Developing Nigeria’s Economy: The New Challenges Of Industry Policy-Making

The fact that the previous generation slept through the world of change like Rip Van Winkle does not mean that we too must also fail posterity. India, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and the rest of the Asian Tigers have been able to use less than two generation to propel their economies from the quicksand of aid dependency to the solid rock of economic independent.

Today all over the world we talk about Asia as the centre of international commerce. It must interest us to note that we all inherited the same economic condition after independence. The difference is that whilst we in Nigeria were seriously engaged in military adventurism in our national politics our contemporaries in Asia were busily embarking on good governance; whilst we as nation were only consuming finished products from Europe and America they were manufacturing their own.

If Nigeria is poised to take its rightful place in God s universe, then are some certain things that we should that will grant us all safe passage into the city of self actualization. Many years ago a great philosopher by the name John Stuart Mills said when society requires to be rebuilt there is no use in attempting to rebuild it on the old plan. The rebuilding of our nation cannot be carried on the wheels of military adventurism, poor attitude toward work, corruption, ethnic and tribal tensions and unhealthy political rivalry. The solution to our national problem is within our reach. No prodigious thunderbolt from heaven will blast away corruption and economic decline and increase our foreign exchange reserves and shoot per capita income to say $ 4000. Again and again God will not send marching armies of angels from heaven to lift us from this present stage.

We the people of Nigeria must commit ourselves to the desired change. National goal of economic prosperity and Nigeria becoming the gateway of West Africa will not roll on the wheels of inevitability. For less than forty years Asian countries like Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia have been able to move their economies clutches of aid dependency.

Taking this way, very soon Nigerians will not be asking our politicians, if the slogans do reflect in the pockets. To me the slogans are not vision or mission statements, since those of the later require a lot of work and commitment to arrive at one.

I wish to conclude that, governance, not to even venture into the demands of good governance, is a serious business. So it is time all politicians live up to the demands of basic governance. Administering this country and managing the economy towards a pro-poor development is a challenging task to meet. The performance indicators on Nigeria are grossly in red and they have found it fashionable just to play around with slogans. The situation under which the government continues to think it is in an advertising business and not in governance to administer has is leading to despair among majority of Nigerians.

Fiscal policy describes the impact of the federal budget on the economy. Keynesian economic theory envisions and activist government with a large scope. This has been the dominant economic philosophy in Nigeria since the Independence. According to Keynesian theory the government’s job is to increase the demand when necessary and the supply would take care of itself. President Umaru Yar’Adua believes that the key task for government economic policy is to stimulate the supply of goods, not their demand. Supply-side economics argues that big government soaked up too much of the gross domestic product by taxing too heavily, spending too freely, and regulating too tightly, government curtailed economic growth. Supply-siders believed that cutting taxes would pull business out of its doldrums.

Controlling unemployment and inflation with precision is very difficult. It is difficult to implement programs since most policies must be decided upon a year or more before they will have their full impact on the economy. A major restraint on government’s ability to control the economy is the fact that the private sector is much larger than the public sector and dominates the economy. The budgetary process, because of the fact that much of the budget is uncontrollable, also hinders fiscal policy.

Nigeria’s business environment has long stood at the center of the country’s economy. Some multinational corporations, businesses with vast holdings in many countries, have annual budgets exceeding that of many foreign governments. Since the early 1990s, billions have been spent by conglomerates buying out other companies. Competition in today’s economy is often about which corporations control access to, and profits from, the new economy. In the old and new economy, Nigerians have always been suspicious of concentrated power. In both the old and new economy, government policy has tried to control excess power in the corporate world. Antitrust policy is designed to ensure competition, prevent monopoly and, prevent restraints on trade. Antitrust suits are more often threatened than carried out. In a few cases government loans or buyouts have made government an actual partner or owner in corporate Nigeria. The Federal Ministry of Commerce And Industry serves as a veritable storehouse of assistance for business.

Several years ago public policy ignored consumers and their interests. Today, the National Agency for Food/ Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has broad regulatory powers over the manufacturing, contents, marketing, and labeling of food and drugs although funding cuts have left it overburdened and understaffed. The Nigeria Standard Organization, traditionally responsible for regulating trade practices, became involved in consumer protection as a defender of consumer interests in truth in advertising. The scientific and technical foundations in the electronic industry have reached the high standard.

The groundwork for production and technical forces are provided to turn out hi-tech electronic products like computers, semiconductor elements with a great output and IC together with the development of various programs. The production potential in the light and fishing industries and agriculture has also increased a lot. Textile and spinning mills, silk mills, garment factories, shoe factories, daily necessities factories and foodstuffs processing factories are furnished with latest production facilities and their products are satisfying the domestic and external demands in both quality and quantity. The fishing industry has laid a firm foundation as well in conformity with the geographical conditions of our country that has many rivers and is sea-bound on three sides. Material and technical foundations of the land and marine transport sector were consolidated. The production and repair bases of electric locomotives and large cargo ships were set up to meet the growing demand of the national economy for transport. With an active participation of cargo ships into the international chartering market, the volume of cargo transport is on the systematic increase.

In the agricultural sector, projects for universal land realignment and grand gravity-fed waterway would be carried out to lay basis for the radical increase of grain output and agricultural produce-processing bases such as the latest potato starch factory went on line. Thanks to this country’s public health policy, the traditional medicine production centers were established in the health sector. The development of the medicine and the increase in its output have not only contributed to the health promotion of the people but brought about the boost in its export.

The sound basis of the independent national economy laid in Nigeria is the material guarantee for the further development of foreign trade on the principles of independence and equality. Finished goods are taking a considerable share in export while a favourable climate for investment including the production of competitive goods based on the hi-tech, and joint venture has been radically improved. This government should continue to consolidate the foundation of the national economy, which firmly ensures the development of foreign trade, strictly adhering to the line of economic development in the post-colonial era.

Perhaps the biggest change in economic policymaking has been the about-face turn in public policy toward labor unions over the past century. The major turnabout in policy toward labour took place during the National Development Plan era. Certain regulating Acts guaranteed workers the right of collective bargaining. It continued to guarantee unions the right of collective bargaining, but also prohibited unfair practices by unions. One section of the law allows states to adopt right-to-work laws that forbid labour contracts from requiring workers to join unions to hold their jobs. Partly as a result of successful union lobbying, the government needs to provide unemployment compensation and guarantees a minimum wage.

The last few decades have seen a shift in focus from the old industrial economy to a new information economy. Three million Nigerians work in technology-producing industries abroad. Access to technology is uneven. The old economy generated issues of income inequality, but the new economy involves issues of information equality. The racial and ethnic gaps in information access are widening.

This time, through the ballot box, Nigerians essentially decided to give up certain economic freedoms for the good of society as a whole. The decentralized Nigeria political system often works against efficiency in government. One of the consequences of democracy for economic policymaking is that it is difficult to make decisions that hurt particular groups or that involves short-term pain for long-term gain.

Different opinion disagrees most about the scope of government involvement in the economy. Some favours an expanded role of government in stimulating the economy during times of integral development. Some people argue against government intervention, whereas few people focus on the imperfections of the market and what government can do about them, majority focus on the imperfections of government.

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us sometime bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. There is an invisible book that faithfully records our vigilance or neglect. The good thing is that it is not too late for us.

At forty-seven we can start over with new attitude towards building the nation. The paraphrase words of former U.S President John Fitzgerald Kennedy still remains us strong that: we should not ask what Nigeria can do for us but what we can do to make Nigeria move forward, at this period of nationhood transformation . It must start from you and me. We must change for the better and make this nation the true “giant” that Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo dreamt about. May God bless Nigeria and make it greater and stronger once more!

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