From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
FORMER Chief Economic Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Phillip Asiodu has attributed the economic challenges facing the country to lack of articulated and clear long-term vision on the part of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
Asiodu described Buhari as a man with impeccable personal credentials for probity elected on the promise of change particularly the end to corruption and re-introduction of good governance that will pursue public interests.
“However, he (Buhari) leads a party, which like the other political parties, has not articulated a clear long-term vision for Nigeria, nor a manifesto with clear programmer’s and projects for the transformation of Nigeria into a first world state. It has not explicitly adopted Vision 2020 even as a basis for further long-term planning,” Asiodu said.
He spoke in Asaba as the chairman on the occasion of the second edition of the bi-annual lecture series in honour of the first premier of the defunct Mid-West Region between 1964 and 1966, Chief Dennis Osadebey.
The lecture with the theme: ‘Strong Institutions as a Panacea to Good Governance in Nigeria’ was organized by ASDEV ‘81 Club Asaba, a socio-cultural organisation working for societal progress.
Asiodu who was first appointed Special Adviser to former President Shehu Shagari and chairman of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs in 1983, gave a graphic illustration of how the nation gradually arrived at its present economic status.
“Our population which was 40 million at independence is now about 180 million and is projected to continue growing at 2.8 per cent per annum over the next four years and more. The proportion of the population living at below poverty line in 1960 was about 20 per cent. The proportion today is about 70 per cent.
“In 1975, Nigeria was at about number 56, a low middle income country, today we are about number 158 and still a low middle income country but overtaken by so many countries. Nigeria’s HDI (Human Development Index) ranking in 2011 was 156 out of 187 countries.
“Nigeria is still a mono-cultural economy exporting crude oil and LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) which account for 95 per cent of our export earnings. Manufacturing contributed just under 4 per cent to GDP, and export of manufactured goods less than 0.7 per cent in 2011 and has fallen further. Only 40 per cent of Nigerians living in urban centers have access to electricity,” he explained.
On the way forward, Asiodu who said strong institutions were critical to the foundation for good governance, advocated a revolutionary approach towards building strong institutions, and urged President Buhari to call the nation to order.
“I believe that the nation is ready and will respond to President Buhari should he call the nation to order regardless of how all the key players have arrived at their present positions – a call for a revolutionary change of attitude regarding the object and conduct of politics, to embrace good governance in all its aspects and genuine patriotic service in the public interest,” he said.