By Anayo Ezugwu
PROFESSOR Anya O. Anya, former chief executive officer, Nigeria Economic Summit Group, has said that Nigeria is currently enmeshed in political, economic, social and moral crisis.
Speaking as a guest speaker at TheNiche annual lecture in Lagos on Tuesday October 15, Anya noted that the cacophony of voices on the political issue of restructuring is a measure of the level of dissonance in the political system. He said Nigeria is a diverse society that is multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious.
According to Anya, Nigeria’s pre-independence leaders chose a federal system of governance, which will over time build a united but diverse nation of shared values of inclusiveness and national purpose. “The military intervention destroyed this foundation and planted the seeds of division and centrifugal political forces.
“There cannot be a peaceful nation unless we return to the basics of federalism as the foundation of our national enterprise. The political challenge is how to operationalise chapter 2 of our constitution – the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy. Unfortunately it would appear that current political actors do not see and do not hear.
“With regard to the economy, we are faced with two fundamental obstacles: while our economy is growing at the miserly rate of two percent, our population is growing currently at 3.8 percent nearly double the economic rate of growth. So there is a fundamental dissonance between our demography and our economy.
“Additionally, the Debt Management Office tells us that our debt as of 2015 was a little over N12 trillion, but it is now over N25 trillion as of 2019. In other words we have borrowed in three years more than we borrowed in 30 years previously. Much of the extra loans have been applied to recurrent expenditure given that most state governments could not even pay salaries. Indeed it has been alleged that we spend 60 – 70 percent of our total earnings in servicing debts i.e. paying interests not re-paying loans.
“In spite of these, the fact is that the normal metrics of economics continues southward – unemployment, inflation, productivity are not giving us cheering news either. The empanelling of an Economic Advisory Council is a step in the right direction, but we must remind ourselves that these brilliant and eminent economists are no magicians. We must face the gravity of our current situation,” he said.
Anya alluded to the fact that the social crisis is as frightening as the economic crisis with tales of banditry, armed robbery, kidnapping, insurrection, militancy and the rampaging herdsmen. “Historians of British history suggest that our situation is comparable to the situation of Great Britain in the years 1800-1850. The emergence of a leadership that understood and read the times accurately and accepted the responsibility and obligations leadership made the difference.
“They steered their society away from the brink, embraced social and technological changes that ushered in the industrial revolution. The lesson is that it is possible to rechart a new course and there are Nigerians, who have the capacity to steer us away from the brink if we are prepared to mobilise our best and brightest in a new challenge to rebuild and restore the dream of Nigeria.
“As an aside it is also important to observe that the campaign against corruption is an important issue on the social agenda. But corruption is a symptom not a disease. We must re-examine our strategies on this matter in order to tackle the disease and not merely the symptom,” he said.
Despite the challenges facing Nigeria, Anya is confident that the country can face the new challenge to rebuild a new Nigeria.
According to him, as difficult as the circumstances are, Nigerian youths are doing fantastic things unremarked and uncelebrated.
He noted that beyond the hordes of the unemployed and the uneducated are also battalions of brilliant men and women, who do the unexpected that often challenge their peers in other nations and that challenging and incentivising them should be the current priority.
-Oct 16, 2019 @08:21 GMT |