Don asks govt to return to periodic economic plan

Dr Aminu Usman, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Kaduna State University, has urged the government to return to periodic economic development plan for the country to grow.

Usman said this on Tuesday in Abuja, while speaking with newsmen, on the nation’s attainment of 59 years of independence.

According to him, government should discard the idea of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), which was not geared towards effective planning.

He noted that it was merely focusing on spending plans, which were not tied to long term benefits to the economy.

He lamented that the nation’s economy was still wobbling at 59 years, a situation he ascribed to poor management.

“At independence we inherited an agrarian economy but we suddenly found oil in commercial quantity and it came with near free money as we did not need to do much to generate revenue but only to spend.

“Due to lack of focus over the years, we did not use the new found money to create an enduring structure that supports agriculture in all its value chain.

“We must focus on education especially technical and provide critical infrastructure.

“When we got independence we began by managing the economy on the basis of five-year development plans.”

He said that these plans allowed the nation to be focused and deliberate in setting its priorities and funding plans, adding that the economy was being managed towards a determined direction and destination.

Usman said that along the line the past governments did not bother anymore about planning and this degenerated into spending on consumption of imported commodities.

This, he said, did not give room for the development of the nation’s nascent science and technology and infant industries to secure and guaranty its pride of place in the world.

“We eventually abandoned economic planning after the fifth one ended in the early 1980s.

“Since that time the governments have been trying all kinds of economic management as advised by the Bretton Woods Institutions (World Bank and International Monetary Fund).

“These institutions’ advises are usually generic for all developing nations without much regards to the peculiarities of individual countries.

“This perhaps explains why our economy is still wobbling 59 years after independence.” he said.

Usman further explained that one of the reasons for the wobbling economy was that the fiscal aspect was too weak to lift Nigeria out of its current quagmire.

The dean said that going forward, he expects that the government would strengthen the fiscal side of the economy and be made to play its critical role in the management and stabilisation of the economy.

He, however, advised the government to discontinue the merging of Finance and Planning ministries into one, adding that it would be counter productive.

“If the government would listen less to the Bretton institutions and listen more to Nigeria’s peculiarities, we should be growing once again at an average of over five per cent per year .

He said this would consistently put the economy on the path of sustained growth.

“With that growth rate which is about twice our population growth rate we might see the life of an average Nigerian improving significantly and poverty being reduced progressively.”

Usman also advised the government to resuscitate the National Planning Commission and be made to perform its functions as provided in the enabling act setting it up.

He said that the nation should take a cue from India, China and perhaps Brazil, who had through deliberate planning moved millions of their people out of poverty within a few years

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