Laments high interest, inflation, exchange rates
From Molly Kilete, Abuja
From the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday came an advice to President Muhammadu Buhari to review his economic policy now to save the citizenry.
He also lamented the current rate of inflation, put at 18%, which is tightening the noose on Nigerians.
Tinubu’s concern over the economic downturn brought a similar reaction from former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who said on January 16, 2017, in Minna, Niger State that Nigerians were dying of hunger. It was during a condolence visit over the death of Governor Abdulkadir Kure.
Tinubu also lamented the current rate of inflation at 18 per cent, which he said if not properly checked, would worsen the situation and further impoverish the citizenry.
Tinubu, who made the call in his lecture, titled: “Strategic Leadership: My Political Experiences”, at the National Defence College (NDC), Course 25 in Abuja, said it was time the APC leadership stand and criticise certain policies of government when the need arises.
He said: “We have to criticise ourselves when it is necessary, speak truth to the power, we are the power, we will talk the truth to ourselves
The APC leader, who drew inferences from his political journey and the strategic role of the military in peace-keeping and building democracy, said: “The monetary policy must be consistent with the environmental need of our domestic requirements, you cannot hold on too much or too tight to a policy, let me give an example. “What they call security reserve today in the bank at 27 per cent, you have to be able to bring that one down, if the government have to be able to host its treasury bond at 18 per cent upfront, effective rate of borrowing is at 23 per cent.
“What am I doing if I have a billion naira and you are ready to give me 180 million, that is 18 percent upfront, do I have to work or do anything again? So those are the factors that they have to look at quickly to ease the burden, you have to stimulate this economy, you have to spend yourself out of the recession and you cannot do that by consistently stifling the banks of the liquidity that is required, it’s their money, it’s a savers’ money,” he said.
“Where we see contradictions in the policy, we are going to talk about it, this is a democratic country and this is our government, we are not like the other party that will invent one lie to bury a lie and other mistakes, we tell you the truth, where we are weak, must identify it as Nigerians and tell the truth, they have a monetary policy team, they must look into it, we need a constant evaluation, how does it affect the market and ordinary people as well.
“If there is no liquidity in the economy, the banks will price out the ordinary man and when you look at inflation, growing at 18 per cent, we are talking of recession, the danger there is that it might get to 20 something, if you are over-squeezing or you are too tight,” he said.
Noting that Nigerians would benefit more if there is consistency in the policy, Tinubu said: “This is the bane of our political economy. We have so much talent in the nation, but it has not been engaged and engineered to function in unison. Fiscal policy does not mesh with monetary policy. Trade policy undermines industrial policy, thus, ease of doing business is inhibited. Overseas peacekeeping missions do not always harmonise with core foreign policy interests. A nation in progress seeks to minimise, not harvest additional contradictions, otherwise, its leadership strategy is doomed to fail,” he said.
He noted that the decline of high oil prices threatens to be a long-term phenomenon, adding that strategic objectives must be to re-engineer the economy from the bottom-up approach. “Strategic objectives during this period of economic uncertainty must be to re-engineer the economy bottom up, diversify the economic base, strengthen our industrial base, modernise infrastructure, enhance agriculture, and provide employment. And of course, ease of doing business.
“The lower oil prices also reduced hard currency earnings. This undermines the naira, causing a steep rise in the cost of imports. The higher prices have suppressed aggregate demand, causing a decline in business activity. The challenge before us is a difficult, but not impossible one. If we stick to the progressive beliefs of the APC, we shall overcome these difficulties to place the economy on surer permanent footing,” the former Lagos State governor said.
He commended the NDC, which is the highest military training institution, saying: “Some of the best minds in our nation are found in the military. No military can be successful over the long-term unless it has the intellectual agility to adopt its doctrines and practices to the challenges of a dynamic and chaotic world as we have today. Like any large organisation, a military overly resistant to change will find itself on the wrong end of history. It will not answer the questions an incessantly changing environment places before it.”
On the war against terrorism, Tinubu congratulated the military for taking over Camp Zero, but cautioned against lowering the guards.
He said: “We have learned cardinal lessons from the Boko Haram crisis. First, we must govern justly and for the benefit of the people to prevent the recurrence of violent extremism in the future. Widespread poverty caused by an unjust allocation of income, wealth and resources provides fertile ground for extremist ideologies that run contrary to the inclusive democracy we seek to perfect,” he said.
The former governor, who also spoke on poor power situation, said nothing has been more germane to industrial growth in the last 1,000 years than constant supply of electricity.
“We have enough gas to fire this country’s electricity, but there are so many complex issues attached together that this government must remove, we must work harder, if the workload is too heavy, we must re-examine it, if the privatisation is given to incapable hands we must revisit it, this cannot lock down our future,” he said.
Just on Tuesday, a former minister, Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili, had hard knocks for Buhari’s economic policies, describing them as ‘confusing”, expressing regret that in spite of the confusion, the government remains “adamant”.
She spoke in an interview published in the current edition of The Interview magazine.