By Jimoh Aremu
I am aware that President Buhari’s gov ernment is making tough choices in exchange control re strictions, altering the absurd recurrent to capital expenditure ratio, reducing the deficit and reducing the overall size of governance.
The government is also cleaning the mess and rebuilding the institutions that corruption has ravaged over the years. Nigerians cannot forget so easily the dark days where economic growth figures do not translate to the improvement in the lives of the vast majority of citizens. I think Buhari should be commended for these laudable initiatives since the inception of his government on May 29, 2015.
However, I expect the adminis tration to waste no time in focusing on building an economic model which would involve substantial social investment and redress the paradox of high growth figures and widening inequality, rising unemploy ment and poverty. It is evident that any economic model that leaves nearly half of the citizenry behind requires re thinking.
Programmes such as the Conditional Cash Transfer and renewed support for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) should be springing up. They will greatly gener ate employment, address poverty, reduce social tension and criminality across the country.
Many Nigerians are equally worried about the proposed budget recently presented to the National Assembly. The budget provisions, when passed, should be strictly followed and properly monitored so that we get the required results. The masses are suffering and are almost losing hope in this government.
Our economy is on its knees; the Naira has depreciated drastically, while fuel scarcity pervades the whole country. Worse still, local and foreign investors no longer see Nigeria as investment friendly because of the existing harsh policies.
The directive by the Central Bank of Nigeria to make commercial banks stop customers from using their debit and credit cards overseas is also condemnable. The cutting of $10,000 to $5,000 cash or negotiable instruments across the nation’s borders for travellers with genuine business going abroad is also unacceptable. These policies have put lots of people out of job and crippled the economy more.
The Buhari government needs to rise up to the challenge of rebuilding the nation. We are anxious to see a positive change that will begin to impact on the day-to-day life of Nigerians. We are seeing the beginning of the trial of those alleged to have misapplied the nation’s money; we hope the process will be quickly concluded.
We should be able to get such looted funds back into the economy so that we can begin to focus on more positive things that are also happening in our nation that can foster socio-economic stability and growth.
Let the anti-graft agencies and the courts work hard to bring the looters to book and recover the stolen wealth. Meanwhile, this government, which has enjoyed so much goodwill from Nigeria and the international community, should not be seen moving at slow pace, in our interest and that of the unborn generations.
- Aremu, a businessman, is resident in New Jersey, United States.