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The Economist, What? By Ebun Asagbe

Everyone who puts pen to paper, who deigns to call himself a writer must first be a lover of knowledge. When all is said and done, what you write should be an outpouring of what you have learnt to be true and right, and most importantly, accurate. It is here that I have found The Economist’s blog, The Economist Explains lacking.

Usually, when one sees the word ‘explain’, the expectation is that clarity and understanding of the facts are in the works. Not so for this article written, and more annoying, published by The (now infamous) Economist. It doesn’t take so much to put a few words together; I mean even those with a fair knowledge of any language can do a passable job at giving an explanation.

The way I see it, The Economist Explains, a blog hosted by The Economist offers a pot-pourri of poorly investigated articles that do little more than cast aspersions on individuals and governments in a way that leave readers wondering where their focus is.

One of their June 26, 2016 articles attempts to talk about how Nigeria is ‘fighting corruption’. And how do you suppose The Economist approaches this important topic? With the same careless banter a sleazy tabloid would take on a gossip story.

I don’t know if I should be more insulted about the derogatory tone used in the entire piece or by the writer’s assumption that the people who read the article will actually not see through the writer’s laziness and lack of commitment to carrying out a thorough research on the issues raised.

I begin to wonder if this is not some image laundry stunt by the present government in a bid to boost their fast dwindling support. I hope that The Economist understands the implication of crapping all over what could have been a very good piece of writing. Their credibility too begins to wan till the blog goes from ‘The Economist Explains’ to ‘The Economist, what?’

It would be ludicrous of me to deny that Nigeria does have its fair share of challenges, however, like many Nigerians, I will not endorse an article filled with allegations that have no bases in thorough investigations and is laden with badly reported and misinterpreted facts.  

In this article, the current finance minister is attributed with tenacity; something which the writer says has helped her clamp down on spending of governors and implement several strategies to save already depleting funds, such as the widely popular Treasury Savings Account [TSA]. These sound great, heroic even, if only they were accurate. ‘Her TSA’ is, in fact, the pet project of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Adeosun’s predecessor. How a magazine like The Economist could have missed that baffles me. A simple two-minute google search would have helped this apparently mentally lazy writer get the actual facts and state them as they are.

However, as with the mentally lazy, the task may appear daunting, so I shall set them straight. And this, I choose to achieve through the citing of an article published by a Nigerian national daily in April 2016 [long before Kemi Adeosun dreamt of becoming Minister of Finance].

Okonjo-Iweala said, “With the treasury single account, we have a tool that helps us to see the balances of governments at one time from all government agencies because we are drawing resources into the central bank”.

And another published as part of a congratulatory message delivered by Goodluck Jonathan when Dr Okonjo-Iweala was appointed GAVI Chair:

“Through your vision, the nation was able to implement some rewarding reforms in public financial management including the launch of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) to boost dwindling revenue, as well as the introduction of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), which eliminated thousands of ghost workers from the public service system”.

As for the acclaimed tenacity of Mrs Adeosun, many will bear witness that she is now popularly known for her attempt to drown Nigeria further into debt than any other finance minister before her, especially since the debt bailout spearheaded by Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

A blog that is the offshoot of renowned The Economist should not be found spewing such stories that have no truth. If this is a PR job, as we have seen others do in the past, then, it was poorly executed.

 Ebun is a Public Relations professional. She writes from Ado-Ekiti

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