From experts and economic actors, came a verdict that collective efforts are the requisite to turn the ailing economy back to the path of growth. The consensus was reached at the Vanguard Economic Discourse tagged, “The Hard Facts To Rescue Nigerian Economy”.
Starting the discourse was former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Charles Soludo, who said that Nigeria is a fragile state that needs the private sector’s involvement in getting it out of the challenge.
Citing experts opinion, he said that the economy is now in dire need of rescue and was still at the same point where the colonial masters left it more than fifty years after independence.
He said there was no doubt that the Federal Government inherited debts by May 2015, which was further compounded by insecurity issues, corruption and disruption in the Niger Delta. He admitted that the previous government had an unprecedented rate of debt accumulation, even at a time of unprecedented oil boom, yet the foreign reserves was depleting instead of doubling.
The former banker said all these had wrecked havoc on economic confidence as well as private investment.
However, he blamed the present administration for the worsening situation, saying that since two years, foreign exchange controls have wreaked havoc on business confidence and private investments, with massive capital flight and have driven the macro economy into recession.
On fiscal policy, he noted that the Federal Government has continued to spend over 100 per cent of its revenue on recurrent expenditure, just exactly as it was done by the previous government.
While commending the government for the release of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, he queried whether it is scripted as a post-oil economy. But the former Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, said that Soludo’s claims are more of paper work, as growth can only be useful if it impacts the lives of many.
He queried: “CBN was borrowing money at 12 per cent where as the interest rate was cheaper outside Nigeria. Soludo promised seven million jobs to Nigerians and never delivered. How do all these translate to improving the life of an average Nigerian?”
He concluded by alleging that Nigeria’s challenge started from the time Soludo was in governance and could not offer any solution to it.
Reacting, Soludo accused Oshiomhole of lying against him, adding that he had little or no knowledge of what happened then.
Minister of Solid Minerals and Development, Kayode Fayemi in a panel discussion said that plan was to ensure the sustainability of development, admitting that planning has never been Nigeria’s problem, but implementation.
Former Deputy Governor of CBN, and co-panelist, Obadiah Mailafiya, stated that some major problems of Nigeria were the absence of a national consensus, as it is now divided more than ever, with lack of regional and town planning, poor involvement of youths in national matters, as well as unemployment.
Former Managing Director of Diamond Bank, Alex Otti, said recession was not a major threat to Nigeria, but advised that Nigeria needs to review the current leadership framework.
“We cannot afford 109 Senators, 360 House of Representatives members, 744 idle local government chairmen that do absolutely nothing. My support for restructuring Nigeria is not to divide it, but I still believe six governors are enough to rule Nigeria,” he said