By Olowogboyega Oyebade
Have you been told that the Honourable Minister of Mines and Steel Development and his team visited Governor Adegboyega Oyetola last week to parley on ways to boost mining activities in the State? Do you know that the meeting provided a boost to identify community of practice and regulatory environment in the sector? Do you know that good things are on the way, including the take-off of a Mining Academy along the mining corridor? Do you know that the Governor is always concerned about the ways young people in the State will gain employment through Agriculture, Mining, Innovation and development of infrastructure? Do you know that this is compliant with international best practice? Enjoy this time-out.
Have you heard the news that the Boris Johnson-led Conservative Party won majority of the parliamentary seats in the just ended election in Britain? Are you aware that the total number of registered voters at the end of December 2018 was roughly 46 million according to the Office for National Statistics? Do you know that in a general election, Britain is divided into 650 parliamentary constituencies, each of which is represented by one Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons? Are you aware that all British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizens resident in the country and aged 18-years-old or over on Dec. 12 were able to vote? Do you know that Britons living abroad — who had been registered to vote in the U.K. in the last 15 years were able to cast their ballot? Are you aware that polling stations opened between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. and some voters cast their ballot in advance by post? Do you know that the political candidate that received the most votes in each constituency won a seat in parliament? Are you aware that there was no violence at all in any polling station? Can you believe that people were freely going about their normal businesses without let or hindrance during the period of voting? Do you know that borders were not closed? Can you believe that electronic voting machines worked perfectly? Do you know that the results were called same day? Are you aware that both winners and losers embraced each other because of the transparent nature of the election? Do you know that the voters went about casting their votes and there were no armed police or army or political thugs? Do you know that no house of the opposition party member was razed down? Do you know that there were no cases of tampering with the original results?
Are you aware that the Conservative Party secured a majority by seizing seats from the Labour Party in its traditional heartlands of Britain? Do you know that Boris Johnson remains Prime Minister and is expected to get Brexit deal through parliament? Do you know that the opposition suffered the heaviest defeat since the 1930’s, a defeat that has forced Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party to announce stepping down in the leadership of the Labour Party? Do you know that there will be no re-run? Do you know that there will be no Election Petition Tribunals? Do you know that the judiciary will be saved of the embarrassment of being labelled to be partisan if litigations were activated in courts? Are you aware that the election results may also resonate in Scotland in which case they may seek a second referendum to seek exit from Great Britain so as to properly align herself to European union? Do you know that the Conservative Party won the election based on the promise to carry out decisive BREXIT agreement to pull out Britain from the European Union? Can you now see clearly that it is the overwhelming desires of the majority of the voters for Great Britain to leave the European Union? Do you know that by that election, in 2020, Nigeria has to re-define future trade and diplomatic relationship with Great Britain outside of European Union? Do you know that our economists have to go back to the boardroom to re-strategise what our trade relations will be and the fate of all existing technical assistance from EU?
Do you remember that in 2009, the Federal Republic of Nigeria set some ambitious objectives for itself? Do you know that in that year, Nigeria set to become among the top 20 economies in terms of GDP size by 2020? Do you know that the end date of the vision 20:2020 plan remains a few days? Do you know that Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020 focuses on two broad objectives to make efficient use of human and natural resources to achieve rapid economic growth; and to translate the economic growth into equitable social development for all citizens? Are you aware that the strategies to achieve these objectives include: to urgently and immediately address the major constraints to Nigeria’s growth and competitiveness, such as: epileptic power supply, weak infrastructure and institutions among others; to aggressively pursue a structural transformation of the economy from a mono-product to a diversified and industrialized economy; to invest in human capital to transform the Nigerian people into active agents for growth and national development and to invest in infrastructure to create an enabling environment for growth, industrial competitiveness and sustainable development?
Do you know that an assessment of other economic indicators shows mixed results? Do you know that Nigeria is not among the world’s top 20 economies with respect to GDP size as at 15th December, 2019? Do you know that GDP in Nigeria is projected to be USD 500 billion by the end of this Q4, a far-cry to be 20th economy in the world? Do you know that Nigeria GDP is projected to trend around USD 650 billion in 2020 with projected growth of 2.4% in 2020 of the GDP and 2.9% growth in 2021? Do you know that Nigeria is still within the bracket of top 50 countries and not top 20 countries? Do you know that the budgetary allocation to education is #620.5 billion or 7.05 per cent of the #8.83 trillion budget for 2020? Do you know that other fundamental constraints include weak institutions and epileptic power supply? Do you know that Nigeria is still number 144 least corrupt nation out of 175 countries according to the 2018 Corruption Perception Index reported by Transparency International? Do you know that a report published on 28 October, 2019 by the World Bank on 2020 Doing Business Report says that Nigeria is ranked 131 out of 190 countries on the property, trading across borders and enforcing contracts indices? Do you know that the index, reported by the World Bank, measured time and cost to re-solve a commercial dispute and the quality of judicial processes? Do you know that there has been no significant improvement in the country’s power situation and on the average, our grid power supply was approximately 3,608MWh/hour in December 2019?
Do you know that the National Assembly is rising to the occasion to salvage Nigeria? Do you know that there was a one-day round-table discussion last week Monday 9thDecember, 2019 with the theme: “Addressing Nigeria’s Power Problems” organized by the Senate Committee on Power? Do you know that the Senate President Ahmad Lawan, seized the occasion to call on the executive arm of government to declare a state of emergency in power sector? Do you know that he remarked at the occasion that the privatization of the power sector in 2005 and 2013 was a grand scheme conceived with the intention to defraud Nigeria? Do you know that he has called for a review of the privatization exercise undertaken by the Goodluck Jonathan administration which led to a takeover of the power sector by private Generating Companies (Gencos) and Distribution Companies (Discos)? Do you know that the Power Sector Reform Programme, if effectively implemented, could attract private investment as it targets 10 gigawatts of operational capacity by 2020, just some days to us now? Can you now see that it will be the new Miracle of Darman, when Nigeria was four goals down in a football competition between Nigeria and USSR in Saudi Arabia and Nigerian team eventually gained vistas and won the match? Can Nigeria migrate from about 4,000 megawatts in December 2019 to 10 gigawatts of operational capacity by 2020? His voice interludes:
“For me, if there’s any sector of our economy that is so important and yet so challenged, it is the power sector. I believe that this is a sector that needs a declaration of emergency. ..The truth is that we all know what is wrong. What we really need to do is to have the political will to take on the challenges generally. From the electricity power reform of 2005 to the privatization of Gencos and Discos and to what is happening today, we know that everything is fraud. If we play the ostrich, in the next ten years we will be talking about the same things. I think the time has come for us to have courage. I want to remind us, that we have signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. What will give us an edge is to have a competitive environment. Our industries and businesses must be able to produce things that can compete favourably with products produced in other countries in Africa. We are not in that position today, and we all know the consequences of that. Even our citizens, who have capital, will rather relocate to Ghana, produce whatever they want and bring to Nigeria to sell. Where does that leave our country? No employment opportunities; Nigeria becomes a dumping ground. If we went wrong with our privatization of Gencos and Discos, the time has come to look into it. Whatever we have to do to review these things, we should do. We must do it in the interest of the people of this country. We must admit there was something done wrong.”
Can you now see how we are courted by mass poverty as 87 million Nigerians, or half the population, live on less than US$1.90 per day? Can you see how mass unemployment is crashing vision 20:20:20 before our very eyes? Do you know that as an evidence of the crash, the National Assembly again has risen up to raise concerns on mounting unemployment in the country? Do you know that the National Assembly cited a report published by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2019 that Nigeria’s unemployment rate stood at 23.1 percent of the work force in the Q3 of 2019 and quoted the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, that Nigeria’s unemployment rate will hit 33.5 percent by 2020? Do you know that the Senate on Wednesday 11TH December,2019 waded into the issue of unemployment in the country and recommended that the Federal, State and Local government should declare emergency on the provision of employment across the country, revitalize existing industries and initiate sustainable employment fund for the payment of stipends to unemployed Nigerians until such persons secure employment? The voice of Senator Ekeremadu cuts in:
“Any nation with such number of unemployed but employable youths is only sitting on a keg of gun powder. “The most pressing demand on the hand of every legislator and public officer is the rising number of curriculum vitae and application for employment from constituent Nigerians. “A situation where every school graduate has to queue up for job only in government offices is an indication of the breakdown of private sector which is the major driver of world economies..Unemployment is one of the major reasons why insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery, Cyber-crimes and other vices are on the increase.”
Do you know that since the advent of Vision 20:20:20, the country has had two different administrations, each having its own economic growth plan, the Transformation Agenda of President Jonathan and President Buhari’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP)? Are you aware that in February 2017 it launched the ambitious economic and growth plan with the objective to restore growth and build a competitive economy through investment in infrastructure and creation of an enabling business environment? Do you know that the Vision 20:20, Transformation Agenda and Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) have one thing in common and that is inclusive growth? Do you know that the difference in the implementation of the ERGP is that it focuses on achieving economic growth, but without the aim of placing the country among the largest 20 economies in the world by 2020? Do you know that ERGP aspires to restore growth and diversify the economy? Do you know that we need phenomena growth that can make us to overtake other countries to get to the 20th position by making quick use of our very large stock of human and natural resources that are not optimally utilized now? Do you know that we need to change the narrative on our huge infrastructure deficit ranging from dilapidated roads, epileptic electricity supply, acute water shortages, crumbling public buildings, grossly underfunded public tertiary institutions and hospitals and uninspiring social security net? Do you know that we can close this gap through public works projects executed with direct labour at all levels? Do you know that jump-starting an economy follows a defined trajectory and there should not be any waiver? Do you care to know how it was done and achieved in other economies? Come along with us.
Can you still recall that President Barak Obama came to power amidst serious economic recession in the United States of America? Do you know that when he came to power on 4thNovember, 2008, he announced a net loss of more than half a million jobs at the end of that month alone which was the largest drop in a single month for 34 years, bringing unemployment to 6.7 percent in the United States? Can you recall that just the following day, President Obama announced the biggest infrastructure investment since President Dwight Eisenhower created the US highway system in the 1950s to jump-start the economy? Do you know that in his maiden address to the Congress, he put his top priority to be the ways to jump-start job creation? Do you know that through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Obama sought to bring timely relief to 11.6 million unemployed Americans? Do you know that the Congress approved the $787 billion stimulus plan? Do you know that the details of the stimulus plan included: $27.5 billion for highway projects; $340 million for watershed and flood prevention operations, and watershed rehabilitation; $2.5 billion for distance learning, tele-medicine, and broadband programmes; $150 million for economic development assistance programmes; $4.7 billion for a broadband technology opportunities programme; $6 billion for local clean water initiatives; $21 billion to laid-off workers with employer provided health insurance through COBRA Insurance Policy; $53.6 billion to help States deal with budget deficits; $36.2 billion for energy spending; $19.9 billion for aid to poor families; a tax credit of up to $400 for low-and-middle-income individuals and $800 for families; a one time payment of $250 to recipients of Social Security and government disability? Do you know that prosperity was brought back and today the United States is still leading the world in terms of economy? The voice of Obama interludes:
“We have once-in-a-generation chance to act boldly and turn adversity into opportunity, and to use this crisis as a chance to transform this economy for the 21st century.”
Do you know that Japan suffered recession in 2012,too? Are you aware that when the Government wanted to reverse it in 2013, the Central Bank of Japan pursued an unprecedented $1.4 trillion stimulus plan to loosen monetary policy and spur economic growth? Do you know that since then, the Nikkel average has doubled over the last six years while corporate earnings have hit record highs? Like the coal and metal related industries in Japan experienced growth rate of 25 percent in the 60s to create Japanese economic miracle, do you know that the current stimulus package has saved Japan from falling into a recession?
Are you aware that the rich also cry as in 2008, when China sensed global recession and it swiftly unveiled an economic stimulus programme totalling $586 billion, aimed to bolster domestic demand and help avert a global recession? Do you know that this initiative of China saved the United States and Europe from the economic melt-down? Do you know that the plan included spending on housing, infrastructure, agriculture, healthcare and social welfare, and a tax deduction for capital spending by companies? Do you know that the Chinese Stimulus Plan bailed the world from total recession? Do you know that South Korea passed through the same route by coming up with a stimulus rescue worth 16.1 trillion Won ($14.31 billion) to jumpstart its economy to overcome the twin challenges of weak domestic and global demand? Do you know that this is the road Nigeria must take and take fast? Do you know that Nigeria needs to significantly increase its infrastructure spending to drive growth in other sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing deliberately? Do you know that higher spending on road, rail and power projects will stimulate investment in other sectors and drive their growth? Do you know that we have to ensure that capital project component of the budgets are implemented to reverse this seeming tipping edge? Do you know that we need a standard monetary policy that will accommodate growth by providing cheaper access to credit for the private sector to boost activities in the real sector to feed and fix the economy?
Do you know that as the economy grows, there would be more employment, higher income will be available to individuals and this would translate to a reduction in poverty rate? Do you know that all Nigerians have to work harder to prove wrong the IMF forecasts that growth in Nigeria will remain anaemic at an annual average of about 1.9% from 2019 – 2023? Do you know that we have to improve on conditional cash transfers to vulnerable citizens by building Senior Citizens Homes, improve on school feeding by universalising it in all elementary schools in Nigeria and giving critical skills for the youth in Technical and Vocational Colleges and implementing micro-credit scheme for small traders and artisans? Do you know that Nigeria needs a massive economic stimulus programme to generate employment and promote inclusive growth? Do you know that we need to prioritise infrastructure, labour-intensive manufacturing such as textiles and footwear, agro-processing, youth entrepreneurship projects, health and education? Do you know that we have to provide temporary employment for unskilled workers in government-funded projects, which would enable these workers to gain experience needed for permanent jobs? Do you know that we have to create value-creating projects that would spur growth, while also addressing inclusivity? Do you know that our country could copy the example of Asian countries that financed their stimulus programmes through domestic borrowing mainly by issuing government bonds, by borrowing money domestically in a local currency? Are you aware that the Secured Transactions in Movable Assets Act 2017 has assisted the country to widen coverage of collateral to stimulate lending to small and medium enterprises? Do you know that Nigeria still has a relatively low debt-to-GDP ratio? Do you know that we need to borrow more to build critical infrastructure? Do you know that this is true of Nigeria and true of all countries in Africa?
Have you heard of the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development held between 11 to 12 Dec. 2019 in Egypt? Do you know that the forum focused on post-conflict reconstruction, education, climate change, sustainable development spread of terrorism, weapons smuggling, human trafficking and illegal migration? Do you know that world leaders as well as representatives of international and regional organizations, including Presidents of Chad, Niger, Senegal, Nigeria, Comoros, and chairperson of the African Union Commission and other international figures participated in 13 key sessions? The voice of President al-Sisi cuts in:
“Egypt believes that the best way for maintaining peace and stability in the African continent and the world is to work on tackling the deep-rooted reasons for the problems that threaten peace and security.”
Do you know that at the Forum UNDP recognizes the importance of strong crisis prevention mechanisms to maintain nations on resilient development pathways? Do you know that it recommended that for Strategic Plan 2018-2022 for Africa to be accomplished, each country must enhance national prevention and recovery capacities for resilient societies” which will focus on the issues of conflict prevention, peace-building and mitigation and crisis response to help countries avoid crises and return quickly to stable development after crises occur?
Do you know that in the second session of the Forum titled: “Silencing the Guns in Africa: Owning the Prevention Agenda”, Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UN Assistant Secretary General, Special Advisor to the Administrator of the UNDP spoke about the challenges that encounter financing development? His voice cuts in: “Conflicts whether they are of old or of new typologies, involving non-sate actors, are often born close to and across national borders. As part of prevention, African states need to invest more on their common borders and serve each other as good neighbors”.
Do you know that President Buhari attended the Forum in company of three Governors? Do you know that the Forum is grounded in the AU’s Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, and the search for African solutions to African problems? Do you know that President Buhari during the Forum approved free entry to into Nigeria by all Africans without visa and the policy will start in 2020? Do you know that our borders may be challenged again, if care is not taken? Do you know that the President made the announcement while attending the Aswan Forum? Do you know that we have to address the deficit in infrastructure squarely to make our economy to have competitive edge, if we are to benefit maximally from this policy? As Nigerians prepare to enter into the miracle year of 2020, do you know that we need to raise our productivity level? We thank Governor Adegboyega Oyetola for creating enabling environment to create productivity in the State in public and private sectors. We appreciate the House of Assembly and the entire workforce for doing good jobs always. Happy Christmas, Comrades! Osun a dara!