State Of The Economy

By Nebo Ike
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When the decisions of the apex court on the 2015 election petitions, in which the ruling party (PDP) got badly wounded was announced, an air of succor came to the party when Govs Wike of Rivers State, Darius Ishiaku of Taraba State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Admiral Murtala Nyako (rtd) of Adamawa State, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, and Senator David Mark of Benue South retained their seats.

Just about the same time its spokes-person Chief Olisa Metuh regained his constitutional freedom. Following simultaneously was PDP NEC meeting that saw Senator Alli Modi Sheriff as chairman, confirming the speculation that the party is bouncing high. However, the state of the economy worried PDP Think-Tank more than the allegation that its new national chairman was an imposition.

Legislation is one of the enabling environments for the rule of law, order, investment and good governance to flourish in any economy. There is no dearth of such laws in Nigeria. However, the economy does not look like one that benefit from those laws. Rather there is extreme poverty, hard times in the land and lack of commensurate growth showed by the economy. There is always scarcity of basic commodities needed by average citizens like kerosene, food items, communal facilities (Good network of road, Health and Education). Why do we have government from independence to 2016 that failed to deliver these basic infrastructures when government is a continuation of each previous one?

The situation on ground shows that no value is being added by successive government from 1973 when a Naira exchanged for more than a dollar, to now when almost N400.00 fetch only a dollar. It is clear that the productive sectors of any economy expand or contract its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The way successive governments have handled the economy gave rise to the present state where ghost workers syndrome has become a strangulating factor. Successful and buoyant economies are not a product of its GDP alone, but also as a result of legal protection of institutions and processes.

Nigeria from independence has had oil glut without any proof of efficient management of resources coming therefrom. Instead it spurred gross economic mismanagement and large scale embezzlements of public funds and huge indebtedness to the Paris club. The legislature invariably legislates on the incomes and expenditures of the nation as required by the constitution.

Yearly budgets whose recurrence exceeds capital expenditure with less than 60% average implementation have become the norm. The cumulative result is that today Nigeria has gradually lost almost all elements of a competitive economy. Yet we have such institutions like National Economy Council or Summit that initiates and evaluates government economic policies, patronized by any government in office.

Whatever name this economic institution is called it plays very important roll in every economy. The United States of America calls their institution Council of Economic Advisers. Whereas, the amalgamation of British Industries offer similar services to UK economy and government. They operate in such a neutral way that they do not fall into the murky waters of politics. However, it is difficult to insulate them totally from politics, for instance the British Institution does not produce any economic blue print that would portray it as an institution that sympathizes with the politics of the left.

Empirical evidence show that successful economies like Singapore, Australia, UK, USA etc plan them with policies, recommendations and statistical data emerging from the above economic advisory institutions. After the 2015 general election, hand over and crash of policies of the erstwhile government, there was a vacuum of policy thrust that could drive the economy, as PMB tarried over proposed members of his cabinet. The impact it had on the economy was more than a handful according the experts. If he had elected to start with the adoption and implementation of confab report that would have saved a huge some of money and form a consensual direction for the economy of this nation.

When PMB finally constituted his cabinet he did not show much concern about economic policies and how to ginger the economy to prosperity, instead he chose the path of policeman on duty to search, arrest, detain and recover stolen national common wealth. Being the President and Commander–in-Chief supported by erudite lawyer as vice president acted within the powers provided by such laws as Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act 2004 (EFCC); Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC); Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Beaureu of Public Procurement Act 2007; Servicom etc.

With EFCC Act s. 6 PMB went ahead to combat financial and economic crimes by preventing, investigating, prosecuting offenders and those suspected to have committed those crimes. Money laundering Act 1995 which is about to be amended is under the umbrella. Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act 1995 is also under them; as well as Failed Bank (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Acts 1994 and Miscellaneous Offences Act. Surprisingly without military personnel EFCC is also vested with the power of being the key agency of government responsible for fighting terrorism particularly through economic blockade.

Also available at the disposal of PMB is Independent Corrupt Practices Commission Act targeting public officers; which some analysts think is an administrative organ for government to tackle corruption among civil servants.

Code of Conduct Beaureu and its tribunal is another tool for PMB’s war against corruption. This Act was established by Chapter 15, No.1 of 2004 Laws of Nigeria to redress complaints of corruption against public servants. Contrary to views expressed by analysts Code of Conduct Tribunal was not vested with the exercise of criminal jurisdiction even though offences alleged are criminal in nature. There must be lacunae which PMB and its advisers will ponder over.

Equally impactful is the Bureau of Public Act 2007 which established a council with oversight functions over all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and also as a regulatory authority to monitor and oversee public procurement and to harmonize the existing standard and developing the legal framework according to s.5 of the Act. Its rational is to eliminate wastages and maintain international best practices by professionalizing the process of procurement with integrity and value for money, as well as national growth and development.

With the dwindling oil revenue, inflation and high cost of dollar against naira, it is difficult to see how recovery of Nigeria’s stolen commonwealth without sound economic policies and development plan can bring the desired changes which could put this government ahead of the previous one.

Barr. Iyke Ozemena
Ikechukwu O. Odoemelam & Co.
Corporate Attorneys/Consultants

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