Friday, April 27, 2018

Dr. Adebayo Adedeji, an intellectual giant, has passed!

Yes, an intellectual giant, Dr. Adebayo Adedeji, age 87, has passed (http://allafrica.com/stories/201804270611.html). One of his most influential scholarly products was his "Africa’s Alternative Framework to Structural Adjustment Programs for Socio-Economic Recovery and Transformation (AAF-SAP),” which he spear-headed/championed, as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) during a time period, in the 1980s, when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was executing a spate of economic structural adjustment programs across African countries through three infamous D's: devaluation, de-nationalization and deflation that tended to leave those African countries worse-off.

Devaluation meant that in order to receive requested economic bail-outs/assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the affected African country should devalue the international worth of its national currency (for instance, it was this devaluation edict that, along with other macro-economic factors, set Nigeria's national currency on a plunging path from the early 1980s when one Nigerian naira could purchase one point. Five ($1.5) US dollars to where it is now whereby one US dollar is worth three hundred and sixty or so Nigerian naira); de-nationalization meant economic liberalization of the affected national economy in terms of opening it up to "free trade,” removal of tariffs and protection for domestic industries; and deflation meant that the government in question should remove subsidies from domestic services, such as healthcare, energy supplies, education, consumer food products, etc.. 

In sum,  these three D’s (as they came to be known amongst development scholars), when implemented, rather than bring about projected economic recovery and growth for the affected country, brought about higher costs of living, hyper inflationary trends within the economy, loss of jobs due to resulting de-industrialization, and general hardship amongst the preponderance of its national population as life sustaining services, such as health-care, food, education, and what have you, became unaffordable for many. These consequences, in turn, tended to engender mass discontent that threatened governmental stability and cohesion across the African political landscape.

A notable point is that the IMF does not usually insist upon and require the same levels of draconian and immiserating economic reform measures of nations of the First World. A good example is the Greek IMF bail-out of the recent past (https://www.ft.com/content/6756e4f6-ece6-11e6-930f-061b01e236550).

In looking back at the African experience with the IMF, one can recall that cumulatively, IMF's economic recovery pills of the 1980s resultantly placed the affected African countries on a path of economic retrogression and contraction that led to what's commonly referred to as a “Lost Decade" of the 1980s in African developmental terms. As the Executive Secretary of ECA, Dr. Adedeji bravely articulated a palliative blue-print in the form of a set of policy prescriptions dubbed as “Africa’s Alternative Framework to Structural Adjustment Programs for Socio-Economic Recovery and Transformation (AAF-SAP)." In those days, it would be hard to imagine any well-informed higher educational classroom around the globe that dealt with African developmental topics, which would not have considered Professor Adedeji's "Africa's Alternative Framework" a must-read for its students.

Though the document acknowledged and upheld a need for a structural adjustment of African economies, Adedeji championed an alternative mixture of demand-side & supply-side, public sector-directed approach. It's worth recalling that Barack Obama's two-term presidency (2008-2016) successfully employed a similar mixture of demand-side & supply-side, public-sector stimulated strategy in tackling the Great Economic Recession that engulfed the United States by the tail end of George Bush’s own two-term Presidency (2000-2008) through the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of February 2009.

In championing his ECA's “Africa’s Alternative Framework to Structural Adjustment Programs for Socio-Economic Recovery and Transformation (AAF-SAP)" (1990), Professor Adedeji effectively stood up against the grain of the ideas and programs pursued by mega institutions controlled by the international powers-that-be of his era. But, for the most part, did African governments listen to him or did they, like Nigeria, fall head-long for IMF’s consequentially injurious pills?  It must be noted that not many international public scholar-servants tend to take the kind of risky path that Adedeji traversed on the IMF question, but he did. On this and several other critical occasions, he stood up for Africa during one of her most trying moments. May his great soul rest in perfect peace!



Monday, April 16, 2018

Syria: a lesson for all of Us



Recently, a United Nations spokesperson wisely cautioned the global community as follows: “when weapons speak, civilians pay the price" (https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/03/1006091). As someone who once lived through an atrocious Civil War, I instantly and reflexively recognized the authenticity and truism of that pronouncement. And, I silently wished that all currently hegemony-driven or all currently squabbling and centrifugally adrift or centrifugally-inclined/motivated political entities/national communities of the world ought to heed that warning and learn to resolve their political/geopolitical disputes through dialogue and compromise, and certainly without recourse to bullets, bombs and missiles.

Today’s tragic situation in Syria, as lucidly delineated in a news analysis published by TheAtlantic magazine (https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/04/syria-chemical-weapons/558065/), not only confers profound validity upon that wise statement from the United Nations but also eerily turns it into a prophetic pronouncement with epic secular implications.

Be that as it may, my comments should not be interpreted as an implied endorsement of either pacifism or a docile submission to oppression. Yes, I do believe that every human entity (be it an individual human being or a nation state) does have an inalienable and statutory right to self-defense and does retain a natural and statutory right to protect vital personal interests, vital national interests, and/or vital human interests. As a popular adage goes, God helps those who help themselves. Malcolm X cast an earthly spin on it in terms of his advocacy of self-defense by any means necessary. 

However, I do disapprove of war-mongering or saber rattling for the sake of it or for purposes of aggression or hegemonic aspirations. Now, read the afore-mentioned news analysis from TheAtlantic magazine.