The Naira vs the President’s Cows and Herdsmen

Penny Wisdom

By Emeka Uzoatu

I don’t know about you but some ‘jingle, jangle’ mornings I just wake up to the sweet embrace of ageless nursery rhymes. If nothing, these serve to posit one back in time. However many years one has totalled, one just just felt like a poet, or two. You know, like the ageless one who yet puked; or the other in such a disposition and saw himself in ‘his mother’s laps, a sapling’.

Well, this very morning didn’t exactly end up one of those when a guy wakes up to the melody of Twinkle twinkle little star… Much rather, I’d awoken still listening in to the ebbing echoes of yesterday’s rhyme. But strangely, it was being sung with different lyrics:

Nigerian Naira sat on the wall

Nigerian Naira had a great fall

All the president’s cows

And all his herdsmen

Could never put it together again… 

Indeed, to hard-boiled patriots like us, the fate of our national currency corrugates our brows each time we chance upon the wake of its bounce in the international exchange market. In fact, for some time now it has transmuted into the major task before all our governments. At least since our latest democratic dispensation.

When Olusegun Obasanjo took over in the khaki-to-agbada transition that has been it’s bane, the rate though already damaged enough did not raise much eyebrows. At least not the much it did when Goodluck Ebele Jonathan took over at the demise of Musa Yar’adua.

Suddenly what had reared its ugly head at the introduction or the 2nd-tier foreign exchange market under IBB came home to roost. Back then, perhaps, all it took was some acrobatic leg overs of the political kind to keep the ship of state on course.

Anyway, because oil money yet boomed back then, the effect kept being rolled over. Never mind that the windfall that accrued from the Gulf War boom wasn’t that well accounted for. This, as well as many more, succeeded in making us pariah in the comity of nations.

Till came PMB in a blaze of glory. Campaigning for an apparent last time, he arguably started out with too many trump cards – no pun intended. Apart from the payment of stipends to the unemployed, he had also boasted of making the Naira exchange one-on-one with the US Dollar.

These and the rest of the find promises he, no doubt, could have easily achieved but for foresight. Like some veritable highlife maestros had put to song, anyone calculating a project’s gains should never lose sight of the loss quotient in every investment.

And so as soon as body language took the backseat, parameters took a change for the worse. First the price of crude our foremost foreign exchange earner crashed for permutation of other reasons. That’s before the insuperable novel Corona Virus took office.

Nowhere else has this played out better than in the oil industry curiously managed by the president himself. This has seen all efforts to unbundle the behemoth hitting the wall. Also, a subsidy removal scheme put in place by their predecessors and pilloried as corruption by them has only just been resumed after a five-year hiatus.

And now we are stewed in an unprecedented pot. On top of it all, the Naira that never got to 90 Naira to a Dollar under Abacha when oil revenue was even more dismal is now playing a will o’ the wisp with the 500 Naira to the Dollar ceiling.

Viewed however else, this appears to be the crux of the matter concerning the better life of the country’s economy. That is, apart from the approaching threat of insurgency. And while the former may be crucial by all intent, the latter has the greater propensity to even stand nation on its head.

A concern so pertinent that it has even gone viral despite efforts at gagging it. Making it a goal sans argumentation that the earlier the government of the day retracted their already extended forefoot, the much better it would be for the economically-foundering country.

But with the current dilapidation the country is presently enraptured in, there has been a corresponding rise in cynicism. Like one of its latest converts affirmed in a tete-a-tete the other day over the nursery rhyme of the moment.

According to him, when Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall, it was the king’s horses and men that took to putting him together. Full of a pity and half that they failed, he was adamant that our own case was worse off. Why, because, in his words, in our situation all our leader has to offer are his cows and herdsmen.

And, not surprisingly, they are ever busier in all the ‘abandoned’ forest reserves in the country in search of territories to claim from their original owners. Cultivated farms provide ready fodder for the animals. The farmers complain to their peril. 

Guess by now you can guess why the Naira is floundering?

Emeka Uzoatu, a seasoned journalist and writer, is the editor of He writes the occasional column, Penny Wisdom.