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They’re talking more about politics and less on commonsense economics

By Adisa Adeleye

The good news about Nigeria is that life is never dull – there are always moments of drama and fun.  The movement of the former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakir from the Peoples‘ Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Party (APC) has been described by Atiku as normal in Nigeria‘s political evolution.  It should be recalled with considerable amusement that the former Vice-President is not new in the game of seeking political green pastures.  Perhaps, he is an adept in such a game of political opportunism.  Who would not seek the prime political prize in a country where ‘everything goes‘?

It seems that the country has for sometime been witnessing the amusing gyrations of the country‘s honorable ‘Members‘ of the National Assembly.  There appears to be free or inhibited flow of some ‘Members‘ from PDP to APC and also, (in lesser quantity) from APC to PDP.  All in the act of exercising the democratic right of free movement.  Also, all is perceived to be right in as much as the salaries and allowances of those involved by the pernicious trafficking are not affected.  In that regard, the gullible electorate has no right to be consulted because once elected, the servants (before elections) become the masters.

Many questions are being asked in enlightened political circles about the quality of the existing political parties and their membership.  The structure of the country‘s main political parties is being challenged on the premises of political ideology and economic orientation.  Even the military President, Ibrahim Babangida made the distinction between a party to the ‘Left‘ and a party to the ‘Right‘ in his ‘two party structure‘.

The brutal dictator Abacha did much, without success, to introduce distinction among his five political parties (Ige‘s ‘five fingers of a leprous hand‘) which adopted him as their only candidate for the election of a civilian President.  The recent political maneuvers could be another political form of magic – optical trick.  Not many people are convinced about the real difference between the ruling party (PDP) and the Opposition (APC), which is now becoming the haven for PDP renegades and others of dubious political inclinations.

At the time politicians are busy digesting the INEC‘s elections time-table for 2015, President Jonathan was announcing his own time-table for the National Conference in 2014.  Many believe that the National Conference is of that great importance that any thought about 2015 elections should wait a bit.  Many analysts are hoping that President Goodluck Jonathan would attach great importance to the structure of the National Conference and make it a great success because on it might rest any future elections in the country.  It is expected that decisions of the National Conference would touch on sound electoral system, type of government, devolution of power, including Police, etc and also, the form of arrangement suitable for a united Nigeria.

Many people are of the candid opinion that the Federal Government is not right in declaring a ‘no-go‘ area in the debates in the National Conference.  It is probable that many Nigerians will not willingly want their country to break-up even with the obvious problems of staying together as one nation.  It is a question of what crude-oil has joined together, let no one put asunder, but it is necessary to hear the argument for breaking the country, if there is any.

It should be realized that many powerful nations have at present, formed the country called Nigeria.  The Hausa/Fulani, Igbo, and the Yoruba are nations by themselves which have definite borders, accepted cultures and traditions and each could stand as a country if it wishes.  So are other smaller well defined tribes in the country whose interests are inter-woven in the complicated union of the country.  It would be necessary and highly desirable for the views and the aspirations of these ethnic groups to be taken into consideration in the deliberations at the National Conference.  It would be a gross mistake to say ethnic groups do not exist.

THE ECONOMY

The strength of the Nigerian economy eloquently stressed at the recent Davos Economic Conference by President Goodluck Jonathan would be duly propagated by the Nigerian team at the World Economic Forum of Africa in May 2014 in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.  As stated often and supported by reliable statistical figures, Nigeria has achieved macro-economic stability with appreciable growth rate, foreign exchange stability and inflation rate below 10 per cent.

According to the Central Bank, ‘the moderation in domestic price level was largely due to tight-monetary policy stance coupled with the relatively stable exchange rate regime during the period, which resulted in single digit inflation in the three measures for the whole year.  This is the first time the country has achieved this since 2007‘.  That was an outstanding economic achievement in Africa

As I have noted in this column several times, the macro-economic stability being gloriously chimed by the Central Bank has been achieved at the expense of employment and glaring inequality in the distribution of income.  The Finance Minister, Dr. (Mrs) Okonjo-Iweala noted in Davos, ‘In Nigeria, we are growing fast, but that growth has come with increasing inequality and lack of inclusion of certain segments of the population.
Nigerian policy makers will have to choose, and quickly too, between slight increases in prices, which might be necessary at times for growth and large-scale unemployment with severe consequences of insurgency, armed bank robberies and kidnappings for monetary ransoms.  The country has also to choose between a small colony of glittering wealth and a vast land of abject poverty in a fast growing economy.  This is where a judicious mixture of fiscal and monetary measures could work wonders in an atmosphere of commonsense economics.

AID TO EMPLOYMENT:

If importation of drugs is strictly controlled, the manufacture of drugs used in all Nigerian hospitals could be entrusted to some reliable pharmaceutical manufacturing companies in Nigeria who, without fear of foreign competition would seize the golden opportunity to expand production of drugs in the country.  The import of antibiotics and other high technology drugs could be handled by these trusted domestic manufacturers who will become the supply centre to the hospitals and the Nigerian market.  The advantage of this will be increase in employment, and fewer deaths from imported fake drugs.


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