A former presidential aspirant, Kingsley Moghalu has attributed Nigerian economic problems to lack of innovation on the part of our leaders.
In his words, “our leaders lack ideas and are more comfortable with maintaining the status quo without minding the devastating effects the status quo has on our economy.”
This was made known during a plenary session titled “Energy Transitions, Revenue Challenges For The Nigerian Federation” at the Nigerian Bar Association Annual General Conference which held at Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island Lagos.
Kingsley Moghalu went ahead to outline the factors responsible for the revenue challenges in Nigeria, which include; reliance on crude oil, incompetence and recklessness in tackling fiscal threats, oil theft which has greatly affected the GDP, fiscal and debt crisis, constitutional problems.
Speaking on reliance of crude oil as the bane of our economy growth, Moghalu opined that no country had ever grown while relying only on one sector of the economy. He said that Nigeria has so much leaned on proceeds from oil that she had jettisoned all other key and effective sectors of the economy such as agriculture, human resources, other untapped natural endowments, and so on. He said that the world is already having substitutes for oil and that should give Nigeria a great cause to think above board.
Addressing Government incompetence and recklessness in tackling fiscal threats, Moghalu reiterated that Nigeria can never get it right economically if she failed to proactively tackle the threats on our resources. To elaborate his point, he analysed the issue of crude oil theft, which according to him, had strangled our already moribund economy the more.
Lamenting on the inactivity of Nigerian leaders to the challenge, he stated that “our GDP had been crippled by the activities of the criminals, hence our currency now worth nothing more that pieces of papers in the international markets and the oil which we manage to export are always divided into two and one part taken away by criminals”.
He also elaborated on debt crisis. He argued strongly that Nigeria lives on debt and thereby subjects her economy to foreign control. This, he also said, was one of the causes of Naira instability and devaluation in international markets.
Another strong case made by Moghalu was that of Constitutional Structure. He argued that the Constitution is greatly flawed, having empowered the Federal Government to take over all the proceeds of our mineral resources and dole a small part of it to the State and Local Governments. This, according to him, makes the States who actually own those resources to rely on the Federal Government for survival. He said that the State is a hub of national development, both economically and otherwise and therefore should be given more financial freedom to be able to make tangible impact in the economic emancipation of the country. He, therefore, advocated for the amendment of the Constitution to give the States more powers and control on the revenue from the mineral endowments embedded in them.
Another speaker, the Governor of Edo State – Godwin Obaseki, took the platform and started with what he termed “energy transition”, a transition from oil economy to a more proactive economy. Urging for a Progressive Nigeria, he said: “It is about time we forgot oil and looked more on the human and natural resources in this country. Without developing those resources, we can’t hope of having economic prosperity.” He went on to enumerate the key areas the government of Nigeria should take as a matter of priority to invest in such as: Education, Infrastructure, Agriculture. He noted that Nigeria should build the culture of growing her forest and illegalize deforestation. On Constitutional restructuring, Obaseki restated Moghalu’s position on the need to concentrate more power on State as regards mineral resources.
Another speaker, the Governor of Plateau State, hinged all Nigerian revenue/economic plights on heavy reliance on oil, “Oil State”, as he described it. He then proffered solutions by outlining the ways to get the country out of “Oil State”. He said that despite how hard Nigeria tries, if she does not tackle insecurity, a vision for an industrialized economy would always be a mirage. He premised his assertion on the ground that insecurity had crippled agriculture which, considering the large expanse of land available in Nigeria, had the potential of turning the country into one of the most industrialized nations on the planet.
Prof. Pat Utomi, like other speakers, emphasized on the importance of transition from oil economy to a more progressive economy. He insisted that the masses should rise to make and enforce positive decision instead of waiting for the leaders who do nothing than turning blind eyes to those things that would transform Nigeria. To substantiate his position, he mentioned many avertable economic disasters which the Government allowed to loom the country, one of which was the open grazing, which the Government, despite so many advice from experts, allowed to submerge the country in more poverty. He noted that year after year, the open grazing has caused and is still causing the destruction of farm produce worth billions of Nigeria, thereby putting the nation into perpetual food shortage.