Former vice president of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has described the Nigerian economy as broken, adding that if not checked early enough, it may take a longer time to fix.
He said that it would be detrimental to the economy to continue to depend on rise in oil price in the international market or increase in oil receipts, as this alone will not check the prevailing economic recession in the country.
This was coming as the former Governor of Lagos, Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu said that Nigeria was blessed with human and materiel resources. “The most important component of this resources is human resources, that is why change begins with us,” he said.
Speaking at the 9th investiture of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers new president, Mr. Oluwaseyi Abe in Lagos Nigeria, Atiku, who was also the co-chairman of the event said that Nigeria’s problem had been its over dependence on oil and waiting for oil prices to gain momentum.
“Our economy is broken, and if we wait for the oil price to rebound or for crude exports to bounce back or for oil receipts to recover, we may wait for very long and may not be able to fix it.”
Atiku said that another related and flawed belief was that the federal government alone is the only force, the know-all, be all, and do all that would direct and bankroll the diversification of our economy.
“And we have convinced ourselves, again wrongly, that the only reason that the federal government is unable to spend money to do all we expect it to do is that the money has been stolen. We must erase that mindset in order for us to begin to climb out of our current depths.”
He pointed out that although government can use oil receipts to improve the lives and livelihoods of the people, but oil money was not a requirement for diversifying the economy.
“We need federal government officials who are willing to step back and carefully work out how they can empower the private sector to grow the economy and create jobs. And I don’t mean selecting a few companies deemed worthy of government support. No, we need radical reforms that streamline our bureaucracy and eliminate rules and regulations that stifle innovation. We also need robust management processes that ensure that public money buys us better infrastructure, education outcomes and healthcare” the former vice president said.
He said that Nigerians need to understand that our most valuable resource is not our oil; it is our people. All of our people.”
He further stated that investors have noticed the nation’s predicament. “Foreign investment has nearly dried up. In the first half of 2016 the total amount of capital brought into Nigeria was less than $1.4 billion compared to $5.3 billion in the first half of 2015. Direct investment has fallen by half, portfolio investment is down by 87% and our capital and financial accounts are deep in the red. A number of long established foreign businesses announced they were planning to leave and many of those that decided to stay are cutting costs and trimming their payrolls to balance their books. Some respected Nigerian companies are folding up as well.
It is, therefore, clear that rather than praying for higher oil revenues, we should seize the current opportunity to get over our addiction to oil revenues. Discovering new oil wells in the north or south is no substitute. Government should look to sustainable sources of revenue, mainly taxes, duties and other levies. And it can only enlarge the tax base by encouraging diverse economic activities right across the country and investing in human capital development to produce the entrepreneurs, inventors and workers of the future.
Former Governor of Lagos, Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu in his remark at the event said “Today Nigeria is going through a very serious economic challenges. We are blessed with human and materiel resources. The most important component of this resources is human resources that is why change begins with us.”