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The political/economic agenda for 2010

By Adisa Adeleye
There is little doubt that many patriotic   Nigerians were greatly disappointed about the condition of the Nigerian situation last year. Many who have piously hoped for political stability got instead bickering and rumblings within the ruling parties. It was worse on the economic scene.

The macro-economic stability was disturbed by the Banking reforms which led to massive sack of workers, thus worsening the unemployment problem of the country.

The problem with Nigeria as noted by foreign and patriotic Nigerians has always been lack of co-ordination between the rulers and the masses over whom they rule. This is more apparent in the political sphere where the masses did not trust their leaders, some of whom were not legimately elected. Also, some of the leaders appeared proud and unapproachable giving the impression that they did not need their votes.

And in fact, as Election Tribunals have pronounced, some of the ‘Leaders‘ were found to be shameless characters and election riggers. It is true that any nation which would develop politically would need a government that is elected by the votes of majority of the people and a principled and credible opposition, which could take over the reins of government at any appropriate time.

A credible government needs a credible election based on credible electoral laws. Many Nigerians believe that Justice Uwais‘ Committee has done a nice job in providing a nice frame-work for credible elections in the country. The useful advice to the legislators, in their own interest, is to quickly sort themselves out and pass credible laws in the first quarter of the year in order to give time for the preparation of the dreaded 2011 general elections.

A notable ignoble clause in the existing electoral law is the ‘substantial compliance‘ aspect which gives riggers of elections a free passage.

It is the belief of many people that a breach of any law should be interpreted as a breach of the whole law as noted in the Bible [James 2:10]; ‘For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all‘

The new year should provide an opportunity to address the problem of true federalism as against the current practice of unitarism in the garb of federalism. The idea of going every month to share booty of oil revenue should be revisited in the context of Constitutional review. Also, are the questions of decentralisation of the Police and restructuring of the country into six or more manageable zones for economic and political stability.

It is discovered that most of the contradictions in the present Constitution could only be resolved in a conference or by a genuine national government. The saddling of the review of certain aspects of the Constitution on the federal legislators appears herculean because of time limit and the fact that some of them might not have been properly elected.

It is a pity that the forth coming Anambra elections would be conducted by the same team which messed up the two earlier ones.

In the race to build a modern economically and politically stable country, analysts have expressed serious doubts on the suitability of the present structure of the states and local governments in the country. It should be remembered that the present states and local councils were politically carved out of the old three regions to ensure unity and bring good governance to the grassroots. With the oil boom of the 1979s and 1980s, the creation of states became a ridiculous passion of the military dictators of the era.

States and local councils were created without due regard to economic viability, ethnic affinity and political integrity. Except in South-West (Yoruba); South-East (Ibo); other states contain a mixture of domineering majorities and often, rebellious minorities and a docile few. Some of these states have become citadels of violence and instability.

It is my candid opinion, expressed many times in this column that a country so amorphous, relying only on oil money from restless states and brought together under an overpowering federal authority needs a pathological examination and perhaps, a painful surgical operation.

On the economy, no serious commentators have praised the efforts of the Federal Government, howbeit serious and at times, progressive. It should be appreciated that economic activities could not be stimulated by mere moral ‘talk-talk‘ or pious sermonalisation but by massive injection of funds into the dormant economy and taking necessary action to maintain stability.

Excess liquidity should not be frozen by the Central Bank (as its custom) but released for productive investments in the real sector. It is contradictory to wish for industrial development and at the same time engage in a policy of high interest rates and mopping up excess liquidity. Increase in loanable funds, should all things being equal, lead to reduction in interest rates to increase lending and borrowing [not some Nigerian business who borrow and would not pay].

Please Lamido Sanusi Lamido don‘t freeze the excess funds recently pumped into the monetary system, let the funds go to the productive sectors of the economy [to tackle infrastructural deficiencies] It looks like all past Governors of Central Bank including the present one are addicted to the discarded theory of the classical economists on development strategies.

In addition to a cheap money policy (low interest rate) and favourable exchange rate (low), it is necessary for the government to support progressive monetary policy with a fiscal policy targeted towards economic development, starting with these options.

. A discriminating tariff structure in favour of importation of raw materials,

Spare parts and machinery necessary for production of goods for local  consumption and export

. An enhanced minimum wage for workers to increase their purchasing power, reduced tax burden on individuals and firms to increase consumption of locally manufactured goods.

. Continuation of stipends to Youth Corpers until they are able to secure employment and also increase in payment to Pensioners.

The measures expressed here are not new to my readers, and I am sure the government has started to implement some of these measures. The repetition here is necessary for reminding or rebranding if necessary, for the year 2010.


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