Signalling in modern economics is very fundamental. It gives an indication of what is to come from policy makers in managing or driving the economy. As a consequence, investors and other economic agents position themselves in making informed decisions, thus greatly reducing, if not eliminating, uncertainties.
In the run-off to the last general elections, I triggered a debate by asking if corruption, or the economy, was really the issue that should be at the front burner.
Talking about corruption…
Some argued that corruption had to be dealt with first and the plugged leakages would then be applied properly to grow the economy through infrastructural developments which would spike job creation; sound argument that cannot be faulted in its entirety.
My position then, and still is, was that if the economy was tackled with proper application of fiscal policies of the capital expenditure bent, jobs would be created and boom would take hold.
I posited that, like President Bill Clinton famously quipped during a US presidential debate, ‘it is all about the economy, stupid’! I believe that issues of corruption stem hugely from economic incapacitation rather than a real need to be corrupt.
I am convinced that Nigerians are not more corrupt than people in America and other countries. The essential difference is that those economies have evolved and are well positioned to taking care of its people whereas here, the system has failed and people are afraid of falling out of the economic safety net. I am convinced that change will happen if the living standards of Nigerians take a turn for the better.
On taking over the reins of government in May, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari has left no one in doubt as to what his major focus is; fighting corruption and insurgency in the North East of Nigeria. Since then his actions have been geared towards those directions but to the detriment of the economy, unfortunately.
Buhari visit to the US?
His recent visit to the United States of America could not have driven home this point home any closer. Nigeria’s official 32-man delegate team was devoid of economic drivers in the private sector; the real engine room for economic growth.
Rather it was made more of politicians who were more interested in taking pictures with President Barack Obama in the White House Oval Office. Reports emerging from that visit on the side of America indicate their disappointment that for a country with dwindling oil revenues, a collapsing economy, Nigeria was not prepared to discuss and close trade deals with the Americans who were ready with a well assembled team of business people to engage ours.
Reports have it that those present on our side, the president inclusive, showed a complete lack of depth on the issues before them. Sadly our captains of industry who managed to ‘gate crash’ their way there and could have salvaged some national pride and dignity were humiliated by the President who requested they step out.
As a consequence, a begging opportunity was lost while the economy continues to haemorrhage.
At the end of the visit, relationships with the US is somewhat strained as allegations and counter allegations as to why the US refused to sell arms to Nigeria to prosecute the Boko Haram insurgency have been flying around like scud missiles.
The second pressing issue of funds repatriation received a mere promissory note. The truth is, even if the US is serious about helping in that wise, the stolen funds have to first be traced, proven stolen and necessarily receive the blessings of the courts there as these people would expectedly put up a fight.
In some cases, treaties have to either be signed or renewed. How long this will take is any body’s guess. It just might be the hot-bed issue during the 2019 general elections. If the diplomatic skills thus far exhibited by this president is a pointer to what is to come, then we may as well be waiting for Gordot for those funds to be repatriated.
Where government is lagging behind
This is where I think this government is missing it and change Nigerians voted for with very high expectations will end up a mirage. As someone who wants this government to succeed for all our collective good without party, tribal, religious or other sentiments, I would strongly advice this President to focus on the future and stop allowing himself to be distracted and dragged back by our inglorious past.
I am not in any way suggesting he should not go after our looted funds but the emphasis should be more on plugging the loopholes where monies are stolen by government officials, deepen our income generating base, chart a well articulated economic road map that would attract foreign direct investment and cap incidences of capital flight.
When these, amongst others, are done, Nigeria would have been put along the right path to economic recovery and social re-awakening as our value systems would change for the best. This way, the president of this Federal Republic would solidify himself as a real change agent he was spruced to be during the run-off to the general elections and not the seeming brainless administrator, clueless in Abuja, running hither and thither, fiddling, like Caesar, while Rome burns.
For a developing economy desirous of catching up with the rest of the advanced economies, most not anywhere as endowed as we are either materially or human capacity wise, we cannot afford to be held down and captive by a president who wants to ‘slowly and steadily’ do one thing at a time in a fast paced twenty-first century where multi-tasking by world leaders is second nature.
President Muhammadu Buhari should as a matter of urgency constitute an economic team that would drive the process and strengthen our position as the number one economy in Africa and twenty sixth in the world with the aim of being amongst the top twenty by the year twenty-twenty as envisioned by past governments.
His plan of September does not dice it as the rest of the world will not wait for us. Funds waiting to be deployed into Nigeria have had to be diverted to other serious economies by investors as they saw no seriousness or plan for the economy by this government since inauguration.
We have long since moved from the ‘80s of the twentieth century where this president still seem to be stuck in to a brand new century where things are done more quickly through synergy and collaboration not a one-man show.
The writer, Okuofu is social media commentator, politician and a political writer. Courtesy: Niaj.com