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ECONOMY – THE RINGING REALITIES

By NBF News
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PERHAPS, in his lengthiest letter ever, President Goodluck Jonathan, in 4943 words, replied former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar accusations that the 2011 budget is a failure.

Nigerians will be happy to hear more about the economy whether they are from the President, aspirants, candidates or anyone else with concerns about the poor pace of the country's development and the poorer state of its peoples.

These debates are capable of keeping government on its toes and exposing the people to the state of the economy. For decades, Nigerians have lived on promises. Obviously, nobody lives on promises forever. Elections are the best times for promises; the promises bear repetition during the next elections because fundamental projects that will change the country are only promises.

It is laughable when discussants draw parallel between our economy and others. Basic infrastructure most investors require is available in those places, Nigeria treats infrastructure as election promise.

Therefore, when Atiku states his vision of the economy, the scepticism that greets it is the same that is reserved for the government he served for eight years as Vice President. It makes good reading when he lists his achievements and roles in that government, but the wastes of those years, the blurred vision and the aversion to criticism laid the shaky foundation on which the economy rests today.

On the other hand, the economic solutions the President said, 'will deliver the potentials of Nigeria to its people', are hardly different from series of blue prints Nigerians have seen dissolve to nothingness in the past five decades. They have been mainly proposals, dished out at appropriate moments and forgotten quickly enough.

With the exception of the proposed 'Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund with seed capital of US$1 billion to invest in infrastructure', there is nothing new in the promises of roads, rails, airports, electricity and bridges. The reality, to every Nigerian, is that every government believes it is duty-bound to make these promises and has a responsibility not to keep them.

Budgets hold only promises in Nigeria. Their execution is stymied in endless challenges with funding and wastes that are built into those fancy figures. The lower emphasis on capital expenditure and extra budgetary expenditure that is mostly on re-current items, guarantee little attention for development projects.

The slow pace of electricity projects is a major source of concern. It remains unaddressed. Government seems to have given up on provision of electricity, without which investments that will reasonably wean the economy of its dependence on oil cannot be attained.

Even with the importance every manager of the economy attributes to agriculture and the mourning over Nigeria's huge food import bills, Nigeria's agriculture is most memorable for its ancient practices and multi billion Naira fertiliser frauds.

No Nigerian requires an international rating agency to know it is tougher to feed the family or meet other basic needs. More Nigerians also know wastes in government are largely responsible for their state.

Only governments - past, present, potential - fail to hear the ringing realities of the economy.