The 2016 UNDP development index puts Nigeria at 152 out of 188 countries and territories. This report is the composite statistics of life expectancy, education and per capita income, yet Nigeria is one of the most endowed nations on earth. Apart from some of its human capital, recording feats and recognized the world over, is her natural resources. The country has vast arable land and at full capacity, the country produces about 2 million barrels of crude per day with estimated 166 trillion cubic meters of gas, coal estimated at 3 billion tonnes with 600 billion proven reserves, bitumen of about 42 billion tonnes, iron ore of about 3 billion tonnes, talc estimated at 40 million tonnes, kaolin estimated at 3 billion tonnes, rock salt 1.5 billion tonnes as well as gypsum, gold, lead, zinc, barite, gemstones etc.
In response to the economic recession being experienced by the country, the government in early April, 2017 formally unveiled its “Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP)” to pursue the medium to long-term objectives of realizing certain national targets in the economy between 2017 and 2020’’. Prior to this, the country had undertaken four national development plans in her post-independence history -the First National Development Plan (1962-68), the Second National Development Plan (1970-74), the Third National Development Plan (1975-80) and the Fourth National Development Plan (1981-85). Others are the Perspective and Rolling Plans (1986-1994), Structural Adjustment Programme, the NEEDS and SEEDS Strategy and the Visions 2010 and later 20-20-20. Despite these plans and notwithstanding the high growth recorded between 2011 and 2015, which averaged 4.8 per cent per annum, majority of Nigerians remained under the burden of poverty and unemployment. Worse still the country went into recession in the second quarter of 2016.
Countries engage in deliberate plans that fully integrate economic parameters at all levels into an overall national strategy to realize national policies to ensure sustained economic growth and development or recovery and better life for citizens. Development planning in this context is a long-term programme designed by the government to effect some permanent structural changes in the economy by setting out objectives on the way it wants the economy to develop in the future and taking predetermined steps to achieve those objectives. Development planning is necessary because development is neither accidental nor does it take place naturally and quickly of its own accord, it is thus expedient to plan it deliberately. This paper intends to highlight the key components of the Economic Recovery Plan as well as likely impediments to its full realization drawing from the setbacks and lessons of previous development plans with the hope that those charged with midwifing the plan take pro-active steps to ensure this plan does not go the way of others.
Synopsis of the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan
In response to the current economic recession, the consensus among a cross section of Nigerians and policy analysts is that previous economic policies where the structure of the economy remained highly import dependent, consumption driven and undiversified with no culture of savings for the future and dilapidated infrastructure left the country ill-prepared for the recent collapse of crude oil prices and production. For instance, oil accounted for more than 95 per cent of exports and foreign exchange earnings while the manufacturing sector accounted for less than one percent of total exports. The Economic Growth and Recovery Plan introduced by the Government is tailored to reverse this trend. It has three broad strategic objectives – restoring growth of the economy, investing in the Nigerian people, and building a globally competitive economy. To achieve these objectives, the plan aims to-
– grow the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2.19 percent in 2017 and 7.0 percent by the end 2020;
– reduce inflation to single digit by 2020 and increasing federal government’s revenues from N2.7 trillion in 2016 to N4.7 trillion in 2020;
– prioritize key turnaround interventions and enablers to generate concrete, visible impact by 2017, and articulate medium term economic policies for implementation between 2017 and 2020;
– achieve macroeconomic stability, economic growth and diversification, competitiveness of the business environment, improve on governance systems and security;
– boost oil production from 1.4 million barrels per day in 2016 to 2.2 million barrels per day in 2017 and 2.5 million barrels per day by 2020 and as well improve oil revenues earnings from N700 billion in 2016 to N1.3 trillion per year in 2017 and N1.45 trillion per year by 2020;
– boost efficiency in savings of N50 billion per year and reducing government overhead expenditures by 25 per cent.
– focus on tackling constraints to national economic growth, by leveraging the power of the private sector towards economic recovery and transformation;
– emphasize improvement on public and private sector efficiency towards increased national productivity, sustainable diversification of the economy, production, food and energy security.
The plan builds on the short-term Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) of the 2016 ‘Budget of Change’ towards sustainable accelerated development for 2017-2020 and is consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as it addresses economic, social and environmental sustainability issues, and also builds on the National Industrial Revolution Plan and the Nigeria Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan.
The plan is anchored on five execution priorities to kick-start economic recovery i.e. stabilization of the macroeconomic environment, achieving agriculture and food security, ensuring energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products, improving transport infrastructure, and driving industrialization through local and small business enterprises;
To drive this plan, the budget and planning functions were merged into one ministry to create a better and stronger link between annual budgets and the national economic plan as well as creating a delivery unit in the Presidency on implementation of identified economic priorities.
The plan boasts of being different from previous plans, as there appears to be strong political determination, commitment and will at the highest level to realize the objectives by tackling corruption, improving security and promoting effective collaboration and coordination between the Federal and State governments’ towards achieving these national objectives. As laudable as this plan may be, the Nigerian factor and the giant killers of previous plans are still very much with us. Thus how the much taunted political will steers the ship of this plan to achieve set objectives remains to be seen in no time given that there is always resistance to change and corruption has a way of fighting back.
Constraints of economic planning in Nigeria
Several years of development planning and policies in the country have failed to produce the anticipated and much sought-after sustainable development that is why we have found ourselves in the present economic quagmire. There still exist huge development gaps that have reached problematic levels. The reality is that true development has never been on the agenda as far as the Nigerian leadership is concerned as such plans were greatly undermined by political exigencies. Some have posited that lack of clear vision is the foundational basis for the disjointed and poor result indicators that have so far attended development planning efforts in Nigeria. Ejumudo identifies factors like misplacement of priorities, absence of relevant data, systemic corruption, poor plan discipline, lack of self-reliance, public sector inefficiency as well as poor public/private sector partnership as the sundry and micro factors that have made genuine development in the country illusory. These and other fundamental constraints are discussed below.
Faulty legal framework
Our laws are archaic, obsolete and inadequate to address the present day competitiveness of the global economy. The Country is still operating the Petroleum Act of 1969 and all attempts since 2006 to enact the Petroleum Industry Bill to open up the industry and make it more competitive and efficient has been frustrated at every point, yet the plan targets to boost oil output and revenue from N700 billion in 2016 to N1.45 trillion per year by 2020. How feasible that is under the extant legal regime is yet to be seen. One of the key drivers of the plan is diversification of the economy through agriculture yet the challenges of acquiring land have not been addressed. It is not subsistence farming that will create the needed impact to diversify the economy but mechanized and commercial agriculture. The Land Use Act of 1978 vests land in the Governors of the respective States where they are located. No person can validly transact in land except with the consent of the governor. The process is cumbersome, laborious and takes almost eternity to grant. If the private sector cannot participate due to constraints of access to land, government alone cannot achieve desired results. River Basin Development Authorities were established across the Federation to boost food sufficiency and diversify the economy, but they are yet to achieve these. Land is needed for commercial farming, real estate development, to access capital for productive ventures considering high interest rates and stringent bank conditions. Thus unless the Land Use Act is removed from the Constitution to make it more amenable to amendments to meet current dynamics and access to land made readily available to investors, the diversification of the economy through agriculture will remain a mirage. It is therefore expedient for government to ensure that the Land Use Act and Petroleum Acts are re-engineered to meet contemporary demands.
The government has assured the polity of the requisite political will to see through the recovery plan. Despite assurances to enforce plan discipline, Nigerian leaders simply have had a predilection for side tracking development plans and policies at the slightest opportunity and yielding to exigency and convenience. Our country is replete with instances of policy somersaults by the political class and the bourgeoisie in a blatant bureaucracy. Typical examples could be seen in the Federal Government partnership with Virgin Atlantic in 2001 to float Virgin Nigeria which was jettisoned in no time. Virgin Atlantic pulled out of the country. Till date the country has not been able to float a national carrier. Another case in point is the concessioning of Murtala Mohammed Airport 2, Lagos and the attempt by government to rescind the concession shortly after but for the resilience of the Company to seek legal redress. A recent case is the Centenary City Project in Abuja which has been stalled. The point is that oil which is the main source of revenue is not enough to drive the needed development of the country and while successive governments seek Foreign Direct Investment to boost development, those who dare invest are given the short end of the stick through policy reversals and inconsistencies’. Another scenario is our impatience and preference for quick fixes to the drudgery and discipline of long term planning and execution. Some policy analysts have posited that the high and disproportionate exchange rate experienced lately is as a result of hasty monetary policies of government. At present the government is being called upon from certain quarters to reverse the privatization of the power sector. We should learn to be patient and allow policy plans run their course.
Misplacement of priorities
Added to the lack of political will is the misplacement of priorities. Although plans are made to accommodate some variations, the various plans in Nigeria in the past were so altered during the implementation stages to the extent of distorting and dislocating the overall objectives. Lack of discipline in plan implementation led to many abandoned projects which litter the country’s landscape today. Indeed, Nigeria is described as a graveyard for abandoned projects. The Ajaokuta Steel Complex captured in the 1st and 2nd development plans that ought to play a catalytic role in the country’s industrialization drive was projected for completion in the 4th plan and was leisurely funded, mismanaged and now comatose while programmes like FESTAC 77 with humongous cost implications but which was not captured in any plan was given priority. In fact, the plans of the various governments witnessed under spending on directly productive projects and overspending on prestige, fancy or white elephant projects not included in the plans.
Public Service inefficiency
Since the public service is the institution that implements the development plans, any effort at improving our implementation record must begin with the public service. The fact that Nigerians outside the public service are quite productive is an indication that the problem must lie to a large extent with the service itself. Although the public service reforms, which among other things, attempted to increase the level of professionalization in the service, was a step in the right direction, the public service is still plagued with the problem of lethargy, management malady, poor conditions of service and remuneration, overstaffing, and lack of a clear-cut job description, thus becoming more of a drag than a facilitator or vehicle for development.
Without security there can be no development. The nation’s current security landscape consists of threats from Boko haram, sectarian violence, militancy, herdsmen and farmers’ clashes, civil crises, communal clashes, cultism, ritual killings, robberies, vandalism, proliferation of light weapons and small arms, and terrorism. Kidnappings, hitherto restricted to the Niger Delta, have spread to other parts of the country, just as more cases of assassination have joined the long list of unresolved cases in the country. The situation is so worrisome that certain countries have issued travel warnings and advisories in respect of certain parts of the country while some multinationals have divested and moved their investments out of the country, thus robbing the country of economic activities that should provide employment, reduced poverty and contributed to economic growth and stability. Resource control, self-determination and religious fanaticism now provide cover for criminality.
Dearth of relevant data
Dearth of accurate data results in faulty planning. Accurate data is a very scarce commodity in Nigeria due to problems arising from the inadequacies of the Federal Office of Statistics, the unwillingness of Nigerians to reveal information and the outright manipulation of data for political, pecuniary or other gains. The most vivid illustration of the problem of data in Nigeria is the fact that since independence till date, nobody has been able to answer the simple question “How many are we?” A country that does not know its population would definitely not be in position to determine the other vital statistics necessary for planning e.g. birth-rate, death-rate, number of those of school age and the other demographic changes in the population. The absence of reliable background data has made the use of social indicators difficult and inadequate for plan preparation, implementation and the monitoring of national development.
Funding constraints and sundry considerations
The fact that the country’s economy is a mono-product economy and susceptible to international oil market distortions should not be lost on us. There is need to be circumspect in the funding outlay and guard against funding shocks because of the tendency to have over-sized plans based on high expectations from foreign resources and borrowing. This was the situation during the fourth plan, when the original capital outlay of N70.5 billion for the public sector became unrealistic as a result of the distortions in the oil market. The plan’s resource allocation was based on the assumption that oil production would remain at over 2 million barrels a day at a price of at least, $40 per barrel but by February, 1983, Nigeria was producing less than 1 million barrels per day at about $30 per barrel. This was also the case in recent past that plummeted the economy into recession. Already, the 2017 budget has a fiscal deficit of about N2.36 trillion to be financed largely by borrowing. Also of importance is that the country must move away from the neo-colonial and imperialists capital intensive approach to development. We must also recognize the key role of indigenous technological capability in national development and leverage on it, more so that the reliance on technology transfer through multinationals has proved to be a mirage. Another weak link is low collaboration between the public and the private sectors in development planning efforts in Nigeria. In fact, development planning has largely followed bureaucratic processes with little private sector participation so much so that such efforts can be appropriately described as lacking in synergy. Ordinarily, development planning is supposed to incorporate broad policy frameworks that will have elements of public and private sector initiatives.
Corruption is the big masquerade that has rendered our economy prostrate and almost grounding the Nigerian State. Nigerians have consciously or unconsciously, created systemic corruption in the polity and the trend has continued. Corruption has grown enormously in variety, magnitude and brazenness because it has been extravagantly fuelled by budgetary abuse and political patronage. Consequently, public and private sectors funds were channeled to political allies, business surrogates, personal or family friends in the guise of contracts to execute public works of one kind or another. Similarly, the attraction of privatization to government is more of profit making, as asset sale led to huge injection of cash into its treasury. In many instances, Nigerians were skeptical about the acclaimed benefits of privatization. For instance, the unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in August, 2013 into 15 companies made up of 10 DISCOs and 5 GENCOs for the generation and transmission of electricity across the country due to the organization’s consistent failure to provide enough power to meet demand, despite consuming more than US$6 billion in state subsidies between 1999 to 2007. The problem is that the issue of provision of power was politicized as politicians took over the responsibilities of technocrats in the sector. To address this malaise, the government must exhibit the political will to fight corruption to a standstill, empower the anti-corruption agencies with adequate funding and re-engineering of the legal framework to discharge their duties effectively, enhance its organizational operations, draw up new strategies and create synergy with complimentary institutions such as the police and the judiciary to sustain effectiveness and ultimately earn the trust and confidence of the public.(Joab-Peterside)
Some political economy thoughts
Where are we coming from?
1. As at 1st October 1960 when Nigeria got her independence from Britain her economy was at par with the economies of India, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Nigeria had three Regions, the Eastern, Western and Northern Regions. In 1963 the Mid West Region was created out of the Western Region.
2. Infrastructure was basic but functional. Schools and hospitals were good. The Regions contributed to the Federal purse. The Regions were substantially autonomous, had their constitutions and had representative offices abroad. The Federal government was given exclusive powers over defence, foreign relations and commercial and fiscal policy. The equivalent of Local Government Councils today which were County Councils and Native Authorities built schools, roads and hospitals. Native Authorities in the Northern Region ran their own police. The economy of Nigeria was among the fastest growing in the world. Indeed economic historians postulate that by 1965 the economy of the then Eastern Region was the fastest growing in the world. The mainstay of the economy was agriculture and mining. The Northern Region was world famous for its groundnut pyramids, hydes and skin, the Western Region for its Cocoa and rubber, and the Eastern Region for oil palm, rubber and cocoa. In 1965, as a primary school student my school St. Martins Primary School Ikom in today’s Cross River State received two prominent visitors, the first Roman Catholic priest from the then Ogoja Diocese, Rev Father Joseph Edra Ukpo who retired as the Metropolitan Arch Bishop of Calabar, and some Malaysians whom we were told had come to collect oil palm seeds.
3. On 15 January 1966, a group of young military officers mainly of Ibo extraction led by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu overthrew the government and assassinated the Prime Minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the Premier of the North, the legendary Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Premier of the Western Region, Chief S.L. Akintola and many others including senior military officers of mainly Northern extraction and the flamboyant Minister of Finance, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh. After some manouvres which some historians refer to as another coup, Major General Johnson Thompson Aguiyi Ironsi, the first indigenous head of the Nigerian Army, became military Head of State.
4. General Ironsi was unable to quieten the ethnic tensions that arose from the Nzeogu led coup and also failed to produce a constitution acceptable to all sections of the country. Most fateful for General Ironsi however was the promulgation of Decree No.34 which sought to abrogate the Regions and the federal structure and create a unitary State. This led to another coup by largely northern officers in July 1966 which established the leadership of the then Lt. Col Yakubu Gowon.
5. On May 30, 1967 Lt, Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegeu Ojukwu, then Military Governor of the then Eastern Region announced the secession of the Eastern Region from Nigeria and declared the Republic of Biafra. To pre-empt him General Yakubu Gowon (as he now was) had on 27 May 1967 announced the dissolution of the four Regions and the creation of twelve new States.
6. Generals Murtala Mohammed and Olusegun Obasanjo who succeeded General Gowon created nine additional States, General Ibrahim Babangida created eleven States while General Sani Abacha created six bringing the total number of States to the thirty six that we have today. All States were thus created by Military regimes apart from the defunct Mid West Region that so far remains the only component or federating unit to have been created in a democracy. In summary between 1960 to 1963 we had three Regions, by 1963,four Regions, twelve States by 1967, 1976 to 1987, 19 States, 1987 to 1991,21 States, 1991 to 1996, thirty States and the Federal Capital Territory and from 1996, thirty six States. In thirty six years therefore we moved from three federating units to thirty six, an average of one per year, easily the most prolific bifurcation of federating units in history.
Where are we?
Can we say we are still at par with the referenced countries? A simple look at some features will give us an answer:
Population- 1.276 billion
Land mass- 3,287,260 km2 or 1,269,220 sq.mi
GDP (PPP) USD 8.07 trillion; nominal USD 2,182 trillion
per capita- USD 1,688
Number of States- 29
Land mass- 8,515,767 km2 or 3,287,597 sq. mi
GDP (ppp) USD 3.208 trillion, nominal USD 1.534
Per capita- USD 8,802
Number of States- 26
Land mass- 3,287,260 km2 or 1,269,220 sq. mi
GDP (ppp) USD 2.840 trillion (nominal) USD 895 billion
Per capita- USD 3,511
Number of provinces- 34
Population- 31 m
Land mass- 330,803 km2 or 127,720 sq. mi
GDP (PPP) USD 800, 16 nominal USD 375.633
Per capita- USD 12,127
Number of States- 13
Land mass- 719.1 km2 or 278 sq . mi
GDP (PPP)- USD 452.686 billion (nominal) USD 308.051 billion
Per capita-USD 56,319
Number of states- nil; city state
Population- 182m (estimated)
Land mass- 923,768 km2 or 356,667 sq.mi
GDP (PPP)- USD 1.667 trillion, nominal USD 605.275 billion
Per capita-USD 2,640
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders within a specific time, usually on annual basis. By GDP India and Brazil are among the top ten countries of the world, India at number 7 and Brazil at number 9. Indonesia is number 16, Nigeria 23 and Malaysia 33. However all other economic indices like inflation rate, unemployment rate, budget deficit and change in real GDP put the referenced countries ahead of Nigeria. So do social indicators.
What did we share?
Brazil and Indonesia share the commonality of our experience of military rule. Inspite of the disruptions of military rule they have made substantial economic progress nevertheless. Theirs, therefore, are examples that inspite of the disruptiveness of military rule development is possible. Indeed the military regime of Getuilo Dornelles Vargas of Brazil is credited with the transformation of Brazil and the introduction of Estado Novo, ” the new state” though it was characterized by the over centralization of power at the expense of the provinces. Nigeria has had a feast of military regimes, Ironsi, Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Obasanjo, Buhari, Babangida, Sani Abacha and Abdulsalam Abubakar, cumulatively spanning almost thirty years of our post colonial period, but in my view, hardly transformative, indeed disruptive totally distorting our federalism especially by over centralizing power and resources and effectively creating a unitary State, the same structure that was the justification for the overthrow of General Aguyi – Ironsi.
What did we do that they did not do?
Relative to their land mass and populations they have fewer and therefore larger federating units, whether as States or Provinces. Their federating units have been largely numerically stable and where there has been bifurcation, division or creation, it has not been as dramatic, prolific and as rampant as it has been in the case of Nigeria. In a sense there is the economics of scale in federating units.
I had earlier said that between 1960 to 1996, a period of thirty six years, we moved from three Regions to thirty six States, that is, on the average a new State per year of that period. This rate of proliferation has had systemic and structural implications and complications.
Implications and complications
As earlier mentioned as at 1965 Nigeria’s economy was among the fastest growing in the world and that of the defunct Eastern Region reputed to be the fastest growing in the world. My deduction is that structurally we were at optimal point of structural efficiency that guaranteed economic development, and this was empirical, it showed in our economic growth rate.
We need to do comparative analyses of the national budgets and other economic indicators to find the breaking point, that is the point where through states creation we became structurally inefficient, to be factual and authoritative. I however have some informed suspicions.
Up to and including when we had twelve States, the Federal and the States’ governments delivered massively on infrastructure. The then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon was famously quoted to have said that ‘money was not the problem but how to spend it’.
By the time we got to nineteen States, payment of salaries to workers in the States’ public services had become an issue. Delays in workers salaries were common and retrenchment of workers was a familiar feature. Delivery on infrastructural projects slowed considerably.
With subsequent States’ creation exercises payment of workers salaries became celebrated as major achievements by States’ administrations. Infrastructure became mere promises and inane achievements were by propaganda elevated the sublime. Let us compare Sir Ahmadu Bello, Michael Okpara, Obafemi Awolowo and Dennis Osadebe of the four Regions, the Northern, Eastern, Western and Mid-Western or Samuel Ogbemudia, (Mid-West) Alfred Diete Spiff ( Rivers), Audu Bako ( Kano), U.J.Esuene (South Eastern State), Mobolaji Johnson (Lagos), David Bamigboye (Kwara), Usman Farouk (North Western) Ukpabi Asika (East Central) and Adeyinka Adebayo and Oluwole Rotimi (Western ) States of the twelve States structure with later day Governors, whether military or civilian. One conclusion is inevitable, the progressive depreciation of governance with each States creation exercise, and indeed, each subsequent dispensation. Why?
Each newly created state required a bureaucracy and there are as many bureaucracies as there are states. With each state creation people were promoted into positions for which they were not ready. I know of a State where school teachers, without any prior experience, were appointed directors-general, as permanent secretaries were then known. Infact a disc jokey whose only experience in government was having been a councillor in a Local Government was also appointed a director general in that dispensation. Inefficiency and incompetence were thus promoted in the system. Inefficiency and incompetence breed corruption. Corruption is taking advantage of inefficiency or weaknesses in the system for private advantage or gain. The same inefficiency and incompetence were fed to the federal system.
The higher the number of States the higher the theatres of corruption and the bigger the infrastructure for corruption.
Federating units and the national and states budgets
A comparative study and analyses of the Federal and Regional/ States budgets from 1960 till date will need to be done for my postulation to be factual, scientific or objective. However, I strongly believe that there is a direct correlation between the number of Regions or States and the ratio between the capital and recurrent budgets and the extent of budget implementation.
States, in Nigeria, were never created on economic considerations or as economic units, rather they were created whimsically on political and personal considerations. Economic viability of States was not a criterion in the creation of States. The States were therefore conceived as consumption and not production centres. Up to and including the twelve States structure, States were able to massively deliver on infrastructure because in my yet to be verified view the various budgets, Federal and States, the capital/recurrent ratio weighted substantially in favour of capital component of the Budget. As more states were created the ratio progressively reversed to a point where the capital components of both the Federal and States budgets was barely twenty percent.
It is the capital component of the budget that delivers development and poverty reduction through the implementation of capital projects. It is the aspect of the overall national budget that determines the allocation of funds to finance capital projects and critical infrastructure such as the construction of roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, railways, irrigation systems, prisons, electricity, water, purchase of machinery and equipment etc. The capital budget is used to finance or fund durable assets. The recurrent component is the ‘consumption’ component more or less, providing for emoluments and overheads essentially. Our current structural configuration has therefore become a drag, indeed, a burden.
There are several factors that breed corruption. Inefficient and incompetent bureaucracies as a result of intemperate States creation which has resulted in the institutionalization of essentially a unitary system of government and a nominal federalism is one of them. Corruption is very costly. Price Water House Coopers (PWC) believes that if the level of corruption in Nigeria were at the level of Ghana’s, Malaysia’s and Colombia’s, Nigeria’s economy worth USD 513 billion in 2014 would have been twenty two percent bigger. By 2030, PwC predicts that Nigeria’s economy should triple and that if Nigeria manages to reduce corruption to Malaysia’s level, the economy could be bigger by 37 per cent. The additional gain would be worth USD 534 billion after adjusting for inflation, about the current worth of the economy. Clearly, the price we are paying for corruption is needless.
The end of the oil age
We are in the twilight of the oil age. Clever countries used savings from oil to build future potential. We must develop a production orientation and ethic as against the current consumption mindset. We must confront the future, the post oil future, boldly otherwise we are doomed.
Prof Pat Utomi suggests that at the macro level we structure –conduct-performance paradigm in structural economies, with industrial policy focused on our factor endowments, or some superior strategy’’. The conversation must be urgent and action even more urgent.
The way forward
The way forward, to put it simply, is to dismantle the infrastructure for corruption, the inefficiency and incompetence promoted by a debilitating and suffocating federal structure. We must agree that the structure that we have now is not working. The States are bankrupt. Most of them cannot pay salaries and or clear refuse. Poverty and unemployment are biting. The way out is restructuring the federation in a way that the federating units are economic units and therefore economically viable. We must be bold to face our current reality and have the courage and the will to do the needful. We must come to terms with the fact that a post oil age stares us in the face. We must restructure, we must innovate, we must reform.
The Economic Growth and Recovery Plan has been formulated to address various dimensions of our current economic challenges over a four year period (2017 -2020). “It provides a clear road map of strategic policy actions and enablers to revive the economy and place it on the path of sustainable growth” – Senator Udoma Udo Udoma. The EGRP focuses on three strategic objectives – restoring growth, investing in people and building a competitive economy. The document envisages “a restructuring of the economy” for growth. Can you restructure the economy without restructuring the polity? Can the political structure we have now deliver growth? As we ponder on these, Development planning in Nigeria has, over the years, been constrained by the failure of the leadership to properly envision true development devoid of vested interest, misplacement of priorities and systemic corruption. Similarly, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan is not insulated from these evils. To sustain the plan therefore, certain enabling laws need to be re-engineered to open up access to participation in the productive sector, strengthen anti-corruption institutions, enthrone the rule of law and eliminate the culture of impunity, ensure availability of reliable realistic data, public sector efficiency and discipline, public and private sector collaboration, attitudinal change and genuine commitment of government to its development goals.
Our current structure cannot deliver development. We should not continue in self deceit or in self denial. Every society must adapt to changing realities otherwise it dies. Nigeria has great realizable potentials. Nigeria is a potentially great nation. Making her great is a choice Nigerians only can make. That choice we must make. And now.
The Nigerian Bar Association must not only join the conversation about creating an enabling environment for development, as perhaps the leading professional body in the country, moderate the debate for restructuring and indeed guide the process.
The NBA must also lead the fight in a sustainable and systematic manner, against corruption. It must lend its weight behind the fight and put the fight on its agenda.
. Being a paper presented by Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba at the Nigerian Bar Association Annual Conference in Lagos on August 21, 2017