Formulating Buhari dream on Nigerian economy
As at August ending, there seems to be no respite for job seekers as the number of jobs created in the second quarter of 2015 dropped by 70 per cent, lower than jobs created in the first quarter. According to the most recent report from the National Bureau of Statistics, there was no reason for the drop in employment created within the second quarter. Under informal job creation efforts, the report noted that there was a decline of 74 per cent among new jobs created in the first quarter. This means there was no significant improvement in the economic fortunes of Nigerians between April and June 2015.
Thus, due to the glut in the international oil market, lack of a clear-cut policy orientation from the government and the absence of the federal executive council, there isn’t much to report on Buhari’s impact on the economy in the first 100 days of his tenure.
Thus, economic revival is Buhari’s current task. And that means fixing our public finances in order to pursue agro-based industrial and small and medium based enterprise revolution. As I see it, the German economic model is the best for Nigeria. The Germans allow large and medium scale enterprises to flourish within the framework of a social market economy that is adequately regulated and inclusive of all shades of businesses. The model was recommended to the Buhari campaign. The Germans operate a corporate economic structure in which workers’ unions are represented in the board of directors of the business. The regulatory instruments are fair with banks and financial institutions free to operate on market principles. However, government keeps eagle eyes on speculative financial activities, especially hedge funds and other unconventional instruments.
For decades, this country has been run by evil cartels which have kept the Nigerian consumer under their stranglehold. These cartels have manufactured fake drugs which kill our citizens. They have made fake spare parts, made cement and fertilizer unavailable to the people. When Shehu Shagari tried to resuscitate the railways, they frustrated it to accommodate their trucks which are destroying the roads till date. Now, we are back on rail lines two centuries behind in technology and management.
The generator importing cartel largely controlled by immigrant traders would always ensure that electricity supply would never work in Nigeria. Dealing with these cartels is the most pressing task that Buhari must undertake. For an effective regulation of the economy, the President must constitute, like in the U.S., the Council of Economic Advisers that will oversee the deregulation of the oil sector, generate optimum employment for the people and ensure the prudent management of our resources.
Although leadership is essential for the eradication of corruption, it isn’t sufficient to take Nigeria out of the woods. Team work, integrity, commitment and vision are values expected from Buhari and his co-workers to get us out of our present economic morass. Corruption is worse than prostitution because while prostitution endangers individual morals, corruption endangers the morality of a nation.
A report said that Norway avoided the curse of oil by keeping $800 billion in her sovereign wealth account. According to the online report, the fund owns one per cent of the entire world’s stocks, and is big enough to make every Norwegian citizen a millionaire in her currency the Kroner. Even so, Norwegians do not regard themselves rich because they know that savings from the sale of crude oil is to take care of unborn Norwegians.
Nigerians need a vision of that kind, a vision of care and well-being of unborn Nigerians much more than living Nigerians. For a start, let President Buhari present to us, perhaps in his independence day broadcast, his vision, plan, doctrine, the Nigerian dream and measures he needs for us to realise it now or in the future. Such a Buhari Plan or Doctrine must be broad to enable Nigerians align with it.
President Buhari needs to cap the change mantra of the APC with a national full employment programme which will fund and restructure agriculture, regulate industries and provide laws which compel both government and private authorities to pay workers. It should be a crime not to pay salaries, wages or pension. All we need do is to imitate the New Deal, the U.S. domestic programme of the administration of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt between 1933 and 1939.
The New Deal took action on the immediate economic reforms in industry, finance, agriculture, water, labour and housing. Much of the New Deal policies was enacted during the first year of Roosevelt’s administration. The president’s objective was to alleviate the suffering of the huge number of the unemployed, just as in Nigeria today. Such agencies as the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps were established to dispense emergency and short term aid and temporary jobs for such people as our internally displaced persons (IDPs).
To revive industries such as our textile industries, the National Recovery Administration was established by the U.S. to help shape industrial codes, governing trade practices, wages hours, child trafficking in our own case, and collective bargaining. The New Deal regulated the finances of the U.S. in order to avoid the repetition of the stock market crash of 1929. The most far-reaching programme was social security enacted in 1935 which provided old-age and widows’ benefits, unemployment compensation and disability insurance. All Buhari needs do is to imitate the plan.