… Osibanjo not competent to lead economic team
… Nigeria needs a sound economist not a sound lawyer
The Economic team set up by the Federal government headed by Vice President YemiOsinbajo is in disarray, leading some citizens to call for his resignation to what they described as his incompetence.
According to experts, the group lacks the impetus to turn around current woes faced by the country. They are also not knowledgeable about the state of the economy and have not been able to get a full grasp of how to handle the nation’s economy that may soon go into depression if urgent steps are not taken.
Barrister EzeOnyekpere an economic expert and public affairs analyst argued, “You don’t take lawyers to run the economy. We need a brand new economic team, we need experts not the likes of the VP who is learning on the job. He is not an economist, but a sound lawyer. If the heat is not good for him, let him leave the kitchen.
Speaking in Abuja at various forums, the experts drawn from academia and civil society groups berates the present administration of President MuhammaduBuhari of lacking coherence in coordinating the economic activities in the country in the face of recession which may likely degenerate into a depression.
They argued that the government has deployed too much energy and time in celebrating the fight against corruption to the detriment of the economy, which is without a clear and focused blueprint. “No economic blueprint by government. There is also too much reliance on the monetary policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, which is not enough to engender growth.
According to them, there should be much of fiscal policies like injecting so much into agricultural business such as livestock, processing, storage market development. They warned government to shun rhetoric at this time and do real diversification of the economy. Government should also support small and medium scale entrepreneurs and should take deliberate steps to grow them through loans, acquire land massively in the states for young farmers, give them seedling, chemicals; get youths into processing, marketing and give them maintenance allowances.
The group further warned government to concentrate now on local entrepreneurs as no foreign investor can come into the country due to policy summersault of the government. “Don’t depend on foreign entrepreneur, latch on the local ones by incentivising them, it is only through this that foreign investors can come.”
The experts further urged the government to give powers to states through fiscal federalism, adding that that was the only way to truly diversify the economy.
“Power is too concentrated at the centre, this is not good for us, for instance the government of former president OlusegunObasabjo had the NEEDS document which the states latched on. In this government, it is sad that those in charge of critical areas of the economy are not too sound but got such positions through patronage. Let’s jettison political patronage and bring only those who can help, not relatives and ethnic considerations.”
Still on the way forward, they urged the government to develop a blueprint that would attract donor partners as in the case of the Obasanjo regime. “President Buhari should galvanise the country for unity, since the election that brought him appears to have polarised Nigeria across ethnic and religious divide. The government should put square pegs in square holes; the economy needs people with field and classroom experience.
“Increase purchasing power of Nigerians, rebrand exports to stimulate economy, introduce mechanised farming so that what is produced on the farms go to the industries.
In addition, the economic specialist tasked government to loan funds in the TSA to commercial banks at reasonable lending rates instead of allowing such colossal sum to be dormant in the central bank vaults. The government should also probe funds in the national housing fund.
According to them, when these are not done, in the next one quarter of recession, Nigeria will glide into full depression
Those who gave the insights include, Barrister EzeOnyekpere, Goddy Ike, Dr. ObademiOlalekan of the University of Lagos and his Birgham University counterpart, Dr Jonathan Oniore.