By Providence Obuh
Former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku weekend said that the Federal Government and the Private Sector have a role to play in the growth and development of the economy.
Anyaoku said this during the Distinguished Management Lecture of the Nigerian Institute of Management tilted: Nigeria at 50, the challenges of Nationhood, stating that in most of the thriving and vibrant economies of the world, the private sector is a major driving force and the engine of economic growth
According to him, “in kick-starting and putting the nation’s economy on the path of growth and development, the private sector has a pivotal role.The government, however, has to create the enabling environment for the involvement and successful thriving of the private sector.”
He said that the government must provide the needed infrastructure and make it possible for the growth of a credible independent and strong private sector that is not a mere extension of the public sector because of the proprietary interests of serving public office holders.
He stated that Nigerians are known for their high entrepreneurial skills, they must have to apply these skills, not just in trading, but also in creative and productive ventures, beginning in some cases, with small-scale manufacturing.
“The Nigerian economy needs an authentic and proactive private sector that is interested in producing goods and services and is ready to invest in Research and Development (R&D).” Speaking on the recurrent expenditure of the government, he noted that the Expenditure Review Committee (ERC) has observed that since 2003, successive governments at all levels in Nigeria have continued to devote the bulk of the country’s finances to recurrent expenditure.
He pointed out that the 2011 budget, even after the biggest reduction so far, recurrent expenditure is still more than double the provision for capital expenditure, compared to countries like Ghana and South Africa, this is a spending binge that is absolutely unrealistic and unsustainable.
“Devoting not less than 60 per cent of the country’s financial resources to recurrent expenditure in the face of this poor infrastructural and industrial conditions cannot be the basis for nation-building or for achieving our development objective as articulated in Vision 20-2020,” he said.
He pointed out that in Ghana, between 2001 and 2005, an average of 41 per cent of its expenditure was recurrent, whereas its capital expenditure covered an average of 59 per cent of its total expenditure.
In South Africa, the capital expenditure has remained robust at all times, which explains why that country has the most advanced infrastructure as well as broad-based industrial sector on the African continent.
He lamented that the country’s situation calls for an urgent attention by the federal and state governments, stating that the Nigerian industrial sector is virtually non-existent, while public infrastructure has completely crumbled with the inadequate motorable roads, non-existent and at best non-functional rail roads and an epileptic power supply.
However, he said to fight corruption in the society , “I urge for the strengthening of all the anti-corruption outfits in the country and in this context, support the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission chairman’s call for the creation of a special court to deal more expeditiously with corruption cases.
“Nigerians must be vigilant, be prepared to ask critical questions and collectively act as a watchdog in the anti-corruption crusades.
But more importantly, we must all strive to overcome our frustrations with the prevailing situation in order to conquer the temptation to join them if we cannot beat them. In other words, we must individually and collectively foreswear unethical behaviour.”