Wailing on the Economy

I love to read books and that habit means I frequent bookshops a lot. However, since I resumed duties as a Senator, I have not had as much spare time as I used to have so rather than buy in stores, I buy majority of the books I read online. So you could imagine my shock when I tried to purchase some leadership and management books from a foreign bookshop online only to find that my account, which is well funded, would not work! Then I got an email from my bank explaining to me that due to the realities of our economy, my ATM card is being restricted. I was shocked!

At first I thought the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had incorrectly fingered me as a recipient of the fabled Dasuki money (I did not receive a dime and I did not solicit for such funds). But then a number of my friends reported similar experiences to me. Even at that, I could not believe that Nigerians could be precluded from spending their money as they deemed fit, until the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) news headline confirming my worst fears-Nigerian credit/debit cards are being restricted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)!

To say I was shocked would be an understatement! Forget about my books, what about people in more desperate circumstances than I was? This policy disproportionately punishes honest, hardworking and patriotic Nigerians who have domiciled their accounts, businesses and properties in Nigeria as a vote of confidence on their country. Many Nigerian politicians notoriously have foreign accounts and may not feel the pinch as much as ordinary Nigerians. And the thing is that it is precisely our politicians who have put us in this state and not the long-suffering Nigerian masses.

After I got over my initial shock, I made enquiries as to how people are copping with this economic blockade and I was moved to tears by the results of my findings. If you think that the naira is losing value solely because of the falling crude oil prices, you will be wrong. Part of the reason for the downward trend is a unique and new type of capital flight that has arisen in response to the realities of our forex restriction regime. You see, Nigerians, faced with the inability to use their ATMs abroad are heading to the Black Market, to buy foreign currency in unprecedented numbers and are then flocking to neighbouring countries like Benin Republic and the Republic of Ghana to open accounts there, because ATMs from Beninese and Ghanaian banks work overseas while those from Nigerian banks don’t. Imagine that!

Even if we must ban the use of Nigerian ATM card abroad, is it not better to take into account some realities before we implement such drastic measures? With the hugely successful Bank Verification Number (BVN) registration process, the CBN has the verified account details of all elected and appointed politicians in Nigeria. If at all we must ban, why not ban it for politically exposed people like me instead of ordinary Nigerians that depend on it? Do not punish regular everyday Nigerians for the wrongs of the political class! A lot of the small and medium scale enterprises that employ the majority of Nigerians, depend on their ATM cards to do business abroad.

What do Nigerians who are in foreign hospitals for life threatening illness do if they can’t access funds via ATM? What do Nigerian students schooling abroad and who depend on their parents to fund them via naira ATM do? How do bloggers pay for hosting if ATMs will not work on foreign sites? Is this the anti Social Media Bill via the backdoor? What do thousands of young Nigerians who promote their businesses to the world via Facebook/Twitter Ads do? #PunishpoliticiansnotNigerians!

These people are not just statistics. They are young men and women who trooped out in their millions to vote in the All Progressive Congress (APC) to power. And now how are they being rewarded? There is no fuel and when you complain you are told that former President Goodluck Jonathan is the cause of the fuel scarcity! Really? When electricity improved in June it was not Jonathan’s fault but when there is fuel scarcity in December, six months after he handed over, it is his fault. As our young people will say, issorai!

The sad thing is that while Nigerians are going through these hardships and trying to take it in their stride, their governors, who they look to for help, are threatening to reduce the minimum wage! At the time the new Minimum Wage Bill was signed into law by President Jonathan, the ₦18,000 wage was equivalent to $130. Today the minimum wage is worth only $75 and rather than thinking about how to raise it, our hovernors are conspiring on how to reduce it. It is like spanking a child and when the child is crying you begin taunting the child. How sad!

With this policy on ATM use abroad, those in power are making Nigeria into a country where the poor pay for the sins of the rich and powerful. Nigeria is going through tough times and what we need is a government that includes not one that excludes! Blaming all our woes on Jonathan is just escapism and a revision of history. If we need to conserve our reserves, there are practical and commonsensical actions we could take rather than this action, which seems rather knee jerk.

In a news story on Bloomberg, the magazine quoted Shoprite’s South African CEO, Whitey Basson, as saying the retailer’s seven stores in Nigeria sold more Moet & Chandon champagne than all the liquor shops in South Africa last year. May be you did not get me. Mr. Basson is not just saying that Shoprite sold more Champagne in Nigeria. No. He said that Shoprite sold more Champagne in Nigeria than all the stores in South Africa (including their competitors) combined! To put it in perspective, Shoprite has less than 20 stores in Nigeria and over 400 in South Africa! Now these are the foxes that spoil our economic vine!

The problem is not that we are drinking so much champagne, the problem is that we are importing the product and paying for it with our foreign reserve. I could understand if we were importing life saving medicines, but Moet & Chandon champagne is a luxury. In 2014, official records show that 768,131 bottles of champagne were imported into Nigeria at a cost of over $100,000,000. When you factor in the fact that one company, International Wine and Spirits, claims that it sold 1.1m bottles of champagne in Nigeria, it means that more of the product is being smuggled in through our porous borders than those coming in through official channels.

And who are the champagne drinkers in Nigeria? Certainly not regular Nigerians who are eking out a living using their ATM cards as a cashless form of skin business over the border.

No. It is the political elite again who are to be blamed. In the past 50 years, Nigeria has paid for maybe a million people to go on pilgrimage. Imagine if we had paid for a million people to start businesses instead! If we had done that, we would not be so dependent on oil rent. We would, like other nations, be dependent on taxes paid by a productive population who makes the things that they consume. We would have saved billions of dollars the state paid as air tickets, Basic Travel Allowance and other incidentals.

Not that I am against pilgrimages. If ones religion requires pilgrimages as a sacrifice then by all means go. But if government has to pay for your pilgrimage, then how is it a sacrifice? It is no longer a sacrifice. It becomes a holiday! I advise the present administration to swallow its pride and instead of vilifying Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, should consider consulting her for advise on how she was able to coordinate the economy in such a way that Nigeria enjoyed seven years of economic stability in which our currency maintained its value and workers were paid on time and regularly too. Propaganda can only sustain you for so long. Blaming others can only fool weak minded people for just that long. But over time, it will keep becoming clearer and clearer that the emperor is naked. May we never get to that stage.

My name is Ben Murray-Bruce and I just want to make #Commonsense!



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314 replies

  1. Nice one sir, I pray God’s grace upon u.

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  2. May God bless you and protect you for us. If we have just 20% of patriotic federal legislators and ministers as well as governors like you, Nigeria would be a near-developed country in the next 3 years! Well done Sir…

    Cheers

    Engr. James Braide

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  3. I love this revolution, it’s common sense for us to do the right thing,but ego and pride won’t allow us,thnx for saying it the way you see without reservation, I wish you’re the next presidential candidate of the peoples democratic party.

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  4. Nice one from u sir, may the inspiration God bestow on u never dies, we the common man need people of your calibre to speak for us sir.

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  5. Also i forgot that yesterday was your birthday.Happy birthday,my role model.

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    • I love ur talk sir inded u are God sent 2 this nation Nigeria, my prayer is 4 people lyk u will bcom our president come next election, more grace 2 u my boss

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  6. I complainment ur effort u r indeed a mirrow to see true. Keep it up our generation is aware of ur generiocity. And ur contribution. Towards national development. Happy birth-day.

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  7. Well done commonsense advocate. I appreciate all ur work. Keep on the good work. Above all happy birthday.

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  8. These are rare truths that Nigerians don’t know, but God will bless you and keep fir this you are doing. It’s not just common sense, it’s what it should be.

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  9. God will bless you sir for all this truths,i wish and hope that the government will take good advantage of this word that we are hearing today,but even if they don’t take hid to this words, don’t stop because this kind of words are words that when youths like us read it motivate us to work very hard for our selfs and for our country.
    But i have a question for u, what can a youngboy or a youth of 18 years study in any university in london, that will bring about a favourable change in the economy of nigeria?

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  10. God will keep you sir for more common sense

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  11. You are making more than sense ,but when will Nigerians stop the craze of the big convoy issue, having fleets of cars at home yet craving for govt sponsored cars,wardrobe allowance,this and that allowance.Many of our political leaders behave like illiterates .,for instance many of them are well traveled instead of importing good ideas and do same in their country they crave for things that does not bring development to the people and the country,acts like taking our national cake to foreign country to save in their bank what does that mean? It simply means that country will grow as a result of the huge amount taken to foreign land .Nigerians we should wake up and not forget where we are coming from.Mr Ben Bruce I really love your courage and it won’t be in vain God bless you!! God bless Nigerians!!!!

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    • Well said sir and may God continue to bless u. Having said that I don’t blv Buhari is waging a class war, he’s only trying possible ways of repairing years of damage & if people like you would 4get political affiliations & proffer solutions then we would be better for it, much as I think APC should stop propaganda &get down to biz, Jonathan cannot be absolved of blame bcos, the rot of yesterday under his watch is the hardship we are experiencing today
      . Wishing you many happy returns of many more years.

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  12. Your advice should not be seen as opposition. Your wise messages are actually what we need for this “one chance” government which we find ourselves. May God bless you as you unleash more. Cheerio.

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  13. You are sent by God. Your advice should not be seen as opposition. Your wise messages are actually what we need for this “one chance” government which we find ourselves. May God bless you as you unleash more. Cheerio.

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  14. I think any person opposed to this advice is an enemy of progress and a social damager, We need more of such common sense, Keep it up our beloved senator!

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  15. Ben Bruce is saying what we all know but which we lack courage to say or no platform to hear it. Fear of intimidation or security made many Nigerians withdraw into suffocating shell which shall manifest what we fear in no distant future. I appreciate your courage. Please inugurate commonsense club.

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  16. This is soul touching. You indeed feel what we feel. But never you relent in bringing the attention of these class to the issues at hand.

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  17. Thank you,you made some good points why some needs to be erase firstly Jonathan administration is to be blame for economy crisis today corruption lead by the administration makes the consequences reflect on buhari administration arms deal about 2.2 billion dollars used for campaign is aberration please don’t turn to criticised against buhari administration if you’re the president such can happen Good bless Nigeria

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  18. Well said sir,You are making good sense..

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  19. Ride on with your common sense sir

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  20. Sir
    I am practically ur no 1 fan,I really like d directn u r trying to take the country to. If only d presidency,governors,senators n so on will implement ur suggestns then things ll work well.
    As an applicant for 10 years,a graduate of psychology without Job,one of many pple in search of jobs it pains me the way things are going on in this country. The government doesn’t seem to care about Job creation but unnecessary travelling and childish utterances. I ll spend the whole day if I will pour my mind.
    May God keep you to touch the hearts of our leaders. HBD sir
    Anza 08060727082

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  21. U are really a blessing to this nation. It’s so unfortunate so many of our leaders haven’t understood Wat humanity is. U have helped so many people get to where dey are today , and u didn’t just stop at dat but u making a revolution through social media rather than violence dat has been d norm since.
    I hope some day nigerians would get this common sense , to know that its not about a persons political party , tribe or promise dey made, but the best man for the job!

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  22. I love every bit of this write up. Ninety five percent of the down trodden Nigerians will definitely love this.

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  23. blossom sir
    keep it up n may God release may fresh anointing upon u more grace n more wisdom n knowledge
    God bless u sir

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  24. Sir, with all due respect I admire you, it will make perfect #commonsense! If you just set up your own political party and contest as the next president 2019. Each time I read your post or article am inspired, but when I look at the party you belong to and the havoc they have done to the country, I feel sad (that does not mean this present goverment is helping issues). Thank you for ideas and article, God bless.

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  25. You are really a blessing to our generation. Every bit of your word makes REAL sense. God bless you richly my senator and most of all HAPPY BIRTHDAY my mentor

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  26. I hope there are no difference between the free copies & the sold ones!)?

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  27. still can’t find the ebook.

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  28. Good evening sir, how do I buy your lastest book.

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  29. I wish my voice can be heard. But I guess you are representing me (a common Nigeria) there very well. Sir, I’ve been following all ur comments concerning this country nd I found all appealing except 4 d Unilag student saga (:-)). I really appreciate u sir for that courage you have nd I pray you don’t relent in what you are doing, let them say wat eva they like, all I know is that you are saying the truth and u’ll live to see all your thoughts come true. Amen. I wish I could have a talk with you.

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  30. Ben Bruce, you are so intelligent. Thoroughbred, successful business man.God bless you for standing for the truth. You are awesome.

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  31. Thanks sir,for ur innovative ideas n ur educated mindset on issues about this nation. u are an inspiration to most young adults, particularly myself I pray God will make u realise ur visions personally n in the interest of dis great nation.#peace.

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  32. I think all this is a common sense

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  33. I want to download your common sense new book. How do I go about it?

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  34. Obasanjo saved a lot of money during his tenure, paid our debts, Sanusi was at it. I disagree that Okonjo Iweala was spectacular , under her watch we were running a bloated 75% recurent budget that we are now suffering from and Buhari ‘s carelessness has allowed its perpetuation.
    The critical mass (80 %)do not buy services or goods overseas, then if you must have dollar to spend then sell something in dollars. The dollars that comes from oil is commonwealth for railways, roads and power.
    Generally you make sense , but common sense from an elite point of view re your ATM reference.

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  35. You made your point sir! The legislative is the arm of government I feel it kills this country because of their allowances and others that make up 20 or more percentage of our national budget. I will suggest we make legislative a part-time service both in federal and states… Like we have members of parliament in our higher institutions being paid per sitting. And agitate for the scrap of local government council as we don’t feel their impact as part of the government.

    Happy bornday sir… You will live long and be toothless

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  36. Thank God you didn’t settle at the state level. Now we are sure that we have one person inside the national Assembly. I may not be from Bayelsa state where you officially represent, but you obviously represent our collective interest.

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  37. A very good message that Nigerians must adhere to these trying times.

    Senator, you’re a huge blessing to us.

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  38. Sir, you are truely a father. Thank you daddy Ben and I am really grateful for what you’ve thought me via this blissful truth article. May God Almighty continue to enlarge your wisdom palace and may He also bless and protect your household including the household of all your fans..Amen!

    I wish to see you face to face someday.

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  39. Nice piece, but “can anything good come out of ‘Nazareth’?” Let’s hope for the best.

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  40. This is good + I love your approach.
    I visited your website so I could download your book titled “common sense” which you said would be available here but I have been unable to find its location here sire.

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  41. Well spoken, always on point. I have been your fan right from your days as the DG of NTA. Because you boasted that NTA will go 24 hours before your first 100 days in office and you achieved it. An achievement only a dedicated, determined and focused mind can do. In addition, the height you took Silver bird group as the Director is so amazing.
    However you will be doing Nigerians good when you summon the courage and contest for the presidency because that is where your ideas will become a reality. As a senator your opinions are just one among so many particularly those from mediocre minds.
    MY NAME IS IWENWA ANTHONY AND I JUST WANT TO MAKE A COMMON SENSE.
    God bless Nigeria.

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  42. Corper Silver I pray you finish your youth service and join the labour force soon. So that you see the harsh reality of this current monetary policy. For now you understand nothing about it. Pls can you tell about BDH or LC window or even FOB. I don’t think you know about any bcos if you do, you wouldn’t have posted such comments.

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  43. Nice words of common sense.pls if you could make a common sense of a married woman in Nija who once she gets married is denied chances of getting a good career job al because she s married..she will then been asked to either start a business or go and teach.I don’t think it’s right cos am at a verge of choosing to leave marriage and purse my career job. If you can create or start a foundation for that so we women we know have someone with common sense trying to make sense..I would love to get a reply in what you think.#BenBruceforpresidency

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    • I think its all depend on whom you’re married to. If he really understand you with your chosen career, then it should’nt be an issue. Why must I deny my wife of her career job because of my own selfish interest?

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  44. This man is worth 100 trillion dollars, if given the opportunity to implement these ideas.
    I am in love with this, my cry and prayers is that God should bless Nigeria with many of your type. perhaps we will mistakenly have one as the president of this great nation someday.

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  45. sir, you are truly making sense Here, as you continue to fight for the voiceless and the poor, God will never cease to bless and preserve you.. thank u sir.

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  46. Hello Mr Murray, I love what you are doing, its timely. I hereby make a proposition that we kick off a Nation wide Common Sense Campaign (CSC) among youths. Using our State Bayelsa as a starting point. We already have a network of Young motivated Leaders who are passionate to make a change in this nation’s economy through grass root campaign as this so that when this set of young people take over, they will come in with new mindset.
    We can make this change together… just trying to make a common sense just like you. I love you sir. Thank you.
    John Uka O.
    South East Coordinator
    Advocate Centre for Children & Youth Welfare, Nigeria.

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  47. My mentor i always read ur post and get inspired by it. but how i wish the so call politicians will change 4rm dia EVIL WAYS knowing dat they will give acount 2 GOD who owns this nation Nigeria, THE SOUL THAT SINNETH SHALL DIE!!!

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  48. Wow this is a man ravishing resourcefulness!

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  49. I have been wondering why the so call POLITICIANS and so call RICH MEN in this Nation die mysteriously dispised dia money and going abroad 4 check up and tretment died dia and they bring back dia corpes home, sir indeed ur COMMON SENSE as opened my eyes to KNOW WHY! is bcos of the EVIL CRIME THEY COMMIT AND COVER UP IN THIS NATION AND PUNISHING THE MASSES BCOS OF DIA SO CALL MONEY SO WHEN THE POOR CAN’T FIGHT GOD FOUGHT BY PUNISHING THEM SO PLS ALL NIGERIN SO CALL UPPER HANDS REPENT OH!!!!!!!!!!!! PER SI SI!!!

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  50. Good pieces buh why didn’t you release the book 3-4years back. Maybe it wasn’t ready then or lease I forget your party (PDP) was in power!!!

    Like

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