On Thursday, the 29th of July 2021, the General Sam Momah Foundation organised the Inaugural Memorial Lecture in commemoration of the life and times of Late General Sam Momah (Ugomba Nnewi). In a lecture titled ‘Emerging Economies and the Nigeria Conundrum,’ the keynote speaker, Professor Nchor B. Okorn made several profound recommendations for Nigeria’s progressive future. With the kind permission of the foundation and Prof Okorn, I will reproduce the full text of the recommendations with few reductions. It’s my hope that the messages being conveyed will reach the right persons.
“Nigeria must show a commitment to develop a ‘National Strategy for Stability’ with the sincerity to admit when policy initiatives are not working as anticipated. “The government should adopt a strategy of meritocracy by putting people in portfolio that fit their productive potential and abilities.
“There should be an Interparty National Committee on Police Civilian Relations. The government should develop a culture of friendship that will enable cooperation between the security officials and their civilian brothers and sisters so as to timely resolve issues of criminality. “Nigeria must invest in human capital development and infrastructure by increasing educational budget and expanding educational programmes for formal and informal education, create apprenticeship for electrical, mechanical, carpentry, medical, technical education, general technical education programmes and many other informal technical training in business incubators and ICT incubators programmes.
“There should be investment in critical thinking education, research-focused education and teacher-based education at the university level that will produce a new generation of leaders who are result oriented-managers. “There should be a general sense of accountability in the country. When people commit financial crimes, they should be punished to serve as deterrent to others. “The Nigerian government should tinker with its macro and micro policies that would produce food sufficiency for households and create opportunities for employment. “The country must be led by a visionary leadership ready to sacrifice short term personal aggrandizement for national development, a leader that will allow Nigeria to achieve its national goals and objectives.
“There must be a determination to tackle issues emanating from oil bunkering by providing training for unskilled youths in the Niger Delta so they can find jobs. The government must ensure that the 13 per cent oil derivative is paid on time and ensure that NDDC is working for the interest of the people.
“The Federal Government should do all it can to ensure that the Academic Staff Union of University get the desired salaries, money for research, teaching, equipment and facilities renovations to ensure that incessant strikes are avoided. Government should invest in library development and general academic infrastructure. “The government should also address the issue of agriculture production to boost agricultural productivity in the country. Storage of harvested food produce remains a major problem. Government should invest in the construction of climate control storage facilities to prevent waste and enhance availability of food at all seasons. “Investigation suggests lack of policy continuity in policy development and executions of policies from one administration to another. This results in waste, undulating and disruptive policy implementation. “The First National Development Plan, Second National Development Plan and the third have similarities but not all provisions of these plans have continued. (1) Operation Feed the Nation, (2) the Green Revolution (3) The Structural Adjustment Programme have a lot of similarities in form of the possible economic impact on the nation. However, when regimes that are in power are out of power, the next administration jettisons the former programmed policies for new initiatives. “The government should make a hard and serious effort to protect Nigerian institutions, the legislature, bureaucracies, the army, police, and customs to learn from the recent near disruption of the American experience 2020. “There is a need to borrow from other emerging nations like Singapore, Rwanda, and Ghana in their recent success in consolidating on growth and development. There should be a serious attempt to promote in Nigeria horizontal and vertical communication where government initiatives and policies with potential impact will be properly marketed to Nigerian citizens.
“The issue of faith should be treated as that; personal religious preferences should not be injected into Nigeria socio-economic development and the market place of economic interaction to allow for growth and development in Nigeria.
“The Monetary Policy and the Fiscal Policy must intersect so that maximum benefit to the country can occur – Extremities of policy options will hurt the Nigerian nation. Fiscal policy on infrastructure- roads, schools, hospitals etc. will create jobs and people will earn income and in turn spend, thus stimulating standard of living and promote smooth monetary policy through increase injection of funds in circulation, and decrease interest rate will allow investors to borrow money, invest in entrepreneurial ventures thus creating a corporate class with bigger opportunities of financial control. “The government should develop a strategic financial fund for emergency. This should be about five per cent of GDP set aside yearly to the fund in case of emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic which disrupted economic activities, widening the unemployment rate. “The government should develop low income housing schemes to use Chinese prefabricated materials and ensure that quality-made housing at affordable cost is available to most Nigerians. “The constant balance of trade deficit and increase in external dependent revenue through debt should be reviewed. This is because debt servicing contributing almost 40 per cent of debt serving rate is not sustainable for our national growth and development.
“Antonio Gramchi, in his prison notebook, talked about criticism and self-criticism. Nigeria should set a Nigerian interparty evaluation committee to review annually specific policy proposals and show how it affects the nation in terms of strength and weaknesses. In fact, it may be necessary to create a ministry of monitoring, assessment and evaluation for analysis of economic impact of all policies and budgetary propositions like it exist in Ghana’. ‘Rural and urban integrated transportation system would help bring food produced in rural communities to be taken to urban centres for marketing. This may reduce the price of food in urban centres. A review of these recommendations, if implemented, will enhance Nigeria industrial base and create employment opportunities. “Nigerians should balance its hiring of consultants, foreign and domestic and in the final analysis like Singapore, China, Ghana and Rwanda has done by inviting their citizens outside to return and contribute to their development.
“The Nigerian Government should introduce a new civic attitude to facilitate strategies to renovate a whole and a new man where decency, integrity, productivity and the rule of law will become standard bench mark of the future in Nigeria. “Network and experimentation between non-profit and government under PPA will stimulate a sense of objectivity, productivity base, clearly measurable based on the application of international norms. Forensic auditing based on line item budgeting for accountability, a contract specific mechanism on target and criteria of effective implementation review and analysis’. “Accountability in decision making should be established on personality base, organizational base and ranking base.
“There should be zero tolerance for corruption. Nigeria should build a new culture of service and reformatting the Nigerian image based on time specific criteria and wearing of a new garment, celebrating productivity, having pride in our people like Dr. Okonjo Iweala, Dr. Adesina, President of Africa Development Bank, Professor Jega and Professor Soyinka, among others. “The issue of state creations must be resolved finally for national cooperation and development imperative. “The epileptic power in Nigeria affects industrialisation negatively. The importance of a dynamic power supply in the country need not be overemphasized. There is need for a review of the power supply grid to include wind, water and solar energy among other alternative sources of energy to promote industrial activity and development in Nigeria.” To these recommendations, I will add that we need a pernicious bill to prevent public officers from using public funds allocated to their offices to fund parties or any form of political activities.
Finally, an Ethics Desk should be established in the Presidency, all parastatals, agencies and directorates of government. The responsibility of the Ethics Desk will be to ensure that all government procurements, recruitments and activities meet a certain threshold of ethical standards.