Faced with a fragile economic recovery from a recession that threw millions of Nigerians out of jobs, the 2019 election will be about the economy and which presidential candidate has the most viable strategy of putting Nigeria on a sustainable economic growth path.Muhammadu Buhari
But like many things with the Buhari administration, most of the targets set for 2017 have not been met. Against the plan to grow GDP by 2.19 percent in 2017, growth in the same year was just 0.83 percent. As against the content of the plan, the government has refused to privatise State Owned Entreprises that are not performing and have become a drain on the public purse.government’s ERGP“The Nigerian government’s economic recovery and growth plan identifies investing in our people as one of three strategic objectives”.
Atiku AbubakarAtiku Abubakar, former vice president and now perennial presidential aspirant, has been saying all the right things that sounds good to the ears of Nigerian progressives: restructuring, privatisation, job creation, revamping the education and health sectors and generally growing the economy.
“We must acknowledge that in federal systems that work, federating units cede certain powers to the centre. In our strange federal contraption, it is the centre that is creating federating units, giving them money and monopolising most power and resources. Thus, our state governments are no longer performing as federating units. Rather they currently seem like dependent provinces of the central government in Abuja,” Abubakar said at the presentation of a book titled: “We Are All Biafrans” on May 31 in Abuja.
“I have been shouting myself hoarse, asking why we should have federal roads, federal schools, federal hospitals, etc. I have called for state police, for the states that so desire, to help us provide more effective security. In 2012, I went before ALGON in Enugu and told them that their clamour for local government autonomy from state governments is misguided. I told them that it is wrong for the federal government to be creating local governments and giving them money directly from the Federation Account,” Atiku stated.
In taking his campaign for restructuring and state viability further, the former vice president, at a Chatham House lecture in London titled:” The Importance of Strengthening State Economic Management Systems” promised to offer states a matching grant of $250 million each to challenge them to enhance their internally generated revenue.
“Beyond institutional and administrative reforms to improve operational efficiency of the revenue agencies the federating units will be challenged to double their efforts in rebuilding the fiscal-social contract, by enhancing service delivery in key areas such as health, education, water supply and infrastructural development.
“Only this would change the predominant perception that government revenues are diverted to the private bank accounts of politicians and their cronies.
“And it is for the purpose of making states lose their addiction to federal allocation, to make them look inwards, and return to the healthy competition of 1957-1966, when Nigeria practiced her unique brand of true federalism known as regionalism, that I suggest the introduction of matching grants to states, that have succeeded in increasing their internally generated revenue,” Atiku said.
“My idea is for the introduction of Matching Grants to be taken from the revenue accruable to the Federal Government for the purpose of matching the Internally Generated Revenue of each state in order to encourage states to become self-reliant. “If I have my way, the Federal Government will match state’s IGR up to $250 million per state,” he concluded.
But there’s a snag. Atiku has a corruption perception problem and it he will need all to be at his best to persuade Nigerians to give him a chance even after laying out fantastic plans for the economy and the country.
Among the less fancied candidates though, like former deputy governor of the Central Bank, Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, Publisher of Sahara Reporters , Omoleye Sowore, and Baba-Ahmed, Pro-chancellor of Baze Unversity, Abuja, ideas on how to turn around the economy are not in short supply.
According to Moghalu, the time had come for technocrats, intellectuals and experienced people to take power from career politicians. “The future of Nigeria rests in technocratic interventions. We need thinking people that will take Nigeria from the politics of stomach infrastructure to politics of mental infrastructure,’’ he said at an event recently. Moghalu hinged his presidential ambition on the need to reposition Nigeria for economic prosperity “by creating an enabling environment for a productive, innovation-led economy, with a better approach to taxation that will reduce dependence oil revenues.”
“My government will establish a productive innovation-led economy that reduces dependence on oil revenues, establish a public-private venture capital fund with a minimum capital of N500 billion (with private sector co-investment to fund could attain a size of N1 trillion) to create jobs by investing in new businesses by unemployed youth, reform the Nigerian Police Force by recruiting, training and equipping a minimum of 1.5 million persons with improved remuneration to create safe and secure communities, empower women with a 50:50 gender parity policy in political appointments, and initiate a constitutional restructuring of Nigeria to restore true federalism for stability and prosperity,” he added.
The erudite professor of International Business had during his declaration lamented that nearly 60 years ago, the vision and hope of Nigeria’s founding fathers such as Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello, have not materialized following successive years of misrule. He added that military rule, oil boom and bursts and failures of the civilian political class have combined to rob Nigeria of what seemed its destiny at independence in 1960.
“I am standing with the 100 million Nigerians experiencing crushing poverty, living on less than N300 a day.”I am here today because 33 million of our able men and women are unemployed or underemployed, nearly 15 million children are out of school, and only 60% of Nigerians are literate” he said during his declaration.
He said that education will enjoy a prominent place in his government pointing out that he will establish and propagate through the educational system a foundational philosophical worldview for the Nigerian state, around which all Nigerians will unite in a common purpose. “Education will be allocated 20 per cent of the federal government budget, with a progressive increase to 30 per cent over eight years,” he said.
Sowore, on his part laid out a three-pronged policy covering security, power and infrastructure, which he said would lift the country from its present state. He promised to create at least 250,000 new jobs in the agricultural sector, with commercial ranching operations that would cover 20 million cows. For Baba-Ahmed, his main policy thrust would be to stabilize the naira by tackling the current high risk factors, reduce interest rates and “flood the capital market with investible funds.”
Christopher Akor and Iniobong Iwok
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