Olisa Agbakoba, a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), has advised the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to urgently consider enactment of major legislation and executive action in order to achieve a major economic turnaround.
Agbakoba, who noted that President Tinubu has set a very ambitious goal of growing Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) to $1trillion in seven years, said that the United State’s (Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal) and the United Kingdom’s (Margret Thatcher’s Big Bang) approaches hold a compass for Abuja to achieve the ambitious goal.
He recalled that “The New Deal included new constraints and safeguards on the banking industry and efforts to re-inflate the economy after prices had fallen sharply. New Deal programmes included both laws passed by Congress as well as presidential executive orders during the first term of the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.”
According to him, Thatcher’s “The Big Bang,” refers to the day the London Stock Exchange (LSE) was deregulated on October 27, 1986.”
He noted that after deregulation, “the volume of shares traded on the LSE and its market capitalisation increased. The Big Bang is considered an achievement of the Conservative government led by Thatcher.”
Agbakoba, who spoke to a select group of editors in Lagos, said that although Tinubu’s policies were germane, they were not rigorously thought-out. He insisted that the policies needed to be critically looked at a rigorously executed with a human face.
Possibility of air return
He likened the President to a pilot that has taken off, but encounters challenge almost immediately after takeoff, for whom “air return” was an option.
“The President has taken tough decisions towards market correction like removal of fuel subsidies, floating the naira, and liberalising the foreign exchange market. This is huge task. Tinubu’s policies very good, but what is needed is the drive. There is the need to look at them critically, the reason I said that ‘air return’ is a possibility,” he said.
Keeping Nigeria one
On the issue of keeping Nigeria one, the Maritime lawyer said it was impossible to achieve that by military solution.
He wondered: “what’s the point in being one country if in the name of one country you have all the killings we have in Plateau, Abuja and all over the place?”
“We cannot resolve our problem using a military solution. You don’t use military solutions for irregular warfare. We must find a way to resolve our problem. We need to have a process to create peace. There’s a need to bring key people that would give us peace,” he added.
Advising President Tinubu on governance strategies, he said, “A country that has been struggling with a foundation for 23 years cannot be a serious country. There has to be a need for some speed. The 10th Assembly must immediately attend to the problem.
“Remember what Bola Ige said about the survival of Nigeria? I was there that day, and it’s still ringing in my head. In a situation of political arrangement such as Nigeria, the first question is: do we want to be one? It’s an assumption that we want to be. It is a terrible and wrong assumption.”