Conflict Between Politics and Governance, Bane of Economic and Social Development: A Case Study of Nigeria
Remarks By Mr. Oseloka Henry Obaze, MD/CEO Selonnes Consult Ltd. at the Correspondents (Chapel Forum) of the NUJ, Anambra State Chapter News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Office, Awka Tuesday, 9th, May 2017
It’s a great honour to be invited to speak with the resident members of the Fourth Estate – at this Correspondents Chapel Forum. The topic you have chosen – conflict between politics and governance – is very important, but one which often goes unacknowledged.
Politics and Governance are inextricable. Yet, here in Nigeria, there is an emergent and evident dichotomy that can simply be described as dangerous. Four key realities underline this dichotomy or conflict.
The first, is the ever present and increasing of conflict of interest that is often ignored by our political leaders. The second, which derives from the first, is the growing impunity within governance circles that leads to absence of transparency and accountability.
The third strand is the burden of undue expectation – the unending “general expectation that those in government have infinite resources to dole out to friends and acolytes.” And the fourth is a prevailing trust gap between the political leaders and the governed.
Politics is an unending process. Governance and the sole mission of any government, is to serve the people. Politics and governance can be accomplished in a seamless manner, when political leaders, are focused, honest and have the will. The latter derives from capacity and credibility.
When all these variables are presence, purposeful leadership becomes possible. When these variables are shirked or wittingly ignored, naturally, economic and social development will suffer immeasurably.
Today, Nigeria remains in a governance crisis mode; in arrested development and indeed, in economic recession. Simply put; the country is not working optimally – not at the federal level, not at the state level and governance is near non-existent at the local government level.
The State of the Nigerian Nation, to say the least, is deeply worrying. The State of the Nation is not strong!
Nigeria is not just in recession we are in deep trouble. Primarily, Nigerians are hungry and that is not a good sign. The economy is under performing in almost all sectors.
While we acknowledge the efforts underway through the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP), it seems evident that the political leadership continues to struggle.
Nigeria is presently ranked 152nd out of 188 countries in the UNDP Human Development Index (HDI). She thus retains a position she has held since 2014, which confirms that our country belongs to the Low Human Development (LDH) category.
The political leadership does not know what to do. There are many challenges. There is increasing restiveness. All these are evidence of governance and policy failure and the clash of the demands of politics and governance.
There is a deficit of policy coherence and coordination. Despite the promised change, economic reforms are not working and general direction remains ambiguous.
We must look at the subsets: with over 180 million people, a GDP of $413bn, foreign reserve of about $30bn, and market capitalization of about $30bn, we have a negative GDP growth, 19% inflation, 20% unemployment rate and two successive national budgets (2016 and 2017) each with a deficit overhang of N2.3 trillion.
Our foreign exchange policies are at best mercurial; the Naira continues to swing pendulum-style against the dollar, our benchmark currency. We have gone from the promised N2 to $1 exchange ratio, to an all-time depreciated exchange rate of N518 to $1 and to the present N391 to $1.
Rather than take hardheaded policies that would support the domestic market and domestic production, we pursue a lineal two-tier Forex policy that is simply wrong.
We have politicized our foreign exchange regime, so that it favours the privileged and those in government; not the wealth creators in the manufacturing sector. The present ratio of 60% to 40% allocation is lopsided since it means that nearly 90% of the GDP is ignored.
This creates panic and underpins the parallel market. Inflow from foreign investors and diaspora remittances has fallen drastically, due to capital flight and fear.
WARPED FISCAL POLICIES AND FOREX REGIME
The wrong economic policies combined with warped fiscal policies and forex regime led to the recent drastic loss of the value of Naira. Worse still, we refuse to officially devalue, which means that we refuse to confront reality.
This development also made a mess of the disposable income and thus forcing the middle class to go into extinction in Nigeria. Today, what is certain, are the prevailing uncertainties.
Just a few days ago, the CBN revised marginally, its funding stance for the 41 items for which importers are banned from accessing the forex market. Justifiable as the ban may be, it was evidently an ad hoc measure instituted without due consultations and without any remedial policy to augment the local content.
As Manufacturer Association of Nigeria (MAN) has indicated, the 41 items banned when broken down to 110 components, 75 components are raw materials required to keep the national industries running.