REVIEW OF THE ECONOMIC POLICIES OF DR. NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA AND THE IMPACT ON NIGERIANS

Filed under: National Issues |

The paper says the claim by government that the economy is growing is contradictory to the growing unemployment, deteriorating infrastructure and worsening standard of living in the country. Many of Nigerians would wish they can strain their IQs to understanding how to reconcile the flashy chats exuding prosperous statistical gains and projections with the benevolent poverty ravaging the land.

A review of the Nigeria Economy and developmental policies is thus necessary to aid converge our seeming state of quagmire and developmental mirage. This review is a compilation of opinions from several quarters integrated to make an extraction of the way forward, less tedious to decipher. Economics as it applies to development of nations has propounded many theorems that have been successfully utilized by economists in solving problems of nations of the world. Nigeria as a third world country with dispersed dialects/values and a circular State seem to have defied conventional laws of Economics.Nigeria is in comatose, any formulated policy seem impracticably a solution to its plight.

After his victory in the 2011 election, President Goodluck Jonathan was focused on assembling a team to drive his transformation agenda. He came up with a crop of technocrats and politicians to help drive policy formulation and execution. He picked from home and abroad, one prominent name feature on that list is the Managing Director of World Bank, Dr. NgoziOkonjo-Iweala to form his cabinet of 42 men and women. Two years along the line opinions are sharply divided whether or not Dr. NgoziOkonjo-Iwealahave contributed positively to the Presidents transformation agenda. Nigerians who are now forced into compulsory journalism are asking questions with the aim of earning trust from the Government: Is the 2nd coming of the finance minister not rapture for the Federal Republic of Nigeria?

The problem facing the country still remains huge; insufficient jobs, poverty, high dependency on importation, housing deficit, poor infrastructure, very high inflation, felling foreign reserves, dependent on exporting one commodity (oil), rising domestic debt and high recurrent expenditure, amongst others.

In some quarters, few may argue that the coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. NgoziOkonjo-Iweala may have stood head and shoulder above her colleagues, where others may stand on her pedigree to demand a lot from the Minister on the transformation agenda of the administration.Some days ago, news website, SaharaReporters, published a story suggesting that Nigeria was broke and was now planning to dip its hand in the country’s N3.4 trillion pension funds to enable it to finance its deficits. In response, Minister of Finance, NgoziOkonjo-Iweala, faulted the report and accused the paper of peddling falsehood about the administration. But the publication says it’s standing by its report, insisting that the Nigerian economy is indeed in shamble.

The SaharaReporters versus Dr. Ngozitussle is just an indication of how much interest Nigerians place on its economy. But, we should heed to caution, a doctor will tell you ‘It takes multiple surgery to solve multiple complications and time will prove the success of the work done in the theater.Note Time!’Dr.Ngozi is metaphorically doctoring the country’s economy in the national theatre and as such, we should be careful not to distract the operation, since half-way-surgery means, we start all over again.

The flamboyant, double dynamite and undisputed powerhouse of the President Jonathan’s administration Dr. NgoziOkonjo-Iweala, doubles as the coordinating Minister of the economy and the Minister of Finance. Based on her formidable credential locally and international, she was charged with the responsibilities of effectively managing the nation’s resources, through development of policies processes and procedure.Nigerians are so raveled by poverty that it has left many under the opium of solution inexactitude. The lateritalic text from an on-line response affirms this fact: Her credentials as a former world bank VP has not worked any magic here! How can she even improve our economy when her policies bear the imprimatur of IMF and World bank Chiefs! No country has ever and can ever be developed through that route!

The coordinating minister of the economy and the minister of finance, Dr. NgoziOkonjo-Iweala many policies under President Jonathan’s administration includes but not limited to;

Dr. NgoziOkonjo-Iweala promoted fiscal discipline, cut down on waste and reign in debt and budget deficit, especially in the 2012 budget. This singular act by the coordinating minister resulted in the slight reduction of recurrent expenditure this year. Her target, however, is to cut recurrent spending to about 65% of the total budget by 2015 so that more resources can be deployed on capital projects.

 

The one time contestant for the presidency of World Bank has worked on rebuilding the nation’s decimated savings in the Excess Crude Account (ECA), which currently stand at $4.3 billion, and this is despite the monthly withdrawals, by the three tiers of government. She has also been in negotiation with the 36 states of the federation to start up the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) as a replacement for the Excess Crude Account (ECA).

 

Under her able tutelage, the government established the Subsidy Re-investment Programme, through which savings accruing to the three tiers of government from the partial removal of the subsidy on petrol, can be deployed to projects which she termed SURE-P. Though this action by her in collaboration with the government caused untold hardship on the citizens of the country and almost brought what has never been known with the people of Nigeria, a mass protest all over the federation asking the government to revert what was removed initially. She constituted a committee to verify outstanding subsidy claims by oil marketing companies.

 

The dynamic minister proposed and worked out the policy of retiring the debt accumulated through borrowing, rather than rolling over debts, which she said helped bring the annual borrowing down from about NGN852 billion in 2011 to NGN588 billion in 2013. She also plunged into the waiver and tariff policies to focus on sectoral waivers rather than to individuals, with emphasis on Agriculture, power, aviation, solid minerals sectors, to enable operators import equipment at zero duties rate.

The latest from the kitchen of the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, is the rent-to-own option for workers to address the housing deficit in the country. Mrs. Okonjo said that plans were also underway to develop the required policy and legislation to support the proposed reform in the housing sector.

An assessment of these policies which are major extracts of the whole cumbersome, spells fortune for the Nation.But it is no hidden news that Nigerians are not ready to buy these policies, as they make daily statements discrediting their truism and can’t fathom their visibility. The flaw in all these juicy policies by the Minister according to a voxpopuli is summarized thus: as much as the figures are promising and the economy of the nation experiencing appreciable growth,it still has not translated into jobs creation for the teeming unemployed youths. The several headway made by the Minister through the transformation agenda has not put food on the table of ordinary Nigerians or provide primary health care system, prices of item in the market is still very much on the increase which, without proper market regulation and adequate policies and active monitoring and evaluation system to checkmate the activities, the minister will be knocking on a rock.

Another extract from a local publication presented its criticism thus: The government in collaboration with the minister is free to continue waving SURE-P and YouWIN program all they want in front of the media and the faces of those who care to be deceived, the truth remains that it is nowhere near addressing and accommodating half of the unemployed youths in Nigeria, neither is SURE-P living up to its mandate of re-investing into infrastructure development. In the real world inflation is on the high, while on paper it continues to depreciate from double figures to single figures. The rate of poverty is very alarming in the country, an average Nigerian continues to live below $1, as the country remains dependent highly on importation of several commodities. Till date oil contributes to over 75% of Nigeria’s export commodity.

The big questions arise then for you and me as fellow Nigerians to answer… is the Nigerian Economy a sole responsibility of the finance minister? Are the rest approximately 160million Nigerians spectators in this regards? The Finance Minister presents her statistics of the Nigerian economy. The media report on the figures and operations of these developmental policies. The average Nigerians cry out aloud of their inability to practically visualize this econometrics. Who are we to believe: a seasoned economist and administrator or a harem of entrepreneurial journalists or the ordinary Nigerian who always suffer the fate of outputs from all facets like an experimental guinea pig? We all have our shortfall and limitations when it comes to seeking legitimate interest, as a critical examination of our respective responsibilities will expose our flaws, requiring us to slow down our accusations to patch our own leakages.

The lack of evidence of this wonderful policies may not be completely blamed on the door step of the Coordinating Minister of the economy, the policies may be absolutely workable with a healthy process and procedures of accomplishing a stable and constant growing economy, but other government officers have to come on boardas well as citizens towards making good out of our promising economy.

In conclusion, there are some notable comments that I have come across on different occasion that seem to suggest why economic polices seem to not to find the Nigerian soil fertile for survival:

Using economic policies that were designed and formulated by foreigners for their societies will not have the desired effects if imported to a different terrain. This is particularly so if, there’s a tangential difference in culture, infrastructural development, means of livelihood, work ethic, nationalism etc.

The fact that we are the giant of Africa has made a double out of our crisis. We have pending issues starring death treats at our faces but, the grand ovation of fulfilling the obligations of ‘father of Africa’ is a distraction that might make these supposed countries we are trying to impress come to our burial for condolence.

On the recent, in a seminar presentation, the Integrated Infrastructure Plan (NIIP) she said; government was working on a 30-year National economic plans. Infrastructure comes first, access to long term finance second and corruption third. So, this shows you how they ranked the Nigeria challenges. Why is corruption so belittled by our planners and policy formulators, to the extent it assumes the least threat even in their bid to succeed with these proposed blueprints?

Academic excellence does not make one a good manager of an economy, especially when such people are not well grounded on socio-economic realities of the economy. Why does the minister of finance designate the foreign reserve in US dollars but the so-called “Excess Crude” account in Naira? Figure political system; is the system where monetary transactions are presented deliberately to hide realities. If we must cure our economic filth, we must decease from inclining to manipulating figures to suite certain ideologies popular or unpopular. The state deserve the truth about its monetary figures… this is the best way to save the streets from protest/ chaos. When it comes to accountability it is widely a fact that talk is cheap.

Nigerians should wake up to reality by embracing the time mentality; we are too quick to complain. You don’t expect the damage of a century to be fixed in a year. Someone will quickly interject by saying ‘complain or you die because we are at the edge of a cliff, no one can bear what we’ve bear, no one’ I agree, but just to encourage the one who is attempting to fix our ill, a breathing space or allowance is required coupled with support from all quarters no matter how meager. The let’s seat and watch what he/she can do mentality is obsolete and unprogressive.

As a concerned Nigerian, let’s look before we leap, for a fragile economy as Nigeria requires caution in management. With the obvious scenario of politics and security challenges, economists are not finding the comfort space for implementation of policies to make their ceteris paribus applicable. You watch it!

 

Compiled by:

Alivionote Edwin &

Vintage Sam Okoroafor

Comments

comments

  • Emeka

    Thank you for your wonderful analysis of the Nigerian economy. So many ignorant commentators are quick to blame the century old economic woes of Nigerian on the door step of Dr. Iweala. This woman has made great strides in the few years she has been opportune to be the chief driver of the Nigerian economy. As far as I am concerned, this woman has achived a lot going by the situatiuon she met on ground. I believe she has achived a lot and she can of course do more.,