By AKOMA CHINWEOKE
Dr Mccarthy Ijiebor is the president/founder of the Institute of Planning, Nigeria. In this interview he speaks on why the country must begin to learn how to prioritise it programmes particularly by looking at cost and benefit of real action that would stimulate an enduring economic development.
AT several fora, it has been said that the problem with the Nigerian economy is the inability of its leaders to transform planned policies to real actions. How would you react to that?
We have always had good plans but our problem has always been the embediment of personal interest in policy and decision making, that has continued to hinder good policy implementation in the country. Until our leaders begin to dissolve their personal interests from developmental policies, we would never move forward as a nation. We have had series of ideas on how to transform our economy but they were not genuine. So, there is no clear cut developmental plan and, therefore, the nation has continued to fail. The 2009 budget is yet to be approved, then how can we survive and make remarkable economic progress in such a situation? If as a businessman I decide to go into importation and before you know it government announces a new tariff in place and I have imported these goods for $150 per kg andÂ with the policy reversal, it is now $200. So, how do I survive?
Now that the country is aspiring to be one of the leading world economies by the year 2020, how in your own view can it be achieved?
With this trend? It is not possible. When our leaders are not taking things seriously. Governor Fashola of Lagos State is making some remarkable progress because physically there are certain things that he is doing that we are beginning to see that he has an idea of what an ideal mega city ought to be. But we are yet to tackle problem of infrastructure that would help to facilitate our developmental process. There is no water, light, roads, well equipped schools, adequate security to ensure a good investment climate. What that means is that we are not making any progress economically. So, if we donâ€™t do anything surgical now, the vision 2020 is going to be a mirage.
Global meltdown has posed further challenge to the countryâ€™s economic growth, Do you think the country is now in recession?
Nigeria has been in recession for over ten or twenty years ago. What is just helping us is that every property we have in this part of the world, we have struggled to own it. All the houses we have in Nigeria, majority of them are not on bank loan rather they are individually owned. So, why we are not feeling it now is because if you donâ€™t have money in your pocket you wonâ€™t make purchases. So, we donâ€™t buy on credit but there is a problem. The meltdown is the total collapse of the banking system and its regulatory body because we never learned from the past.
What is you institute doing on its own part to help change the fortune of the countryâ€™s economy?
We are beginning to raise full soldiers as we have consistently organised training programmes to different category of people on how to make and implement good plans. We have done such training in Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Abuja.. People came from far and near and they all have realized that it is time we need a planning institute where people can go and learn on how to get themselves organised.
So, far how would you assess the impact of your programme on the countryâ€™s economy?
The first thing is that when people appreciate what you are doing , then you are going to be successful but until you begin to make meaningful impact on people you cannot be successful. So far the results we are getting has been very impressive.