The parlous state of the economy attracted the concern of Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka who, after paying a visit to the Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohmmed, last week, called on the Federal Government to summon an emergency economic conference to discuss a hoslitic way out of the current tempetuous doldrums.
He told reporters: “I really think we need an emergency economic conference, a rescue operation bringing as many heads as possible together to plot the way forward”.
Already, Soyinka’s call has received the nod of those who directly feel the pains of the current economic atmosphere: the organised private sector. The President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) Mr Frank Jacobs and the Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr Muda Yusuf, believe such a forum at this moment of grave economic emergency when the Naira is at an all time low against the US Dollar, is called for.
We also believe that at this juncture when the price of our main foreign exchange earner – crude oil – has fallen to untenable levels for our sustenance, a national economic conference is necessary within, perhaps, the next couple of months. Before that, however, we must take the first necessary steps.
We must prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to unveil his economic team and unfold his vision and agenda for change based on which he and his party, the All Progressives Congress APC were voted into power. We are dismayed that, rather than constitute a strong economic team to advise him on ways to lead the country out of the woods, the President is busy appointing more media aides.
After nine months in power, the only aspects of this administration’s three-pronged agenda that are visibly operational are: fighting corruption and the efforts to rid the nation of terrorism and threats to its unity. The third leg – diversifying the economy and creating jobs – has generally misfired. Apart from the fall in the value of our national currency, thousands of people are losing their jobs with businesses folding up.
The main reason for this is that the regime has neither set up a proper economic team nor defined a definite direction for everyone to key into. This has led its critics accusing it of not having prepared well for the challenges of governance even after Buhari’s twelve years of running for the presidency.
President Buhari must prove his critics wrong and unfold his Party’s agenda to solve our economic problems. While this is going on, an all-inclusive economic conference to define a future of Nigeria beyond oil should follow.
It is the regime’s duty to show the way forward while we lend our support. The time to act is now.