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The  Nigerian Man Who Developed Cancer goggles That Makes Cancer Treatment Easier

 

Samuel Achilefu, PhD is a Nigerian-born Professor of Radiography and Biomedical engineering at Washington University.  Achilefu  and his team developed cancer goggles that aided  surgeons  to see clearly  and remove cancer cells.


When dye is injected into a patient’s tumor, cancerous cells glow when viewed with the goggles and infrared light. The technology, which awaits further testing, has been used successfully on patients to ensure no stray tumor cells remain after surgery. 


Achilefu, who was installed Jan. 28 as the Michel M. Ter-Pogossian Professor of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine, also is a Siteman Cancer Center research member. He and his wife, Nnena, have been married 21 years. They have a daughter, Chisara, 19, who attends Washington University, and son, Kelechi, 16. 
Achilefu won the prestigious  St. Louis Award for his cancer-seeing glasses. Achilefu, 53, discussed his journey from childhood to the development of his cancer-seeing goggles, to what he hopes is yet to come.

 


Image result for samuel achilefu



Tell us about your youth


I was born in northern Nigeria in the 1960s to Igbo parents. My dad worked in hospitals and clinics in the northern part of Nigeria until the civil war broke out in 1967. I was only 4 or 5 at the time. We had to migrate from the north to our ancestral home in the east, where our tribe, called the Igbos, live. That’s where we stayed until the civil war ended in 1970.



As a young boy, what did you think of that experience?


You just wondered why you went from having everything to having almost nothing. Fortunately, my uncle housed us and made us comfortable when we migrated back like refugees. It felt weird to go from having a house with a room you call your own to having to share with many people. After about a year, my dad built a house where we settled.



How have your cultural and familial traditions influenced you?


Respect for elders is supreme. We don’t call them by their first names; you have to use a courtesy title. Another tradition I appreciate is the belief that hard work pays off. Nobody’s going to care for you unless you take a step forward on your own. Community service is a virtue I cherish.




You’re a prolific researcher and academic writer. Perhaps that’s another way your culture has influenced you?


My dad was a model for that. I wish he were still alive today. Every day at 5 o’clock he was up. He would do prayer with the family, then do household chores before leaving for work. When he came back, he made sure everybody had their homework done. He was either reading or listening to news or writing. He was the epitome of a smart and hard worker. It was in his DNA. He had an incredible passion for learning. With limited resources, his mom struggled to put him through elementary school in an era when strong and brave youngsters like him were strongly encouraged to hunt and farm. My mom also worked hard. She anchored the family, instilling self-discipline and ethical standards in our lives.




Yes, your mother came from Nigeria last year when you received the St. Louis Award, a recognition of the positive reflection your achievements have had on the community.


Her visit brightened my day when I received the award. During my childhood, my mom carried the burden of raising me. The civil war separated my dad and mom geographically for about 18 months. My mom didn’t know if my dad and elder siblings were alive or dead. It was a terrifying time. She showed strength. We knew she was dying inside, but she never showed weakness by worrying aloud where my dad was or when he would come back. My heart melted when I saw her crying profusely one day. We were dislodged from our home in the east because the area became a war front. We walked for days, trying to find safety somewhere and sleeping in public camps like refugees. She then saw a relative with his entire family in the same camp. That was when she broke down in tears – “Where is my husband and other kids?” God bless her. I’m glad she stayed strong for us.



After the war ended, what was life like for your family?


Many families lost loved ones in the war. We didn’t, and we were grateful for this outcome. As a child, I was aware of the dangers of booby traps everywhere and that a simple trip to the store could be your last. Our family came back together intact. It was a huge relief for me. My dad was big on education. He wanted to make sure we continued with school. The war delayed everyone by a number of years. I was one of the few fortunate students allowed to jump classes based on performance so I could catch up to where I belonged. What are some other memories?




What are some other memories?


We had to make our own toys, which I enjoyed. I also loved the folk stories we heard, playing at night under moonlight, experiencing community life, and learning my native Ibo language. If there is a silver lining at all, the civil war provided me the opportunity to live in a village setting for three years, appreciate the opportunities I have today, and realize that nothing is permanent. I also learned how artistic people can be. They were able to create something out of nothing – baskets from trees and fans from small nylon fibers.





What was your path forward?


I was very fortunate. After attending college in Nigeria, I was one of five Nigerians who received a French government scholarship to attend graduate school in France, where I received a PhD in molecular and materials chemistry at the University of Nancy.





How did radiology enter your plans?


Imaging science was not part of my career plan, which is why I tell our graduate students that a PhD is a license to explore new frontiers in research and teaching. Your initial training is not a confining factor. A PhD represents a higher calling. It’s a doctor of philosophy because we are all philosophers. The training empowers you to believe you can find solutions to larger questions. Imaging wasn’t in the picture when I did my postdoctoral training at Oxford University in England, either. I trained in the interface between chemistry and hematology, working on developing blood substitutes. The research focused on applying some concepts from my graduate training to design and develop molecules that could efficiently trap and selectively release oxygen for use as blood substitutes in critical-care settings.




What convinced you to come?


First, loyalty – my mentor was so nice to me I couldn’t say no – and then an incredible opportunity. Working in the Discovery Research Department was like working at a university without having to write grant proposals. Naturally, I did not want to move from academia to industry, but my seven-year span there provided me a wealth of unique experiences that have guided my research in academia today. You’ve said your cancer goggles were partially inspired by tracers on cruise missiles in the Persian Gulf War. Talk about how past experiences can spark a potential solution for a seemingly unrelated problem.


I approach scientific problems by framing them into testable hypotheses. Then I explore different approaches to solve the problem. If additional expertise is needed, I search for the best collaborators to fill the gap. We then design the best experimental method to address the question, guided by our hypothesis. This strategy is not confining; it can be applied in diverse areas of life endeavors. Washington University is a great place for idea incubation and collaboration, opening doors to applying known concepts to new areas of research.


What else are you working on?


I want to play a role in eradicating cancer or making it a manageable disease. Toward this goal, we have developed a new approach to kill cancer cells, independent of the cancer type. There is a method of killing cancer with light – photodynamic therapy. People use it to treat superficial cancers, such as skin cancer, because the cancer has to be reachable by light to activate a light-sensitive drug. Or you can use an endoscope to introduce light to activate and kill cancer cells inside the body. We’ve discovered a new approach of using existing radiopharmaceuticals to create a light source within the tumor cells. The light stimulates the light-sensitive drug in cancer cells, converting them into highly toxic drugs. Meanwhile, negative effects on neighboring healthy tissue are minimized. We have tested this concept with success in animal models of cancer and plan to move into human studies in future.



What nonscientific interests are on your to-do list?


Looking back at my childhood, I remember seeing some exceptionally smart kids in the village school I attended during the Nigerian civil war. But they never had the opportunity to move forward. Can you imagine what the world would look like if they had the opportunity to fulfill their dreams? This thought has haunted me through my adult life. My dad sponsored many students when he was alive. I would like to do the same for college students, but in a different way. I envision creating an institute for global innovation in education and training, with talent searches for smart kids in low-resource areas of the world playing a central role. Depending on resources, a specified number of these kids will be identified yearly for comprehensive training and support through college. Regional centers will allow us to work directly with the locals. I also would like to inspire young ones to attain greater heights. I am sure these events will keep me busy through life!

 

credit:  Washington University

February 10, 2017       Washington, DC

Ex-President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan Meets with the “Nigerian-American Leadership Council (NAL Council)”, in Washington, DC



On Thursday February 2, 2017, Nigeria’s former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, met with executives of the Washington-based NAL Council at the US Congress, Washington, DC.


Dr. Jonathan was in Washington to address members of the US Congress’s Africa Sub-Committee/Foreign Affairs Committee, Chaired by US Congressman Chris Smith.  Dr. Jonathan seized the opportunity to apprise US policy-makers and the NAL Council on the current state of affairs in Nigeria; his interest in maintaining political stability in the country; and a brief account of his stewardship and achievements while in office.



The meeting was facilitated by the Africa Sub-Committee at the US Congress.  The Congressional Africa Sub-Committee saw the need for Dr. Jonathan’s additional interaction with the NAL Council as an opportunity, for a frank exchange of ideas, between one of the most influential policy-advisory organizations in the US-Nigeria & Sub-Saharan Africa policy space; and one of Africa’s emerging leading Statesmen, in the guise of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. 




It is anticipated that the closed-door exchange will spur plausible solutions for Nigeria’s ongoing political and economic crisis. 



In his brief, Dr. Jonathan outlined some of his numerous achievements in office, including substantial attempts to alleviate poverty in Northern Nigeria, while keeping the peace in the Niger Delta; through the establishment of educational and skills acquisition centers in Northern Nigeria, among other laudable initiatives.



In his response, the Executive Director of NAL Council, Mr. Okey Mbonu, applauded Dr. Jonathan’s achievements while in office.  Mbonu praised Dr. Jonathans unquestionable commitment to the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria, by being the first democratically elected president to concede power to an opposition party in Africa’s largest democracy. 



Mr. Mbonu advised the former President on the Council’s non-partisan approach to its work, which included assisting to craft US Policy towards Nigeria, and Sub-Saharan Africa, in the interest of both Nigeria and the United States.  Mr. Mbonu further maintained that the Council’s work transcends partisan affiliations, with the ultimate goal of facilitating a mutually beneficial relationship between the US and Nigeria.



RC Charles, Media Relations                                                                                                                                               
NAL Council Washington, DC (Nigerian-American Leadership Council)
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Nigerian immigrants in America have its largest population in Houston, Texas and that is where the super bowl 2017 is taking place.  And the son of Nigerian immigrant, Martin Ndubuisi Ifedi will be playing in the super bowl representing Houston, his city of birth, Nigeria and Africa.



One can say without equivocation that the most important date in the National football league (NFL) calendar is the boisterous super bowl. “The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL), the highest level of professional American football in the world. The game is the culmination to a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year.”  More than 100 million people around the world are expected to watch super bowl game.



Houston (Tx) Westside and University of Memphis graduate “Martin Ifedi will experience a football player's dream Feb. 5 at NRG Stadium, representing the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl, less than 20 miles from his alma mater,” playing against energetic New England patriots.



“A defensive end, Martin has competed against the league's leading offense in practice and contributed to a six-game winning streak. The Falcons won the NFC with an 11-5 record and defeated Seattle and Green Bay, the latter 44-21 in the NFC championship game. Atlanta reached its second Super Bowl, including a 1999 loss to the Denver Broncos.”




“Martin was drafted by the then-St. Louis Rams in 2015, a seventh-round pick from Memphis. He holds the Tigers' career sack record with 22 ½, highlighted by a junior season of 11 ½ sacks and 14 ½ tackles for loss and all-American Athletic Conference honors in 2013 and 2014.






He contributed to a one-season improvement from 3-9 to 10-3 by his senior year. Off the field, Martin was an all-academic selection, Allstate AFCA Good Works Team nominee and winner of Memphis' Zach Curlin Award, given to the school's top male student-athlete. Martin played during preseason games with the Rams and later spent time on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' practice squad. Prior to being signed by the Falcons, he was back at Westside between holiday breaks offering advice to Wolves players.”  (Houston Chronicle)



During his college days, playing as University of Memphis defensive end, Martin was named to   Lombardi Award watch list in 2014. And being in super bowl is a result of his vim athleticism and God watching over him.


Germain Ifedi Ifedi Family of Umuoji, Anambra State



Martin Ifedi is not the only Ifedi in NFL, his younger brother Germain Ifedi made the first round pick of the American National Football League (NFL) 2016 and was drafted by Seahawk Seattle. Their parents Ben and Victoria Ifedi are immigrants from Umuoji, Anambra State, Nigeria.



Image result for emeka chiakweluEmeka Chiakwelu is the Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning, including tagteam Harvard Education. www.afripol.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



Credits: Houston Chronicle, wikipedia. Afripo

Prince Harry may be a British royal, but he feels most at home at a location a little further south.



That place is Africa, a continent Harry has traveled to (and worked in) multiple times over the past 20 years. His first visit came just after his mother’s death in 1997, when his father, Prince Charles, took him and his brother, Prince William, to clear their heads after tragedy. Now, he makes the trek annually.



“My dad told my brother and me to pack our bags—we were going to Africa to get away from it all,” he told Town & Country in their February cover story. “My brother and I were brought up outdoors. We appreciate nature and everything about it. This is where I feel more like myself than anywhere else in the world.”



His most recent trip to Africa came this past August, when he visited Malawi to participate in the 500 Elephants relocation project with non-profit conservation group Africa Parks. Town & Country documented Harry’s time in Malawi over six days of his three week trip in the thick of the animals’ migration — one of the largest human-led relocations in history.




The 500 elephants and 2,000 other animals — a mixture of buffaloes, zebras, warthogs and others — were relocated from an area where they’re in high supply to another park, Nkhotakota, where the population has diminished due to poaching.



Harry became acquainted with African Parks in the summer of 2015, but this is his first time working with them on-site. The organization works not only with animal conservation, but with preserving Africa’s wildlife habitats — many of which cannot be sustained without a wildlife population.



“I completely fell in love with African Parks, because they get things done,” he said. “They make tough decisions, and they stick to principles.”



In the group, Harry is just one of the crew — people even address him as such, by his first name! He sleeps in the same tents, and wakes up with the sun like the rest of them.




“I love spending time with these guys,” he told T&C of the experience. “Night after night, chewing the fat around the fire, about the pros and cons of the legalization of rhino horn, or the historic migratory paths of elephants, or the population explosion on the African continent. And also conservation back home, which is hugely important.”




Harry’s passion for conservation isn’t the only thing that keeps him coming back to Africa. He says when he’s there, his mood shifts, his worries float away — in particular, due to the anonymity he’s able to have there.




“I wish I could spend more time in Africa,” he said. “I have this intense sense of complete relaxation and normality here. To not get recognized, to lose myself in the bush with what I would call the most down-to-earth people on the planet, people with no ulterior motives, no agendas, who would sacrifice everything for the betterment of nature… I talk to them about their jobs, about what they do. And I learn so much.”
And of course, he takes what he does in Africa and brings it back to Britian, too.


“I go home and bang the drum. So that we can all try to make a difference.”

 

 

credit: dianapearltimeinc


Forbes  Business Magazine  reported that " Paystack, one of Nigeria's most hotly anticipated tech start-ups, has just secured $1.3M Seed investment from both international and homegrown investors. The company, founded by Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi, initially caught the eye of industry commentators as it was one the first Nigerian tech company to be accepted into the world-famous Y Combinator progam, based in Silicon Valley. Since then, having taken Paystack through Private beta, and securing $120,000 early-stage investment from Y Combinator, Akinlade [CEO] and Olubi [CTO] have quietly been building the company, working to secure this Seed investment round, whilst also building a network of partner merchants in Nigeria, over 1,500, who are now using the platform to accept online payments."




The statement said Paystack’s platform solved the considerable challenges of online payment transactions in Nigeria by seamlessly connecting all multi-channel payment options with merchants across the country. It allows merchants to accept payments from around the world via credit card, debit card and bank transfer on web and mobile.



Paystack is “platform agnostic”, meaning it does not favour one payment platform over another, which the company said was unique in the “very fragmented” African fintech landscape.
Merchants who sign up for Paystack can receive live payments from customers within 30 minutes of integration and the product allows for recurring billing, it added.


Launched in 2015 by Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi, the company runs its operations from Silicon Valley and Lagos, Nigeria. The statement said plans for the funding included building the engineering team in Lagos, expanding sales and marketing operations and accelerating product development.


Akinlade, Paystack chief executive, said: “We have built and refined a product for Africa that we hope will act as a catalyst for the continent’s online economy.“We know Africa’s digital economy has potential, many billions of dollars of potential, we simply need to unlock it and make businesses work better, faster and more effectively. Paystack will do this.”



Many Nigerian youths are making  breakthroughs on technology starups and innovations.  The bright side of Nigeria's declining economy attracted Facebook founder Zuckerberg to Nigeria earlier this year.



"As Techpoint, a Nigerian tech blog, reported, more than fifteen managers and executives of Nigerian background work with and around Zuckerberg at the world’s largest social networking site, occupying a range of high-profile roles. Among the most prominent are Emeka Afigbo, who handles strategic product partnerships for Facebook in sub-Saharan Africa and Ime Archibong, Facebook’s director of strategic partnerships. Back in May, Archibong and Afigbo led a Facebook delegation to launch the company’s Free Basics—a service that aims to help more people access the internet at no cost—in Nigeria. Afigbo, in particular, is said to be one of Zuckerberg’s trusted advisers on growing the company in Africa. He’s believed to have influenced Zuckerberg’s decision to back Lagos-based coder training center Andela. Before Facebook, Afigbo and Archibong worked at Google and IBM respectively."

 

credits:  ANA, Forbes, Quartz

Africa is rising! It happened first in Nigeria, then Benin Republic, Zambia, Guinea and now Gambia.  What all these nations have in common is the concession of power by their  respective presidents in democratic elections.


President Yahya Jammeh, the strongman who has sternly ruled Gambia for longtime of 22 years has conceded defeat to opposition leader Adama Barrow, and have accepted that the people have "decided that I should take the back seat".



President Jammeh, who came to power in 1994 as a 29-year-old army officer following a military coup, had won four previous polls. But this time around the opposition  leader Adama Barrow defeated him in a peaceful election. This will mark the first in the history of Gambia that power is transfer peacefully without violence. Gambians voted by placing marbles into drums marked with names and pictures  of each candidate.



Addressing the people of  Gambia on the state  television late on Friday, Jammeh congratulated Barrow for his "clear victory", saying: "I wish him all the best and I wish all Gambians the best."


Image result for Adama BarrowVictorious opposition leader Adama Barrow



Jammeh continued: "If [Barrow] wants to work with us also, I have no problem with that. I will help him work towards the transition," he said, confirming that he would not contest the result. Barrow's victory in Thursday's presidential election brings to an end Jammeh's 22-year rule.




Former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan commended President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia for conceding defeat to opposition leader Adama Barrow.  His words:


‘I commend President Yahya Jammeh for conceding to Mr. Adama Barrow, who won majority votes during Gambia’s Presidential election. This is an exemplary conduct which is worthy of emulation and Africa is very proud of Mr. Jammeh. In the eyes of many, myself included, he stands taller today than at any other time during his twenty two years in office. It is my hope that his legacy of advancing the progress of The Gambia in all fronts over the years will be remembered and appreciated by all.”



The former president Jonathan started this prevailing trend in Africa by conceding to President Buhari in 2015. And he was recommended for Nobel Peace Prize for averting violence and bloodshed in Nigeria.

 

The former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obsanjo  spoke at the first annual lecture of Akintola Williams Foundation in Lagos and  reacted on the state of the economy . He “said it was uncharitable for the present administration to be blaming past governments that had served since 1999, noting that only a comprehensive framework would save the country. Obasanjo, who spoke on the theme: Nigeria, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Governance and Accountability, observed that Nigeria had the right people, who could be brought together to help device the right economic policy that would get the country out of the current economic woes.”


Chief Obasanjo  words:
“Again, now we are being told the projects will pay themselves when we know damn well they will not. If we borrow some thirty billion dollars in less than three years, we would have mortgaged the future of Nigeria for well over thirty years to come. There may also be the problem of absorptive capacity which will surely lead to waste. A careful scrutiny of the projects with prioritisation and avoidance of waste and taking into account avoiding bunching of debt service in future especially when no one can accurately forecast the global and national economy will indicate less than thirty per cent of the foreign loan being requested as prudent. We must not be unmindful of internal borrowing either. It impacts somewhat differently on the economy but it must not be allowed to crowd out the ability of the private sector to borrow to grow the real economy which is to lead us out of the recession.If we do not fix the economy to relieve the pain and anguish of many Nigerians, the gain in fighting insurgency and corruption will pale into insignificance. 


He continues:
“No administration can nor should be comfortable with the excruciating pain of debilitating and crushing economy. Businesses are closing, jobs are being lost and people are suffering. I know that President Buhari has always expressed concern for the plight of the common people but that concern must be translated to workable and result-oriented socio-economic policy and programme that will turn the economy round at the shortest time possible. We cannot continue to do the same thing and expect things to change. That will be a miracle which normally doesn’t happen in normal national economies. We have people inside and outside who can be brought together to help device the right economic policy and programme to get us out of the pit before we fall over the precipice into a dark cave 



Chief Obasanjo further emphasis:
“The blanket adverse comments or castigation of all democratic administratios from 1999 by the present administration is uncharitable, fussy and uninstructive. Politics apart, I strongly believe that there is a distinction between the three previous administrations that it would be unfair to lump them all together. I understand President Buhari’s frustration on the state of the economy inherited by him. It was the same reason and situation that brought about the cry for change, otherwise, there would be no need for change if it was all nice and rosy



Obasanjo concluded by emphasizing on having a credible  economic policy:


“Now that we have had change because the actors and the situation needed to be changed, let us move forward to have progress through a comprehensive economic policy and programme that is intellectually, strategically and philosophically based. I am sure that such a comprehensive policy and programme will not support borrowing US$30 billion in less than three years. It will give us the short-, medium- and long-term picture.”

credit: Charles Kumolu of Vanguard


The Swedish Nobel Academy did something it has never done before; it awarded a Nobel Prize in literature to a songwriter/singer. The man that needs no introduction in the world of American folklore songs is Bob Dylan has now become a Nobel laureate. 



But the most interesting thing, If not amusing is since the announcement of the Nobel award to Dylan; he has not been reached by the Swedish academy. According to the spokesperson of the academy, the phone calls they have been making have not been answered, neither the messages returned or acknowledged. Dylan has refused to answer phone calls from Nobel Academy and this shows how much he valued the prize. Even on his official website, the earlier acknowledgement of the “winner of the Nobel prize in literature” has been deleted.



The winning of 2006 literature prize comes with some controversies which centered on whether a musician winning the cerebral literature prize is acceptable to the studious elites of literature world.



“Is Saul also among the prophets?”


Many were asking: Why will a singer be accorded with the award that previously goes to supposedly literary giants?  To those that think that Dylan does not deserve the award, the reality is that Dylan’s musical antecedents and contributions are bigger than Nobel Prize. The man of our time Bob Dylan does not need the Swedish academy to justify his ingenuity and contributions to mankind.



Swedish academy needed to justify its existence by continuous reinventing its scope and judgment. But the historical Bob Dylan needed not to convince any institute or Nobel Academy for that matter of his place in American musical pantheon.

With these words - “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition" the Swedish  Nobel prize  Academy awarded Bob Dylan a Nobel prize in literature.  This is the first time in history of the Swedish Academy that a songwriter and singer has been accorded such an honor.



"He is the first American to win the prize since the novelist Toni Morrison, in 1993. The announcement, in Stockholm, was a surprise: Although Mr. Dylan, 75, has been mentioned often as having an outside shot at the prize, his work does not fit into the literary canons of novels, poetry and short stories that the prize has traditionally recognized," reported by New York Times.



"Mr. Dylan was born on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minn., and grew up in Hibbing. He played in bands as a teenager, influenced by the folk musician Woody Guthrie, the authors of the Beat Generation and modernist poets.  Mr. Dylan, whose original name is Robert Allen Zimmerman, identifies as Christian and has released several albums of religiously inspired songs, but he was born into a Jewish family."



Is this an open door for musicians to compete for Nobel prize in literature with conventional writers?

Image result for fela kuti Image result for mike ejeagha Image result for osadebe

Yes, there is no doubt that many great song writers and musicians will be looking forward for recognition from the Swedish Academy.  This is a major move by Nobel Academy with the inclusion of musicians for Nobel prize in literature. And Nobel  Academy deserves some commendations for the  bold move.  Nigerian famous musicians like Fela, Mike Ejeagha, Celestine Ukwu, Osadebe and many others are in same poetic rankings like Bob Dylan.  The Great Wole Soyinka is the first and only Nigerian to win Nobel prize in literature.

“Ceaseless jacking up of interest rate will further soften naira, impeding industrial growth and accelerating inflationary trends.”

 

 

Nigeria is in dire economic straits and the de-pegging of the naira is not making things better in foreseeable future. As unrestricted naira continues to float, its value nosedives, weakens and deteriorates. Naira at one point in the forex market was trading at 377 to a dollar, fast approaching the value at the parallel market. Since the introduction of naira as a national currency, even with abundant foreign revenue, naira has not been properly managed. The problem of naira was rooted on fundamental mismanagement of the economy that heavily depended on crude oil export for foreign exchange.




The recent hiking of the interest rate by 200 basic points from 12 percent to 14 percent may actually undermine pro-growth and pro-solvency policy.  Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its monetary policy committee intention for the hiking of the interest rate was to attract investors in the capital market portfolio and rein in the rising inflationary trends. 




But the downside is that Nigeria’s economic quagmire maybe too stubborn for the theoretical application of the textbook monetary policy.  Already Nigeria is stepping into recession with first quarter GDP contradiction by -0.4 percent and anticipated -1.8 percent in the second quarter. The ceaseless hiking of interest rate will not stimulate growth but rather have a contradictory effect. Ceaseless jacking up of interest rate will further soften naira, impeding industrial growth and accelerating inflationary trends.



The floating of naira and dwindling foreign exchange pose a challenge that is beyond the CBN weak hand of its monetary policy. With the sagging of naira comes an increasing inflationary trend.   According to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) the inflation rate stands at 16.5 percent and rising. The reality is that the given inflation rate is not even buttressing the level of suffering and hopelessness in the country.  That is why many economist and financial managers are questioning the validity and veracity of the numbers coming from the National Bureau of statistics (NBS).



Take for instance, the prices of the basic staple foods including rice, beans and garri are almost beyond the purchasing power of average Obi, Musa or Dele. Too many families are not adequately eating three square meals.



As interest rate hiking continues in order to control rising inflation, the prices of food products will continue to be higher. The doors of hunger and starvation are opening wider for more poor and working class Nigerians.  This is not good at all, CBN must be careful by not making things worse by their active usage of the instrument of contraction to invigorate naira.


The danger with hiking of interest rate is the enhancement of the mopping of liquidity in already credit crunch market. It will further restrict loquacious flow of naira and discourage business community from getting loans for further commercial expansion. Even with intensive de-watering of the liquidity, the culminated harsher credit crunch will cause commercial slow down and closures.



With higher borrowing rates, products become more expensive and the rudimentary consumers bear the brunt of it. As the inflationary trend increases the CBN will continue to hike the interest rate and the misery index will continue to deepen. The attraction of portfolio investor’s maybe a pipe dream, if not elusive, because investors especially the foreigners do not have affirmative impression of the macroeconomic stability and wellbeing of the country. 



Emeka  Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning including tagteam Harvard Education. Africa Political & Economic Strategic Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it       www.afripol.org

 

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