Renowned political-economist, Professor Pat Utomi, last Wednesday, attributed the current economic woes in the country to lack of vision of the political class.
Utomi, was speaking at the 2nd SMC-NRGI, Media Conference Series 2016, with the theme, ‘Economic survival in a period of dwindling oil prices.’ The public affairs commentator further maintained that government was more responsible for the rot in the country’s economy than moving it forward.
“The government is more responsible for aborting progress than enhancing development for her country,” he said.
Arguing that the ill-equipped nature of the Nigerian media had hindered her from reporting the economy objectively, Utomi branded the media as agenda setters and development enhancers to an economy but is ill- equipped to cover the economy professionally and objectively.
In his multi-titled paper presented to journalists at the confab, the Professor’s blueprint and roadmap to Nigeria’s speedy economic recovery opened with the nuggets – Media, Agenda Setting, and Development; Media ill equipped to cover the economy; Media collaboration or Acquiescence in property rights collapse; Media and Accountability of both Wall Street and Main Street; Can Development Journalism be re-birthed? The Media and socialisation of the Pedagogy of the oppressed, and The Media and breaking the Tragedy of the Commons.
Pathway to economic recovery
The challenge, Utomi identified, is in conserving what we have; his recommendation:
- Make corruption costly and unattractive • Make public service entrepreneurial and goal oriented • Reinvent sectors like mining and build clusters for value chain focus and global competitiveness • Strengthen institutions, property rights and enabling environment especially for select sectors where factor endowments suggest will be terrain for seeking global competitiveness. • Promote a clear national strategy • Block the leakages • Increase the productivity of funds available • Value for money audit by professional accountants to minimise frivolous expenses • Diversify the base of the economy sectorally and geographically.
Stimulate what we can access
Improve revenue collection *Extend the tax net *Stimulate economic growth that will produce future tax (the old competitive communalism lost with alchemy of soldiers and oil? (TIFA Funds) Tax Increment Finance Authority); Adopt new Core Value where emphasis of policies should move towards the well-being of average citizens and growth sectors rather than special interest.
Empower Private Sector
Private sector should be seen as the driver for the government’s special interest in the common good.
- Stimulate healthy competition by removing or reducing significantly, waivers driven by special interests •Recognise that government is not earning and cannot earn enough to provide all public goods •Nigeria has huge infrastructure deficit •Current infrastructure stock is 25% compared to 60% of developing economies •Integrated infrastructure master plan 2013 – 2043 envisaged $1trillion investment. This cannot come from government. •Create incentives for private capital to provide public goods through PPP *Clean out the corruption, sell down FGN stake, with incentives for the renewed JV’s to build reserves. •Passing of the PIB that is friendly to all and encouraging the build-up of reserves. •Get Communities to secure pipelines with reward to the community on the upside of incident-free securing. • Diversify and decentralise power generations, using a good mix of coal and hydro with Gas, with captive power addressing need around endowments such as on the coal best and solar in some school areas.
- Strategic Partnerships with China, Australia infrastructure Banks and other Asian Sources to achieve quantum leap in bridging the infrastructure gap. •Systematically pursue the infrastructure master plan, drawing from forced savings such as the pension funds whose net can be expanded significantly.
- Advance in infrastructure stock would open up the country, save on huge losses for agriculture and reduce costs dramatically
Banking and finance
Application of savings in pension funds to long term infrastructure development
- Macroeconomic stability and bridging extant financing gaps•Strengthening Regulatory Institutions
Agriculture and Manufacture
Reversing the decline into de-industrialisation resultant from poor implementation of the prebisch thesis and ISI •Key to manufacturing; •Infrastructure • Power •Need to turn to clusters-a new industrial policy – a new industrial policy •Substitution based endowments •Tariff policy to support Nigerian Content. •Facing up Ecowas/Europe EPA.
- Vocational Education as key, even the idea of ‘Executive Vocational Training’
CULTURE…Nollywood, Music etc
* Intellectual property Rights and optimising the creative economy * Structuring the markets of culture value and * Technology and global markets from education.
* Spectrum space, Digital Television and optimizing on convergence. * E-Government and the challenge of delivery value *ICT and freedom of information Act. * CT infrasture – Broadband Access and reaching the distant poor with services from health care to form inputs and mobile money for improving financial inclusion.
Diversification and Sustainable Development
Key Question! How do we stimulate the Growth & Diversification of the base of the economy and Create Sustainable superior performance?
Answer is the need to diversify revenue away from oil and gas which has created Dutch disease problems in non-tradable good sector and exacerbating the unemployment situation
The Vision – Diversify away from oil
- Use strategic planning approach to profile endowment in different parts of the country, stimulate •Recognize that distribution of prioritize them and take 1 or 2 of every part of economic them and make that part of the •Nigeria has development country globally competitive in the endowments across the value chains of those endowments country by stimulating private sector to drive those endowments with the government creating the enabling environment.
We have envisaged two phases of the evolution of this strategy
1st Phase – Break Nigeria into six zones of development similar to the current geo-political zones
2nd Phase – Integrate the longitudinal zones into three parallels to break the North South dichotomy of the prism through which we see Nigeria.
- Prioritise endowments and focus on them • Prioritise endowments per zone • Provide industrial clusters around the endowment with all key infrastructure (speed rail, power, broadband, processing, etc.) should be up to global standard • Focus on the clusters before providing for everyone else.
North Central (agro allied, cement, seasame seed value chain); North East (agro allied, hydro power); North West (Commercial agriculture, hides and skins and chemical industry from Gum Arabic value chain); South East (light manufacturing, oil palm value chains); South South (Hydro carbon, rubber, Palm oil value chain, Ocean Resources value chain); South West (bitumen, cocoa, ocean resources, tourism).
Stimulate value chains • Create logistics up to the consumers desk and • Make regions globally competitive in their endowment value chains • Education should be tailored towards the value chains, especially vocational education • Value Chain to be private sector driven.
- Policy Support • Nothing to be exported raw by way of policy.
Fallouts of this strategy
- Megalopolises will emerge
- These Industrial Parks will result in the creation of new nodes of development and emergence megalopolis corridors such as: * Port Harcourt-Aba * Awka-Agbor * Ibadan-Lagos * Kaduna-Kano, etc.
Emergence of New cities
Integrate the longitudinal zones
In order to foster national integration, we will develop economically viable internal trade corridors along the parallels of the Nigerian National Flag.
Example: Inland water ways on Kano – Warri * Maiduguri Calabar evacuation rail * Benue–Onitsha delivery and evacuation rail, etc. Value Chain will be developed to get stimulate interstate development hub along the longitudes whilst development along the clusters will stimulate development along the latitudes.