By Moses Nosike
Sinari Bolade Daranijo, is the Managing Director, elcome serve Nigeria Ltd, aÂ telecommunication company operating in Lagos.
In this interview with Saturday Vanguard Business, he saysÂ Â that government should be freed from subsidy for it to concentrate on providing infrastructureÂ for the people. Excerpts.
Many experts are of the opinion that the liberalisation policy of the Federal Government will impact negatively on the labour market by causing more unemployment. Whatâ€™s your opinion?
I think that there are two ways you can look at it. The first angle is this, government thinks that carrying this burden on their head always result in negative equity. Each time the government says itâ€™s going to subsidise anything, it cools the impact on economy. That same moneyÂ would have been usedÂ to provide things, like socialÂ infrastructure for the people.If government holds ontoÂ businesses, it will still have to subsidise the business.Â If government let go of the businesses, it will be relieved and it will have more money to spendÂ on the social services that will impact on the general wellbeing ofÂ the people because what we need generally is an enabling environment that will encourage the people to work and achieve maximum potentials. Thatâ€™s what I think . For instance, for business to thrive generally, we need good roads, water, power supply and other basic things that will help businessesÂ to grow. If government spends much on subsidy, it will never have enough money to provide basic infrastructure.
TheÂ duty of governmentÂ is not to run businessesÂ but to deliver social services and infrastructure that will enable private sector to run the businesses. BusinessesÂ should be in the hand of people ,not government.
So, what do you advise government to do to encourage employment and improve revenue generation?
One of the major issues that we have in kick-starting the economyÂ is how do you generate employment? I know from an entrepreneurial point of view that a lot of people feel that employment is automatic. They also feel that when they get employment, salary is also automatic. But the truth is that we all have to work in the system to be able to earn income.
We ought to have that entrepreneur drive in us to be able to ensure that the system moves. But whatâ€™s this system that weâ€™re talking about, the system is the social infrastructure that the government makes available. If there are 150 million people in NigeriaÂ and there are good roads, there are people farming, thereâ€™s electricity andÂ water, the combination of these factors will help us create income that will generate employment. ButÂ everybody feelsÂ itâ€™s my right, I have gone to school, government must employ me or my uncle must employ me.
Like I keep telling people, the angle from which you look at every situationÂ affectsÂ the opinion youÂ make. If you are a young person that has finishedÂ school andÂ you thought you have gone through hard work getting a degree and eventually thereâ€™s no job, the truth is who is going to create this job for you, government again? The moment youâ€™re empowered with that qualification ,you are expected to be able to add value into the system. Itâ€™s tough yesÂ and because the social infrastructure is not there, itâ€™s also tough. But government spends time subsidising youÂ but they will have time to deliver what you expected them to deliver.
So to promote employment, government should set up infrastructure andÂ the enabling environment to allow people to be creative because through creativity, you can generate employment.
What happens in a situation where government makes provision in the budget for infrastructure but at the end of day there are no results?
I think one of the major issues we have is government bureaucracy. We have the three arms of government :legislature, executive and judiciary and we all know the issues are between the Legislature and the Executive. the moment we stop having selfish people in our economy, people who donâ€™t think for the broad masses, any decision they take will affect millions of lives. People who are sensitive to the fact that what weâ€™re here for is to create a better life for the entire populace of the country, then we begin to move forward in the country.
People who take decision for the country which must be more sensitive to what the grassroot people require and I must tell you they donâ€™t require much. All the man at the bottom of the ladder is looking for is basic infrastructure. Iâ€™m a farmer, I want to be able to take out my farm produce out of the farm to the city so that I can make my money; Iâ€™m a mechanic I need a conducive environment like mechanic village where we can render our trade;
Iâ€™m a service provider I want to get to where I can be able to provide my services; I can cook, I want to be able to set up a canteen, and so on and so forth. And I that is what I called an economy being generated.
But what is happening right now is what I call system failure. We have system failure in the general polity of the country. And this is the inability of one department to hand shake the other till will deliver finally to the people. Itâ€™s really tough. We need to look at how many bills the Legislature has passed so far since we started and what did they do to make sure that the executive runs smoothly; what is the executive doing to make sure that the economy runs smoothly. In a state, there is hierarchy from the President to state and to the local government. It all depends on the mind set of the people.
Take Lagos State as an example. Iâ€™m sure you can see a lot of improvement because they made sure that they redefined. The governor will call local government chairmen, list me the number of roads you want to tar and I will supervise and ensure that you deliver, here is the money. So it supervised all the little money you have and it all results in cumulative returns. If we can have that happen in all the 36 states, then we begin to see some developments.
Reforms in the banking sector and its effects on the economy, whatâ€™s your take?
Well, at this point, I think the issue of sanitisation had been on burner for sometime. Itâ€™s not a new thing. But itâ€™s just that we needed somebody to take the bull by the horn and just do what we have to do. From the stories we have heard about the banking sectorÂ weare just heading to the precipice. There were decisions taken that are immoral, wrong and unethical against the rule of law. And if we donâ€™t put a stop to it now, itâ€™s really going to ruin us to a point where we might not be able to do anything about it. So the CBN intervention is a welcome development, but at the same time some people are complaining the method he went about it, but unfortunately Nigerians are peculiar people. You have to deal with Nigerians in a Nigerian manner.
You cannot read an economics text book and come and apply it in Nigeria today. You have to adopt to the Nigerian Psychology and thinking. And we can still improve. If people have been owing such much money and had not made an attempt to pay it until the sudden listing of our names and the embarrassment and some people are now creating the income. Itâ€™s honestly that people who owed money but they canâ€™t be able to pay it back probably because their businesses could not work it out.
But the bankers in most cases should conduct internal sanitisation otherwise the process of lending money will still be rejected. So in and out, what he was just trying to do is let me clean out the entire environment, letâ€™s start with the proper rule straight to ensure that people do not go contrary to these rules, that is what the CBN governor is doing. But of course itâ€™s having a huge bash on the economy, because at the moment the economy is in a coma, nothing is moving, everybody is stuck. We hope that doesnâ€™t happen too long because it will still bring us back to the position we were before.
Itâ€™s alleged that banks are no more lending because of the happenings taking place in the sector…
I really donâ€™t understand, as I asked some people in the bank they said that is not true. The CBN has put in place a process to recapitalise these banks to block the holes, so business should actually go up. But I think itâ€™s because of the psychology and the Nigerian factor have crept into it, and say since you have distablised us, the monies have been blocked in. What the CBN has done is, yes these are holes, we will fill it in to continue business as normal while we look for the money, then we can take our money back. Nothing should have really stopped except that the people have probably gone to a shock and they donâ€™t understand that the process had to have a good start.