By appointing Dr (Mrs.) Okonjo-Iweala, of the World Bank fame, as the
coordinating Minister and Minister of Finance, President Goodluck Jonathan
appears to have realized that there is need to move Nigeria’s economic thought
and practice away from ideas derived from religious viral infections and
anchored on dogmatic and subjective musings, suffused with nebulous ambiguities,
to knowledge-based, economic management of the Nigerian economy. We can now
enter occasional dialogue with the Honourable Minister.
In the past, we hesitated to dialogue with the Central Bank Governor, because we
were not sure, when we could cross the Rubicon between economic polemics into
religious politics. His language of banking is pontifical, at times obscure and
It has been my intelligent assertion with the binding force of a sworn affidavit
that any time religious sentiments percolate into a secular discourse, the whole
discussion dovetails into the orbit of belief. Belief is difficult to dissect.
In the new dispensation, all the essential knowledge in agricultural economics,
industrial economics, must be harnessed to develop a model that will be suitable
for Nigeria’s advance.
Borrowing some economic knowledge from G.L Thirkette,I would like to know the
nature of Nigerian economics and economic activity, how we derive our national
income, how we determine our prices, how equitable is the distribution of
national income in the form of wages, interests, profit and rent? How strictly
do we monitor our public finances, how strong is our international trade? How
efficiently do we manage our foreign and local investments?
What is the situation of our fixed and floating exchange rates? How can we deal
with the economy of high wages paid to the non-productive sector of the national
economy? Are there labour-saving inventions and capital-saving inventions in the
Nigerian economy or do we purchase machinery at inflated prices?
Is our monetary policy being efficiently controlled by the monetary authorities
and the government? By what magical conjurations do officials make away with so
much money, with impunity? What are we doing to arrest the inequality in the
international division of labour, whereby we import goods at the prices dictated
by the manufacturers and we export our raw materials at the prices they
unilaterally fix for global users?
Every year, we produce graduates, who employers tell us are marginally
employable. Those, who studied abroad, do not want to come home. They serve the
economy of advanced economies. Our few professors are allowed to idle away in
retirement! Is anyone thinking for and about Nigeria?
A gloomy set of statistics relate to basic food, housing and welfare
requirements. Yet, millions of able-bodied men and women roam the cities instead
of being made to cultivate the rich agricultural land we have in Nigeria. China
feeds its 1.3 billion people.
Go to the ant thou sluggard nation, learn her ways and be wise! How to
practicalize economic theory and build a nation where basic amenities abound is
the challenge before the transformation cadre.
These and many other issues must form the core economic drive in the Era of
The first clarification we demand from the economic team is to state clearly the
economic system Nigeria will adopt. This will enable us to know the parameters
we shall use to evaluate their performance. A country must know the way its
economic team is piloting the nation.
As Walter Rodney said, “The social services provided by a country are of
importance equal to that of its material production in bringing about human
well-being and happiness”.
In the 1980’s, the structural adjustment programmes “exacted huge social,
political and economic costs to the detriment of the majority of the people,
rural and urban.” The programme did not accelerate capitalist production not
promote capitalist forms of accumulation. As Olukoshi et al noted,” The economic
fortunes of the countries that accepted the structural adjustment programme
hardly improved in spite of the adjustment regime imposed on them by the IMF and
the World Bank”.
It is hoped that the new economic programmes we are looking forward to, will
distance themselves from IMF/World Bank politics of structural adjustment,
conditionality and measures that are contradictory to the ECOWAS integration
We must do an appraisal of the debilitating factors that have crippled the
Euro-American economies and by-pass their failed Keynesian principles and debt
crisis. We must embrace progressive economic thinking and prudent management of
We must find a bold way to arrest our price regime. It is a wonder economy in
which houses built with cement cost exorbitantly as if they were built with gold
blocks. Ann Philips will not find any rationale for such in her “Concept of
The local manufacturing index in Nigeria continues to fall as a result of our
infrastructural collapse. The roads need fixing, electricity is yet to remain
steady to encourage industrial output and the creation of jobs.
Our public enterprise sector is so weak that ten years ago, the Federal
Government mechanistically sold off our commonwealth to private companies. It is
laughable that the Government, crying over split milk, is now interested in
finding out how the privatized companies are doing. Any Nigerian with a modicum
of patriotism cannot but feel embarrassed about how this country is run.
Talking about patriotism, Dr Okonjo-Iweala displayed her love for country by
foregoing a dollar-paid job to serve as Minister of Finance in Nigeria. If she
been that dollar-conscious, she would have sent a polite note rejecting the
When my learned friend, Chief Gani Fawehinmi went to court over the issues some
years ago, I wrote to ask him what his cause of action was. After all, I am not
sure whether the Federal Government paid her fees at Harvard or at MIT. There
are many Okonjo- Iwealas strutting about the streets of Nigeria without ever
going to a University. The nation is reaping where it did not sow So, what is
the achievement in the announcement that she will not be paid in dollars?
Some of our foreign contractors are paid in dollars, after which they abandon
I am constrained to mention the issue of the nationalized banks. In
international commercial relations, foreign states are always wary of states
that make nationalization part of their national economic policy. We must be
careful in adopting some macro-economic measures that scare investors.
Something must be done at once to solve the mass unemployment in Nigeria. In his
book of the same title, Professor F.E. Ogbimi of the Obafemi Awolowo University,
identified cogent reasons for unemployment a- in Nigeria, and proffered
solutions that are appropriate to the Nigerian situation.
Dr. Ogbimi gave the following reasons for mass unemployment in Nigeria. He
mentioned “the backward state of the economy, poor perception of the
relationship between employment and the health of the economy, faculty planning
theory and framework and inappropriate economic philosophy/ideology”.
He further linked education with productivity and discussed how to stimulate
rapid industrialization. He sketched the European and Asian experiences.
He wrote that “ the management of an economy from one status to another, say
position (1) to position (2) or position (2) to position (3) is a fundamental
change- a transformation which demands a quantum input of quality knowledge and
skills into the production system. Learning, he wrote, is the fundamental basis
for growth and development.”
A critical look at the Nigerian society shows that new hands are left to age,
while old hands are re-cycled. Since old people do not learn easily, the
work-force at the decision-making level is populated with lazy, yawning drones,
whose relevance or the lack of it,is that they can rely on the Old Boy network.
As a result, there is little or no innovativeness. The economy suffers and so do
For our economy and foreign trade to become vibrant, we must embark on rapid
industrialization like the Germans did between 1950-1970, under Conrad Adenauer
and his able Finance Minister,
The pre-occupation with the six years elongation noise, whether well understood
or misunderstood is putting the cart before the horse. If the government can
evolve a dynamic, comprehensive programme, which would be seen to transform the
Confederal Republic of Nigeria, that success will be good evidence that could
strengthen the plea for an extension.
The cardinal issue in Nigeria now, is how we can transform from a Federal to a
Confederal Republic, in which each state can evolve developmental strategies,
using its work force, natural resources and human resources to develop its
state, under the supervision of the Central authority.
With visible gains in the agricultural and industrial and other sectors of the
economy, the people will decide through a referendum, whether they approve of
any elongation or not.
Both the Distinguished and not-so-distinguished Senators, who legislate for the
Republic, should pass laws that will enhance the transformation of Nigeria. They
have the powers to control and supervise the activities of the Executive. They
should exercise their powers to conduct investigations, at least as a deterrent
to the heinous crimes that have been and are being perpetrated against the
Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The coming transformation must be judged by the caliber of leaders on the
ground, in all spheres of governance and not by mere proclamations, promises,
speech-making, retreats, conferences and declarations of intent.
Professor Dr. Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai, a Writer and Academic is the Academic
Chancellor, BOSAS INTERNATIONAL LAW BUREAU, Abuja, Nigeria.