Nigeria Prof. Chukwuma Soludo. He alleged that 30 trillion Naira (the equivalent of 200 billion USD in 2013) was lost to corruption in Nigeria. This is only in 6 years of President Jonathan’s government, from the year 2009 – 2015.

To put that in perspective, the amount of money Nigeria lost in 6 years is bigger than the whole economy of the Ukraine $177 billion, Kuwait $175 billion, Libya $74 billion, Hungary $133 billion, Morocco $114 billion, Romania $189 billion, Belarus $71 billion, Syria $71 billion, Angola $124 billion and Vietnam $171 billion etc. according to the 2013 World Bank statistics for nominal GDP of countries.

Remember we are only talking about the amount Nigeria lost in the oil sector. Let me even make it clearer. According to the 2013 World Bank reports, that amount of $200 billion we lost in 6 years is 4 times the whole economy of Ghana $48 billion, 4 times that of Ethiopia $47 billion, 4 times that of Tunisia $46 billion and Kenya $55 billion.

It gets more interesting, let me bring it closer to home and compare this amount to the GDP of some countries where Nigerians now run to as economic refugees. The lost $200 billion USD equivalent as at 2013 we are talking about is 6 times the budget of Cameroon $30 billion, 10 times the size of the economy of Zambia $20 billion, 10 times the economy of Uganda $19 billion, 10 times the economy of Gabon $19 billion, 14 times the economy of Senegal $14 billion, Botswana $14 billion, Jamaica $14 billion, republic of Congo $13 billion, equatorial Guinean $14 billion and Mozambique $14 billion according to World Bank GDP report of countries by 2013.

The amount we lost in 6 years is half of the whole economy (GDP) of South Africa, Denmark, Venezuela, Colombia, Thailand, Austria, Iran, United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia. Oh my God!!! What a country we would have built if not for the monster of corruption!

“Much food is in the fallow ground of the poor, and for lack of justice there is waste.” Prov. 13:23

I am sure by now, some of you are already getting agitated. When am I going to talk about how we are going to overtake America’s economy? Where are the proofs that we can overtake it? Well I am taking my time. I first started with information you could easily believe, before I make my case for the title of this article.

There are even more daunting statistics of how corruption has eaten into the fabric of the Nigerian economy.

According to Mr. Obinna Akukwe a UNN trained Financial, IT and Project Mgt. Consultant and Adams Oshiomhole, former Labor Leader for close to a decade, Governor of Edo state, $27 billion that should be in excess crude account has been stolen. Oshiomhole opined that “Nigeria’s budgets for the past three years have been based on the average of $77 and $79, while the average price of the country’s crude has been $108 per barrel, which gives an average surplus of $30 per barrel. “Ideally, we ought to be saving $36 per barrel on the 2.3 million barrel a day over the past three years and if you look at these numbers you will find that what we have in our excess crude oil account should be over $30 billion but as we speak, we have barely $3 billion in our excess crude account.”

Though the NNPC had agreed that under their watch, $11 billion was stolen in 2013 alone, we shall still use the conservative figure of $5 billion annually to calculate the oil theft. The use of least average in cost computations is applied. The use of 60 months below is the amount of months President Jonathan’s government was in charge of the purse of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

1. $20 billion missing in 18 months = $1.1 billion monthly x 60 months = $66 billion

2. $30 per barrel above budget benchmark of $79 not accounted for, meant for excess crude account = $27 billion

3. $5 billion lost annually to oil thieves = $0.41 billion monthly x 60 months= $25 billion

4. $1.5 billion (N263 billion Naira) lost to suspicious waiver on petroleum products in 9 months= $0.16 billion monthly x 60 months = $9.6 billion

5. Subsidy Scam of 2011= $6.8 billion

6. Swiss-NNPC Oil Scam of 2013= $6.8 billion

7.Malabu Oil Scam of 2011= $1 billion

Total probable missing/stolen or un-remitted oil funds in 60 months = $142.2 billion, in the most conservative estimation.

Remember that this is the amount that could be logically traced according the people mentioned above. In all, the total still comes to an average of $200 billion according to Prof. Soludo’s account for the last 6 years of President Jonathan’s administration.

“So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.”John 6:12

Let me try to paint a vivid picture of what $200 billion USD would mean to a layman.

  • If you were to put $200 billion bills end to end, you could make 20 round trips to the moon!!
  • $200 billion could have translated into millions of vaccinations for children, which could have saved the lives of so many kids.
  • $200 billion could have become thousands of kilometers of roads constructed.
  • $200 billion could have become thousands of schools built.
  • $200 billion could have become thousands of hospitals in every town in Nigeria.
  • $200 billion could have become 100% water supply in all towns and villages of Nigeria.
  • $200 billion could have resolved our electricity problem, giving us 100% supply to every home.

Let me however remind you that we are only talking here of the money that is lost only in the oil sector of Nigeria.

Let’s paint another picture. Dubai has become one of the wonders of the 21st century and the wonder of Dubai itself is called the Burj Khalifa building. It is the tallest building in the world measuring 2,723 ft. For comparison’s sake, it was built for 1.5 billion USD, which is “chicken change” to our politicians in Nigeria.

If we are now saying, that in 6 years we lost 200 billion USD, with that amount of money judiciously used, every state capital in Nigeria will have their own Burj Khalifa building. That on its own would make Nigeria a tourist attraction, more than Dubai and maybe more than the United States of America. Nigeria only has 36 states. After constructing this massive structure in every state, we will still have enough money to build over 70 more of such structures.

What I am trying to say is that the harm corruption is doing to our country is so bad that I advocate for every Nigerian, at home and abroad, to join the crusade against this deadly practice in our nation. We have to fight it with everything we have.

“The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.” – Kurt Cobain

Because of corruption:

1. We don’t have enough universities. As a result, our young men and women are scattered all over the world looking for admissions and spending billions of parental hard earned money in the process.

2. Our teachers and professors cannot be properly paid, leading to incessant strikes, boycotts and closures.

3. Both large and middle scale projects are left uncompleted; buildings, airports, highways, hospitals, stadiums etc. litter the whole country.

4. Millions of children are dying of malnutrition and lack of food.

5. So many families go to bed on empty stomachs.

6. Our maternal and child-mortality rate is one of the highest in the world because of our substandard medical services.

7. Our roads claim thousands of lives each year because of their deplorable state.

8. Investments are kept out of our economy.

9. More than half of the population of Nigeria lives on less than 1USD per day.

10. The actions of militant groups in the Niger delta and even such deadly organization as Boko haram, Kidnappings etc. are all fueled directly or indirectly by corruption.

“Corruption is the enemy of development, and of good governance. It must be got rid of. Both the government and the people at large must come together to achieve this national objective.” – Pratibha Patil.

Before I go into talking about why I believe Nigeria’s economy would eventually overtake America’s economy, let me first of all give you a picture of what the stolen 200 billion USD could have done to Nigerians.

1. The cost of 1000 MW of a gas power electricity plant is 1 billion USD. With $200 billion USD we could produce enough electricity to rival any developed country. For example South Africa produces just over 40,000 MW, UK also. We can produce 4 times that amount, and with electricity, our development would be hugely accelerated.

2. $200 billion USD will provide safe and clean water to the entire world for 20 years. (8 billion people) because the price for providing water for the whole world is 10 billion a year.

3. $200 billion USD can provide MMR vaccine for every child in the world, 20 times over.

4. $200 billion USD will pay for the registration of all aspiring Nigerian youths who want to register for WAEC and UTME at the rate of 25, 000 Naira per student. Let’s say Nigerian youths are 70 million in number, it could pay for them for 20 years consecutively.

5. With $200 billion USD we can sponsor the whole United Nations relief operation for 15 years consecutively, bearing in mind that for the year 2014 the budget for relief operation was $13 billion USD.

6. With $200 billion USD we could feed the entire Nigeria population of 170 million people free for 10 months.

7. The biggest banks in Nigeria, for example First Bank or Zenith Bank are priced at $20 billion dollars. We could have 10 more of those banks.

8. With $200 billion USD we could sponsor over 2000 Nigerian’s mission to Mars. India spent 75 million dollars on their mission to Mars.

9. With $200 billion USD we could rebuild Nigerian airways and equip it with the latest Boeing 767 for the price of 188 million USD each and have in our fleet 150 of such.

10. Not too many people know that Nigeria does not only assemble cars, but now manufactures own cars from scratch. These Nigerian manufactured vehicles are as good as Nissan’s, Opel, or any foreign made cars. Innoson IVM pickup trucks is what our Nigerian Police uses today. At $20, 000 USD per truck, we could buy 1 million brand new trucks for the Nigerian police for the next 10 years. In such a case, crime will have no place in Nigeria.

11. With $200 billion USD we could pay the salary of our Youth Corps for the next 1,500 years, if each of them receives 20,000 Naira monthly.

12. $200 billion USD would provide 2 laptops for every Nigerian alive (170 million Nigerians). If the price of a laptop is 100 thousand Naira.

13. When the tragedy of 9/11, 2001 happened in America, the whole world stood still because of its magnitude. But with $200 billion USD we can build 50 world trade centers. Because each one of the newly built ones cost 4 billion USD. That is to say we can have a world trade center in every state capital in Nigeria.

14. The most expensive car in the world cost 4 million USD, it is called Lamborghini Veneno. With $200 billion USD you can buy 50,000 of such cars.

15. If the Nigerian president earns 12 million Naira monthly. With $200 billion USD we could pay him for over 2000 years.

16. With $200 billion USD, Nigeria could be having 10 Dangote companies if we assume he is worth $20 billion USD.

17. If a national stadium costs $50 million dollars to build, with $200 billion USD we could build a national stadium in every state and still have left overs.

18. With $200 billion USD, Nigeria could have 1000 F-35C lightning II fighter jets in their Air force. Each of the jets cost $200 million each.

19. With $200 billion USD Nigeria could own her own continent or Islands. The world’s most expensive Island Lanai Island in Hawaii cost only $500 million dollars. We could purchase 400 of those islands and have 400 little countries under Nigeria.

20. If you were given $200 billion USD and you spent 1 million Naira an hour it would take you over 10 thousand years to spend it all.

I hope everyone reading this would now understand the reason for my tenacious and relentless campaign for us to have a new government in Nigeria. I hope you can now understand why religious arguments and sentiments could not derail me from seeing a worthy government take over our nation’s leadership. My firm position is dictated by what I know. That is why I will not allow less informed minds to sway my informed position. I hope you would now understand why I started this series of articles with the piece titled THE MOUNTAIN OF IGNORANCE.

I hope those well-wishers and friends that were telling me not to abandon my calling, would now realize the reasons for my passion. I hope those who were lecturing me not to leave the pulpit now know better. I hope those who in good faith were encouraging me to simply devote myself to only preaching the gospel could now realize what a waste it could have been if I had been locked up in the pulpit. What could have become of me, my ministry and legacy, if I had not developed my capacity out of the box the way I have done over the past 30 years.

What I am doing now with Nigeria, I have done for countries all over the world. It is only now that I have decided to bring my wealth of experience to help my country Nigeria. I hope my people will listen to this cry from the wilderness afar off.

In conclusion of this all important write up, I would like to address the topic of HOW THE NIGERIAN ECONOMY CAN OVERTAKE AMERICA’S ECONOMY.

The answer again is one word- CORRUPTION.

If Nigeria would successfully annihilate corruption in our society, we have enough resources, zeal, passion, and enthusiasm to take Nigeria to a new level of economic development. Our greatest resource is our people. I hope I was able to convince you about that in one of my previous articles called WHEN NIGERIA TEACHES AMERICA. Again allow me to say that from all my years of experience and traveling all over the world, I have become convinced that there is no group of people like Nigerians.

The zeal and enthusiasm of Nigerians is without comparison. Hardly can you find a people with such amount of zest, fervency, gusto, spirit and commitment as Nigerians.

Indeed NIGERIA- GOOD PEOPLE GREAT NATION!! In the words of the late Prof. Dora Akunyili.

Nigerians know what the EFCC is. It is the acronym for Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. It was set up by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration to study, research, investigate and prosecute all forms of corruption related activities and financial crimes. It is one of the most feared and reputed institutions in the Nigerian society. This is especially true under the leadership of its first leader, the very zealous Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.

I am going to base my argument on figures of corruption in the Nigerian economy, provided by the EFCC under the leadership of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu. This research proofs why I believe Nigeria’s economy will outperform America’s economy, in the case that we put our acts together in fighting corruption.

According to the economic and financial crimes commission of Nigeria(EFCC) about $20 trillion USD has been stolen from the treasury by leaders who had access to the nation’s money between 1960- 2005. Please note that this is not including the last 6 years under the leadership of President Jonathan, which has been our focus above in this article.

Now what is $20 trillion USD? I would not even take my time or your time to begin to explain to you what this translates to in economic terms. I decided to illustrate for you above only what you could easily fathom and believe. Hence my focus was on the $200 billion USD that we lost in the past few years.

Talking about $20 trillion USD however, remember that the Nigerian economy is presently worth only $510 billion USD. For your information the whole European Union is worth only between 17- 20 trillion USD. That is talking about all the 28 countries that are part of the European Union. America which is the single richest country in the world is worth 16-17 trillion USD by GDP as of 2013. At the same time China’s GDP was worth 10 trillion USD and Japan 4-5 trillion USD.

Now my friends, I’m sure you can see where I deduced my argument from, that Nigeria’s economy can still outgrow America’s economy. If the total worth of the American economy today is 16-17 trillion USD by the GDP 2013 and the amount of money stolen from Nigeria in the past 50 years is $20 trillion USD. It means that Nigeria and Africa in general is indeed a wealthy continent that could become the future economic giant of the world, if we could only get it right. The first thing we must get right is declaring war against corruption. From there, we can begin to put our resources into building a modern and civilized nation and continent.

Note that the $20 trillion USD that has been stolen is talking about all the money stolen from all other economic sectors not just oil (including agriculture, finance, natural resources etc.). It is also important to note that this is within the first 45 years of Nigeria’s independence.

Nigeria is indeed a blessed nation. We are potentially wealthy in all aspects of life. But to preserve and actualize this wealth we all must join the anti-corruption brigade. More so, we all must hate corruption with a passion. We should all support the new government anyway possible to make sure that their campaign promises to fight corruption is fulfilled.

“Fighting corruption is not just good governance. It’s self-defense. It’s patriotism.” –Joe Biden

I pray and hope that you and I would live long enough to see the day when our beloved nation would take her rightful place in the leadership of the world.


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