Abuja, F.C.T.- Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako sat with the hosts of Good Morning Nigeria, NTA on Wednesday, 21st September, to speak on ‘Legislative Response to the Economic Recession’. In the interview, he fielded various questions addressing his opinion on what steps ought to be taken to revive the country’s economy from its current state of stagnation and restore it to a certain level of buoyancy.
In his interview, the Senator stated his opinion as being that several factors must be called into play in order to quickly remedy the crisis. He suggested employing the 3 R’s of Roosevelt’s New Deal which are Relief, Recovery and Reform. He believes that these tactics, when implemented through programmes, will ultimately halt the deterioration of the economy, create jobs for the masses and ensure that laws are put in place that prevent such economic disasters in future.
The economy as we know has steadily contracted and has in the past year experienced capital flight that has greatly depleted the country’s foreign reserves. Wealth stored up over time is now being lost to basic necessities such as food. Actions need to be taken immediately that will halt any further decline of the economy.
For this reason, stimulus funds must be injected into the economy in a way that it directly benefits the people at the grassroots. These funds should ideally match the budget 3:1 if meaningful impact is to be felt. Considering the 2016 budget was a little over Six trillion Naira, the stimulus funds would ideally be in the neighborhood of Eighteen trillion Naira. This is no doubt a staggering amount of money, sourcing for which is yet to be determined.
I can confidently say that from my experience with the Special Programme and Projects Units (SPPU) programs carried out in Adamawa State under Admiral Murtala Nyako, empowering the people with skills and technical expertise on vocational jobs through avenues such as the Local Apprenticeship Scheme (LAS), the Farming Skills Acquisition Centers (FSAC) and the Vocational Technical Training Centers (VTTC) , directly improved the standard of living of the people and was a quick means of spreading sustainable wealth.
These grassroot programmes when well structured and properly executed are a great avenue to revive economic activities in the short term and long term.
Alongside these programmes, what is even more important is Infrastructure. The infrastructure that is required for economic activities to progress must be made available cheaply to the masses.
Transportation infrastructure has to be built for the sole purpose of connecting production areas to markets. Roads, railways, waterways must provide a means of connecting the palm oil producing fields in the east, to the leather producing markets in the north.
Transportation channels must promote vertical local trade for it to have any relevance.
Power generation has to stabilize to the point that it no longer bears down as a major cost in production for manufactures on any level. These are tangible avenues to ease the burden of the economic state on the people.
A lot of the time, our solution as a country, to issues of national concern often resort to relying solely on external stimuli to drive the results we hope for. Now is the time to look inwards. Nigeria cannot afford to sustain capital flight, wealth needs to circulate and remain within the economy. Nigeria must transition from being a Consumer economy to an Investment based economy.
The unrest in the Niger-Delta and disruption of oil mining activities have been blamed as the reason for the recession. As much as I do not agree with this, as I feel it is only a small aspect of the problem, I am of the opinion that rather than criminalize the actions of refining oil locally in the Niger-Delta, we should rather institutionalize it. Build on it rather than shut it down. Should we not be proud that our people are capable of refining crude oil? Why do we continue to nurture the mentality of colonialism? Why are we most comfortable with foreigner-driven initiatives?
What stops the Nigerian government from inviting India for instance, to develop the local crude oil refining industry and bring it to a standard that is internationally acceptable? In doing this, the people will be empowered and gainfully employed. The large chunk of the national budget dedicated to security and battling militancy in the South-East would be greatly reduced. The pipelines would be secured by the Niger-Delta people, Nigeria would have joined the countries of the world that export refined petroleum products to foreign markets and most importantly, the masses would have access to cheap fuel.
In building our economy in whatever sector, our mentality should be this ~ We have a limited technology base, let us invite an authority in the field to develop our human resource and transform them into human capital that will be employed as our workforce, using our local resources to produce goods and services whose sales and export generate revenue for the country.
This mentality encourages economic development and keeps wealth flowing within the shores of the country.
It is imperative that the efforts of the executive and the legislature synergize in order to expeditiously revive economic activities. The executive must have well articulated plans as to what needs to be done so that the legislature can provide appropriate laws and clear cut programmes to achieve them.
So much time has been wasted on bickering and playing the blame game. We have let economic activities dwindle to the point that the plight of the people is palpable. It is time to get to work.