Thursday, 13 June 2024 04:46

Editorial: Time for a new economic vision, Mr. President

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President Bola Tinubu’s Democracy Day broadcast on June 12, 2024, marked 25 years of Nigeria’s return to democracy. In his address, the President acknowledged the economic difficulties facing the nation and emphasised the need for reforms to rectify decades of over-reliance on oil revenues. However, the reality of his administration’s economic reforms paints a starkly different picture.

The withdrawal of subsidies from petrol and electricity, coupled with the floating of the Naira leading to a massive devaluation, has plunged Nigeria into a severe economic crisis. These measures, often lauded by Bretton Woods Institutions, have resulted in hyperinflation, widespread hunger, and a cost-of-living crisis that is strangling the Nigerian populace.

The consequences are dire: rampant smuggling of homegrown food across borders to fetch higher prices, the closure of hundreds of manufacturing concerns, and the alarming trend of de-industrialisation. Furthermore, these policies have failed to attract the necessary foreign investments, exacerbating an already precarious security situation.

Mr. President, the narrative that these reforms will lay a stronger foundation for future growth is a dangerous fallacy. The harsh reality is that these Bretton Woods Institutions-inspired policies have historically failed underdeveloped economies and are failing Nigeria now.

The withdrawal of subsidies, while intended to rectify fiscal imbalances, has disproportionately impacted the most vulnerable segments of society. Floating the Naira without adequate safeguards has unleashed a tidal wave of inflation, eroding the purchasing power of everyday Nigerians. These policies, far from being the “necessary repairs” you describe, are dismantling the economic bedrock on which Nigerian society stands.

It is time to chart a new course. Nigeria needs economic policies that genuinely address the needs of its people. Policies should be designed to stimulate local production, support small and medium-sized enterprises, and protect the most vulnerable from the shocks of economic adjustment. Investment in infrastructure, education, and healthcare should take precedence over austerity measures that deepen poverty and inequality.

Moreover, it is imperative to address the systemic issues that stifle economic growth. Corruption, bureaucratic inefficiencies, and inadequate infrastructure are barriers that no amount of subsidy withdrawal or currency devaluation will resolve. A robust anti-corruption framework, streamlined regulatory processes, and strategic investments in infrastructure are essential for sustainable development.

Mr. President, it is time to abandon the failed prescriptions of external financial institutions and adopt a homegrown economic strategy that prioritises the welfare of Nigerians. Engage with local economists, entrepreneurs, and civil society to develop policies that foster inclusive growth and economic resilience.

The path to true economic reform lies not in policies that inflict widespread hardship but in those that build a resilient and inclusive economy. It is time for bold leadership and visionary policies that will truly improve the lives of all Nigerians. The nation stands at a critical juncture; the decisions made now will shape the future for generations to come. It is imperative to steer Nigeria towards a path of sustainable and equitable growth.

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