FEATURE ARTICLE

Festus TokunboSaturday, February 11, 2017
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IF I WERE ACTING PRESIDENT; FIVE POLICIES I WOULD QUICKLY IMPLEMENT BEFORE THE PRESIDENT RETURNS

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he present cabinet is not as corrupt as the Jonathan's cabinet, yet Nigerian economy is in a mess in just 2 years of President Buhari's administration. It is knowledge that develops an economy. If I were Mr. Acting President, l will push and implement these policies to take the Nigerian economy back to recovery and development.

1. COMMIT 10 MILLION YOUTHS TO AGGRESSIVE AGRARIANIZATION

It's evident that aggressive mechanized Agrarian economy remains the only major option to rescue the Nigerian economy after the oil crisis. The government at federal, state and local levels must lead Nigerian drive to agrarian economy. The ministry of agriculture in the past two years is distributing fertilizers and tractors to farmers, but the government cannot develop the agricultural sectors this way. Turkey is generating about $200 billion annually from its agriculture sector (25% labour force). China generates over $1 trillion dollars annually from its agricultural sectors. Presently, Nigeria generates about $87 billion from the agricultural sector, but the sectors can actually generate $400 billion to the GDP based on Nigerian population and its land mass. To transform the agricultural sectors, the government must engage 10 million Nigerian youths and graduates into agrarian economy, send them to china and India for one month modern training and techniques of mechanized farming, equipped them with finance, agricultural tools and mass land for cultivation. Within 6 months, the cost of living would drop drastically, about 15 million Nigerians would have been gainfully employed, and the naira may appreciate as much as 100% against the US dollars. (N150 per $1US). Through this scheme, Nigeria GDP can be doubled at about $750 billion within one year.

2. SUMMON THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO REVIEW FOREIGN MISSIONS AND EMBASSIES.

There are lots of money laundering going on in Nigeria. Not internal, but external laundering by external institutions like foreign missions, embassies, private institutions and multinational corporations. All these financial irregularities weaken the naira against dollars and other basket of currencies. The government is ignorance about most of this money laundering. When Turkey is charging visa fees of $250 dollars against Nigerian travellers while Nigeria government charge Turkish travellers $100 for visa fees. India is charging about $200 as visa fees, even South Africa charging exorbitant visa fees, while Nigerian consulates charge less as visa fees for the nationals of these countries. It is money laundering on the part of Nigeria and would hurt the economy. The Vienna convention of 1961 says diplomatic relation between states must be reciprocal.

3. SUMMON THE CENTRAL BANK AND FINANCE MINISTRY TO REVIEW THE MACROECONOMICS POLICIES.

The central bank floating of the Nigerian currency is not a sound economy policy. The right thing is to peg the currency and begin to implement policies that would reduce the demand for the US dollars. There are lots of exchange rate manipulations on the Nigerian economy. With a Purchasing Power Parity of over $1.1 trillion dollars annually, Nigeria lost over $400 billion annually on exchange rate manipulation. To stop this, Nigeria policy makers must revalue the Nigerian currency. Most countries have done this to safe their economies during recession. Argentina pegs its peso to U.S. Dollar as 1 to 1 in 1991. Even the small West African country, Ghana pegged its Cedes to U.S dollar as 1 to 1 in 2007. Nigeria government should pegged Naira to US dollar as 1 to 1 to stop exchange rate manipulation and rescue the Nigerian economy.

" Slash the interest rate to 10% to provide cheap loans to local industries. Nigeria lost about $300 billion to foreign investors annually through interest rate manipulation. Nigeria interest rate presently at 28% on lending, and 3.3% on saving is a robbery on the Nigerian economy. It's time to slash the interest rate to around 10% to provide cheap loans to local industries. 10% interest would still be attractive to foreign investors. Interest rate in the EU is 0%, 0.3% in the UK and less than 3% in the United States, in Asian countries, it is between 4% to 8%, so Nigeria with 10% as against the present 28% would still be attractive to speculators and would not lead to capital flight. High interest rate hurts the economy.

4. SUMMON THE TRANSPORTATION AND FINANCE MINISTRY TO SOURCE FUND AND FLOAT THE NIGERIAN AIRWAYS WITHIN 30 DAYS

Nigeria lost $2 billion to foreign airlines annually in its aviation sector. There are lots of fraud in the aviation sectors. Europeans would not pay what Nigerian pays foreign airlines to travel abroad. Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa and Morocco generate substantial percentage of their GDP from the aviation sectors. The transport and finance ministry should source fund locally or internationally to float the Nigerian airways within the next 30 days. Rather than sourcing fund for consumption, it is time policy makers begin to source fund for industrialization and economic activities to diversified the Nigerian economy. Nigeria can invest billions of dollars on commercial jets and start flying Nigerians to India, China, Africans and other Asian countries. With proper management, there would be a return on investment within 6 months. This scheme would drastically reduce the demand for the forex and strengthen the naira against the US dollars.

5. SET UP FEDERAL ECONOMIC COUNCILL TO LEAD STATE DRIVE TOWARDS ECONOMIC PRODUCTIUON.

Every state should become a productive economy by turning their farms produce to finished product for Nigerians consumption. Nigerians consume 1 million bottles of juices a day at 2 dollars per juice. In order word, Nigerian spends $2 million on juice consumption daily. Benue state is the food basket of the nation, if the government set-up factories to process it fruits to juice and produce l million juices per day, they would generate 2 million dollars per day and $60 million per month; that's 5 times more than what Bauchi State presently receive as allocation from the federal government. These would also generate thousands of jobs for its youths. Every state has the farm produce to process to finished product for Nigerian consumption. Nigeria has the 20th largest consuming economy in the world; a great source of revenue for a smart government. Every of the 36 states can generate millions of dollars monthly by turning their attention from federal allocation to economic production. This can be done by processing their farm or mineral produce to finish product for Nigeria consumption. Nigeria becomes the world largest consumer of champagne (unbranded champagne) in October 2015. This can be a massive source of revenue for Delta State, Port Harcourt State and Bayelsa State to refine their hard local gin to champagne for Nigerian consumption. 30 million Nigerians buy a pair of shoe every month. If every state becomes a productive economy, Nigerian GDP can be doubled as much as $2 trillion by 2019, there would be massive employment for the Nigerian youths, inflation would drop drastically and the Nigerian economy would become one of the 20 largest in the world.

Mr. Acting President, there are many economic measures that needed to be implemented urgently to take the Nigerian economy to recovery and development. The aforementioned are just a few of them.

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