March 31, 2023

Naira re-design useless, unable to checkmate vote buying — Ex-finance minister

scarcity of currency

By Steve Oko

Two-time Minister for Finance, Dr Kalu Idika Kalu, has dismissed the recent Naira re-design policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as useless and ill-advised.

The Wisconsin University-trained Economist who stated this while featured on the IkengaOnline monthly town hall meeting regretted that the policy instead of achieving any good objective brought misery to Nigerians.

He argued that contrary to claims by the CBN, the policy was unable to checkmate vote buying during the just-concluded general elections.

The elder statesman who noted that “currency change is not even a monetary policy”, called for purposeful planning to avoid plunging the country into economic confusion.

Speaking on the topic: “Nigeria’s incoming Government: Prospects & Challenges”, the former Minister tasked the incoming administration with purposeful planning as was the case in the early 80s.

He strongly advocated a drastic slashing of the cost of governance for Nigeria to survive.

Decrying the high cost of governance in Nigeria, the former World Bank Consultant said that for the global community to take Nigeria seriously, the jumbo salaries and allowances of political officeholders in the country should be slashed.

According to him, there is so much wastage in the Federal, State and Local Government Areas as a result of financial recklessness which must be plugged by the incoming Government.

He said that substantial funds could be saved from the high cost of governance and deployed to the development of infrastructure, education and the health sector.

” We are so far below what we should be in terms of infrastructure and safety nets. If we reduce the cost of governance, we save funds to grow the economy, develop the education and health sector; and also attract foreign investors. Nobody takes you seriously when you waste resources on the high cost of governance.

” Therefore, for us to move forward as a country, the in-coming Government must cut down the cost of governance.”

The former presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, further regretted that “Nigeria borrowed so much from the US constitution but failed to borrow enough from her accountability system”.

He advocated the establishment of the Office of Accounting in the country that would not be subject to political manipulations so it could independently investigate any financial misconduct of any Government official.

The elder statesman further advised the incoming Government to spend more on critical sectors like education, infrastructure, health and job creation which would have a multiplier effect on the economy.

Kalu who strongly condemned the burning of Igbo-dominated markets in Lagos in the aftermath of the general elections described the ugly development as disturbing, and a dangerous signal.

He said that Nigerians must agree to peacefully co-exist or split peacefully instead of stoking the embers of ethnic tension and conflict.

The elder statesman said the Igbo had no apologies for their political choice, and should not be made targets of political persecution.

He called on the authorities to quickly fish out the masterminds of the barbaric attacks and apply adequate sanctions.

Kalu, however, advised Ndigbo to be more subtle considering their peculiar circumstances in Nigeria.