Sani: It’s time we begin to get the economy right
Some are of the opinion that President Buhari’s Economic team is not doing enough to remedy the situation…
I think the only way Nigerians would be satisfied is to see result. The mistake we made is that we did not hit the ground running right from May 29, 2015, when this Government came into power. The hesitation in the appointment of ministers, an Economic team, as well as, taking immediate measures that could have saved the economic situation led us to where we are now.
Immediately after the swearing-in, if government had started implementing the party’s manifesto, we would have gone very far by now. So, I think we have taken so long in remedying the situation and it has gone so bad. Yes, it is true that when we took over, the prices of oil plummeted to less than $30 per barrel. But, what we should have done was ensuring that within the first few weeks in power, we diagnosed the economic situation and come out with a long and short term measures to address the problems.
Short-term measures should have addressed reforms on how government would cushion the negative effects of the economic reality of the shortfall in oil prices, while the long- term measures would have dealt with the immediate setting up of plans for the take off of our diversification programmes. It is over a year since we assumed office and we are just talking of launching the two important programmes, such as, the ‘Green Alternative’ and ‘Change Begins With Me’.
These are the very issues we were supposed to have addressed the first week we took over power. One year is 25 percent of tenure and if you don’t get it right by then, you may end up spending more than two-third of your tenure in office, trying to lay the foundation. But I think we cannot continue to be laying foundations. Since 1999, all governments in Nigeria have been trying to lay foundations. It is good to move away from this foundation and start erecting the proceeding structure of the economy and the Nigerian State.
The Nigerian economy is not capitalist, as some people would want us to believe, though it is a negative modification of it. It is an economy run on the platform of a political order that simply enriches a clique, who happens to be in control of the means of power. If the Obasanjo, Yar’adua and Jonathan administrations had all invested the huge amount of money made during their tenures, we would be singing a different tune now.
For instance, over $20bn was pumped into power projects during Obasanjo’s government, and we are still grappling with less than 3,000 mega watts of electricity. Hundreds of millions of dollars was pumped into education in the last 16 years, but see what is happening to our basic education?
If China is exporting non-oil products worth hundreds of billions of dollars, just like Mexico and Brazil, why can’t we? Nigeria is endowed with three things: a huge population, landmass and resources. So, what is needed is the leadership and wisdom to harness the three and we will be on the road to greatness. What we need to understand now is that no foreigner will come to develop our economy. We have to develop our economy by ourselves and for ourselves.
We have to do it, and sacrifices are necessary. But, the government must carry people along, because if it doesn’t, it will certainly be left alone, which is why I said we must not die before reaching the Promised Land. We must be alive to see the Promised Land.
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