By Adisa Adeleye
MANY critics of both economic and political development in the past fifty years of the country‘s independence from Britain have concentrated on the inability of the ruling classes to promote necessary options for a prosperous country.
The melodious refrain of a sour song has always being that the governments have failed to deliver. Infact, the critics might have had their correct point if it is realized that visionary leadership had been, over the years, a rare commodity.
The concept of change with all its characteristics seems strange to some society where traditional mores pervade the environment. Religion, Politics and the economy are understood in their prestine form, unaffected by forces of change around the world. Here in Nigeria, many lives have been lost, several limbs have been broken and thousands of houses burnt, the reason could be attributed to vandals in the guise of religious reformers wishing to defend God as if the Almighty Allah has no defensive armour.
The problem of religious fanaticism has been attributed to a non_chalant attitude of religious leaders to religious killings and disturbances. The call for a change of attitude is not only to religious thugs but also to the leaders of religion to allow freedom of worship by individuals.
A terrible episode in the inter_ethnic relationship is the dichotomy between the indigenes of a place and its settlers. Whereas changes in many parts of the world have recognized the rights of settlers after observing some rules of settlement; this country is yet to accept the decent norm of active participation of both indigenes and settlers in the overall development projects. In many instances, the properties of settlers and their businesses have become the envious targets of lazy but cruel indigenes.
It should be recognized that no meaningful progress could be achieved in evolving a stable, political and economic polity where its citizens are engaged in ceaseless wars of ethnic hegemony. Jos, the capital of Plateau State is a beautiful and prosperous area where religion, being fuelled by ethnicity is causing political instability and economic ruin.
Observers blame seeming inactivity of both state government and federal authority in relying on Committees without overt actions. If burnt houses have been rebuilt and real victims immediately compensated by the authorities, the hopes of evil doers of driving away settlers or taking over their properties would have been dashed.
In the race for progress and prosperity, it is essential to change the basic attitude of owning everything to the exclusion of settlers. A law abiding citizen should have an unrestricted right to life, liberty and property in any part of the country. Afterall, there are some Nigerians in the present British Parliament.
The politics of Nigeria, as manifested by violence of all sorts, is becoming a disgrace. Politicians are expected to be shining stars to others in the race for political stability and economic prosperity of a nation.
A developing country like Nigeria needs a collection of principled people imbibed with the idea of patriotism and willingness to give services selflessly and effortlessly. Politics should not be a ‘do or die ‘ affair as it is being regarded and practiced in the country.
It is correctly observed that the rewards of practical politics are so enormous (our legislators are among the best remunerated in the world) as to perpetuate the idea of winner_take all in all its manifestations. There should be a change of attitude by politicians to make Politics a nice rather than a dirty game to be played only by crooks and killers. The State ought to ensure that the glamour and reward of politics do not attract a ‘nest of killers‘.
The Civil Service is an important aspect of the administration of the country. In many ways, job in the civil service is regarded as a sinecure _ collecting pay without really doing the job. Often, development plans are left poorly executed by slothful officers. Allocations to departments for executing projects are returned under unspent expenditures – some find ways into private pockets under dubious contracts. An efficient civil service needs a change of attitude to work
While it is desirable to call for necessary change of attitude in all spheres of the country‘s life, it is imperative for the executives to demonstrate a complete change of attitude to work from the ‘do as little as usual‘ to complete commitment to duty. The past and present executive from whom much is expected has been characterized by mediocrity, though concentious.
The present situation calls not only for a change of basic attitudes by people and rulers, it also calls for a shift of emphasis or priority by the government. All ruling parties (civilian and military) have pledged policies of economic growth through macro_economic stability without inflation. Modern development concept would include a more equitable distribution of the national product, improved allocations of our nation’s resources and the maintenance of a high level of employment.
Unfortunately, there has been notable complacency and lack of courage in policy execution. A more serious problem is the lack of bold monetary measures and the complementing fiscal counterparts to promote growth.
The Central Bank, in active co_operation with the Federal Ministry of Finance, is expected to advice the government on economic growth policies. But unfortunately, both these strategic posts are dominated by disciples of conservative economic doctrines. They are under the mortal fear of inflation.
Officials of the Central Bank could detest the smell of inflation at any time a policy of budget deficit (spending more than revenue collected at any time) is announced.
The Central Bank sees expanded government expenditure as an invitation to an economic disastrous ghost which must be exorcized by its mapping operation.
The old classical concept of increase in money supply causing inflation could not be followed by increase in money supply being followed by decrease in lending rate_ a favourable posture for credit expansion to meet increasing demand by borrowers. Modern economic concepts approve of a cheap money policy in an atmosphere of idle manufacturing plants and mass unemployment.
The function of the Central Bank should be to help in the diversion of extra funds into productive investments and increase in the supply of domestic goods.
While the Central Bank could be congratulated in catching ‘thieves‘ within the Banking Industry, notwithstanding the clumsy policy measures, it is yet to demonstrate a radical change of attitude on necessary measures (not moral suasions) to channel funds to the real sector of the economy as would be necessary to achieve above eleven per cent growth rate of GDP envisaged for a fast growing economy.
The achievement of a faster growth rate in the economy would tolerate occasional wild disturbance in the level of prices which could be taken care of by necessary fiscal measures. What is needed is the subordination of our economic policies to our domestic needs in terms of right lending rate and flexible exchange mechanism.
The present interest rate and exchange policy though stable, ‘cannot lead to the desired economic growth‘