Published On: Mon, Oct 26th, 2015

Managing a distressed economy and the hard choice before President Buhari (iii)

Danger signals ahead

 

By CHRIS UCHE  |

Again Nigeria is treading a well beaten path in spite of all the expectations of change in the air. Sorry to be cynical and to spoil the fun of many people but from available evidence, this change may be a mirage and hope postponed. What can you say about the desperation to make former governor Rotimi Amaechi a minister, appointment of 91 standing committees in the House of Reps, Customs CG’s reversal of the rice policy and likely somersault in the auto policy? It is all confusing; and this is still morning, yet there are enough indications to predict the evening.
Our leaders are very predictable, so notoriously predictable in our predictability that anybody who has been around for any length of time in the country can fairly determine what will happen in public policy. This perhaps explains why virtually everybody in the country is an expert of some sort on public policy, because it does not take any serious intellectual rigour, deep insight and perspicacity to envisage and extrapolate government behaviour and public policy directions and outcomes.
A characteristic challenge of managing the economy in the past 30 years has been policy inconsistency and often the chasm between policy enunciation and actual implementation. Since my school days in the 1980s this was the issue; now close to retirement, this is still the issue. This is damning and close to what Charismatic Christians would call a stronghold; more so for a government that was elected on change platform.
Take our annual budgets for instance. Usually presented with so much gusto and beautiful appellations, such budget of change, budget of transformation, budget of consolidation etc at all levels of government, the outcomes are habitually disappointing. Some of our policies are the best crafted and developed and comparable to any other elsewhere, but they are often prepared to impress the gullible and not for any practical purposes  and without consideration to the political will of leadership and the capacity and altruism of the civil service.
Mention them – the National Development plans, Green Revolution, Home grown Structural Adjustment Programme, Vision 2010, Vision 20, 2020 etc. It is the same old story. In fact development scientists believe that the Second National Development Plan is one of the greatest policy documents to be prepared by any nation and could have transformed the country in the Singaporean fashion but it came to naught.
Issues arising from the ministerial screening and some government pronouncements provide sufficient cause for alarm. Some of the nominees such as Chief Audu Ogbe, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Dr Ibe Kachukwu, and Mrs. Kemi Adeosun spoke eloquently and convincingly about a new economy that is capable of creating jobs, encourage local industry and manufacturing, focus on agriculture and food security, reduce recurrent expenditure, and interest rates, shore up the value of the naira and restrict importation of petroleum products, remove subsidy to attract investment in refineries etc. These are economic best practice in today’s global economy.
Now, contrast these statements with Col. Hameed Ali’s unbanning of rice import because of falling Customs’ revenue and the anticipated reduction in auto import levy which imposition has brought several car companies to begin local assembling. The 75 percent hike in car import charges is intended to revive the sector that could generate thousands of jobs, but the government would prefer to have money to spend for political appeal – the short term trumping the long term.
Last week, this column had argued that the only way to save this economy is to ignore the immediate short term pressing challenges and focus on the more fundamental long term problems with the potential to transform the economy on a sustainable basis. This is how we concluded:
“Managing a distressed economy requires paradigm shift and strategic long term approach. For an immediate and short term response, Interest rate should be crashed to allow business, particularly SMEs, borrow and invest to create jobs; inflation and exchange rates as long term element should be de-emphasised in the short term and subjected to market forces of demand and supply; import should be restricted through high tariffs to boost domestic production; quantitative easing is necessary to expand economic activity and revive production; subsidy should be removed to free resources for capital projects, and recurrent expenditure should be curtailed to raise capital expenditure”.
How can we produce local rice and change the habit of Nigerians from lusting after imported rice if we don’t limit its importation? How would the country attract investment into the down-stream to produce products if we continue to provide subsidies, which fixes price below market level? For the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to insist on keeping the refineries and subsidies is to put politics above economics and the outcome will be disastrous; that is the lesson of history.
It is politicization of economic policies that has ruined this economy, and APC, which was elected to change our bad and inglorious past, does not see the imperative for change in economic policy, apparently because it conflicts with its party manifesto. Nigeria is like a patient in coma; the first thing to do is revive it before determining the ailment. The manifesto is a political document that did recognize the challenges in the economy but cleverly contrived to win votes. However, it has to adapt to the extant economic exigencies or it will fail. Any law that does not bend will break.
The only way to save President Buhari’s government is to continue with the existing economic policies, fine- tuning and reviewing them – where necessary – rather than reversing to ensure stability, continuity and consolidation. This will promote investors’ confidence and give the nation a long term planning advantage. Reversing means starting afresh – all over again – and it takes time to build. This leadership can at best be in power for eight years, which is not enough to transform things especially from the scratch.
The great challenge before President Buhari we said previously is how to marry and reconcile economic fundamentals with political expediency, party ideology and economic necessity, and pressure to win the next election and the demand of building a national legacy that will stand the test of time. This is what differentiates great leaders from the straws of history.
Great leaders, such as Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and De Clarke etc focus on posterity and have their memories embedded on the sands of time. Without building on the gains of the former government buoyed by the President image of integrity and firmness, the nation would have lost another 16 years to policy experiment. This will be a great loss to the nation and the betrayal of those who trusted in this government.

© 2015, Hallmarknews. All rights reserved. Reference and link to this site is required if you wish to reuse any article.

Reactions from Facebook

comments and opinions

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Most Shared

Recent posts

  • China offshore oil coy to invest $3bn in Nigeria

    The China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) is to invest an additional three billion dollars in its existing stakes in offshore oil and gas operations in Nigeria. Mr Ndu Ughamadu, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) spokesman said this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja. Ughamadu said Mr Yuan Guangyu, the Chief Executive Officer […]

  • Ecobank risk assets deteriorate as Kie bows out

    By FELIX OLOYEDE The exit of Ecobank Nigeria’s erstwhile Managing Director, Charles Kie, has raised a groundswell of speculation in the financial community as sector analysts believe that his exit was abrupt, untimely and suspicious. Over a period of two years, Kie had succeeded in reversing the banks bedraggled balance sheet and profit and loss […]

  • Blood, blood everywhere: Herdsmen, rustlers on the rampage

    –  Violence, a well-articulated plot to grab land – Expert  By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA Nigeria is gradually descending into a Hobbesian state with the growing killings in the Middle Belt, in addition to the destruction of lives and properties in the North West and Boko Haram insurgency in the North East. Defenseless citizens are being killed like […]

  • 2018 budget in jeopardy

    . Delay alone has reduced performance by 13% – Experts By UCHE CHRIS In all likelihood the 2018 budget will end like the three previous budgets of the President Buhari administration: a failure. Having been passed seven months after its presentation and half year gone; and with all the controversies surrounding its passage by the […]

  • MTN to miss market listing target

    By OKEY ONYENWEAKU A weak domestic economy in Nigeria may force telecommunications giant MTN to shift its earlier proposed August 2018 date for a local listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). Analysts believe that the date shift will allow the parties to the Offer plan a more successful listing arrangement that would guaranty full […]

  • APC crises deepens: Amaechi battles for relevance, Modu-Sheriff is new strongman

    By OBINNA EZUGWU Key actors in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) managed to keep up appearance to allow for a smooth transition at the party’s recently held national convention. Except for the exchange of blows among Imo and Delta States delegates, the convention was largely a success. But beneath the facade of orderliness, tensions […]

  • INEC declares Fayemi governor-elect in Ekiti

    The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressive Congress (APC) winner of the Ekiti Governorship Election held on Saturday. INEC’s Chief Returning Officer for the election, Professor Idowu Olayinka declared the result on Sunday. According to the Returning Officer, Kayode got 197,459 votes to defeat the Deputy Governor of […]

  • President Muhammadu Buhari said on Wednesday that Nigeria will soon sign up to a $3 trillion African free-trade agreement. Nigeria is one of Africa’s two largest economies, the other being South Africa. Buhari’s government had refused to join a continental free-trade zone established in March, on the grounds that it wishes to defend its own […]

  • PDP meets Obasanjo for advice on how to beat Buhari in 2019 polls

    The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) will meet with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta on Saturday to seek advice on how to achieve victory in the 2019 polls and beat incumbent Muhammadu Buhari. The National Chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus, made this known in Abeokuta while addressing journalists after a […]

  • GTBank Launches Social Impact Challenge, Aims to Fund Community Development Projects Nationwide

    Following more than two decades of consistent investment in community development, Guaranty Trust Bank plc is taking its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) another step further by launching a Social Impact Challenge that will fund dozens of innovative ideas designed and executed by members of the general public. Tagged #SimpleChangeBigImpact, the Social Impact Challenge invites individuals […]

  • Akpobome gives indigent girls educational lifeline

    Akpobome gives indigent girl The hope of indigent girls who have been struggling with their education has been rekindled as Mrs. Mary Akpobome, former executive director, Heritage Bank and her husband,  Mr. Atunyota Akpobome, fondly called Alli-Baba have jointly floated The Purple Girl Foundation with the purpose  of helping them live their dreams. Giving reasons […]

  • Buhari’s NLNG signature project back on track

    President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the board, management, staff and shareholders of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas company (NLNG), the NNPC and other Joint Venture partners, Shell, Total and AGIP on the signing of the contracts for the Front End Engineering Design (FFED) of Train 7 of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Project. The President […]

  • Buhari creates unit to snoop on illegal money transfers

    President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit bill (NFIU) 2018 into law, creating a body that will henceforth monitor illegal money transfers and money laundering. The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Sen. Ita Enang, confirmed this development while briefing State House correspondents in Abuja on Wednesday. […]

  • NCC wades into MTN’s labour issues

    The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Monday said the organisation has opened talks with critical stakeholders on MTN’s labour issues. Mr Tony Ojobo, NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, made this known in a statement by in Abuja. “NCC under the leadership of Prof. Umar Danbatta has opened talks with other critical stakeholders  through the office of […]

  • Weak purchasing power responsible for slowing inflation rate, says Chukwu

    FELIX OLOYEDE The continuous decelerating inflation rate in the country was largely due to weak purchasing power amongst Nigerians, said Johnson Chukwu, Managing Director, Cowry Asset Management Ltd. Speaking on the theme: “Economy: H1 2018 review and prospect for year end” at the second edition of the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa (BMIA) Cohort 4 quarterly […]

  • Global outrage grows over incessant herdsmen killings

    …there is anarchy in the land – Utomi   By OBINNA EZUGWU The incessant killings in Nigeria by Fulani herdsmen seem to attracting more global attention as U.S. and U.K. have taken the government to task to stop it. During his recent visit to the U.S. by President Buhari, American President Donald had expressed concern […]