CONTINUED FROM YESTERDAY
Regarding electrical power, we must move beyond limiting states to generate, transmit and distribute electricity to areas not covered by the national grid.
Our problem is a lack of power yet we preclude states from helping to resolve this chronic problem that stabs at the very heart of economic development.
It is not right to say states can generate power but cannot sell it where they want.
Without yielding any countervailing benefit, this policy suppresses the generation of needed power instead of enhancing.
2. RATIONALIZE MONETARY POLICY
Government correctly seeks fiscal stimulus to energize the limping economy.
One can argue that efforts in this direction are perhaps too modest given the situation that confronts us. Our monetary authorities have done better recently but they need to take additional steps to increase the fiscal space available to government and the private sector.
I endorse analysis of Governor Ambode and others that current interest rate levels bridle growth by making borrowing for long-term investment too costly.
Monetary authorities appear to be more concerned with battling inflation than in sparking growth.
However, the nature of our inflation – mainly cost driven – is beyond the purview of interest rate policy to contain. Instead of surrendering growth to curb inflation, current policy sacrifices both.
Also, the varying exchange rates distort economic and monetary signals.
The vast rate differentials is fertile ground for currency arbitrage and speculation.
This means that too much money will chase rentier opportunities in the financial sector instead being plowed into vital investment in the jobs and equipment needed for the production of actual goods.
More fundamentally, we need to break from the self-imposed dollarization of our fiscal space.
The intake of dollars determines our budgets. We operate under an implicit dollar standard.
However, the global dollar standard was formally abandoned over 40 years ago.
Instead of this outdated mechanism, we should base our budgetary calculations on the quantity of naira needed to foster the highest growth possible without pushing inflation too high. Such a change in perspective will remove the ideological blinders that thus far have impeded our ability to define our political economy and its path to growth.
It also will open the fiscal space so that government can undertake even greater steps to stimulate the real economy in ways that provides jobs and builds the infrastructure needed for sustained economic development.
3. COORDINATED INFRASTRUCTURAL AND INDUSTRIAL POLICIES
No modern nation with a significant urban population has attained prosperity without an industrial base capable of employing larger numbers of people and of manufacturing goods for domestic consumption and export.
To one degree or another, English, American and Chinese governments employed industrial planning to lift their economies during their earlier stages of development.
These nations represent the past, present and immediate future of economic achievement. Their success justifies their policies.
Yet we depart from what has proven the most effective avenue to prosperity for a large developing nation.
We must press forward with a national industrial policy fostering strategic industries that create jobs and spur growth. Tax credits, subsidies and the insulation from the negative impact of imports for critical sectors should be integral to this plan.
4. PROVIDE INFRASTRUCTURE AND POWER
We must remember a national economy cannot grow beyond the capacity of the infrastructural that serves it.
Thus, we need a national infrastructure plan closely linked to the industrial plan. New infrastructure is needed where the new industrial work will take place. We must conquer the political and bureaucratic bottlenecks preventing affordable, reliable electrical power.
This impediment places us literally and figuratively in the dark regarding our economic condition.
The problems are not technical in nature as reliable electricity is a staple of economic life in nations less endowed than Nigeria. We must persuade and convince those factors that currently impede our national quest for reliable power to move aside so that we can achieve this crucial precursor to economic vitality.
5. HELP THE FARMER: AGRICULTURAL REFORM
Our farmers need a reprieve.
We need to increase farm productivity by taking a few critical steps. For example, commodity exchange boards and futures markets to ensure minimum farm incomes and encourage production must become part of our rural economies.
My friends, we stand at a moment where history will be made for better or worse. Other nations have faced tough times.
Those which overcame their challenges did so by using creative insight to accurately assess their shortcomings and to identify solutions that would serve them into the future. Nigeria must act in similar fashion.
Nothing that any other nation has done is beyond our grasp if we commit ourselves to the task.
We have much work to do to create the Nigeria we seek so that the Daily Times may continue to report on the progress of this nation for another 91 years or more. In doing so, let it chronicle the rebirth of Nigeria as a nation much more prosperous and great than when it was first conceived.
Akeredolu’s one-year anniversary
Governor of my native Ondo State, Arakunrin (Mr.) Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu aka Aketi, will be one year in office on Saturday, 24th February. It has been one very drab and dreary year. Aketi has been damn too quiet and too, too cold for comfort. Is it that he is a silent worker and not a “noisemaker”, to quote President Muhammadu Buhari?
Does he want his performance only to speak for him? He must be told that in politics, what is not seen to exist does not exist. He has to draw positive attention, if not to himself, then, to our state, and grab the headlines. Perception is vital; governance necessarily must be action-laden. A leader must mobilise and energise his people; he must be seen and heard and cannot be self-effacing. He must exude confidence and fire our spirit.
He must convince; he must make profound statements. Gone were the days when we had quotable quotes from our leaders. As illiterate and anti-intellectual as Gen. Sani Abacha was, he left behind one quotable quote no one will forget in a hurry.
It is: “Enough is now enough”! Or who can forget that quote from the late Ooni Oba Okunade Sijuwade: “E jade ki e lo try best yin”? Leaders must inspire their people. Akeredolu is a well-educated, learned, and experienced person and shouldn’t have any problem in this regard!
Leadership is also about “action”; Aketi must wake up from his slumber and give us some action. He must begin to speak up and speak out. We want to hear him; the world wants to hear him. How will he draw attention to our state if he behaves like a monk or recluse?
I am sure he saw a monastery there when he chose to vie for the Government House. Last Thursday as I made my way to the airport in Akure to board an Air Peace flight to Lagos, I listened to a phone-in radio programme where my brother, Yemi Olowolabi, the Ondo State Commissioner for Information, featured. Yemi came late and I did not hear him offer any apologies. That was not good enough.
Yemi, however, is a gentleman par excellence; very polite, humble, respectful, responsible, and vivacious. My path and his first crossed when he was Chief Press Secretary to the late Governor Olusegun Agagu of Ondo State; some senior professional colleagues had put pressure on me to travel to Akure to help the Agagu government out with some of its media problems.
Yemi did not behave like many other CPS who would immediately see you as a threat and an enemy coming to snatch their job. He cooperated fully with me and we worked seamlessly. He gave me very useful lessons that enabled me settle down fast on the job.
The first was that while Dr. Agagu was the de jure governor; his younger brother, Pastor Femi Agagu (Chief of Staff), was the de facto governor. Once you had seen Femi, you did not need to see the senior Agagu, who virtually abdicated power to his younger brother. Incidentally, Femi is also a commissioner in the Akeredolu government.
Second lesson: We were to travel to Lagos to address a press conference and Yemi brought a paper for me to sign. I asked why I should and he said we must give the proverbial “brown envelope” I protested that we shouldn’t and he laughed.
He said, “Oga, your own generation was ‘thank you, editors’. You did your job and received ‘thank you’ but the present generation is ‘Ghana-must-go’” Grudgingly, I signed and Femi released the millions and we carted it to Lagos. At the Chinese restaurant venue of the event, I was not only surprised that Yemi was proved right; other things happened that must not be relayed here.
A week or so before the 2014 Ekiti governorship election, Yemi and I compared notes at the Trade Fair hotel, Ado-Ekiti; troubled by the feelers I was getting from my numerous readers as well as my own independent investigations, I had asked Yemi whether he thought Kayode Fayemi could win re-election. Both of us were rooting for Fayemi.
Yemi was sure Fayemi would win in all local governments and that Ayo Fayose would not win in any. I told him my reservations and findings, but he assured me there was no way Fayose would win a single local government. As it turned it, the reverse was the case. Yemi returned to his “Red Carpet” after that, before his latest appointment with Akeredolu. I must not forget to put on record his sense of duty during the high-wire re-election bid of Agagu.
That election was massively rigged and Government House was the epi-centre of the sordid act of votes doctoring. I had the privilege of a blow-by-blow account as resounding defeat was turned into resounding success but results could not be announced; tension was thick in the air. My phone rang in the morning and Mr. Depo Tewobola, one of the two-some who had sent me to Akure for the media consultancy job, said, “Bola, where are you?”
“Of course, where else but Akure where you had sent me.” “What are you still doing there? Don’t you know that state will burn any moment from now?”
I jumped out of bed, threw my things into the car and zoomed out of Owena Motels. Getting to NEPA Junction, there were bonfires everywhere already. The police advised me to go back but I elected to brave it. I drove through four bonfires to get to the outskirts of town.
A few kilometres to Owena my phone rang and Yemi said he was on his way to ferry me from my hotel to a safe house at Government House but I told him I had already escaped. He shouted for joy and wished me Godspeed.
Last Thursday on the radio programme mentioned earlier, Yemi reeled out a long list of achievements by Akeredolu’s government: roads everywhere; reduction in the backlog of salary arrears from 8/7 months to two; what they were doing about potable water supply, etc. If they have done that much, why are they not flaunting it? I heard the controversy over the stoppage or non-stoppage of free education in Ondo State; and the criminal silence of the state government over herdsmen’s rampage in the state is known to all. Except for a whimper from Aketi a while ago, herdsmen’s atrocities have grown into a monstrosity in Ondo State.
Aketi has fidgeted, trying the balancing act of juxtaposing the interests of the Abuja people who made him governor against those of the good people of Ondo State whom he governs.
Chief Olu Falae was kidnapped, his farm violated again and again and then set ablaze; herdsmen have sacked a whole council secretariat; they have invaded the airport; laid ambush on the highways; and have raped, maimed, and killed innocent people – Aketi has not only done nothing, he has not as much as found his voice. And this is what Hausa/Fulani leaders of all hues will not do for anyone. Whoever you are and no matter the good turn you have done them, they will never sacrifice the interest of their people for you.
Witness the travails of Tinubu and the mockery of him they are making at the moment! We have got to wizen up! While I congratulate Aketi on the occasion of his first anniversary, he must now begin to show a sterner stuff, which I believe he is made of. Dabo,’miyemi, ma d’usha yi meren non! I know Aketi has a good media hand in Yemi Olowolabi – except he is one of those governors who do not empower their media handlers.
2019: No doubt Atiku is ready
Permit me to add my petite voice to the euphoric voices already clamouring for Atiku Abubakar’s candidacy in the upcoming 2019 general elections.
And rightly so! A poorly-handled search for a presidential flag bearer by a discordance of characters over the years, has led the nation to an unfocused and unmitigated democratic debacle.
Many Nigerians have ignored the essence of our failing egalitarianism. We must acknowledge that we are the instigators of our bad leadership, since we have accepted and allowed mediocrity to shine over merit – as if it is normal – and naturally, we are left with no one to be blamed but ‘we, the people’.
We have been constantly reminded by the political hegemony that they know what our problems are and that they have the solutions, but they have never revealed how the solutions they proffer will fix the pervasive malady and incompetence of Nigeria’s leadership. It is in this vein that I have decided to help amplify the calls for the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to be given a chance.
I make bold to say that each time he threw his hat into the political ring to contest for the highest political office in the land, he had done so fully prepared and armed with a manifesto detailing his policies, vis-a-vis the implementation strategies from experts coming together from different strata of our economic, security and social endeavours – need I say, he has the intellectual capacity to select persons who can execute these tasks – even to the admiration of his political opponents.
Evidently, his philan-thropic lifestyle, his chains of businesses across Nigeria with thousands of employees have lent credence to the purposeful leadership he is equipped to provide.
One must also salute the boldness of those individuals and group of persons, who have shown maturity of political awareness as they speak up in support of Atiku’s candidacy for the 2019 presidential election.
Nigeria, due to its heterogeneous nature, is not a nation that can or should be governed by mere intentions and dreams. It must be governed with genuine and sound ideas in tune with the yearning and general aspirations of our middle class and the teeming youths.
The myriad of problems facing the nation at the moment cannot be wished away by mere lamentation and teethgnashing.
There’s need for concerted efforts by able-bodied and intellectually-gifted men and women of this nation led by a strong, dependable and reliable leadership to take us out of this self-imposed journey into the doldrums, and Atiku Abubakar will do that. He has passed the test of leadership at all given times.
Therefore, this is not a misplaced outburst. Atiku, beyond the shadow of a doubt, has demonstrated the capacity and fitness to lead this nation especially, at a time like this that wisdom is required to amend the torn fabric of our dear country. Finally, we all know that discontent, distrust, insecurity, unemployment and fear are perfect recipe for disaster. We avert such doom with Atiku Abubakar at the helm.
•Ladan writes from Gwarinpa Estate, Abuja.
Nigeria, Britain and the naira
The Nigeria’s history won’t be concluded without mentioning the United Kingdom (UK). The latter has hitherto remained a household name when discussing the former, particularly in the aspect of the country’s politics as well as economy.
It’s noteworthy that the UK comprises mainly the Great Britain and the Northern Ireland. If further split, the former consists of England, Scotland and Wales; among these three, the first two countries majorly constitute the Britain. Owing to both the population and landmass’ percentage Britain occupies in the bloc, the UK is usually referred to as Britain.
The Britain, which remains the prime sovereignty in the UK, has invariably been playing the role of a father in the Nigeria’s polity as a whole. The obvious fact that Nigeria was a British colony from the 19th century till it became an independent nation in 1960 can never be swept under the carpet or be forgotten in a hurry. The unending appreciation of the two countries’ bilateral relation cannot be unconnected with the aforementioned record.
Penultimate week, the UK’s Export Finance agency disclosed its intention to add the Nigeria’s legal tender, naira, to its list of ‘pre-approved currencies’, allowing it to provide financing for transactions with Nigerian businesses dominated in the local currency. By so doing, the naira will become one of the three West African legal tenders that the UK export finance has pre-approved for its means of funding transactions that promote trade with the UK.
It would be recalled that the Britain voted in 2016 to leave the European Union (EU). The awaited exit has persuaded London, the capital territory of the UK, to embrace a rethink over its trade ties with the rest of the world. It’s thus needless to state that the country is currently reviewing its existing trade and investment policies towards ushering in more suitable and beneficial ones.
It’s worth noting that in the last three years, severe dollar shortage in the Nigeria’s foreign exchange market caused by the emergence of lower oil prices, forced the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to allow the naira to float after it lost third of its official value against the dollar. This, therefore, is the reason the currency has not ceased to stagger within the period in review.
It is imperative to acknowledge that the pronouncement in question, if duly implemented, would go a long way in strengthening the Nigeria-UK bilateral cooperation, thereby easing the rate of importation of goods from the latter to the former. Since the naira would be accepted as a legal tender in the aforesaid foreign country, Nigeria importers can easily pay for goods and services over there with the use of the currency. This implies that the said set of traders wouldn’t need to queue at the Nigeria’s foreign exchange market to change the naira for dollar or pound sterling.
But if critically viewed, it would be realised that such a policy can cause overflow of the naira, which is presently in a pathetic mood. More so, the ongoing double-digit interest rate will equally soar the prices of the goods to be imported into the country from the UK since it’s understandable that borrowing is synonymous with importers. I’m afraid; these foreseen consequences might result to further depreciation of the naira.
Besides, the President Muhammadu Buhari–led government that is deeply concerned about boosting the country’s local market may not be favoured by the policy, which is likely to lead to another phase of over-dependence of imported commodities that has overtime bedevilled our economy. It’s not anymore news that the present administration’s mantra is anchored on diversification of the country’s revenue base. So, for this to come at a time Nigerians are encouraged to think home is enough reason to say that anyone that really means well for Nigeria is still sceptical over the actual merits that are attached to the policy.
This is to say that, in the long run, the monetary policy might mainly boom individual pockets to the detriment of the national coffer. Such resultant effect wouldn’t augur well for the country’s export base that’s seriously yearning for rescue, hence at the expense of her economy at large. Any fiscal measure that’s liable to benefit just a few individuals but impoverish the majority isn’t worth celebrating.
As much as the UK is apparently trying to boost the Nigeria’s pride in the international market by initiating suchlike policy, we mustn’t forget so fast that the former stands to be the key beneficiary of the initiative, hence the need for us not to be carried away by the euphoria that accompanies the news.
The good news is that, such an approach would make the naira to be more recognized and respected globally. On the other hand, it could also reduce the ongoing influx at the parallel market because most importers may have little or no business to transact over there, thereby returning the rightful status of the commercial banks.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that if critically examined, the naira might not get its fair share of the deal; that the naira might cry foul as the odyssey progresses; that it may end up causing the currency more harm than good. We must note that in any business or relation, every partner involved is more concerned about what his personal benefit entails. Think about it!
•Doc Nwaozor, the Executive Director of Docfred Resource Hub, writes via: firstname.lastname@example.org
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