Our attention has once again been drawn to the recent inconsiderate statement attributed to the Governor of Jigawa State, Abubakar Badaru and similar comments from people of like minds to the effect that the previous Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Administration was responsible for the current Economic Recession.It is really disappointing that a notable personality as highly placed as a State Governor could be drawn into making idle and pedestrian claims without the benefit of facts. It is either he does not realize the obligation of speaking responsibly in that position or he is grossly ill-informed; in which case, we could only try to put the facts before him, and hoping he would recognize them.
In the first place, this blame is misplaced because our elementary understanding of economics teaches us that the major cause of recession is inflation and poor handling of the economy given that the higher the rate of inflation, the more impoverished people become, industrial production and GDP decline resulting in massive job losses. Perhaps we should quote those who should know and tell Governor Badaru that wrong economic policies of the All Progressive Congress (APC)-led Government caused the current stagnation and recession in the Country.
Larry Ettah, President of the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA) did not mince words when he said few days ago that, “It is quite evident that the lack of clarity about the economic agenda of the current government contributed to the current economic stagnation and recession.” He said further, “In recent times at our AGMs, we have variously described our operating environment as challenging, unpredictable, unstable and energy sapping. These words are of course, true and descriptive of what our members have experienced in keeping their businesses afloat.”
However beyond that, we make bold to tell Governor Badaru that Jonathan and the People’s Democratic Party Government saw this coming since 2011, and wanted to deregulate the sale of hydrocarbons in 2012, but Badaru and his co-travellers who are now in the All Progressives Congress (APC) frustrated the effort. The former Administration also wanted to encourage more savings in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) and set up the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) but the Badarus of this world who play politics with serious national issues and were state governors at the time took the Federal Government to Court and did everything to frustrate the effort. Thank God some of them are among the ‘best brains’ in the APC Federal Government of today.
Governor Badaru should know that you can't plant grapes and harvest mangoes. It is no secret that the policies and statements made by key government actors have not been business friendly and Nigerians and foreign business men took their hard currencies out of the Country. When professionals were advising the Government to woo investors, characters like Badaru were busy de-marketing Nigeria all over the world. They should be reminded that great leaders take over countries either in recession or war and still succeed in turning them around; quite unlike the prevailing situation where a Ruling Party plunges the Economy into an avoidable recession, only to turn round and begin to whine helplessly like a baby.
World history is full of many examples where genuine leaders take over countries whose economies are stagnated and move them to positive growth. Like Franklin D. Roosevelt, the President who ruled the United States from a wheel chair during the time of unprecedented economic depression and total war, introduced an ambitious programme for relief, recovery and reform called “the Great Deal”, which began to yield considerable dividends in weeks and Americans are the better for it today.
In his first hundred days in office in 1933, Roosevelt was reputed to have renewed the American spirit and optimism by immediately addressing the effects of the depression. Through the Great Deal, he introduced a variety of programmes targeted at getting Americans back to work, provide relief for the vulnerable, get industry and agriculture back on their feet, and engender accelerated recovery and economic growth. Or, how about the recent change of government in the United Kingdom where the new Prime Minister, Theresa May formed her Cabinet within hours to ensure that the doubts arising from the uncertainty of Brexit Vote do not get the better of her citizens?
Badaru and those who still think like him should tell Nigerians the character of the economic team in place that has been managing the Nation's economy since 29th of May 2015. This ‘economic management policy’ of unhealthy propaganda and blaming the previous administration ceaselessly, will not take us anywhere.
Will Badaru and his Party men continue to blame Jonathan and the PDP ‘till 2019 and use Jonathan for the 2019 campaign instead of showing their scorecard? The good thing is that Nigerians who were being hoodwinked at first, are now seeing through the deception of this
unending blame game. It is on record that one APC governor after his inauguration for his second tenure publicly announced that he inherited an empty treasury. He was quickly reminded that he couldn't have inherited empty treasury from himself. This unfortunately, is the face of the comedy and farce that now characterize governors and governance in this Country. Any dispassionate assessment of economic performance under Jonathan would obviously frown at Governor Badaru’s type of impulsive conclusion without recourse to the strong macroeconomic fundamentals recorded under Jonathan, which laid the foundation for meaningful growth.
In particular, despite interfering global downturn, the overall real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate stood at an average of 5%, a growth that was largely driven by the non-oil sector in line with the success of the diversification effort of the Administration. There is no doubt that there was obvious improvement in inflation pressure which stood at a single digit and provided the stability and guarantees needed for the economy to remain stable. It actually borders on ignorance to claim that no cost cutting measures were introduced when the Jonathan Administration in one sector was able to reduce its food import bill from well over N1t to N684.7b as at December 2013 and subsequently cut it further down with improvements in local food production. Where was the Governor when Jonathan’s Administration embarked on comprehensive reforms in different sectors towards infrastructural renewal, promotion of sustainable development and the growth of the Nation’s economy to become the largest in Africa?
Did he ever wonder why despite the “signals towards end of 2013 to 2014”, as rightly identified by the Governor to be the beginning of hard times, the economy remained stable with single digit inflation during those periods?
Let Gov. Badaru be reminded that it was because of the milestones recorded in the local production of rice and other staple food that ensured robust local supply and remarkable progression which limited the demand for scarce foreign exchange needed for importation. We would be disappointed if the Governor was oblivious of what was happening around him in the area of agricultural revolution; especially, as farmers from his part of the Country openly expressed their support and gains from these initiatives. Again, when he said that “the past leaders did nothing to stop a looming recession”, we have no choice but rise to put the facts right. Less we forget when the Senate approved $52 benchmark for the Administration’s last Budget at a time Oil was selling for about $60 and crashing further, the Government did not just sit down and watch events unfold. Under the leadership of the Finance Ministry, the Administration developed a scenario-based fiscal template with definite responses designed to track and tackle varying challenges in the volatility regime.
We should also remind Badaru that the recent visit of the Facebook Founder, Mark Zukerberg to the Co-Creation Hub (CcHub) in Yaba, Lagos State, wouldn’t have happened if Jonathan did not have the Vision to set up the two ICT incubation centers in Lagos and Calabar. The former President built the Centers in support of youth entrepreneurship, just as he did with other successful youth-focused programmes like the Youth Enterprise with Innovation (YOUWIN) and the Nagropreneur Initiative that turned agriculture into an attractive industry for youths.
Need we remind the Governor that all these were possible because of the performance contract model Jonathan developed for his ministers where key performance indicators (KPI) were jointly agreed and signed against which each minister’s measurable effectiveness was benchmarked?
In view of the above submissions, it is clear that the current economic recession in the Country was not caused by previous PDP's Administration or leaders but due to the poor management of Nigeria's economy, lack of vision and incompetence of the present APC's led Federal Government that drove Nigerians into this avoidable life threatening quagmire.
Finally, we want to therefore advise the Government of the day to stop the blame game and look inward towards resolving the recession by inviting economic experts irrespective of their political leaning to join hands with the Administration at these trying times.
Prince Dayo Adeyeye
PDP National Publicity Secretary