Way Out Of Nigeria’s Economic Crisis —Bola Tinubu

Way Out Of Nigeria’s Economic Crisis —Bola Tinubu

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 12:04 pm

Here is an interventionist policy recommendation for Nigeria’s Federal Government under the regime of declining oil prices: It should not peg the national economy to the US dollar economy

Awash in the great tide of politics, we must not forget why politics can be a noble endeavour. It leads to governance. When done correctly, governance can reform a nation and improve the lot of the people. In the hands of the ignorant and the mean, governance cast abundant misfortune upon a nation and upon the welfare of its citizens.

This commentary concerns governance and policy more than it does politics. I offer it to generate debate on an important economic issue. No matter who is in power, we must do whatever is in our capacity to do to steer the nation away from economic woe. The people have suffered too much hardship already. Neither side of the political divide should seek to purchase transient advantage at the high price of dousing the people in greater economic calamity. Thus, I suggest this progressive position on how best to shape economic policy during this period of falling oil prices. I state this hoping those in charge will take pertinent advice from any quarter. My prayer is that they are not so stubborn as to adhere to a strategy that will deepen the economic misery of our people even when better policy measures are proffered.

I confess to writing this also for a reason essentially political but non-confrontational. It accentuates the distinction between the conservative PDP and the progressive APC. The nation faces momentous elections when next year turns to its second month. The choice is a stark one; but many people do not believe as such. The differences are vast especially regarding economic policy. On the one side, the PDP champions a conservative, elitist economic model based on the theory that money must first go to the already rich and well-heeled who shall determine how small a fraction of it will trickle-down to the rest of society.

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu

On the progressive side, we believe government can boost economic growth and development in such a way that brings the fairness of prosperity to all of society. We don’t seek to penalize those who already have but we will do our utmost to remove from the clutch of poverty the bulk of our people. We seek to turn the hungry, suffering mass of our poor and working classes into a dignified livelihood that provides a dignified existence for all.

Global oil prices have fallen from over 100 dollars a barrel to approximately 80 dollars per barrel. This slide has caused a corresponding drop in government’s dollar revenues. With this, the federal government claims it has less money at its disposal and the paucity of dollars necessitates austerity measures. Most people accept this position as gospel; debate about its correctness has been nil. Yet, the stakes are much too high to assume this subjective position as an economic certitude or uncritically accept its propriety. What they proclaim as policy is not based on any unassailable economic principle. It is a statement of economic bias that beckons to the wealthy while auguring unnecessary hardship for most Nigerians.

Look at the jobless and poverty levels as well as the diminished status of our middle class. After viewing these statistics, most objective economists would conclude Nigeria is mired in a long-term depression. Forget the rosy GDP numbers. They signify a great economic and financial segregation between those who have and others who have not. If we continue with the policy preferences of the current administration, the haves shall become the “have–mores” and the “have-nots” shall become the “have even less.”

Vast majority of the claimed GDP growth has fallen into the laps of those already enjoying obvious luxury. The rest of the people are left to gaze at the enormity of the income and wealth chasm separating them from the cabal orchestrating the discordant political economy. While a small group flourishes, the rest of the nation subsidizes their economic bounty. A tight confederacy rides an economic skyrocket while the bulk of the people languish in the swamp. For one group, the economy is effervescent. For the other, it is catatonic. Nigeria is one nation with two economies.

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