Change Versus The Challenge Of Credit-Debit Entries
WITH President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) now in the saddle of leadership once again, many analysts have posited that similar circumstances existed in 1983 when he was at the head of the military junta that toppled the Shehu Shagari civilian democratic government.
What it means is that Buhari has got a second chance to prove how his economic blue print has the magic answers to the nation’s socio-economic woes.
Various schools of thought have come out with different analyses about Nigeria’s oil-dependent economy.
Despite the different inclinations of their arguments, the verdicts remain the same and that is that the economy was on a dangerous slide owing to the plummeting price of petroleum in the international market.
While campaigning to supplant and succeed the former President, Goodluck Jonathan, Buhari reduced his campaign issues to rejigging the economy, fighting corruption and stemming the tide of unemployment and insurgency.
Buhari also promised to give Nigerian children while they are in school one meal per day. He said with transparency and careful planning the country’s wealth could be made to serve the people both young and old.
Apart from those soapbox sloganeering of change, 30 years after he left office as head of state, Buhari has no document where his economic turnaround ideas could be gleaned. But he has given notice that proceeds of corruption and plugging known loopholes for fund leakages in the nation’s economic ledger, the naira could be made strong once again.
It is left to be seen how far just fighting corruption alone could increase revenue to such an extent that the welfare programmes and infrastructure projects contemplated by the new government could come on steady stream.
Barring any further delays, the probe of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, (NPC) may take off soon. From examining the debit and credit sides of the NNPC ledger, the Federal Government believes that evidence of sleaze and misappropriation would pop up to explain the poverty that has become the lot of the giant and leading economy of Africa.
There were heightened expectations that President Buhari would release his economic blueprint in the outgoing week. However, the report of the transition committee has been made available to the president. But as time continues to tick and days turn to weeks, Nigerians are eagerly waiting to see how the All Progressives Congress (APC) government would fund the economy.
The public interventions of two former Central Bank governors, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, now the Emir of Kano, and Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, are about the only extant literature on how the Buhari’s mind may work to deliver on his democratic mandate.
Back in January 2015, Soludo wrote: “The presidential election next month (but one) will be won by either Buhari or Jonathan. For either, it is likely to be a pyrrhic victory. None of them will be able to deliver on the fantastic promises being made on the economy, and if oil prices remain below $60, I see very difficult months ahead, with possible heady collisions with labour, civil society, and indeed the citizenry.”
And taking the APC by its electioneering promises Soludo sounded a bit hard, stressing that plugging of loopholes, raising taxes and defraying huge domestic debt cannot allow the government elbow room in the budget to fund its proposed welfare schemes. “Even with all the loopholes and waste closed, with increased efficiency per dollar spent, there is still a binding budget constraint. To deliver an efficient national transport infrastructure alone will still cost tens of billions of dollars per annum even by corruption-free, cost-effective means.
“Did I hear that APC promises a welfare system that will pay between N5,000 and N10,000 per month to the poorest 25 million Nigerians? Just this programme alone will cost between N1.5 and N3 trillion per annum. Add to this, the cost of free primary education plus free meal (to be funded by the federal budget or would it force non-APC state governments to implement the same?), plus some millions of public housing, etc. I have tried to cost some of the promises by both the APC and the PDP, given alternative scenarios for public finance and the numbers don’t add up. Nigerians would be glad to know how both parties would fund their programmes,” Soludo contended.
The ball is now APC/Buhari’s court.
But Sanusi had in an earlier treatise written glowingly of what he called the Buhari economic model or Buharism that happened during his stint as military head of state.
“It was radical, not in the sense of being socialist or left wing, but in the sense of being a progressive move away from a political economy dominated by a parasitic and subservient elite to one in which a nationalist and productive class gains ascendancy. Buharism represented a two-way struggle:with Global capitalism (externally) and with its parasitic and unpatriotic agents and spokespersons (internally). The struggle against global capital as represented by the unholy trinity of the IMF, the World Bank and multilateral “trade” organizations as well that against the entrenched domestic class of contractors, commission agents and corrupt public officers were vicious and thus required extreme measures. Draconian policies were a necessary component of this struggle for transformation and this has been the case with all such epochs in history.”
And to think that it was to the same global capitalists that President Buhari took his wish list in his recent visit to the G7 of industrialised nations. What remains is for him to walk the talk. He is expected to show how the G7 fund of goodwill will translate to immediate practical steps to bail out the country either in the areas of the economy, anti-corruption schemes, increased Foreign Direct Investment, (FDI) in power and energy, infrastructure or even enhanced transparency in elections and good governance.
Do the G7 know how informal Nigeria’s economy is? Do they know that it is impossible to buy cows or tomatoes with cheque or POS? Do they know that most of the traders in Corner Singer in Kano or Goron Albassa or Bauchi road in Jos, do not go to the bank? Do they also know that the briquette racket going on in the CBN in collusion with several commercial banks have been going on for a very long time? If not how could they bring out recipes to address Nigeria’s economic nay financial woes? How do you track such a fluid cash system?
If Buhari devises an almajiri economic model, where every revenues is made to account for a specific purpose without savings or reserve then that will be living from hand to mouth. The balance sheets from various states reveal debts and overdrafts. After probes what next?
In the end devising new ways of jacking up the country’s earnings would hold key to economic turnaround expected. It is evident that the new Federal Government is faced with the onerous task of balancing its double-trouble Cash Book!
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