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Essay: How SAP has contributed to the deterioration of the living conditions of the poor in Nigeria

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In 1995, the officials of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (henceforth, World Bank), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) gathered in Washington DC to celebrate their 50th anniversary, and to hold their annual meetings, during which economic policies that must be implemented by developing countries in order to qualify for loans are usually enacted or modified. The gathering however, was disrupted by a global activist network with a campaign entitled ’50 years is enough’. The angry protesters from all over the world identified the policies of the World Bank and IMF as a major contributing factor to the collapse of economies throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia. One of such policies that have adversely affected Nigeria is the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP).

Structural adjustment is a generic term to describe a conscious change in the fundamental nature of economic relationship within a society. More specifically, ‘it refers to the process whereby the economies of the third world are being reshaped to be more market oriented’. In Africa, these free-market policies were packaged by the World Bank and IMF and imposed as conditionality for loans. The ’50 years is enough’ metaphor captures the sentiments of the average Nigerian because while Nigeria has been flooded with billions of SAP dollars, IMF can hardly demonstrate that the loans and accompanying economic policies have led to improved living standards for the poor and sustained economic prosperity. On the contrary, Nigeria has remained on a perpetual borrowing treadmill, leading to crippling debt, unnecessary dependency, deterioration of the living conditions of the poor, inequality, and sometimes, violent protests. Many intellectual observers and economists have noted that the policies of the IMF and World Bank are not principally meant to alleviate poverty in developing countries but to advance the agenda and economic interests of the West.

The above situation is a vivid portrayal of the ‘structures of sin’ that has eaten into the fabrics of international economic relationships especially between the rich and the poor. Thus, the Catholic social principles become a proper framework for any authentic relationship between Nigeria and the IMF. John Paul II’s teaching on the virtue of solidarity, as expressed in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis is relevant. The concept of solidarity here entails, among others, a non-exploitative commitment to the good of the other.

This paper examines how SAP has contributed significantly to the deterioration of the living conditions of the poor in Nigeria, and further entrenched them into the grips of poverty. Drawing on the virtue of solidarity as put forward by John Paul II in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, the paper argues that these principles should be taken into consideration in order to better address the interests of the Nigerian poor and establish an authentic route to poverty alleviation. To set the stage for this discourse, a brief overview of the Nigerian economy before SAP and the conditions that led to SAP loans is necessary.

An Overview of Pre-SAP Nigerian Economy and the Advent of SAP Loans

Within the first decade of Nigerian independence (1960-1970), agriculture remained the driving force of the economy, accounting for more than 70% of government revenue. As a major producer of agricultural commodities such as cocoa, groundnuts, cotton, rubber, hides and skin, Nigeria was both self sufficient in food production and a net food exporter. Increased productivity kept prices reasonably stable, inflation was minimal and unemployment was around 1.5%. The oil boom and expansion in mining, and industrial activities in the 1970s charted a new path for the Nigerian economy. The agricultural sector was drained of its labor force as urbanization escalated. Emphasis shifted to the oil sector. Food production became a problem, such that a program like the government’s ‘Operation Feed the Nation’ (OFM) could not reverse the situation. Thus, in addition to an almost exclusive dependence on imports for industrial machinery and raw materials, Nigeria also became a net importer of basic foods stuffs. Domestic production suffered and the economy began to consume more than it was producing. The focus on oil and neglect of agriculture ultimately created a macro-structural imbalance in the economy.
The overdependence on oil spelt doom for the economy at the turn of the 1980s when there was a collapse of the international oil market. Nigeria oil exports dropped from $22.4 billion in 1980 to $16.7 billion in 1981 and $14.3 billion in 1982. The government had to resort to massive borrowing from the International Financial Institutions and the country’s external debt began to grow progressively, from N1.9 billion in 1982 to N9.1 billion in 1985. Within the same period, central bankers in industrialized nations had reacted to this second wave of oil shocks by hiking real interest rates. From an average of 1.3 per cent between 1973 and 1980, it swelled to an average of 5.9 per cent between 1980 and 1986. The rise in interest rates increased the cost of borrowing such that eventually, it became impossible for many indebted nations, including Nigeria to pay back. The continued existence of the international creditors whose survival depends on being paid back was put in jeopardy. In search of a life saving solution for the creditors, the IMF fashioned the Structural Adjustment Facility, which basically entails lending money to indebted countries to help them repay their debt. Meanwhile, the neo-liberal economic strategy was already in vogue. Lending policymakers in favor of market liberalization, argued that excessive government involvement was a source of economic distortion. Having gained a lot of support in the UK, and US, the IMF made it a hallmark of the Structural Adjustment Program and it became the conditionality for loan. Thus, poor countries needing loan from the IMF would have to agree to implement free market solutions to development. This would entail minimizing the role of the state, privatizing previously nationalized industries, liberalizing trade, removing government subsidies and dramatically reducing the civil service. The obvious lack of choice for the receiving countries and the insensitivity to the poverty situation was captured by Bob Milward when he defined structural adjustment as essentially the process by which the IMF and the world bank base their lending to underdeveloped economies on certain conditions pre-determined and only acceptable to the institutions themselves.

The obvious catastrophic impacts of such a policy on a developing economy like Nigeria, explains the refusal of the Muhammadu Buhari administration (1983-1985) to accede to IMF loan. The abrupt overthrow of his government in 1985 however, led to fundamental changes in Nigeria monetary policy. Major General Ibrahim Babangida raised the issue to the center stage by immediately calling for a nation wide debate on whether Nigeria should accept and implement the IMF conditionalities in order to secure its credits and obtain debt rescheduling. The vast majority of Nigerians were opposed to the structural adjustment loan. This opposition cut across all sections of the population, from intellectuals and the local business class to market women and roadside mechanics. Notwithstanding the overwhelming opposition, the Babangida administration on October 16, 1986 signed a loan of $450 million titled ‘Trade Policy and Export Development Loan’. With this came the full implementation of the IMF version of the Structural Adjustment Program, which was the major condition for the loan. While it is true that some of the conditions can be met without injury to the economy and are in fact necessary, removal of subsidies, devaluation of the naira, and trade liberalization remain controversial as they have caused untold hardships to the Nigerian poor. The role of these conditionalities in perpetuating poverty especially among the already poor masses is examined below.

Impacts of SAP on the Poor
Millions of Nigerians have suffered untold hardships because of the Structural Adjustment Program. Little wonder why the acronym SAP has been variously interpreted by the masses. Some call it ‘Structural Adjustment to Poverty’, others describe it as ‘Salary Adjustment Package’ or ‘Stomach Adjustment Program’, and many more describe it as ‘Strategically Anti-Poor’. While government officials constantly promote SAP as a necessary cross that will lead to the glory of poverty alleviation, the worse condition of the less privileged after 30 years of implementation seems to have vindicated the interpretations of the masses. To drive this point home, subsidy removal, devaluation and trade liberalization are herby considered.
Subsidy Removal
Removal of government subsidies from different sectors of the Nigerian economy has been a constant tale since 1987. Here, we focus on the most recent, the removal of fuel (PMS) subsidy , which was announced (and took immediate effect) on January 1, 2012. The elimination is in line with the IMF theory: ‘subsidy removal while resulting in initial inflationary pressures, would open the market to investors, billions of dollars would flow into the downstream sector, opening the door for more private refineries. Eventually, the market would regulate itself as competition forces will keep the prices down’. The minister for Finance Dr. Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala promised Nigerians that the savings from the subsidy would be channeled into infrastructural development projects. But when she was reminded in a recent interview that the same rationality was put forward in 2005 when government subsidy was removed from kerosene and diesel, and asked what eventually happened to the savings and why the purported long term benefits are not forthcoming, the answer was ‘I do not Know’. No matter how enticing the ‘long term benefits’ might sound, many economists agree that while such an austerity measure could benefit an already functional economy, it would hardly profit an economy such as Nigeria’s. Suspicious of the activities of International Financial Institutions therefore, Doug Bandow and Ian Vasquez have wondered: ‘how does the IMF expect a poor society to become prosperous if its government seizes even more wealth from its citizens’? Such a policy, as it were, could only hurt the poor.

The accuracy of the above assertion is not difficult to verify. An average household in Nigeria depends on subsidized petrol for domestic use, especially with the epileptic power supply. Small scale businesses such as food sellers, hotels, hair dressers, etc depend on subsidized fuel. Transportation costs doubled as at January 1, 2012, with a spiral effect on all other businesses that revolve around the transportation sector. The value of minimum wage has depreciated since the subsidy was removed affecting household income, spending, and savings, and ‘eroding about half of Nigeria’s present middle class citizens’. The resultant inflation from this and other subsidy removals have long eliminated the concept of staple food in the country. Mbachu captures this concern rather bluntly: ‘Garri has long ceased to be the usual staple food for the poor due to its high price, rice has become a food eaten during only important celebration, and the tenancy of bread, akara and akamu on the breakfast table has been revoked’. The rate of inflation when considered in the light of a country with 45% unemployment, explains why malnutrition induced ailments are not uncommon, and why constant removal of subsidies does not protect the national interest.

In contrast to IMF’s insistence that Nigeria strictly observe these policies, the government of the developed world are always quick to abrogate liberalization theories when there is any hint that suffering and hardship on a large scale might afflict its citizens. As Kristen Hayer points out, US has continued to increase it subsidies on the agricultural sector, yet when hardship is looming over the citizens of Nigeria, IMF is quick to advice that belt tightening, or obeying SAP, are necessary bitter pills that Nigerians must endure. Supported by corrupt Nigerian government, they continue to prescribe and implement bitter quinine economic principles that destroy lives, trigger brain drains, and cause inter-generational poverty.
Of course Nigerian policy makers are quick to accept such advice because SAP has mainly affected the have-nots of the society, the rich continue to get richer and still eat well, if not better. During an interview on the fuel subsidy removal, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido, admitted that he could not remember when last he bought fuel. The above scenario highlights some underlying moral questions: Why should a government embark on a policy that would leave the poor malnourished in a country that allocates N362 million for the president’s meals and refreshments? ; why should IMF insist on petroleum subsidy removal in order to save N479 billion (that would eventually return to them in debt servicing or importation) while the $500 million returned by Switzerland (part of the money stolen by the late military ruler, Sani Abacha) has not been satisfactorily accounted for? ; why should the government pursue a policy that would empty the savings of the middle class citizens when a 50% cut in the salaries of senators and members of the house of representatives would make a monthly return of N54.8 billion into the national coffers? In the light of the Nigerian situation therefore, removal of subsidies goes against the principle of common good as highlighted by the catholic social teachings, where the economy should serve the human person and not vice versa.
Devaluation of the Naira and Trade Liberalization
In 1973 when the naira replaced the Nigerian pound, the exchange rate in relation to the American dollar was N1 to $1.52. With the introduction of SAP in 1986 and with the implementation of the IMF devaluation policy, the stage was set for the depreciation of the naira. By 1994 the exchange rate was N22 to $1, and today it stands at N162.72 to $1. While some economic theories posit that devaluation improves a nation’s trade balance, an empirical study of the period between 1970 and 2010, carried out by economists Adeyemi Ogundipe, Paul Ojeaga and Oluwatomsin Ogundipe, shows that devaluation of the naira has had tremendous negative effect on the country’s trade balance. Since Nigeria is import-dependent, devaluation escalates the prize of imports while reducing that of exports, allowing the West to take advantage of local resources as is evident in the Nigerian oil sector. Rolston III put it rather succinctly: ‘many in the G77 nations find themselves deprived rather than blessed by [policies that originate] through the G7 [sic] nations, enabling them to take advantage not only of their own resources but also of those in other nations’

In a different analysis, Winters McCulloch and McKay investigated the interrelationship between poverty, employment dynamics, and trade liberalization in both developed and developing countries. They concluded that trade liberalization does not guarantee any benefit to the poor because the adjustments under trade reform places them at a disadvantage. In the light of these inputs, one wonders why the IMF and World Bank continue to insist on the implementation of liberalization theories by a developing country like Nigeria. A number of theorists have made intellectual contributions. Of interest here is Gramsci’s emphasis that hegemony represents a subtle form of cultural domination. This framework is relevant in understanding the imposition of theories of development by international capitalist system through the World Bank and IMF. Their stringent promotion of trade liberalization, removal of restrictions and tax reduction for multinational corporations, and the overemphasis that foreign capital holds the key to sustainable development have significantly helped to consolidate the dependency of developing nations with the regular result that the poor come off poorly when they bargain with the rich, the wealth for which they drain their natural resources remaining ever so elusive. The lending and structural programs of the World Bank and IMF have become instruments to serve the economic interests of the West, as Goldman points out: ‘the primary effect of World Bank lending and policies is that much more capital flows out of borrowing countries to the World Bank, IMF, and Northern-based banks than in’. Little wonder then why the integration of Nigeria into the world economy through deregulation, has not resulted in poverty alleviation. On the contrary there has been a progressive worsening of the poverty situation since former president Babangida bowed to the IMF conditionality in 1986 as shown in the table below.
Year Poverty Incidence (%) Estimated Population (Million) Population in Poverty
1980 27.2 65 17.1
1987 42.3 75 34.7
1992 46.7 91.5 39.2
1996 65.6 102.3 67.1
2010 69.0 163 112.47
The above scenario raises the question as to whether trade liberalization has the potential to facilitate poverty alleviation in Nigeria. The editorial concern of the Guardian Newspaper three years after the Babangida administration signed the SAP loan, must be taken seriously:
The drive towards a market economy must not imply the absolute sovereignty of market forces. Planners and policy makers must always keep in focus the fundamental truth that the economy exists to serve the populace, and not the other way round, that without a populace there will be no economy. There is an urgent need therefore to put the forces of the market on the leash and protect vulnerable section of the population from their ravenous onslaught.

The above concern agrees with Catholic social teachings in its insistence that the human person should be at the center of any economic policy. The focus here is on the teachings of John Paul II on the virtue of solidarity.

John Paul II on the Virtue of Solidarity
Although the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in the instruction, Libertatis Conscientia, affirms that solidarity is intimately linked to human dignity, and the entire social teaching of the Church, the use of the concept characterized by a diversity similar to its usage in the social sciences. According to John Paul II, ‘what we nowadays call the principle of solidarity’.is frequently stated by Pope Leo XIII, who uses the term friendship, a concept already found in Greek philosophy. Pope Pius XI refers to it with the equally meaningful term social charity. Pope Paul VI, expanding the concept to cover the many modern aspects of the social question, speaks of a civilization of love’. Starting with Pius XII’s encyclical Summi Pontificatus, the term ‘solidarity’ has acquired both a frequent usage and a diversity of meaning: from that of ‘law’ in the same encyclical to that of ‘duty’ in Populorum Progressio (no. 17), and ‘virtue’ in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (38). Not even in John Paul II’s corpus do we find a unified connotation. For instance, in The Acting Person, the then Karol Wojtyla presents solidarity as a natural constituent of human existence such that the human person is realized in ‘acting together with others’ ; in Laborem Exercens, solidarity is motivated by the injustice against workers, and denotes the mutual support of oppressed people in seeking social justice ; in his address to the United Nations in 1979, solidarity is viewed as an attempt to avoid such painful incidents against humanity as World War II; and in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, solidarity is seen as a means of overcoming the ‘structures of sin’ that are embedded in the established order. While it is possible to read different meanings into the above variations of usage, it is also clear that a common theological foundation underlies them, a theological discourse based on the common fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of all in Christ and the interdependence of all people. According to Johan Verstraeten, it is a ‘theologization’ of solidarity whereby theology is placed at the center of the discourse.

After highlighting the significant failures of the contemporary world, in Solicitudo rei socialis, the pope goes on to analyze the problems theologically. In the light of the essentially moral character of development, he asserts the necessity of identifying the moral causes of the underdevelopment of peoples ‘which with respect to the behavior of individuals’.interfere in such a way as to slow down the course of development and hinder its full achievement’. He begins this theological diagnosis by observing that a world divided into blocs, with different forms of imperialism can only be a world subject to the various negative factors that impede a true awareness of the universal common good, resulting in many sins which lead to the ‘structures of sin’.

The Church’s social doctrine has always been strongly critical of those structures and systems that victimize the poor and work to corrupt those in power, such as the mistreatment of minorities, and neo-colonialism which under the cloak of financial aid and technical assistance become a form of political pressure and economic dominance aimed at maintaining or acquiring complete supremacy at the detriment of the poor. For John Paul II, these ‘structures of sin’ are ‘rooted in personal sin, and thus, always linked to concrete acts of individuals who introduce these structures, consolidate them, and make them difficult to remove. And thus they grow stronger, spread and become the source of other sins and so influence people’s behavior’. John Paul thus, sees a relationship between ‘structures of sin’ and particular sinful acts as mutually reinforcing. Already in Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, he observed that while unjust institutions continue to exist precisely because individuals deliberately choose to seek their own advantage at the expense of others, these structures also encourage unjust behavior by creating the aura of normalcy and legitimacy, thereby beclouding moral conscience, obscuring the difference between right and wrong and resulting in the loss of the sense of sin. Ultimately however, a structure is not an agent of moral acts but the human person who remains free to choose how to live her/his life. Identification of the impediments to human development as sin helps John Paul II to contrast it with the law of God which commands good and forbids evil, and to locate it in the realm of morality. Thus, attitudes opposed to the will of God and love of neighbor such as excessive desire for profit, the thirst for power, selfish economic decisions, etc., become ‘moral evils’ whose theological recognition calls for conversion.
The theme of conversion echoes his call in Centesimus Annus for moral renovation as the first and most important task for societal transformation. He argued that the elimination of unjust structures alone cannot change the internal dispositions and attitudes of the human person. Thus, the pope insists that the place to begin is the human heart, where the individual embraces an active commitment to her/his neighbor as one human family. As a manifestation of the oneness of the human family, the pope points to the ‘positive moral value of the growing awareness of the interdependence among individuals and nations’. Having placed interdependence in the moral category, John Paul is able to posit that the correlative response as a moral social attitude, as a ‘virtue’ is solidarity. According to Donal Dorr, John Paul II’s account of solidarity in Sollicitudo rei socialis is part of the Pope’s effort to overcome the individualistic viewpoint on virtue and the moral life, which marred moral theology in the past. By emphasizing solidarity as a virtue, the Pope wants to say that virtue is not a private affair. Just as personal sin always has social dimension, virtue, especially solidarity has effect on other people and the social order. However, to appreciate further how solidarity functions as a virtue a very brief overview of the concept of virtue is necessary.
Virtue: Etymologically, the word virtue derives from the Latin vir, meaning man, hero, man of courage. From this standpoint virtue signifies manliness or courage. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ‘a virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person’.pursues the good and choses it in concrete actions’. The Catechism also divides virtues into human and theological. While the human virtues are ‘firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of the intellect’, comprising the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude; the theological virtues are ‘infused by God into the souls of the faithful’, comprising faith, hope, and charity. By connecting solidarity to justice and charity in Sollicitudo rei socialis, John Paul II, inserts solidarity as both a human and a theological virtue.
Solidarity as a human virtue: The virtue of solidarity, assets John Paul II, is not ‘a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortune of so many people both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all’. By positively defining solidarity as ‘a firm and persevering determination’ the pope affirms that it is a ‘habit of the will’, thus making it a human virtue, and echoing Thomas Aquinas’ definition of justice as present in the subject rather than a set of norms for social institutions. Also, in relating solidarity with the common good, he exposes the interconnectedness between solidarity and justice. Here solidarity shares the tow-fold fundamental characteristics of justice, namely: the mutual equal relationship with others and the commitment to the good of others and the common good. Unlike the theological virtues which God infuses in the Christian to lead her/him to a supernatural end, the moral virtue of justice is the act of the will directed by reason to lead the person to the natural end, the common good. Linking solidarity to justice in the context of interdependence, solidarity becomes a moral human virtue ruled by reason to enable the person to commit the self to the common good, the goal of justice. Little wonder why John Paul II reverses the motto of Pius XII (peace as the fruit of justice) to peace as the fruit of solidarity.
Solidarity as a theological virtue: Solidarity however is not only guided by reason that leads to the natural end, it is also enlightened and formed by the theological virtues of faith and charity ‘which is the distinguishing marks of Christ’s disciples’. In this perspective the Pope affirms that solidarity is also a Christian virtue. In the light of faith therefore, solidarity goes beyond itself in such a way that one’s neighbor is no longer considered exclusively as a human being with rights and fundamental equality, but ‘becomes the living image of God the Father, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and placed under the permanent action of the Holy Spirit’. In this light, solidarity mirrors the Trinitarian communion and Christ’s solidarity with humankind. It also becomes the ‘soul of the church’s vocation to be a sacrament’.

As a Christian virtue therefore, solidarity flows from the obedience to the commandment of Christ to love one another and is tied to and in fact springs from and motivated by supernatural charity. Commenting on how solidarity functions as both human and Christian virtue in Sollicitudo rei socialis, Hung Pham opines, ‘thus for non Christians with the aid of reason they can face the reality of interdependence with a sense of moral responsibility for the poor and can embrace the human virtue of solidarity. For Christians, inspired by faith they view the reality of interdependence with a new vision that all humanity is willed by God as a family sharing in common God’s creation’. John Paul II insists that solidarity as a human and Christian virtue not only makes the person good in helping the poor, but it also transforms social structures so that the poor are able to attain authentic human development: ‘the evil mechanisms and structures of sin’can only be overcome through the exercise of human and Christian solidarity’.

The desire for profit and thirst for power which hinders full development and leads to structures of sin are thus overcome by a diametrically opposed attitude,
a commitment to the good of one’s neighbor with the readiness in the gospel sense to ‘lose oneself’ for the sake of the other instead of exploiting him, and so serve him instead of oppressing him for one’s own advantage.

The virtue of solidarity goes beyond a mere sentiment because it involves a recognition of the truth that moves the will to action in favor of the common good. It portrays the radical interconnectedness of humanity such that no individual can truly be realized if the other is diminished. It summons the members of each society to recognize the dignity of each person as created in the image of God. Those who are influential therefore ‘should feel responsible for the weaker and be ready to share with them all they possess’. In the same vein it beckons on stronger and richer nations to develop a ‘sense of moral responsibility’ for the economically weaker countries that must be enabled rather than exploited. The virtue of solidarity as examined by John Paul II, transcends every type of imperialism and sees the ‘other’ (persons, people or nations) not as mere instruments to be manipulated at low cost, but as neighbors with equal dignity in the sight of God. In the domain of this virtue, exploitation, oppression, and annihilation have no place.
In the light of the moral questions raised in accordance with the impacts of SAP, it becomes clear that the policies governing structural adjustment loans are in direct contrast to the virtue of solidarity as explicated by John Paul II. How these concerns challenge those policies and practice is the next task of the paper.

Adjustment with a Human Face
Jean-Paul Azam, in his work, The Uncertain Distribution Impact of Structural Adjustment in Sub-Saharan Africa, set out to argue that ‘there are no theoretically compelling reasons why this type of policy (SAPs) should especially harm the poor’. He was however forced by his own analysis to conclude that ‘the devaluation-induced inflation will normally mainly affect the urban poor and the poorest rural workers who do not own land or real estates’ . Moving beyond his conclusion, one is immediately compelled to wonder what the situation will look like in a country such as Nigeria where the ‘urban poor’ and the ‘poorest rural workers who have no land or real estates’ occupy an overwhelming percentage of the country’s population. The mere fact that the living condition of majority of Nigerians has deteriorated as a result of SAP, places the structural policies in sharp contrast with what the virtue of solidarity implies. At the heart of this virtue is a diligent and unrelenting determination to commit oneself to the common good. The common good, seen as the ‘sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment’ , and the conviction that the human person is at the center of any economic policy, is seriously lacking in the policies of SAP. The enormous rise in the cost of living as a result of the structural adjustment conditionalities has created what Seshamani calls ‘the new poor’ , which in Nigeria includes thousands of civil servants and farmers whose jobs vanished over night. As many parents increasingly find it more difficult to feed their children while the President and other elites allocate millions of naira for themselves for daily meal, the virtue of solidarity beckons on any policy that perpetuates this inequality to put on a human face.

As noted earlier, the Structural Adjustment Programs were introduced in the wake of financial crises with the aim to reform economies and ensure a flow of revenue for debt repayment. The question of poverty alleviation, as Alfred Zack-Williams observes, was not in the picture. Nigerian economic policies are therefore made at the corridors of Washington by World Bank and IMF officials without any consideration (except perhaps, on paper) of the concrete poverty situation or the suffering of the poor masses, but only interested in their own advantage. It has been argued that the most important beneficiaries of the World Bank/IMF loans to the south live in the North and not the South, and that the world bank-style development is not about the perceived ‘lacks’ or ‘poverties’ of the people of the south. According to George Ayittey,
one common fallacy about aid programs is that they benefit the African people. They do not. As can be expected, each foreign group advances its own agenda. It is na??ve to believe that aid agencies pursue the interest of the African people. For far too long outsiders have arrogantly assumed that role, and for far too long, average Africans’have been excluded from defending their own interests.

The above situation exposes the necessity of John Paul II’s vision of the virtue of solidarity. It is a vision that emphasizes inclusion rather than exclusion, mutual giving rather than exploitation. It insists that the desire for profit and quest for power hinders full development and calls for a commitment to the good the other that does not seek for one’s own advantage. The exploitative inclination of IMF is betrayed by the fact that loan conditionalities, especially the insistence on trade liberalization, while favorable to the multinational companies, lowers export rate and escalates the price of imports. The admonition for Nigerians to endure the cross of SAP, and wait for the glories of the long-term benefits is no longer relevant after 30 years. The impact of these policies on the poor Nigerian farmer who has been put out of business and struggles to feed his child must become an item on the agenda. The commitment to the good of one’s neighbor that is central to the virtue of solidarity again summons the IMF to put on a human face.

The call to conversion is also central to the virtue solidarity. First conversion requires an ‘awareness’ of sinful structures. This moral awareness ignites a corresponding attitude of solidarity, which is both moral and social. On February 21, 2014, the executive board of the IMF concluded the annual article IV consultation with Nigeria. In the report they lauded ‘Nigeria’s strong macroeconomic performance’ due to a projected growth in real GDP. They also reported a decline in inflation, decrease in the prize of foodstuffs and increase in job creation. Without judging this report as baseless and laughable, one could only marvels at the lack of awareness about the level of hunger in Nigeria caused by rising inflation, expensive foodstuffs and unemployment. The IMF should realize that increase in GDP does not automatically translate to increase in the quality of life of the people. In fact, James Bailey while assessing the capabilities and asset-building approach to development, rightly observes that using aggregate economic data like the GNP as a quality of life indicator is problematic. In a similar incident, the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, refuting a recent classification of Nigeria among the world’s extreme poor countries, said that ‘using the number of poor people in a country, irrespective of the country’s development, as a parameter to rate Nigeria among nations with high poverty levels, was wrong’. In her support, the special assistant to the President on public affairs, Doyin Okupe, said that he has never been poor and does not know what poverty looks like. Okonjo-Iweala and Doyin Okupe have only portrayed a government highly ignorant of the plight of its people. The moral awareness that John Paul II calls for becomes imperative. For those who use their positions of power to exploit others, John Paul calls them to be aware of the reality of the unjust structures, which impoverish numerous people. Solidarity as the solution to sinful structures begins with a change of one’s attitude of greed to that of being responsible for others in order to serve the common good. It is a shift between two opposing attitudes: selfishness and self-sacrifice. This solidarity is therefore action-oriented, and beckons on policy makers to take effective steps to reform unjust structures. The pope’s passionate appeal to policy makers is therefore relevant:
Do everything, you particularly who have decision making powers, you on whom the situation of the world depends, do everything so that the life od every man in your country may become more human, more worthy of man

Conversion is therefore pertinent to IMF officials and Nigerian politicians. It is relevant to Nigerian public officials because they have failed to protect the interest of the poor. They cooperate to subjugate the very people they were elected to protect. They disregard the collective aspirations of the people in order to accumulate wealth for themselves, and further sink the hopes of the poor masses into the ground. In the same vein, conversion is imperative to IMF. They maintain unjust economic structures in order to advance their own interest. Their activities have impoverished the people and kept them in a vicious circle of poverty for nearly thirty years. Structural adjustment must acquire a human face. This paper therefore recognizes that structural adjustment in Nigeria is imperative but the virtue of solidarity must be the foundation for any effective adjustment that take care of the human dignity especially of the poor.

Conclusion: From ‘Lip-Service’ Solidarity to the ‘Virtue’ of Solidarity
Whereas the writings and public speeches of IMF and Nigerian public officials constantly claim their concern for the poor, and that their programs are primed to reduce poverty, the nearly 30 years of concrete evidence with regard to the Nigerian experience, as examined in this paper, shows the opposite. This constant claim of concern by the IMF and the Nigerian government is what I call ‘lip-service’ or better still ‘paper-based’ solidarity. This paper strongly suggests that thirty years of ‘lip-service’ is enough. The movement from this ‘low grade’ solidarity to the virtue of solidarity is long overdue. The IMF and Nigerian government must embrace the virtue of solidarity with all it entails (conversion, commitment to the common good, exclusion of exploitative spirit, etc.).

This paper has demonstrated that following the ideology of neoliberalism, the Structural Adjustment Program was stipulated by the IMF to ensure debt repayment and economic restructuring. Thus, while it required that poor countries like Nigeria reduce spending on health, education, and other public sectors, debt repayment and other macroeconomic policies were made the priority. In effect therefore, the IMF have demanded that poor nations like Nigeria lower the standard of living of their people. The IMF and the Nigerian government should realize, in the words of Susan George, that ‘investing in ‘[a] healthy, well-fed, literate population’is the most intelligent economic choice a country can make’. For this to happen, IMF and the Nigerian government must say good-bye to ‘lip-service’ and welcome to ‘virtue’. As the African proverb goes, ‘the best time to do something is twenty years ago, the second-best time is NOW’.

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