Some members of the academia have expressed divergence views on possible effectiveness of the 2017-2020 Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP) unfolded last Wednesday by the Federal Government.
They spoke with The Renaissance in separate interviews in Lagos in reaction to the EGRP unfolded last Wednesday by President Muhammadu Buhari.
While some said that it was a right step in the right direction, others were sceptical about its likely success.
Dr Luqman AbdurRaheem, a Senior Lecturer, Centre for Entrepreneurship Development Centre, Yaba College of Technology, was sceptical about the like success of the economic plan.
AbdurRaheem said that the problem of the country had never been lack of development plan.
He noted that the EGRP was theoretically very sound because it was put together by experts, technocrats and leaders both in private and public sector.
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“The problem is virtually implementation and when we talk about implementation, we are talking about men, who are prudent, who are countable and who are patriotic.
“Look at the National Assembly where we will pass the instrumentality of the budget, the budget; up till now the budget (2017) has not been approved.
“So, the so called economic recovery growth plan is going to be funded by a budget in 2017 and the implication is that we earmark one, two, three, four five, six to strategic sectors of the economy which will bring about the recovery.
“But if the budget is coming up late and again, if the fund itself are not actually channelled to where they are suppose be, then there won’t be any recovery, there won’t be any growth.
“Look at National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) of Obasanjo; it’s supposed to reposition Nigeria. Has it reposition Nigeria? No.
“Look at the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), its suppose to reduce poverty by half in 2015, this is 2017, we are going deeper in unemployment and the transformation of President Jonathan, rather it has brought us backward.
“So, what the president has done is a ceremony; it’s actually something that everybody is looking towards, but the men who supposed to do the needful in the National Assembly, they are not for us, they are rather for their pockets.
“So, I’m sceptical that that particular paper will not really bring about the needed transformation.
, if the premise that are human capital to drive the blueprint and of course the will to do the right thing.
“If these things are not there, forget about it, it will go the way of other blueprints in the archive of Nigerian history.’’
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But to ensure the success of the recovery plan, the entrepreneurial development expert advised the key players in the government to aspire to develop Nigeria like the BRIC nations.
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“We must ensure that we develop our country to be at per or beyond the BRIC nations: Brazil, Russia, China and India.
“And also we should look at countries like Dubai, a country that in 1979 wrote to Nigeria ‘save our soul’.
“We actually assisted them but today, electricity is stable, it’s a beehive of investment, entertainment, tourism and manufacturing.
“Look at Indonesia, look at Malaysia, these are third world nations that have actually diversified.
“So I want them to diversify Nigeria’s economy to look beyond oil; to look at industry, to look at agriculture, to look at tourism and so on so that we can be able to build enough foreign exchange for ourselves in Nigeria and to make our Naira to be stronger than other currencies.
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In another interview, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo, former Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, said the launch of the EGRP was a step in the right direction.
Oyewo said that the development would propel the much awaited turnaround of the economy and enhance standard of living for the masses.
“Definitely the move is a step in the right direction which I dare say is long overdue.
“It shows they (government) have acknowledged the challenge that was presently being faced by our economy.
“As you may know, good governance is being able to manage resources to buy back development.
“What government has done is acknowledging the fact that indeed there is recession and whether or not this plan achieve its purpose, it is entirely a different thing,’’ he said.
But Dr Tajudeen Yusuf, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Actuarial Science, University of Lagos, observed that one of the drawback of the current administration was in the area of economy.
“As the president is tackling this frontally, I think it (EGRP) is the right step in the right direction and we all should cooperate with the government for our own benefit,’’ he said.
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“One major advantage that this will give our nation, is early recovery; we will be able to recover from this our economic downturn early.
“More and more people will be interested in doing foreign direct investments and we, ourselves, will have given hope to most of our people that yes, this is real change.
“I think in the area of this development plan, government should be aware that there is need to bring more Nigerians into the financial literacy.
“There is this policy of financial inclusion. Presently, about 30 per cent of Nigerians have what we called financial literacy. What happen to the remaining 70 per cent?
“So, we should encourage others who are not currently included in the conventional system by giving rooms for alternatives.
“When I say alternatives, I mean non-interest based policies in the area of non-interest banking, non-interest insurance, non-interest capital market so that some members of the Nigerian populace can be attracted into the financial industry.
“The more Nigerians we have, embracing the financial and economic development policies of the government, the better for us to realise the objectives’’.
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The lecturer also advised the government to live by example.
“All government functionaries should live above board; they should show good example to the rest of us that they mean well.
“Cost cutting device should be embrace by the government itself. If you want the rest of Nigerians to key into this, government must be able to show example.’’
The Renaissance recalls that President Buhari, on Wednesday, April 5, launched the economic plan designed to consolidate on the successes already recorded towards turning the country’s economy to the path of growth and development.
The priority focus of the plan include stabilising the macroeconomic environment; achievement of agriculture and food security and expansion of energy infrastructure capacities in the areas of power and petroleum.
Others are improving transportation infrastructure and driving industrialisation, principally through local and small business enterprises.