On January 12, 2012, Paul-Antoine Bohoun Bouabré left us. Who was Paul-Antoine? and why should we care?
Well, Paul-Antoine Bohoun Bouabré was a great economist from Côte d’Ivoire. His genius successfully protected his country from bankruptcy during the years when Côte d’Ivoire was under siege by France (i.e. 2000 – 2011). Educated in the great schools of his country and in France, he earned a PhD in economics with a specialty in development in 1985. He then returned to his country where he taught economics at the Universities of Cocody, and Bouaké, and at the Côte d’Ivoire National School of Administration. In 2000, he joined the government of Laurent Gbagbo, for whom he had great respect, as the minister of Economy and Finances. After the chaotic military transition of the years 2000 (from Gueï’s coup on 24 December 1999 to the elections of 2000) he single-handedly created a ‘secured budget’ to face all the financial problems of the state of Côte d’Ivoire, as the foreign investors and donors were no longer investing in the country. His motto was “live within your means and don’t borrow from the outside.” He did just that: the ‘secured budget’ was founded entirely on internal revenues of the state which increased due to the financial reforms put in place. He managed to keep Côte d’Ivoire afloat. After the rebellion of 2002, which totally destabilized the country by splitting it into two, thus depriving the state of more than half of its revenues and territory, Paul-Antoine created the ‘backup budget’ or the ‘safeguard budget’ or ‘the protection budget’ through which he managed to pay all the salaries, and all the state charges for the entire country! All this was done, under the eyes of the rebellion and its foreign allies who gave Gbagbo and his government no less than 3 months to survive; they survived over 8 years in this state of asphyxiation, thanks in part to his efforts!
It just pains me to see how a bright son of Africa has been depicted and demonized in the foreign press. This great man, and economist kept an entire country afloat through all the foreign pressures. Imagine for a single moment, a country asphyxiated by all (France, E.U., USA, IMF, World Bank, etc…), and beleaguered from all sides, trying to stay afloat, to pay salaries, and keep the state from sinking…. Imagine the livelihood of millions of people depending on these external forces, forces which do not accept the people’s vote, but prefer their own jockey… Imagine providing for millions of men and women, and their children! Truly, this man, and his entire team, deeply loved their country. Any man in their right mind would have quit such a job, or would have accused others for their downfall… but Bohoun Bouabré, like so many, stayed in place, and steered the ship in the right direction. Many may disagree, but Bohoun Bouabré did what the Greek minister of finances could not do when faced with a financial crisis, he did what the Irish could not do, or what the Portuguese cannot do while being faced with a crisis. All these European countries benefit from the support of their counterparts (E.U.), the US, the IMF, and the World bank, and yet… they cannot and have not been able to keep their ships afloat. Today, some people want us to believe lies about him, but the truth will always be that Bohoun Bouabré was a great economist, who managed to keep a country like Côte d’Ivoire besieged from all sides, with a population (of 20 millions) bigger than Portugal (10 millions), Greece (10 millions) and Ireland (6 millions) afloat. Yes… this man was a true giant… No offense to the Irish, Portuguese, and Greeks, but their finance ministers should take example on Paul-Antoine Bohoun Bouabré, a proud son of Côte d’Ivoire!