10042019 - Politicians, traditional rulers aiding bandits — DEFENCE MINISTER


ACCORDING to the World

Bank, the Nigerian

economy has been “slipping”

since 1995. Interestingly, a

majority of newspapers chose

the headline “Nigeria’s

economy slips” which

mischievously tells a vastly

different story from the World

Bank’s original submission.

Recently, Bloomberg published

an editorial telling President

Muhammadu Buhari to focus

on economic growth in his

second term. That statement

appears logical, until one

begins to question what sort of

growth pundits refer to.

Un-inclusive growth, which

benefits only a few at the

expense of the many, is

responsible for a growing

number of conflicts and political

instability around the world.

Donald Trump probably

wouldn’t have won the 2016 US

election without stoking the

xenophobia, status anxiety and

resentments of White workingclass

people following an

economic downturn, and

decades of feelings of betrayal

by an ultra-capitalist economic

system which benefits only the

top percentile of the economy.

Yet, pundits around the world,

while recognising the failures

of unregulated capitalism

which has virtually destroyed

Western society’s cohesiveness,

are still pushing the developing

world to uncritically embrace an

ideology which has already

shown its negative




Foreign media, corporations

and so-called development

experts have been pushing the

same liberal agenda which

gave us the disastrous

structural adjustment

programmes we are yet to

recover from.

They call Buhari a statist,

interventionist relic, or even a

populist, because he doesn’t

blindly endorse their neoliberal

messianism which

prioritises financial interests

over the goals of the real

economy: employment creation

and poverty reduction. This

obsession, for example, with the

privatisation of NNPC, which

on paper might seem like it

makes sense, is in defense of

the profiteering of the same

unproductive business interests

who took over government

assets during privatisation in

the 90s (allegedly with access

to government funds and

support) and have been unable

Micro pension plan

BECAUSE the media

ignores initiatives to

restore dignity and economic

power to those the system

generally forgets, I’m reminded

that rather than being without

an ideology, as most believe,

our society is right wing and


Besides tokenistic charity

initiatives, many middle-class

Nigerians neither understand

nor support targeted

investments in the poor as a path

We need to talk about inequality not just

economic growth

to increase Nigerians’ power


Those of us who believe, as I

said in my column last week,

that a strict, unquestioning

adherence to neo-liberalism is

at the root of global poverty, are

still of the opinion that chasing

economic growth alone will not

yield results for the majority of

Nigeria’s poor or working class

people unless we embrace an

ideology that puts inclusive

growth at the centre of our

political targets: chasing

Foreign Direct Investment, FDI,

alone, obsessively watching

GDP growth without first rewriting

our economic

philosophy will get us nowhere


People who think that

investing in poor people

doesn’t benefit the economy

have basically embraced every

tenet of neo-liberalism without

stopping to think why it seems,

that across the decades, no

matter the head of state or the

party in power, the overall

situation in Nigeria seems to

stagnate, getting better on the

surface (progress for a small

number of people with access

to government, or their

hangers-on) and slipping back

into chaos as soon as any major

shock occurs. Without safety

nets for everyday people,

to economic recovery. Farmers,

petty traders and workers in the

informal sector have always

been excluded from pension

plans. Ironically, not much was

said about the launch of the

micro pension plan.

According to President

Muhammadu Buhari: “This

initiative was designed to

capture citizens that aren’t in

the formal corporate sector. If

you recall, one of the three core

pillars of this government is the

including greater insurance for

the average Nigerian’s deposits

in a reckless system where

banks keep giving loans to the

same set of predatory

individuals whose debts are

written off, putting the rest of

We will continue

to see violence

and insecurity

across the country

if we do not put

working class

individuals at the

center of our

economic policy

us at risk, chasing economic

growth will not deliver the

promised national benefits. Not

only have we embraced the

elitist, ultra-liberal assumption

that only the top one per cent

economic prospects must be

protected at the cost of

opportunities for everyone else,

we believe only they have the

capacity to create wealth and

creation of a diversified and

inclusive economy. This can

only be achieved by creating an

enabling environment for

farmers, entrepreneurs and


"The dignity of retired public

servants who sacrificed their

lives for this country will be

restored. We will ensure all

hard-working Nigerians in the

private sector, both formal and

informal, can retire without

fear.”There is no nobler


Vanguard, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10, 2019 17

jobs and therefore we give them

untenable advantages in the

form of tax cuts, subsidies and

waivers, forgetting that without

improving the incomes of

working-class families, we

cannot build and sustain

economic recovery.

Our economy works only for

plutocrats, people who have

already received so much from

the system and given much less

back. We will continue to see

violence and insecurity across

the country if we do not put

working class individuals at the

centre of our economic policy:

trickle down economics has

failed and will continue to fail.

Investing in the same people at

the top (through corrupt

practices or semi-legal,

unethical means) isn’t just

untenable, it doesn’t produce

lasting results.

All over the world, policy

makers know the middle class

is the engine of any successful

economy: yet, Nigeria hopes to

grow without rescuing its

decimated middle class. The

rich getting richer at the

expense of the rest of society

isn’t just ironically inimical to

the very growth we pursue, it

is dangerous for our democracy,

due to the control over our

institutions and politics which

money buys.

Globally, we determine how

well nations are doing by

tracking Gross Domestic

Product, GDP, the measure of

Udoma Udo Udoma

THE Minister of Budget

and National Planning

announced government would

revert to the January to

December budget cycle, starting

with the 2020 national budget,

•Senator Udoma Udo Udoma

activity in the formal economy,

and thus our measure of growth.

Interestingly, the creator of the

concept, Simon Kuznets, had

reservations about it which he

expressed: “The welfare of the

nation can scarcely be inferred

from a measurement of national

income. Distinctions must be

kept in mind between quantity

and quality of growth, between

its costs and return, and

between the short and the long

run. Goals for ‘more’ growth

should specify more growth of

what and for what.”

The kind of growth Bloomberg

and other neo-liberal

institutions are calling for isn’t

pro-poor growth, it’s a growth

that only empowers local and

foreign private financial

interests, those, for example

who would be interested in

buying a dismantled NNPC.

Watching Africans relinquish

sovereign control of their

resources is a capitalists’

dream, and it is essentially

separate from producing jobs

and wealth for ordinary people.



Prioritising growth has cost

the world economy a lot in terms

of wages: people do more

business and that’s wonderful,

but why are salaries still falling

for those at the bottom? Why

does most of humanity have to

go through life without access

to healthcare? Why is it a crime

to demand that government

directly invests in those whose

combined health and education

produces a purchasing power

which is the backbone of

modern economies? Rather

than simply reviving our

economy, we must transform it:

state sponsored economic

activity at the top, allowing

wealthy businessmen get away

with tax fraud, or by granting

them monopolies, will never

produce enough jobs to impact


Prioritising private financial

interests over the welfare of

ordinary people is killing society

and re-writing the rules of

engagement. How did we get

to be such a lawless, predatory

country? By enshrining

economic growth as the

measure of success and

refusing to talk about growing


in order to facilitate planning for

both public and private sectors.

So many dysfunctional

practices have been normalised

over the years.

To restore sanity, our budgets

must work for the majority,

through more efficient

allocation of resources. Can we

tackle the huge pension plans

and life salaries for public

officers, draining our treasury?

Tabia Princewill is a

strategic communications

consultant and public policy

analyst. She is also the cohost

and executive producer

of a talk show, WALK THE

TALK which airs on

Channels TV.

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