t the second coming of Nigerian super minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, I warned of the danger facing Nigeria and why she may fail to impact on the Nigerian economy.
Nigeriaworld Feature Article - Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Caution! Road to Nigeria’s economic recovery very slippery URL: https://nigeriaworld.com/articles/2011/aug/311.html
Three years on, the evidence of her stewardship is there for all to see.
- Corruption is out of control, without one single effective policy to either stem or eradicate it. She has not put in any effective measures by way of new legislations or empowering the civil servants to help police the treasury and frustrate attempt by politicians to deep their sticky hands into it.
- The value of the Naira has continued to plummet, essentially driven by unregulated government spending, out of control corruption and weakness of the internal Nigerian market.
- Unemployment is at its highest with concomitant increase in the rate of acquisitive crimes like armed robbery and kidnapping. One of the consequences is that there has been a sustained capital and human flight from seriously affected area with overcrowding of cities like Lagos, Abuja and Kano, leaving many regional capitals underresourced, without factors of production to stimulate economic growth. Once great commercial cities like Aba, are now decaying with many of its former residence now residing in Port Harcourt, Lagos and Abuja.
- Sectarianism has increased with a resurgent Boko Haram cause internal displacent of significant percentage of the population and worsening of security in the country. Car bombs explosions causing death of many innocent people have become a common feature of life in Nigeria. Nigeria is indeed on the road to hell.
- There has been no attempt by the minister to control government spending by closing the biggest holes in the government coffer, which is excessive remuneration of politicians and institutionalised corruption. No country can sustain Nigeria's level of spending and survive and withdrawing money from excess crude account to sustain the present level of spending is simply postponing the evil day. It is not good economics.
- There has been very little or no meaningful infrastructure development like road building, in ways to stimulate the economy by linking important commercial and business towns. In East Nigeria, there is no good road connecting Aba with Enugu and port Harcourt and Aba with Uyo and Calabar. Such roads would stimulate the economy of South East and empower the people to interact and trade with one another.
The government is playing political football with a new Niger bridge in Onitsha as if the bridge will be used only by Igbos. No such politics were played with all the flyovers and bridges built in Lagos, Abuja and other parts of the country with oil money.
Today, transporting containers from port Harcourt to Aba is a nightmare and takes up to ten times the time it took four years ago.
7. Underfunding of education continues and there is no coherent education policy to educate every Nigerian child. For a president who once had no shoes, the lack of interest in social investment and empowerment can only be described as shocking to say the least.
Instead, what has happened over the last four years is that the minister has presided over a government whose economic policy lacks imagination and creativity and consists of looking for money anywhere and spending it like money is going out of fashion.
At the slightest sign of fall in oil price, she has recommended the raiding of the excess crude fund instead of implanting austerity measures to enable the government do more with less, like cutting remuneration of politicians, ensuring that they pay their due share of tax and taxing luxury goods like big houses and third cars, foreign travels etc. This is the ideal time to force Nigerian government to downside and learn to live within its resources and the Minister prefers to continue the extravaganza.
There is no reason whatsoever, why the likes of Gowon, Shagari and Obasanjo and co, should be drawing a pension of 23 million Naira a month in an economy like Nigeria when many hospitals and schools lie unequipped. This as immoral as it is criminal and represents open robbery of the treasury.
What is clear in the last four year is that politics continue to bring the best return on investment in Nigeria. The result is that many people are willing to spend in excess of 20 million Naira just to obtain party nomination form.
The implication of this development must not be lost on a Nigerians. What it says clearly is that under the stewardship of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian 'political economy' has done extremely very well and the Goodlucks, Orjis, Obasanjos, kwakwansos, Tambuwals, Akpabios, David Marks, Umes and Maduekes, etc., have all done do well. This is why they are gearing up, stroking ethnic and religious prejudices, for another do or die election to retain their positions and continue to guide the Nigerian beleaguered ship to disaster.
I do not know of any other evidence to convince Nigerians that ministerial positions should not be based on an individual's area of academic specialisation or training, but on the individual, understanding of the policy of the government and the commitment the government made to the people.
Trying to find people with PhD In Engineering to appoint as science and technology minister, doctors as minister of health, lawyers as justice minister and Bankers as Finance ministers has not ushered in Nigerian technological break through and advancement Nigeria needs.
It has not ensured a coherent health policy for Nigeria,and stopped health tourism to India, UK, Germany and the US or ensured the improvement of law and order in Nigeria.
In the UK , the man who gave them the NHS was not a doctor and one does not have to be a doctor to be a health secretary because every secretary will have to implement the same policy.
The people who have driven the modernisation of the British legal system are not lawyers and many of those who are behind British technological advancement are simply men and women who understands the value of science and technology and what it will do for their country.
Therefore, what should be considered in the appointment of ministers, should be not what the person studied in the university, but the ability of the individual to push through the government policy and deliver the agreed objectives for the people.
Ministerial position is really about making changes in the country for the better by implementing the good policies of the government and any honest, patriotic individual, who is in politics to change the society for the better by making it fairer and ensuring that the rich and strong fear the poor and weak because of the law can, be a minister, including of Finance.