In a time of economic recession which may culminate into a depression, strategic and calculated thinking, plans and actions are required from the political leadership of Nigeria. The fact that we are in a recession as we celebrate our 56th independence anniversary provides a unique opportunity for stock taking. At 56, should we not have matured beyond where we currently find ourselves? Should our economy not have grown and be diversified beyond the infancy of oil rent? The answers to these posers are obvious and they posit that we have under-achieved and under-performed. It is a call for smart and hard work and positioning ourselves beyond our present analogue mode in a digital age
This discourse reviews the trajectory of economic governance by our current leadership and insists that recession is not a death sentence; it is not the end of the world. Rather, so many doors of opportunity have opened and wait for us to latch onto them to gain the appurtenant benefits. Essentially, what is required is a procession against the recession. But to have such a procession requires all hands being on deck and uniting the country towards the tangent of economic renewal. It will be possible when we collapse the fault lines of partisanship, ethnicity, religion and region. The procession cannot hold in an atmosphere of continuing the blame game on the previous administration 16 months after the government took over the mantle of office. All hands on deck means tapping all the potentialities, capacities and competencies of virtually everyone who turns up to contribute to the revival.
Procession against recession requires that the leadership leads by accepting responsibility. It requires the humility of the leadership knowing its competencies and asking for help from more knowledgeable and competent persons when it reaches the end of its thinking capacity. The best of our best should be in charge of the affairs of economic governance. It does not require the grandstanding of those who have no experience and do not know what to do with the powers entrusted to them. It will neither require learning on the job nor the approval of the majority of state governors who cannot pay salaries of workers and have displayed incredible incompetence. Proceeding against recession is about the stellar quality of experience combined with innovation and deep thinking
The procession requires giving credit to who credit is due. It is against a de-marketing strategy where every business person or anyone who has made money is presumed corrupt and is required to prove his innocence. If every Nigerian is corrupt and only those in Aso Rock and the corridors of power are clean, who will the foreign investors do business with? Why should the President be looking for foreign investors when in the next breadth, he tells the world about our “fantastic” corruption? If the investors will do business with only those in Aso rock, his style would have been good for business.
Nigerians had expected a rallying and mobilisation speech from the President on October 1. The speech was expected to break new grounds in terms of bringing forth policy ideas and legislative anchors on how to get out of the recession. It should have dealt with how to get the needed foreign exchange, diversify the economy, get resources to fund the 2016 federal budget and breathe life into dead assets which could be used to create new sources of wealth. Rather, we were regaled with the mundane usual stories of “achievements” which go to no issue.
So many questions on the economy demand answers. Can our government provide answers? Yes, we need to answer them before the procession against the recession. Is there anyone out there running our economy beyond the gentlemen and ladies who trade blame? Who is in charge? Can he or she speak up? Can we know what they are thinking about? What exactly are the officials doing beyond inaction? How many months does it take to come up with an action plan? Or are the leaders thinking that inaction will solve the current economic recession? How will keeping mum and offering no positive ideas solve the economic challenges? Is there any solution in sight to the free fall of the naira or do they occupy space and official positions for the fun of it? When will the retreat for the convergence of monetary, fiscal and trade policy hold? Who was negotiating with the Niger Delta militants when they declared a ceasefire? What was the outcome of the negotiation with the militants? Who led the Federal Government team? Is it easier to launch and mobilise forces for Operation Crocodile Smile or to negotiate with militants? Who is advising the Buhari government on these misguided steps? Why can we not use negotiation to take advantage of the oil price which is above the benchmark price by ramping up production? What will Nigeria and its leadership stand to benefit from this economic standstill? Mr. President should be reminded that everything stops on his table; is he the President we expected to change Nigeria or shall we wait for another?
On the legislative side, proceeding against recession could have meant that the leadership of the House of Representatives stopped taking Nigerians for granted. The suspension of a former chairperson of its Appropriation Committee, Abdulmuni Jibrin, signalled the elevation of impunity to new heights. Coming at a time the leadership of the House needed to explain to Nigerians about their misdeeds, show sobriety, seek for forgiveness for their multiple sins and misdeeds, they are rather doubling down, digging in, in the Donald Trump fashion. It is a big shame. Clear accusations of misdeeds have been levelled against named persons who have not been able to come up with a rebuttal; it is not a general traverse of the allegations but a response to the specifics that is needed. And in the ostrich fashion, the leadership of the House of Representatives paid with taxpayers money think they can shove the weighty issues under the carpet by suspending Jibrin. Nigerians are convinced the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, is wrong and as Jimmy Cliff sang years ago, he can’t be wrong and get right. What he is doing is simply compounding his misdeeds and history will never be kind to him. The opportunity to retrace his steps is available, if and only if, he can come clean, swallow his pride and come to terms with humanity.
In conclusion, what is missing in our quest to proceed against the recession is the leadership. It takes great men and women of intellect, moral stature and digital thinking to get us back on our feet. Can our leaders stand up to be counted? Time will tell. Again, Mr. President should be reminded everything stops on his table; is he the President we expected to change Nigeria or shall we wait for another?
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