Sunday, 20 March 2016

What Buhari Needs is an Economic Adviser, Not Economic Summit — Bankole-Hammed

Mr Shehu Bankole-Hameed is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC. In this interview, he faults the proposed economic summit urging President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint an  economic adviser.

What do you make of the proposed economic summit as proposed by Professor Soyinka?
First of all, a summit is a form of get together; meeting or melting pot or forum for discussion or dialog by persons of very high status in government on some matter or matters, decidedly of great importance. Now that being said, an economic summit in Nigeria will require attendance ; of the various levels of government and most probably their respective private or institutions who have been known in these government circles as economists or of economic value. I hope you are beginning to get the size and manner of the crowd expected.

Now imagine the chaos of arranging such a meeting (cash and logistics) at a time like this. What the president and the nation needs at this time is an excellent choice of economic Adviser.   When in 2008, Obama was put in charge of a failing economy, I don’t remember him calling for an economic summit, rather he had an excellent team of economic advisers.

The Professor Aboyade school of economic thought is still alive, respected and willing to help ; these respected resources are still in University of Ibadan ,University of Lagos and that of Ife. Such a summit will be good as a response to long term economic goals , not the very immediate short term and near term.

As I have indicated, the need for a summit of economic crisis will only arise; if the nation is seriously considering growth along planned or if we as a   nation want to define who we are, or be defined as a go to place for investment and investing

What steps should the President take to improve the economy?

This is a very good question, there is no doubt that our over dependence on oil sales receipts ; which is driven by our need to monitor and manage the balance of payment position ( dollarized) and the craze for imports due to total failure of manufacturing capacity in the land, has led to the poor situation that we have found ourselves. If only the preparation of our budget took into consideration the aspects of internal services and revenues then, the seemingly poor situation will not be as bad. 

For services to be considered, there must be power; now the government has privatised the distribution of power and not necessarily the generation. If as planned, spending on power projects and road construction, including other infrastructural projects begin, then there will be noticeable improvement in the economy. Essentially the government must begin to spend wisely by deliberately employing people even if these jobs were to be seasonal.

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