By Vincent Ujumadu
AWKA—A Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship aspirant for the November 18, 2017 election in Anambra State and former secretary to the state government, SSG, Mr. Oseloka Obaze has described Nigeria as a nation experiencing governance crisis, arguing that the country was not working optimally at the federal, state and local government levels.
Obaze, a retired diplomat, who spoke at a forum of the Anambra State Correspondents chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, in Awka, yesterday, added that Nigeria was in what he called ‘arrested development,’ a situation he described as worrisome.
According to him, Nigeria was not just in recession, but also in deep trouble, noting that even as Nigerians were hungry, the economy was under performing in almost all sectors.
While acknowledging the efforts of the government through the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP), he regretted that the political leadership had continued to struggle aimlessly.
He said: “The political leadership does not know what to do. There are many challenges. There is increasing restiveness. All these are evidence of governance and policy failure and the clash of the demands of politics and governance. There is a deficit of policy coherence and coordination.
“Despite the promised change, economic reforms are not working and general direction remains ambiguous. With over 180 million people, a GDP of $413bn, foreign reserve of about $30bn, and market capitalization of about $30bn, we have a negative GDP growth, 19% inflation, 20% unemployment rate and two successive national budgets (2016 and 2017) each with a deficit overhang of N2.3 trillion.
“Our foreign exchange policies are at best mercurial; the Naira continues to swing pendulum-style against the dollar, our benchmark currency. We had gone from the promised N2 to $1 exchange ratio, to an all-time depreciated exchange rate of N518 to $1 and to the present N391 to $1. Rather than take hardheaded policies that would support the domestic market and domestic production, we pursue a lineal two-tier foreign exchange policy that is simply wrong.
“We have politicized our foreign exchange regime, so that it favours the privileged and those in government, to the disadvantage of the wealth creators in the manufacturing sector.
“The present ratio of 60% to 40% allocation is lopsided since it means that nearly 90% of the GDP is ignored. This creates panic and underpins the parallel market. Inflow from foreign investors and Diaspora remittances had fallen drastically, due to capital flight and fear.”
Obaze observed that Nigeria, which presently ranked 152nd out of 188 countries in the UNDP Human Development Index (HDI), a position she had held since 2014, confirmed that the country belonged to the Low Human Development (LDH) category.