Kingsley Moghalu, former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and president of the Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation, has accused the makeup of the Nigerian constitution as one of the major factors responsible for the country’s underdevelopment.
Moghalu stated this on Thursday as one of the discussants on a CNN podcast titled, “Reforming Nigeria’s embattled economy.” The show hosted by Eleni Giokos was programmed to discuss and suggest solutions to Nigeria’s myriad economic challenges, especially as the country heads to the polls to elect its fifth president since returning to democratic rule.
Among the discussants were Ola Brown, founding partner of Healthcare Capital Africa; Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance; and Akintoye Akindele, founder of Platform Capital.
Moghalu argued that the constitutional structure was the main reason why Nigeria had refused to develop.
“We must deal with the fiscal crisis that is facing the country. We have to increase our revenue… deal with oil theft,” he said when asked to offer solutions to the country’s economic problems.
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“The second solution is a constitutional review,” he added.
Akindele, however, suggested a new approach, insisting that the incoming government tap into the entrepreneurial ability of the nation’s human resources so that we can increase exports.
“We must encourage these different incentives, such as tax incentives and talent hunting,” he said.
Akindele agreed that the biggest talent the country has is not oil resources but the abundance of human resources in the country.
He faulted the use of GDP as a yardstick for determining the growth of the country. Instead, he suggested GNP (Gross National Product) which can assess the input of all Nigerians both at home and abroad. This measurement he believes would be a true assessment of the economic situation of the country.
However, Ahmed suggested that the incoming government should adopt more creative fiscal solutions that process raw crude oil and other resources in the country.
To support Adedeji’s suggestion, the finance minister said that Buhari’s administration was currently reviewing the composition of the GDP so that it “could be more inclusive and liberal in assessing the growth potential of the country.”
Brown insisted that the incoming administration “would need to invest heavily in sectors that create a lot of jobs.” She accused the nation’s economic handlers of subsidising the wrong sector, taking into account the colossal amount spent on fuel subsidies.
However, the finance minister agreed that the country had made arrangements to redirect subsidies from fuel to sectors such as the healthcare sector and other ones that can create jobs and cut down on the cost of governance.
Moghalu, when asked again, still maintained his position, insisting that the political leadership is the bane of the mismanagement and colossal waste in the country.
“You must put the right people in the right place and let the institutions run without interference,” Moghalu said of what is expected from the incoming government.
Adedeji went on to say that nation-building should be a collaborative effort between the government and the citizens, rather than blaming the government.
Brown added that the incoming government must provide an enabling environment that helps the private sector grow.
“The broken trust contract between the government and the citizens has to be corrected so that citizens will be happy to pay their taxes, which is an obligation,” Brown said.
Supporting Brown’s suggestion, Moghalu said that the incoming administration “must build a political arrangement that focuses on taking millions of Nigerians who are multidimensionally poor out of poverty.”
The former CBN deputy governor agreed that the “END SARS” situation has forced many Nigerian youths who are unhappy about the country’s situation to throw their frustration on the election by coming out en masse to vote for their preferred candidates.
Brown interjected, saying that she was indeed super excited about the future of Nigeria as the country heads to the polls.
The minister of finance advised that the country’s political leadership has to rebuild the social contract between the government and the people. The minister added that the country needs policy continuity.
The minister said that her biggest headache was getting more revenue. However, she agreed that the efficiency of tax revenue collection is paying off as revenues start to increase.