Ezekwesili: Why Nigeria needs more visits like Lagarde’s

Ezekwesili: Why Nigeria needs more visits like Lagarde’s

Wednesday, January 6, 2016 7:37 pm

Buhari and Lagarde

Buhari and Lagarde

Funsho Balogun

Obiageli Ezekwesili, who served as a Federal Minister of Solid Minerals and also as a Minister of Education during the second -term Presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo, posited earlier today that the visit of the International Monetary Fund chief, Christine Lagarde, is not out of place and is actually part of what the Nigerian economy needs on its mission towards resuscitation. She noted that with the coming of the fairly new Buhari administration, it is expected that handlers of financial development institutions are bound to come visiting for diverse purposes.

‘’The IMF and World Bank’s input for developing countries is necessary since we would need a lot of their influence and knowledge because we are facing plenty quite a lot of economic problems,’’ Ezekwesili said in an interview on African Independent Television. Although she appreciated the fact that new policies are being introduced by the present government, she implored the Federal Government not to completely discard the fundamental reforms that past governments had embarked upon.

The former minister identified handling of public finance as the bane of the country’s progress. ‘’To finance the budget and the deficit, we need resources, but the real issue is how we handle and apply what we are able to get; we should ensure that we get a better handle on public finance management,’’ she said.

Ezekwesili lamented the frittering away of revenues that accrued through the years when oil was sold at premium price per barrel, with the country now having nothing to fall back on. She noted that this time around, while the adopted zero based budget model may be appropriate, it is even better to pursue a performance based zero budgeting.

The chartered accountant, who frowns at the idea of resorting to domestic borrowing by government since it crowds out the private sector, says the country may henceforth be witnessing a season of tough measures courtesy of the damaged economy. ‘’Government needs to get the boldness to insist on the tough measures, but it should be transparent to secure public legitimacy for taking the drastic measures,’’ she said.

Ezekwesili, who, in the aftermath of the nearly 300 girls abducted from Chibok by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, was instrumental to the start of the the Bring Back Our Girls campaign on social media also revealed that the campaign will be taken to the presidency on 14 January through an organized walk. She hinted that the past administration deliberately failed to do its best to recover the missing Chibok girls and that there was no justification for blaming the ineptitude on faulty intelligence gathering. In her view, some powerful elements in charge of defence and armed forces matters were reaping from funds earmarked for the purpose as recent developments have revealed.

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