SIR: Recently, Nigeria’s foremost Banker, Mr. Godwin Emefiele gave a grim prognosis of the Nigerian economy. He warned that if urgent steps are not taken to rekindle it, the economy might slide into recession. The Central Bank Governor’s gloomy comments might have been informed by his frustration with the economy, going forward therefore; it should be seen as a wake-up call.
After years of egregious economic mismanagement by successive administrations, the economy has all but fallen into murky waters. Like every other resource rich nation, Nigeria is not alone as most naturally endowed countries suffer from what economists call Dutch disease. For clarity, it is a condition that makes such nation go on a spending spree during boom and cut back harshly during bust. In other words, natural resource-income is spent in a rash manner without recourse to prioritisation of issues of economic development; the result is that it distorts the economic circle leading to the paradox of resource curse. That was the lot of the Dutch people when they first struck oil in the sixties, hence the term Dutch disease.
In order to defy such augury as forewarned by the bank chief, the new Buhari administration should urgently begin to take pragmatic steps to shore up our declining economy. To this end therefore, we can take a leaf from developed economies such as Singapore, Japan, U.S.A, etc. About 30 years ago, China was Asia’s sleepy backwater. Thanks to Deng Xiaoping’s programmes and policies, China is today the manufacturing and commercial hub of the world.
It did not just happen; it took the architect of modern China, Deng some soul searching, as he had had to visit Japan, U.S.A and some notable advanced countries to see how they were able to become successful. Having learned how these countries became success stories, he enunciated his own economic model for China, which saw capitalism thriving side by side with communism; the result is that the idea wrought the greatest economic miracle in living memory.
In Nigeria, we are not short of ideas: we are already aware of what we can do to make a success of our country. The drawback is that we always pay lip service to issues of development. Way back in the days of General Yakubu Gowon up until now spanning over four decades there has been talk of diversification of the economy but the political will seem to be lacking.
Pundits and ordinary citizens alike are of the opinion that things can only get better if our economy is export driven. On this note, strident calls have been made by concerned Nigerians on the need to diversify the economy by tapping into our untold mineral deposits as well as bolstering our industrial base.
Apart from mining our mineral deposits, Nigeria has the potential of becoming the food basket of Africa if adequate attention, is paid to agriculture. We should also improve our infrastructural facilities like roads, and railway particularly in the rural areas so as to make for easy evacuation of farm produce. Power should also be given attention in order to rev up our factories to optimum efficiency.
Furthermore, it is a known fact, that no nation is an island, we need to open up our economy to foreign capital, trade and competition by so doing we will be given the wing to soar to become one of the global economy’s high flyers.
Finally, as the 2016 budget beckons, I urge the President to make good his promise to diversify the economy his chief priority in 2016 budget in order to ignite a Nigerian take-off just like Deng’s China.
• Victor Uzomba, Lagos.