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Imperative of inclusive sectoral reform


Imagine a hypothetical situation where war is fought at the four corners of a space, where the enemies, as the aggressors, the attackers are laying siege against their prey in the middle of the space. If the prey must be saved, it must be able to launch an aerial bombardment from the top in order to get at the target of the surrounding aggressor. If this succeeds the prey who is on self-defence would have been in the superior position of a second order agency, or a gadfly at the commanding height of natural order of things.

The enemy at the four corners of the national space is corruption which is not only systemic, but also at the threshold of consuming its prey who is the Nigerian nation. The systemic nature of corruption in Nigeria is that it has encircled and permeated the country and its citizens and as it advances into the centre the more the nation is consumed. The war against corruption cannot be fought separately on the four corners, but from one to many aerial bombardments from the top and probably from the underground, if possible. Similarly, the war against corruption cannot be fought separately on many sectors, but from one and many aerial bombardments of all sectors from the top or otherwise. It is ,therefore, ethically and intuitively imperative that the anti-graft war demands inclusive sectoral reform rather than sector to sector reforms because the problem, corruption, is systemic.

The above allegory or metaphor illustrating a hypothetical situation best serves a conceptual articulation and formalisation of the incipient headwinds and difficulties Nigeria is currently experiencing. The key issues are the historical sectoral problems, reforms and the imperative of inclusivity or separateness in the diagnostic approaches. All are reducible to the fault lines in corporate governance which itself is a scientific process by virtue of which it is subject to conjecture and refutation in Karl Poppers principle of revision and elimination of fault lines in scientific theories.

Accordingly, Nigeria’s wrestle with sectoral problems will continue to hit the quicksand in the keyboard of corporate governance if separateness or diachronic approach instead of inclusivity continues to dominate all conjectures, refutations, revisions and reforms.

Otherwise, why after the Nigerian harrowing experience and public distraught and disgust over the pension scam, police gate, power sector and Halibuturn scandals, the same episodes continued to trail governance in the forms of Dasukigate, electoral fraud, judiciary corruption and so on? Conjectures and refutation will continue to simmer but a holistic and inclusive sectoral overhaul or de-tooling albeit, reform , systemic diagnosis and therapy is the answer. It is because the duality of human nature in its extended and non-extended forms are accountable for its dynamism, its process, creativeness but most often unpredictable behaviour which make non-inclusive reform unattainable.

Our emphasis on “the imperative of an inclusive sectoral reform” expressly abhors a perspective of imperatives and reforms. The Nigeria peculiar problems have one and only one causal explanation in the excruciating and monotheistic phenomenon called corruption, yet precisely in the genre of monetary or financial enrichment. This genre of graft is an over-financialisation of the society or financial hemorrhage which is the function or the making of excess liquidity where money is chased about as a god and the excess competition associated with it leads to market volatility that is one of the current defining hazards of recession. In fact, all sectors in any given modern society are subjected to the phenomenal economic uncertainties.

Suffice it to say that sectoral growth and reform are meaningful within the straight jacket of the causal history, social relations and human anthropology. At any historical period corruption is the central issue of sectoral reform and those who created corruption in all institutions and fabrics of the society through the free market economic theories are Adam Smith, David Richardo, Keynes and Alexander Hamilton. These were the architects and handlers of sectoral reforms with capitalist alter-ego. Modern nations after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s have followed suit in dancing to the melodies of free market economy, thereby subjecting all sectoral reforms to it, with attendant incubus of corruption, over-financialisation and market volatility.

The imperative question is: is it possible to reform corruption strewn sectors piece-meal without inclusive rehabilitation of the ailing market and consumption-led economy? Nigeria’s capacity to move from state control to consumption-led economy is problematic, even as Japan, South Korea and Singapore have made giant strikes in that direction with the communist China’s deft in state control creating a bounty of surprises to the developed West. As Nigeria is found nowhere in the two divides, a path of sustainable development must be channeled through inclusive sectoral reforms and inclusive growth.

The bedrock of every national inclusive economic growth and development is the values which the society subscribes and the people collectively adhere to as the determinant of virtues against the vices. The virtues in turn, modulate accountability and discipline against graft and corruption. The boom of the oil and gas in the 70s and 80s never cried out for a sectoral reform until corruption ate deep into the system leaving nothing in the oil revenue. This development betrayed the insincerity of the governments until the equal and opposite reaction of the Niger Delta agitation for resource control, vandalisation of oil installations, drastic fall in both oil production and the international price of petroleum products. A lot of mismanagement issues ,corruption and sharp practices were exposed to the dismay of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the host communities and the international community. The need to reform the industry is couched in the idea of Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which has been in the making for a conversion into an extant law since President Goodluck Jonathan administration. As the mainstay of the Nigerian economy (mono-economy) before now the reform in the sector had been the loudest subduing the voices of reforms even in the education sector where teachers are poorly paid, where there is dearth of professionalism, where mercantilism and quick money had overshadowed knowledge, where university education is like a business centre, where degrees are printed and sold. All the sectors are interconnected; the corruption in one is present in the other. It is systemic. Only a horizontal value reform of the society will yield an inclusive and sustainable dividend.

Now the financial sector which is guilty of profit maximisation, international financial conspiracy, money laundering, and foreign exchange racketeering, excess liquidity hemorrhage, excess money lender and even as the main gate-way to corruption has not elicited vociferous calls for reform. The banking subsector of this omnibus sector though seemingly conservative and liberal market capitalist bastion is the engine and hub of corruptions that simmer in all the sectors. For records, the highest stage in the over-financialisation of the Nigerian market is epitomised in the win-win era of Bureau De Change when money flows in and outside the country exacerbated lack of productivity and generated inflation through disbursement of unearned monies to undeserving entities and individuals. The current recession is, therefore, not accidental but a logical outcome of the mismanagement of the nation’s wealth.

Perhaps in these hard times of economic recession confronting Nigerians and Nigeria as a nation the imperative of inclusive sectoral reform if based on holistic anti-graft value reinvigoration would promote value chain, wealth creation and inclusive sustainable growth. Horizontal reframing of the pristine and human values would in turn honestly, formally and patriotically create alternative sources of revenue generation like agriculture, indigenous manufacturing and industry, promote job creation and employment and lead the country to economic and political stability.

• Dukor is a Professor of Philosophy at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Akwa

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