Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The Change We Want

        By Bayo Ogunmupe
     Life is endless battle and conflict, and we cannot fight effectively unless we can identify our problems or enemies. In the modern world, any kind of problem is solved through strategy. A mind that is easily overwhelmed by problems and emotion; a mind that is rooted in the past instead of the present, that cannot see the world with clarity and urgency, will create strategies that will always miss the mark.
     It was with this mindset and perception that I visited Aso Villa on the ides of July. Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity gave me a rousing welcome. I had lots of newspapers to read, albeit for the first time because they could only be bought by the State House. Without a focused, profit oriented Post Office that can ferry the papers throughout the federation, half of the journals could not circulate beyond the Federal Capital Territory.
     While we embraced the penitentiary to make Muhammadu Buhari president, our vision of a new Nigeria that emboldened us to act so daringly isn't the one we are seeing now nor the promises being kept. Which was why I asked Adesina why they refused to constitute an economic team that will liberate our economy from its import dependency syndrome. Adesina told me the vice president chairs the Buhari economic team with the Central Bank governor and the ministers of finance and Budget as members. Then I told him that since an economic team means a team of economists, the present team cannot solve our problems.
     Since the vice president and the minister of Budget are lawyers; the CBN governor and the Finance minister are accountants their team cannot usher in the change we want in Nigeria. Adesina simply replied: "Your notion of a team of economists is a matter of opinion." As my host, I cannot argue with him. Now, I wish to enunciate on what an economic team ought to be. Germany as the first country to recognize economics as a tool of development, created a ministry of economic affairs in government. German chancellor,Konrad Adenauer {1876-1967} appointed Ludwig Erhard his Minister of Economic Affairs in 1949. Erhard was responsible for the German post war economic miracle which achieved full employment in Germany by 1950. Erhard was rewarded by being appointed Deputy chancellor in 1957 and succeeded Adenauer as chancellor in 1963.
     In the United States, the Council of Economic Advisers was created by the Employment Act of 1946. The council was to provide presidents with objective economic analysis and advice on economic issues. As an organ of the Presidency, the council has a chairman and two members. Its staff consists of a chief of staff and 20 academic economists, plus three permanent economic statisticians. The council's main aim is to provide full employment in the United States.
      In Nigeria, we have had Philip Asiodu, Magnus Kpakol and Christian Soludo as chief economic advisers. Thus, the way toward achieving the change we want is in appointing a chief economic adviser with adequate staff and provisions.

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