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‘Why growth of economy remains slow under Buhari’

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Former Vice Chancellor of Crescent University, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Prof. Sheriffdeen Adewale Tella, has said that Nigeria’s economy has been growing at a slow pace under this dispensation because President Muhammadu Buhari took the economic problems of the country for granted on assumption of office in 2015.

Tella, a professor of Economics at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, said the President and his team failed to appreciate the extent of the economic problem that was on ground when they took over power, noting that as a result, the economic policies that they packaged could not fit in easily.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Guardian, the former Vice President of the Nigerian Economic Society, also said the delay in the passage of the yearly Appropriation Bill by the National Assembly deepened the economic crisis of the country, which was occasioned by the slump in oil price.

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He, therefore, came down hard on members of the National Assembly, saying they did not take the consideration of the budget as a primary assignment in the last four years.

“There was no time in the four years that the budget was passed six months in the year. When you have that kind of situation, it will take time for the budget to affect the economy. By the time the budget’s implementation starts having effect on the economy, another year has come in.”

According to Tella, “If the budgets were passed in time and the budget implementations started early enough, I think the economy would have performed better. I say so because the Nigerian economy is not private sector driven; even the private sector depends on the public sector to act. In that sense, it means that in a public sector driven economy, budget issue must be taken very seriously.

“The economy started coming out of recession towards the end of Buhari’s first term, particularly when oil price also started rising. But I don’t like the idea that oil price is rising because it makes us to forget our problems and start depending on oil again.”

Tella warned that the economy was still in the first phase of recovery from recession, saying it could slide back if there are no good policies in place.

According to him, the country is urgently in need of a long-term development plan, which would guide successive governments in the formation of policies towards attaining set objectives.He said: “For more than 20 years now, this country has no plan and that is not how you run an economy like this. There is no long-term plan although we have a medium term plan that was foisted on the government by the IMF and the World Bank. Initially, they thought they could do whatever they liked but those ones insisted on having at least a medium term plan, which they now run. By now, we should have a clear-cut national plan that will run for 25 to 30 years, which will enable us to project where the country would be in the next 30 years. It has not been so.”
Read full interview on pages 2 and 3

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