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Friday, July 30, 2021

Economy, technology and governance require good leadership

By Theo Adebowale
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The global economy has been in trouble for quite sometime now.  Every government, particularly national governments is faced with the problem of inflation, unemployment and related issues.  Natural disasters have taken a toll in several parts of the world.  Tsunami in Indonesia just a few weeks ago visited havoc on the people, their property and their livelihood.  Japan also witnessed its own disaster. Portugal is another recent victim.  The United States of America was not spared.  In Nigeria, erosion and floods continue to wash away families, settlements and farmyards.  It is the pitiable nature of the public service and the backwardness of technology in use that have taken their toll on Nigeria and its populace rather than the enormity of the natural disaster.  In other words, if Nigerian leadership had operated by rationality and competence, what plays out as natural disaster would have been prevented by efficiency in the public service and execution of public works.  This trend is a fall out from corrupt practices at all levels, and glorification of mediocrity in place of merit.  The people must stop this trend by shopping for men of character and competence, and reject vote buyers.

The foundation of Nigeria was built on a dubious plot and those participating in the continuous process of nation-building have not bothered to dwell on this fact.  Those who designed the Nigerian state wanted it to be an appendage of the United Kingdom and the West. Those who built on it did not consider this fact as important.  That status was acceptable to them if they would operate private accounts, be agents of distribution and consumption of foreign goods, spend weekends, vacation and summer abroad while the common man complain at home.  They thank God, that their children dwell there and enjoy social services provided in the peaceful and orderly atmosphere far away from home.  It was good to procure raw materials, agricultural and precious minerals that have their prices determined abroad.  The finished products, their status symbols are shipped back and sold at prices determined by the manufacturers.  For this purpose, the Nigerian elite is relevant to keep the floor open, uninterrupted, while the common man pays with his livelihood, health and environment.

This partly explains environmental degradation, miserable living conditions, and the disparity in quality of affluence displayed by the white master and his agents. These agents live in opulence, while their host communities contend with polluted water and atmosphere, joblessness and hunger. Above all, there is starvation in the land.  There is hardship.  There is insecurity.  There is impatience, and justifiably so.

By 2015, the Nigerian economy had fallen apart.  Top functionaries of the last government continue to reveal the hopeless nature of the economy resulting from unseriousness, incompetence, indecision and corruption in high places. The treasury was mercilessly looted and the mono commodity economy became parlous, foreign exchange was depleted while prices of crude oil crashed in the international market. Now, a party which had promised to pay substantial attention to the welfare of the people got stranded. Unfortunately, hunger does not respond to explanation or the blame game. Because there is hardship in the land, the present government does not enjoy favorable attention from the citizen. Consultants and agents of corruption and exploitation suffer great restriction in the economic space arising from policies and attitudes of the Federal Government. They therefore embark on sabotage and powerful adverse propaganda. Even the Architect in Chief of Nigerian misfortune has sprung into action recruiting felons and disgruntled politicians. But they enjoy the listening ears of victims of present economic hardship who justifiably hold the Nigerian state responsible for their misfortune.

We must point out that once things fall apart, the center no long holds. The days of bumper harvest from petroleum are gone forever. In response to technology and the changing world order, it is irrational and unscientific to expect a repeat of opportunities offered in the 1970s by petro dollars. And that is the nature of opportunities, once lost, they do not return. Restructuring is a recurring decimal in the Nigerian political equation, not a few opportunists are gathering around. The fortunate son of Lucifer who until recently insisted he would need a definition of the concept, and the multi billionaire aspirant to presidency whose definition is sure different from those of the Yoruba chieftains have seen an auspicious moment to play up the demand. We can see that restructuring on its own, is on the way. It is not coming from generosity of a benevolent government or political party, not even resulting from alignments and realignments. Restructuring will occur as a fall out of economic recession, desperation for survival, and innovation in science and technology.

The world powers have committed huge resources into finding alternative sources of energy. Scientific reports indicate that alternatives to fossil fuels are being sought, and good results are turning in. Climate change, especially the greenhouse effect has been a major source of concern such that options that would drastically reduce environmental degradation is a welcome development. Criminal transactions in terms of money laundering to fund terrorism insurgency and militancy have further reinforced the need for an alternative. In the light of this, economic revival through sale of crude oil in the international market is foreclosed. Simultaneously it is becoming clearer that citizens should acquire entrepreneurial skills and invest in some business. One source of income is becoming unreliable and insufficient. The import of this is that legitimate business is becoming more urgently desired. Free funds are becoming unavailable and undesirable. On the part of the individual, multitasking is essential. The individual must acquire skills in different sectors for diversification.

Governance therefore must re-emphasise the original function of preserving law and order so that there would be sanity in the economy for a new generation of entrepreneurs powering an effective and effectual private sector. The state of the 2020s would be based on less government, coordinated interdependent investors practically generating funds to provide public goods and services. Those investing in vote buying are merely undertaking restitution. Expectations of returns for looting public treasury are aborted. Even though the fight against corruption might take off as selective, it is a bush fire that would consume the weed; and the chaff.

The battle is fierce, hence the commander must be painstaking and thorough in selecting strategy, appointing lieutenants and rewarding performance. It is imperative all the time that the mass of the people would be an essential support, but a hungry people is unreasonable and can easily be converted to sabotage policies and programmes designed for its own good.

The reality of the global economy in the changing character of technology is a pointer to the need to exclude from political leadership, those who want to buy the conscience of the people.  Petroleum, the major source of public funds being misapplied is losing value in the international market.  As a result the highest public office requires a man of impeccable character to tackle corruption, and facilitate a conducive atmosphere for a private sector where the labour force engages in production, manufacturing and distribution of goods and services to create a common wealth that will deliver the good life.  That will be the basis for electioneering and selection of competent personnel for public offices.  Votes buying will no longer deliver electoral victory.

The Hope Owena Presshttp://www.thehopenewspaper.com
Owena Press Limited (Publisher of The Hope Newspaper), Akure

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