Teacher don't teach me nonsense: at the moment in the West, the solutions to the global financial crisis are "bailouts", "nationalisation" "stronger government regulation and intervention", but why didn't they tell the Africans 25 years ago of the same "solutions" when IMF "structural adjustment programmes" collapsed African economies, asks Osasu Obayiuwana.

Author:Obayiuwana, Osasu
Position:AFRICA/WORLD - Viewpoint essay

I NEVER THOUGHT THE DAY WOULD come when the European and American zealots of unbridled capitalism, who preached the gospel of allowing "market forces" to determine the economic prosperity of all nations, would turn apostate and seek their own salvation, in these uncertain times of global financial turmoil, from their national governments. Aren't meddlesome government regulators the spoilsports that always throw a spanner in the wheels of "dynamic", "freethinking" businesses looking for a laissez-faire playing field, where the "strong and innovative" thrive, while the "lazy and weak" perish in today's dog-eat-dog world?

The all-knowing mandarins at the IMF and the World Bank never hesitated to deliver lectures to "ignorant" African governments with ailing economies in the 1980s, that only the implementation of free market policies, at the expense of social cohesion, was the way to salvation.

Compelled to opt for the IMF's deadly elixir of "structural adjustment", which forced African governments to adopt severe measures that pauperised their citizens--but made their countries a haven for foreign buccaneers looking for a financial kill--I expected Western governments and economists to gulp a large dose of their own bitter medicine when self-inflicted financial wahala (as Nigerians love to call trouble) came calling.

But no, their solutions of the moment ate "bailouts", "nationalisation" "stronger government regulation and intervention", and let's not forget, reconfiguring the global economic order. What used to be good for the African goose appears to be unpalatable for the European and American ganders. And frankly, that gets my blood boiling. While there is no doubt that outright corruption by government officials and the lack of financial transparency in several African countries played a key role in our economic woes over the last two decades, only the intellectually dishonest can dispute that the imposition of half-baked economic solutions on financially troubled African nations by Western economists and bankers worsened an already bad situation.

They did not understand--and probably did not care--about our peculiar social and cultural circumstances and, most importantly, the devastating after-effects of their policies. As they cobbled together their daft economic plans from the comfort of their...

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