September 05, 2007 1145 VIEWS

Some things are worthy of response, others are not. If Prof Aluko was a man on the street, one could excuse his position below, published in a national daily; because he probably does not know any better. It is quite disturbing that an eminent economist like Prof. Aluko can do a turn around within one week just so that he can now join the chorus of uninformed commentators who believe that redenomination is an evil that Prof. Soludo now wants to inflict on Nigeria
. If someone had persuaded Prof Aluko to change tack without research; it is unfortunate. Instead of using his intelligence to mislead Nigerians, he should better educate Nigerians. 
Perhaps if Prof Aluko were the Minister for Energy and he had the opportunity to turn around a critical energy sector just like Soludo has done in the crucial banking sector; we would excuse his submissions. On his assumption of office, Prof. Aluko would probably appreciate the difference between theory and practice.  We would also have the opportunity to hold him accountable for all the years in which Nigeria had been in dark without light from the days of NEPA to PHCN
No! I have changed my mind. He should be made the Minister for Works, so that we can hold him accountable for all the deaths on our national road highways, since the 1980s. That would be very fair on Prof Aluko. He would learn how most unkind his comments are to hard working public servants at the CBN.


Similarly, he would realise that it is not the mark of a good leader not to change course if you find that the policy you advocate may not deliver the expected result; ask Blair and or Bush. It is not about doing your homework properly before advocating a policy and then changing your mind; it is about an economic policy maker being responsive to a rapidly changing (inter)national market economic environment and doing what he/she believes is in the national interest. Soludo is a man who is not afraid of change. It is, indeed, part of his job description to anticipate, initiate, respond to and manage economic change. This is what Central Bankers from the world's leading economies are doing from London, New York, Paris, Berlin, Beijing and Tokyo to mention but a few. 
This dispute is now not about Soludo, even though some people would insist on personalising the debate; redenomination policy, like all innovative ideas, is about Nigerians having the audacious courage to attempt the seemingly impossible, up until we find that which would enable us to emerge the prosperous economic giant of Africa that we have long aspired to be, and to be seen to be positively encouraging passionately dedicated public servants to do better; and to be seen to be helping public servants to stay on track by criticising them in good faith when they appear to make mistakes. 
Brazil tried redenomination six times because they realise that even though it failed the first time, it is sufficiently important to the national interest that they keep trying until they achieve success. This is the difference between a rapidly developing country and those nations that talk about development without having the backbone to do very much about it. When people criticise hardworking public servants in very bad faith, they tend to discourage, rather than inspire them and it deters other professionals who may feel that they can do better from volunteering in future. They see how we mock those who are trying to improve our lives and they ask: why bother? We sometimes appear to fit the stereotype of an ungrateful lot, if we cannot make clear distinctions between our villains and our national heroes. We forget too easily that the financial sector boom is the product of Prof Soludo's courage to stand alone when all available opposition was mobilised against him; conduct a poll today to ask Nigerian bankers and their Nigerian customers which banking era they prefer: pre - Soludo era or now. It is also important to point out that Soludo is not the Minister for Internal Affairs, Agriculture, and Works, Transport and Housing to mention but a few critical pillars of our economy which Nigerians demand to be fixed with immediate effect. It is not his responsibility to deal with these matters which deserve equally urgent national attention; it is for Nigerians to challenge the officers in charge of those ministries to rise up to the challenge of fixing their respective ministries so that our lives can be collectively made much better.


This debate is healthy, but it should be conducted with integrity. Let us debate the fact that it is alright for our policy maters to make policy changes or adjustments when it is crucial to do so; that we need all our Ministers, Legislators and Governors competing to out do each other in delivering public good and to positively change peoples lives in their own spheres of influence, not to try beating down best performing public servants because we make wrong assumptions about them. It is alright if the nation is not ready now for redenomination as Mr President has said, but for Prof Aluko to hugely diminish himself by attempting to mislead Nigerians by playing the usually very low level and ecommunist student-activist charge of foreign agent of World Bank/IMF on Prof Soludo is a great disservice to Nigeria. Soludo is not responsible for the policy failures of the CBN in the 1980s; to attempt to blur the distinction between the old CBN and the new CBN under Prof Soludo is to be intellectually dishonest and sheer sophistry. 
Please refer to the table below; it might also help you clear the fog. A wise person is someone who can change his/her mind if he/she finds that there is a better path to success than the one they have chosen. Other nations have done it successfully; Nigeria can do it when they choose. In the early 1990s, Malaysia had the national slogan: “If anyone can, Malaysia can. It mobilised the people of one of the greatest newly emerging nations in Asia. Today Nigeria stands at the cross roads with a new administration, let us help our leaders make the right policy choices and strongly support them in those decisions. - The piece above was contributed by C. Udechukwu.






Table 1: National Inflation and Redenomination Decisions

  Years & Annual Inflation Rates Redenomination?
Albania 1992 (226%) No
Angola 1992 (299%), 1993 (1379%), 1994 (949%), 1995 (2672%), 1996 (4145%), 1997-2002 (average, 194%). Yes, 1995.
Argentina 1975-1982; average annual rate 267% Yes, 1983.
Argentina 1983 (344%), 1984 (627%), 1985 (672%) Yes, 1985.
Argentina 1987, 1988, 1989 (3080%), 1990 (2314%), 1991 (172%) Yes, 1992.
Armenia 1994 (4962%), 1995 (176%) No.
Azerbaijan 1992 (912%), 1993 (1129%), 1994 (1665%), 1995 (412%) Yes, 1992.
Belarus 1993 (1190%), 1994 (2221%),  1995 (709%) Yes, 1992.
Belarus 1999 (294%), 2000 (169%) Yes, 2000.
Bolivia 1981-1986; peaked at 11749% in 1985. Yes, 1987.
Brazil 1981-1985, average annual rate 151%. Yes, 1986.
Brazil 1986 (147%), 1987 (228%), 1988 (629%), 1989 (1431%) Yes, 1989.
Brazil 1990 (2948%), 1991 (433%), 1992 (952%), 1993 (1928%), 1994 (2076%) Yes, 1993 and 1994.
Bulgaria 1991 (338%), 1996 (122%), 1997 (1058%) Yes, 1999.
Chile 1973 (362%), 1974 (505%), 1975 (375%), 1976 (212%) Yes, 1975.
Congo , Dem. Rep. 1979 (101%), 1989 (104%), 1991 (2154%), 1992 (4129%), 1993 (1987%) Yes, 1993.
Congo , Dem. Rep. 1994 (23773%), 1995 (542%), 1996 (542%), 1997 (176%) Yes, 1998.
Congo , Dem. Rep. 1999 (285%), 2000 (514%), 2001 (360%) No.
Croatia 1992 (625%), 1993 (1500%), 1994 (107%) Yes, 1994.
Georgia 1995 (163%) Yes, 1995.
Ghana 1977 (116%), 1981 (117%), 1983 (123%), 2007 No. Yes 2007
Indonesia 1962 (131%), 1963 (146%), 1964 (109%), 1965 (307%), 1966 (1136%), 1967 (106%), 1968 (129%) No.
Israel 1980 (131%), 1981 (117%), 1982 (120%), 1983 (146%), 1984 (374%), 1985 (305%) Yes, 1980 and 1985.
Kazakhstan 1994 (1877%), 1995 (176%) No.
Laos 1999 (128%) No.
Latvia 1992 (243%), 1993 (109%) Yes, 1993.
Lebanon 1987 (488%), 1988 (128%) No.
Lithuania 1993 (410%) Yes, 1993.
Macedonia 1994 (126%) Yes, 1993.
Mexico 1983 (102%), 1987 (132%), 1988 (114%) Yes, 1993.
Mongolia 1993 (268%) No.
Nicaragua 1985-1991. Highest in 1989 (4770%), 1990 (7485%) and 1991 (2945%) Yes, 1998.
Peru 1983 (112%), 1984 (110%), 1985 (163%) Yes, 1985.
Peru 1988 (667%), 1989 (3399%), 1990 (409%) Yes, 1991.
Poland 1982 (104%), 1989 (245%0, 1990 (555%) Yes, 1995.
Romania 1991 (231%0, 1992 (211%), 1993 (255%), 1994 (137%), 1997 (155%) Yes, 2005.
Russia 1993 (875%), 1994 (308%), 1995 (197%) Yes, 1998.
Sierra Leone 1987 (179%), 1990 (111%), 1991 (103%) No.
Sudan 1991 (124%), 1992 (118%), 1993 (101%), 1994 (115%), 1996 (134%) Yes, 1992.
Suriname 1993 (144%), 1994 (368%), 1995 (236%)
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