The Lectern: Oil price fall, Naira devaluation and everything else

Very recently, there has been a lot of ginger around crude oil, naira, dollars, devaluation and how they together will be the death of us. While we have all appreciated the seriousness of the situation, a great majority of us have done so without any inkling of what all the gragra is about. What is this devaluation sef? Wetin concern me, concern central bank and external resaf? Shebi the oil don finish ni?

Chuba Ezekwesili in this month’s edition of The Lectern answers these and many more. That’s the small news. The big news is that he does it in as lay a combo of terms and illustrations as you will ever find in the econosphere. He titles it The Bricklayer’s Explanation…and indeed it is. Per chance you find yourself still confused after reading this, don’t lose heart. Just keep telling yourself that all is well; after all, it is not only the beautiful ones that are not yet born…Enjoy!

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That we might be read…

THE BRICKLAYER’S EXPLANATION TO OIL PRICE FALL, NAIRA DEVALUATION & EVERYTHING ELSE

So I logged onto Nigerian Twitter yesterday afternoon and found people abusing economists and financial analysts for speaking in jargons about the CBN’s actions. So for those who’re still confused about what’s going on with Nigeria’s economy and are trying to understand the implications, here’s a simplified version. No bricklayers were insulted in the writing of this post…at least, not explicitly.

So How Did This All Start?

First thing first, oil price fell. Why? Everyone’s increased their production of oil and no one plans on cutting back. In the US, shale oil’s getting cheaper, so there’s more oil out there…and we all know what happens when you have a lot more of a product — price falls. When price falls, consumers are happy and producers are unhappy. Consequently, nations that are consumers of oil have a lovely time, and oil producer countries …a not so lovely time.

So? What Does This Have to Do With the Naira?

Before we go on, a little info on currency and exchange markets. It’s important to note that our currency doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Essentially, a unit of our currency is exchanged for a unit of another currency. Hence the term, Foreign Exchange or Forex or FX, for short. When we buy products from outside Nigeria, we have to exchange our Naira for Dollars. Your Naira is useless outside of Nigeria. It’s why you convert your Naira to Dollars before you travel. You want to test it? Travel to Dubai with only Naira.

Back to the question you raised. Nigeria is fortunate(?) to be an oil producing nation…when oil prices are high. Presently, oil prices are not high and that’s bad for us. Nigeria’s economy is dependent on oil revenue: about 75% of Government revenue comes from our crude oil sales. So when oil prices fall, oil revenue falls too, and that’s bad for the economy.

In the currency market, exchange rates are often centered on the health of a country’s economy. When the economy of a country is strong, its currency is also strong in the foreign exchange market. When the economy appears to be weak, its currency loses value in the currency exchange rate. Nigeria’s dependent on oil, so when oil prices are weak, so our currency loses value in the foreign exchange market. This loss of value of Naira is called a ‘depreciation’ in currency value.

Here’s a simple example. If we began with a dollar exchange for a Naira, both are in a sense equal. However, once I have to give out 2 of my Naira for just 1 of your dollar then the value of Naira has fallen. In the past months, the exchange rate was $1 dollar to roughly N150. Thanks to depreciation and eventually devaluation (we’ll get to that later), it’s now $1 to N168.

Alright. I Get the Currency Part, But What Does Our External Reserves Have to Do with our Naira Value?

To explain this, we’ll have to look into what the External Reserves is and why it exists. Think of your External Reserves as a Savings account where you put some portion of your salary every month. That money gets saved for something later: paying your children’s university fees, buying a house, or importantly, in case things get bad in the future (perhaps you lose your job).

Likewise, countries keep these reserves, but mainly to safeguard the value of their domestic currency, boost their credit worthiness, protect against external shocks and provide a cushion for a rainy day when national revenue plummets. When Nigeria earns revenue from oil, it gets paid in dollars, so we simply stash a portion of the money in our reserves.

Moreover, the reserves of oil producing countries like Nigeria tend to benefit economically from higher oil prices. The higher the price of oil, the more money oil producing countries like Nigeria get to earn and save.

So if We Have an External Reserve, Why’re We Worried?

Well, having a bank account doesn’t mean you have money. We have a reserve, but our money no plenty. Nigeria has been dancing shoki with its reserves. When oil price was high, we apparently weren’t saving that much into our reserves. In fact, our reserves have been on a downward trend for years. We’ve been using our External Reserves to keep the value of Naira stable for months. When our currency appears to be falling, we take out some dollars from our external reserves and purchase Naira. Increased demand for Naira leads to increased value of Naira, and that’s how we stabilize our currency.

However, we sacrifice a portion of our External Reserves to pull this off. For instance, “while the central bank stepped in Nov. 7 to send the Naira to its biggest one-day gain in three years, intervening in the market has reduced foreign reserves to a four-month low of $37.8 billion.” In the last few months, even Russia with their large reserves had to devalue their currency by 23%.

So is This why Everyone Was Making Noise About CBN Devaluing the Naira?

Yes. Now there’s only so much spending from the reserves that the CBN can do, especially given that we’ve really sucked at growing our reserves when oil price was in the $100 range. It’s like when your office was paying you N100k, you were clubbing every weekend rather than saving some money. Then the minute your office decided to increase your income tax, that’s when your jobless relative comes to live with you too. So now, your salary is not only less, it’s burning faster cause there’s an extra mouth to feed.

The drop in oil price does not only send our currency downwards, it also makes it difficult for the CBN to defend our currency. It’s a double whammy. Essentially, if the CBN keeps trying to defend the rate at N150, it’ll burn through the reserves pretty fast and then we’ll be screwed. So relaxing this currency threshold to N168 means they can relax a bit. They don’t have to keep using as much of the reserves to prop up the Naira. If you’re still curious on how it all works, Feyi goes into the intricacies of devaluation in his fantastic post here.

Okayyy! I Think I Understand Now, But How Does This Affect Me?

Like many other economic events, devalution creates winners and losers. Let’s start with the losers. If you generate revenue in Naira and incur costs in dollars, this is a bad time for you. Any activity that has you converting Naira for Dollars will hurt you way more than a few months ago.

Let’s have a moment of silence for our Igbo brother who will be ‘importing containers’ this christmas. Life just got harder for them. Given that importers have to pay for their imported goods in dollars…and dollars just got more expensive, the cost of their goods have increased overnight.

Same thing happens to those tush parents who’ve got their kids in Nigerian schools that only accept their fees in dollars or Nigerians that have children schooling abroad. If you like flying, shopping or doing anything abroad, your cost of doing so has risen. On the contrary, if you earn in dollars and pay in Naira, life is looking pretty good at the moment.

Exporters also benefit. The fall in value of Naira means more exports because our exports have gotten cheaper. But ermm…what exactly are we exporting?

Phew. So It Doesn’t Affect Me Like That

Don’t be so sure. Nigeria’s an import-dependent nation, which means that most of what you purchase is produced abroad. I heard we import our toothpick too. If the prices of imports have risen, trust your Nigerian brothers and sisters to increase their prices too…leading to what’s popularly known as inflation.

I Was Hearing All These Oversabies Saying CRR, MPR. What Does This Mean?

CRR stands for Cash Reserve Ratio. It’s the proportion of what a bank can lend, to what it has in its coffers. So if the bank has N1000 and its ratio is 50%, can only use 50% of that money (N500) for business. Given that awon banks do not mess around with profit making, they will make sure that N500 brings back maximum profit. Banks are like the servant in Jesus’ parable that got 10 talents from his master, not the lazy one that got 1 talent. So to make max profit off the N500, they will raise interest rate if you want to borrow their money.

MPR stands for Monetary Policy Rate. The Central Bank uses the MPR to control base interest rate. The higher the rate, the less money in circulation. How? If interest rate is higher, will you borrow money from the bank knowing that you’ll pay much more later on? Nope. Instead, you’ll take your money from your pocket and give it to the bank, so they’ll make you more money.

Remember that thanks to devaluation, awon boys will be increasing prices left and right. General price increase in a given period leads to inflation. To tackle this, CBN increases CRR and MPR to reduce demand for money. This way, they prevent inflationary rise.

Okayy. I think I Understand That Part, So What’s This Austerity Thing Aunt Ngozi was Talking About?

That one is another long story. So, we’ve all been in situations when we’re broke. Ok, maybe just some of us. We adjust our lifestyle around the middle of the month when our salary hasn’t been paid. You go from eating jollof rice to drinking garri. When friends tell you to come out and party, you form ‘I’m very busy’.

Nigeria’s proposed austerity measures are similar…except on a grander scale. To cushion the effect of the falling crude oil prices, we have to cut back on spending and quite literally tighten our belts. The Government is cutting back on wastage (less government traveling and all that sort). The Government’s also raising taxes on luxury goods such as private jets, yachts and champagne. Somewhere in this luxury tax is the amusing observation that the revenue from taxes on the rich will still go back to the rich.

For the proletariat, the sweet subsidy you enjoy when you fuel your car will also get cut. Prepare to pay more for fuel. This is a good thing. Subsidy has to go anyways.

Wow. That was Long. So, Any Lesson to Learn from All This?

Yes. First lesson: Nigeria is the most reactive and least proactive nation you could’ve been born into. This isn’t the first time oil prices have fallen. Government should’ve gotten used to fluctuating oil price and prepared accordingly. And, since oil is the figurative oil in Nigeria’s economic engine, judicious and prudent management of oil revenue should’ve been practiced. However, we largely mismanaged our wealth during the time of booms and we’re now trying to behave ourselves in the time of slump. Let’s see how that goes.

The second lesson to be learnt is that we should’ve diversified our economic sources of revenue a long time ago to prevent price shock of primary products from affecting us drastically. Also, State Governments should’ve been pressured to increase their internally generated revenue much sooner. We can’t keep reacting to every economic shock that hits us.

Anyways, this is getting too long and no one probably got to the end, so no need for a witty or wise ending. But, if you reached this point, congrats! After spending all that time reading this, make sure you show off your new macroeconomic knowledge to your friends. And please, stop abusing econ-nerds. We have feelings too. Selah.

By

Chuba Ezekwesili

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Chuba Ezekwesili currently works for the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) as a Research Aanalyst. He enjoys reading up on matters pertaining to Economics and is an avid technology geek with a belief that the intersection of both can create immense economic development. You can find him at @chubaezeks on Twitter.

If you have a piece you would like to people to read from ‘The Lectern’, send it in a mail titled ‘The Lectern’ to ojukwumartin@gmail.com. If you just know that you want to ‘be read’ but can’t figure out what subject matter to write about, no wahala. Send me an email too and we can work up something for you. We must write…that we might be read.

I am @ojukwu_martin on twitter

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ON TOP D MATTER: Weeks 9 & 10 of the National Confab

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It’s been two weeks-plus since my last update ON TOP D MATTER of the ongoing National Conference and a lot has happened. WAW brings you recapitulated roll-call of events over the time since then…

  1. NGN3 Trillion Security Allocation:

On the 19th of May, Femi Falana, SAN, while contributing to a debate on the rescue of the abducted Chibok students, alleged that the government from 2010 to 2014, voted N3 trillion on security and expressed concern that nothing much has come out of it in the face of continued security challenges and ill- equipped nature of the country’s soldiers. He therefore urged his fellow delegates to demand that the government account for the manner in which this allocation was spent. His motion met stiff opposition from other delegates like Iyom Josephine Anenih, Chief Anayo Nnebe and Chief Mike Ahamba, SAN. No more was said on the proposed probe.

 

  1. Dead delegates and Replacements:

The National Conference sitting in Abuja was on the 5th of May, Monday hit by another sad news of the death of a delegate, Dr Mohammed Abubakar Jumare age 71, from Kaduna State. Dr Jumare who came to the Conference as an Elder Statesman died in the early hours of Monday in Abuja and was buried later in the day in Zaria. Until his death, he was Chairman of the Local Government Service Commission, Kaduna state. The confab you will remember had earlier lost retired police AIG Hamma Misau from Bauchi state.

Earlier on Tuesday, the 20th, two new delegates emerged to replace the two deceased delegates. They are ex-AIG Ahmed Ibrahim Baba and Alhaji Sidi Amin, who were introduced to other delegates after the committees reconvened for plenary.

 

  1. Extension By Four Weeks:

Vanguard reported that the Federal Government on Thursday, the 22nd of May extended the National Conference by four weeks to make up for lost time occasioned by many public holidays and the hosting of the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA). With this, the conference will now end on July 17, 2014 and not on June 17, 2014 as was scheduled.

Chairman of the conference, Justice Idris Kutigi, announced this to delegates, saying that after a meeting with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, the Federal Government agreed to grant the conference four weeks extension. He revealed that the conference had applied for six weeks to enable it cover some lost grounds but was instead granted four weeks. Deliberating on the issues, the conference secretariat suggested that sittings should also be held on Saturdays and Sundays.

However, delegates rejected the idea and suggested that two hours of lunch time should be reduced to one hour. Again, that was not taken as the secretariat use the two hours lunch time to prepare minutes of proceedings of the conference.

 

  1. Land:

The Land Tenure Matters and National Boundaries Committee has recommended the removal of the Land Use Act from the Constitution because its poor implementation has worsened land problems in the country.

According to the General A. B. Mamman-led committee, the new Constitution should give all Nigerians the right to have access to and own land irrespective of ethnic origin, class or gender as well as the right of communities to have land protected from human activities that would hinder or degrade the productivity of such land, through pollution and flooding.

It recommended the right of landowners to adequate compensation commensurate with current market value and social attributes of land in the event of acquisition by the government for public purpose, and that prior to government acquiring any land from any community, there must be compensation and when the government fails to use the land for a period of 10 years, it would forfeit the land and return it to the people.

 

  1. 13% Derivation for Oil-producing states:

The issue of percentage derivation of oil proceeds is presently at 13% for oil-producing states but it wasn’t that way as at the time inner-caucus proceedings commenced. Delegates majorly from the Niger-Delta pushed for a 50% derivation against the 13% which was status quo. Their counterparts from the North sought to further reduce the 13% to 5%. After debates, a resolution was agreed upon, leaving the derivation as it was for oil-producing states – at 13%. What this means is that for all oil proceeds remitted to the Federal Government, 13% would first be paid to oil-producing states as derivation, a certain percentage to the Federal Government for administration and the remaining percentage shared equally among all states including the oil-producing ones.

Speaking with Sunday Vanguard on the 24th of May, former governor of Akwa Ibom state, Obong Victor Attah who is the Co-Chairman, Committee on Devolution of Power, said the decision to retain the 13% derivation was taken to ensure that certain things were protected within the entity called Nigeria and to guard against what may lead to secession or further inflict wounds against the backdrop that the country was, at the moment, facing security challenges.

 

 

  1. $1 Trillion for Niger-Delta Clean-up:

SOUTH-SOUTH delegates yesterday decried the harm wrought on Niger-Delta environment by oil exploitation and demanded $1trillion about N160 trillion to clean up the region and save the inhabitants. The demand came on a day that Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark warned that Niger Delta might be wiped out without urgent clean up as delegates disagreed over the recommendations of the Committee on Environment.

Lamenting the untold hardship Niger Deltans living along the coastal lines face, he recalled that the United Nations had, in 2011, submitted a report to the Federal government stating that it would take 30 years and $20 billion to clean up the oil spills in the Niger Delta region. He said it was sad that it took the Federal Government two years to set up a committee to consider the report.

In her contribution, a Federal  Government delegate, Ms Annkio Briggs who urged the Federal Government to commence the process of clean-up of the Niger-Delta with initial budget of one trillion US Dollars,  stressed that what was happening in the region was destructive and caused by environmental pollution and degradation as a result of gas flaring and oil spillage.

 

  1. Northern Bid to Scrap NDDC, Niger-Delta Ministry Fails:

Attempts by northern delegates to adopt a proposal for scrapping the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, hit a brick wall as delegates overwhelmingly opposed the proposal. The North, in a position submitted by Professor Aishatu Madawaki, a delegate from Sokoto State, said the existing ministry and agency were a duplication of the Federal Ministry of Environment, since they were performing similar functions.

They proposed that in a situation where the ministry and agency were allowed to remain, then a similar body be created equally for the northern region to take care of its soil erosion, desert encroachment, desertification and deforestation, among other issues in the region. But the proposal did not sail through as delegates opposed it.

Speculations are rife that the bid was born of the drawn-out debates over the 13% derivation paid to oil-producing states from oil proceeds.

 

 

  1. Churches, Mosques Will Now Pay Tax:

DELEGATES at the on- going National Conference yesterday, the 27th of May voted to enlist churches, mosques and religious organizations into the tax net. If the recommendations of the Conference sail through the National Assembly, leaders of religious bodies will be subjected to paying of tax like other Nigerians, business men, government organisations and enterprises.

The decision to make religious bodies pay taxes came up when a delegate representing Civil Organisations, Mallam Naseer Kura in his contribution to the debate on the report observed that religious leaders were making much money and should be taxed.

Also in his contribution, a delegate representing the Nigeria Guild of Editors, Isaac Ighure frowned at the situation where according to him pastors and heads of churches make too much money with some of them owning private jets. “Some people buy private jets when people in their churches are suffering and living in abject poverty, they should be made to pay taxes,” he submitted.

The delegates in their deliberation on the report of the committee on religion also voted that federal and state governments should stop the sponsorship of Islamic and Christian pilgrimages.

A move to scrap Islamic and Christian pilgrims’ boards however, led to an uproar which forced the conference leadership to move the vote on the issue to today, the 28th.

Delegates also rejected a motion for setting aside Fridays as free working days when the matter came up for voting.

 

 

  1. Will Delegates Fast For Nigeria?

Earlier yesterday, a delegate, Prof. Yusuf Turaki had blamed both Northern political and religious leaders for allowing Boko Haram insurgents to fester in the region. Turaki, who spoke while making his contribution to the debate on the report of the conference Committee on Religion at the plenary on Tuesday, warned that Northern Nigeria is at the brinks of collapse and ruin solely on account of religious extremism, militancy, fanaticism and bigotry.

Also contributing, a delegate from Benue State, Senator Jack Tilley-Gyado, suggested that delegates should observe a three-day fast to seek the face of God concerning many sins being committed by those in authority, including past leaders some of whom he said were part of the ongoing conference.

“Please don’t serve lunch for three days” he implored, “We will achieve peace and those who are overweight will lose weight. We should go back and create the middle class. I know that no human beings can equal the Holly Books. But we are not reading them, we are not practicing them”.

 

Will the delegates go with this fast agenda?

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Today and the next three days will tell…

 

 Mention me @ojukwu_martin on twirra

 

ON TOP D MATTER: Weeks 7&8 of the National Confab

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In light of the recent Boko happenings, our ON TOP D MATTER episode did not feature for last week. However, you did not miss much. Delegates are still in their various committees trashing out peculiar issues and hopefully will have resolutions to present the full house at the expiration of the committee meetings. Here is a Premium times report for some very ‘juicy’ – so juicy it’s oily – gist still hot from today’s proceedings in one of the committees. Enjoy…

 

The northern and southern delegates in the Committee on Devolution of Power of the National Conference again, on Monday, failed to agree on the issue of revenue sharing and derivation fund.

After several hours of a closed-door session, the Committee merely took contributions from its members, which would be discussed on Tuesday with a view to taking decisions on the issues.

While the northern delegates demanded the reduction of derivation fund to five per cent from 13 per cent and should be limited to only onshore, their southern counterparts, particularly from the South-South geo-political zone, asked for its upward review to 50 per cent.

The fund is paid to the nine oil producing states in the country in accordance with Section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution. The states are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Imo and Ondo.

 

The northern delegates also called for the scrapping of interventionist institutions and agencies like the Ministry of Niger Delta, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Amnesty Programme for ex-militants and the c-Component of the SURE-P.

The co-chairman of the Committee, Victor Attah, told journalists after its session that it would announce its resolutions and conclusion on some of the issues on Tuesday.

“Every member of this committee has now made his or her contribution to the discussion on resource control, including the two co-chairmen,” Mr. Attah, a former governor of Akwa Ibom, said. “We have given ourselves assignment of what to go and look out for. By tomorrow, hopefully, we will reach a conclusion on those matters and we will be able to announce resolution and conclusion.”

A member of the Committee, Eddy Erhagbe, said during the stormy discussion there was a gradual move towards consensus on the retention of the 13 per cent as derivation fund to the oil and gas producing states.

He, however, said a committee was constituted to harmonise the contributions of the members and present reports to it.

“Everybody has now spoken on the issue of revenue sharing and on the matter of derivation. There were different positions by members of the committee but the two chairmen have summarised. The situation now is that we are most likely going to agree on a number of issues. The extremes have been narrowed down to a large extent,” Mr. Erhagbe said. “Some issues that have to do with the sharing formula have been agreed upon both the horizontal and the vertical and a small committee is going to make recommendations as to monies that will be put aside for development. But on the critical issue of resource control, as regards 13 per cent for now, there is gradual move towards consensus on it. It is expected that we are not going to go below where we are now but there could be the possibility of going up while other provisions will be made to make sure that other sections are taken care of.”

 

Juicy gist, I said…as our good ol’ crude oil continues to be an issue. Till next week, good readers. Don’t slip on the oil!

Mention me @ojukwu_martin on twitter

BLAME GAME: BLAME WHO?

At about 2pm on the 3rd of April, I alighted from a bus under the Ojuelegba bridge. I came upon another bus parked just by the side of the road, with school children stuffed into it. My use of the word ‘stuffed’ is no accident because these children were not sitting; they were not even standing or ‘lapping’ – they were just stuffed. The phrase, ‘packed like sardine’ immediately came to mind as they were bundling themselves into the bus, stepping on feet and hands and bags, clawing, pulling each other down so as to get on, biting and yelling.

The driver of the bus sat calmly in his seat doing nothing, waiting; the conductor stood a safe distance away from the chaos waiting for them to ‘arrange demsef finish’ and when it looked like the open door wasn’t space enough to let them in, he opened the rear compartment. And of course, some of the uniformed mob broke away and commenced another regime of chaos trying to get into the bus through the boot.

A number of bystanders and passers-by tried yelling at the children to behave themselves and look for another bus but if you have ever seen a starving dog just thrown a bone, you should have an idea of just how much attention the children paid to the rebuke. While I watched, thoroughly harassed on their behalf, a police van cruised past, very slowly. Through the wound down windows and from the rear of the pick-up van, the Nigerian policemen observed the ruckus. Without braking for even the minutest of seconds, the van cruised on by.

It was at this point that I took out my phone and took the pictures below. While I took the pictures, many of the bystanders made cracks; some called me ‘Reporter!’, and one looking like a black Toyin-tomato snickered, “Don’t put us on Facebook oh”

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In that situation, I played no blame games. I did not blame the president or any minister, neither did I blame the policemen – they must have been chasing armed robbers in slow motion. I also did not blame the bystanders or passers-by whose actions could be aptly summarized as an occasional rebuke, snicker, sigh and/or shake of head; what else could they have done?

I did not blame the bus driver or his conductor – it was just business. And I certainly did not blame the children – the bus was clearly charging a subsidized rate and many of them must have had little or no transport fares; those who might have had enough must have been saving it for a roadside treat or the rainy day.

I threw no blames.

On the night of Monday, 14th of April, 107 girls (ages between 15 and 18) were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents from Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS), Chibok, Bornu state. On Wednesday, the military spokesperson at the Defence Headquarters, Major General Chris Olukolade, issued a statement claiming that most of the girls had been rescued, with only eight still missing for whom the search was still on. He also claimed that a member of the Boko Haram sect that participated in the abduction was also nabbed by the military.

Reports from the Principal of the school and Executive governor of the state are however, contradictory. The Principal, Mrs. Asabe Kwambura, told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday morning that the military’s claim was false.

“There is nothing in the military statement that is true about our abducted girls,”  Mrs. Kwambura said. “Up till now we are still waiting and praying for the safe return of the students; all I know is that we have only 14 of them, and the security people especially the Vigilante and the well meaning volunteers of Gwoza are still out searching for them.”

Borno state’s Governor Shettima was also quoted by the BBC Hausa service that same Thursday morning faulting the claims of the military.

He reportedly said, “We have recovered 14 of the girls and we have announced a N50 million reward for any credible information that will help us get our girls released and rejoined with their families.”

In this situation, I still play no blame games. Because where would one start and where, stop? Does one blame the government – their blame calendar is booked full a whole year in advance, or the military – they are always ‘doing their best’? Or does one blame the parents for letting their children out of their sights, the principal for taking the children in to write their WASSCE, or the girls for not running fast enough away from the abductors?

You could even choose to leave all human elements out of it by blaming the weather. Or a societal system so marred that the value of a child is non-existent. Or if you care, a society where human life battles fashion and food for a position on the scale of preference after crude oil, money, pride and politics.

For me, I still will not be part of the blame game.

Like a local wrestler, I dump all of the blames down in the center of the ring. And I turn around and walk away; he who has the strength, let him pick up and throw.