Tuesday, 20 October 2015

#MustRead: Rethinking Nigeria’s well being

Osinbajo-4FIVE months into his tenure, President Muhammadu Buhari has no more time to waste before fixing the economy. Thus the government must recognise the urgency of articulating a blueprint and setting the machinery in motion to put the economy on the path of recovery.

Rescuing the nation from the brink of economic recession demands the implementation of new economic models as the existing models would seem to have failed to generate lasting development for the country. Fortunately, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who has responsibility for the economy as Chairman of the National Economic Council (NEC) is well aware of the nation’s challenges and the need to fix things quickly.

At the 21st Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Osinbajo rightly acknowledged that the implementation of strategies that would pave the way for the recovery of the economy would involve tough choices. However, such tough choices must not involve what has not worked for the country. The government must avoid embracing models that only end up satisfying the Paris Club, London Club, International Monetary Fund (IMF), among other global institutions, while impoverishing Nigerian citizens. Continue........

Rather, tough choices for the recovery of the economy should begin with planning and with the appropriate data too. The nation must have short-term, medium and long-term developmental goals. Many successful countries have laid-out plans that span 50-100 years and Nigeria must emulate these countries in order to succeed.

To be sure, the nation has had some long-term developmental objectives but not much was ever achieved as a result. Because the country has over the years been saddled with leaders who were short sighted, those long-term developmental objectives were never pursued or were pursued haphazardly.

Thus it is necessary for the Buhari government to break away from this pattern and embrace a culture of productivity and prudence that it should in turn inculcate in the citizens. For no matter how effective the models, their gains cannot be sustained as long as the nation is not productive and prudent in the management of its resources.

The enthronement of a culture of productivity and prudence should, of course, be followed by a weaning of the nation off its dependence on oil revenue. The government should foster an environment that would pave the way to a competitive, diversified and self-reliant economy.

Such an economy that would be all-inclusive must have especially agriculture and manufacturing as major planks. Nigeria must therefore return to the land, to an era when the sustenance of the economy was driven by cocoa, cotton, rubber, among other farm produce. Such goods would therefore constitute a buffer for the nation against the volatility of the international prices of oil. And a truly federal structure must be allowed if Nigeria would ever thrive.

Solid minerals, an abundance of which is available in all states and corners of Nigeria, should be free for exploitation and utilization by all in a federal system that allows resources in each state’s domain to belong and be exploited there while such states pay an agreed royalty to the centre. A true diversification of the revenue base should be predicated on freeing the nation’s full capacity in a true federation.

Thus there is the need for the government to place the focus of its governance on the citizens with a view to ensuring massive inclusive empowerment. The government must also intervene in the regime of high interest rates to enable the citizens meet the financial needs of their involvement in agricultural production, solid minerals and manufacturing. Also, the government must pay attention to critical infrastructure such as electricity, roads, communications and ports. Agriculture and manufacturing cannot take place when these infrastructure like roads and communications systems, railway system, sea and airports needed to transport goods to where they are needed are lacking.

Above all, for the people to meet the demands of the new world economy, they must be educated to the extent that their creative energies can be released and unleashed. Education must be seen as a pillar of democracy in which all the people can have a voice not only in their governance but also in the market. This kind of education can only be attained when the curricula in the nation’s schools are reviewed at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education to reflect the needs and values of Nigeria even in science and technology.

Rethinking the well being of Nigeria, of course, goes beyond just repudiating Western models. But raising a team of highly knowledgeable experts who would develop solutions to impediments to the development of the nation through local economic models is an imperative.

The Nigerian economy is big and the potentials are limitless. The challenge for the current government is to galvanise the citizens into seeing and realising that potential. The Buhari government should lead by getting the nation’s priorities right and creating the right environment for all. Muhammadu Buhari could not have come as President at a better time than now when the economic well being of Nigeria is assured if the entire nation is mobilised behind a honest and purposeful leader.


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