Visualize President Muhammadu Buhari as a polygamist, whose income has nosedived. Picture the president as one with many children that he promised a raise in their pocket allowances if they passed their school examination in flying colours. The children kept their side of the bargain and expect their father, whom they see as a man of his words; to fulfill his promises. And then this sudden reversal in his income!
Having overcome the initial challenge of defeating an incumbent and winning the presidential election after four trials, the burden of running a Federal Government in a democracy has dawned on the president. The federal government, which he heads, is beset by dwindling income from the major revenue earner. In addition to the slow-down of the economy, the false structure of the nation bounded by lopsided political economy compounds the situation.
The country has for a long time operated a mixed economy, but pretends at the same time to be a free market one. On the side of political structure, while the nation claims to be a federation of states, it runs a unitary system where it moderates or oversees the income, but not the expenditure of 36 states. In the attempt to enforce the control of the levers of economic progress, the factors of wealth creation; the government stagnates the states. This way it fails to stimulate independent economic activities within the states, so as to continue the climate of control by maintaining a common source of income for the states.
Having carried on as if oil would remain the only source of revenue for the country, the Federal Government now feels helpless with the sudden decline in the potential of oil to generate the much needed wealth to service the faulty federation. Castrated by the nebulous economic policies that emphasize sharing of income generated at only one source, the states remain helplessly dependent on the Federal Government for funding support.
And as government tinkers with various approaches to redeeming the economy, the difference between the local currency and the dollar begins to widen uncontrollably. With the neglect of local manufacturing industries and acute appetite for foreign manufactures, imports cost more. At the same time businesses that depend on foreign raw materials scamper for dollar in desperation. The huge economic burden weighs the government down.
But during and immediately after the election President Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC), continued to promise and assure Nigerians of security and better living conditions. The challenge of rehabilitating the North East ravaged by Boko Haram insurgency has remained on the pending tray. But while the plans are being laid out on the possible ways of undoing the scars of insurgency in the northeastern part of the country, the president spoke of his desire to “secure” the South-South region, notably the oil bearing Niger Delta region.
Though securing the Niger Delta might connote the show of force and military presence, servicing the amnesty programme of the Federal Government is a good way to limit rising tension and threat to disturb oil and gas production. But containing the untoward activities against oil production does not revolve around the use of force alone
Though securing the Niger Delta might connote the show of force and military presence, servicing the amnesty programme of the Federal Government is a good way to limit rising tension and threat to disturb oil and gas production.
But containing the untoward activities against oil production does not revolve around the use of force alone.Available evidence show that the amnesty programme helped to bring about normalcy to the troubled oil region. Government needs to continue the various aspects of the programme, including the rehabilitation and education of the former militants.
In the area of education, it would be recalled that the government indicated its intention to provide school pupils with one meal at school per day. While the argument of the necessity of the school feeding programme continues, the same government renewed its desire to provide pocket allowances to the poorest of the poor in the country. Inside the big basket of President Buhari’s wish list of programme could also be found the presidential permit for the recruitment of about 10, 000 police officers to shore up the maintenance of lives and property in the country.
Indeed, there is need to increase police presence in the nation. But some commentators wonder why the issue of state police has not been given serious thought, instead of employing more police officers when funding, equipment, training and other logistics are at issue.
Cattle rustling is threatening pastoral life in northern parts of the country, while armed robbery, kidnapping for ransom in the southern part, as well as, the menace of itinerant herdsmen, add to the social troubles in the country. Truly, policemen are needed, but how do you pay their salary and train them for the job?
The president has acceded to calls for an economic conference to address the declining purchasing power of the country. By jumping at that suggestion, there is the likelihood that the government has found itself in a helpless situation. The president had in far away France agonized about the boringness of democratic governance, contrasting his era as military head of state with his present mandate as president in a democracy.
Experts have been tasking the present government on the need to set out a clear economic policy direction for the nation. But carrying on as if all-knowing, the government failed to seek broad-based collaboration or build the necessary synergy to accelerate the country’s economic growth.
Now the burden of governance has dawned on the president. It seems experts are now needed to help set up a blueprint needed to drive the socio-economic re-engineering of the country. Yet in the attempt to build consensus through the expected talk shop on the economy, the experts would be left to confront the president’s viewpoints, especially his insistence that the tumbling naira should not be devalued further.
Would the president accommodate the fact that divergent interests and economic models are needed in the attempt to build a consensus and therefore create synergy? Without looking farther afield, it obvious that some of the present challenges facing the government could be traced to its initial indifference to the vagaries of economic realities.
Even a petty trader in Mushim Lagos, onion seller in Kano or pepper seller in Nassarawa; knows that effect of one month closure of his stall on patronage and revenue. For good five months the Federal Government went on holiday, saying that it was cleaning the Augean stable left behind by the previous regime.
Within that period of languor, investors became circumspect and held back from doing business with their counterparts in Nigeria, not knowing what economic policies the new administration might embark on. The knee jerk attempts to protect the naira through import bans did not hold back on the demand for dollar. Top on that, the international market price of oil kept on a downward slide, escaping the traditional budget benchmarks.
Talks of diversity came on stream. But what model could it follow? Is government pursuing a long term or short term plan? In the mixed bag of precipitate economic policies, social conditions of citizens begin to get worse. Panic becomes the order of the day, because government cannot make up for lost time. Terrified by emerging socio-economic realities, government is left to explain how it wants to tackle the problems of funding governance. Faced by the continuing query of where to find the money, President Buhari’s greatest burden is how to source funding for his major plans and promises.
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