The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Mohammadu Sanusi, says the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration may end up like the immediate past President Jonathan’s administration if it fails to retrace its steps on some policies.
Buhari had defeated Jonathan at the 2015 presidential poll in what was described as a total rejection of the Jonathan-led administration by Nigerians.
Sanusi, who was the chairman of the 15th meeting of the Joint Planning Board and National Council on Development Planning in Kano State on Wednesday, argued that the failure of the Buhari-led government to create employment opportunities for “the over 80 million youths in the country,” made terrorism attractive to the unemployed.
The session was organised by the Kano State Government and the Federal Ministry of Budget and Planning.
The monarch, who titled his speech, ‘‘Nigeria in search of new growth model,’’ said some policies of the government were bad for the economy, adding that Buhari must retrace his steps.
He noted that there were times when the Federal Government tried to get it right, adding that it failed to follow up, which contributed to the ongoing economic downturn.
He said, ‘‘I will neither change nor be political by telling people what they want to hear. The truth is that there is nothing we are facing today that we did not know would happen. We made mistakes, many of them deliberate; we ignored every single warning.
“If you take a brand-new car and hand it over to a driver who doesn’t have a licence to drive it and you are involved in an accident, you can’t say you are surprised, unless you are some kind of an idiot.
“We should not just keep blaming the previous administration; we also made some mistakes in the current administration.
“They must retrace their steps. They have to retrace those steps all the way. We should not fall into the same trap we fell the last time when the government was always right. The bottom line is that if your policy is wrong, it means you must change it and nothing will make it right as it has to be changed.
“If this government continues to behave the way the last government behaved, it will end up where Jonathan ended.”
The monarch tasked the ministry of budget and planning with returning to the drawing board to expand the economy through wise investment for the “economic growth and development of the country.”
He said, “The Ministry of Budget and Planning is the most important ministry. The ministry needs to think beyond the Federal Government plans on the way forward.
“The country has not been able to attract investment. We need to move from our present mode of investment.
“Lagos is the story of what Nigeria can do with itself. The country should not be obsessed with oil.
‘‘Those who want to break up the country because of oil should stop. Oil will soon be nothing. The world is already developing alternative sources of power.”
While admitting that no system was perfect, Sanusi urged the incumbent administration to take the initiative to retrace its steps.
‘’The funny thing is that you did not stop borrowing; all you have to do is borrow the right amount and apply them to the right purposes. It doesn’t matter whether it is consumption spending or investment demand, the GDP will grow.
‘’Countries like Nigeria and Angola are among the lowest growing countries of the world, growing with the rate of Europe and Latin America. We are the worst performers in terms of investment.’’
‘’We can always talk of the policies of the previous administration and we talk of oil subsidy and how it turned people into oil millionaires. But we have created another set of millionaires since 2015 from foreign exchange.
‘‘The people telling the government that if you devalue people will suffer are the ones benefiting presently. They bought the dollar at N179 and price their goods at N300.The poor pay the price of a devalued currency, the rich take the profit.
“You may not like it, but that is the truth. Any system that allows you, with one telephone call, to make N1bn without investing one kobo; the system is wrong,” Sanusi added.
Meanwhile, some experts commended Sanusi for his “timely” comment, saying Nigeria needed to be proactive and creative to solve its challenges.
An economic analyst and Chief Executive Officer, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, said the Federal Government and the economic management team had been reacting in silos to challenges facing the economy.
“We need to react in a more coordinated manner. We need to respond with a cocktail of solutions.
“It took us time to open up the economy to foreign investors. By the time we did, the foreign investors had moved on. The fuel subsidy that we removed was good, but it could have come with other actions that would have helped the economy.
“We need foreign borrowing in order to bring dollar liquidity back and stabilise the market. The President will need to set up an economic think tank that will come up with a detailed approach to tackle the problems.”
The Head, Research and Investment Advisory, SCM Capital, Mr. Sewa Suwu, said the current economic management team needed to move faster than the current pace.
He said, “The economic challenges are not peculiar to Nigeria, but all commodity exporting countries. The best way out of the current challenges is to spend our way out of it.
“We have a national problem and it is a time for all economists and experts to come up with ideas that can help us to get out of the challenges as a country. We need to come together as one and tackle the situation.”
The Director General, West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management, Prof. Akpan Ekpo, who noted that the government could not fix the country in one year, said, “What I will call a mistake is the delay in taking action; we call it lag structure in economics.
“For example, there was an unnecessary delay in passing the budget. There was an unnecessary delay in forming a cabinet. Those two major delays have been creating problem for the country.
“In February, some of us warned that we were on a tip of a recession with rising unemployment, rising inflation and declining productivity.
“If at that point, they had implemented the budget and released money – because you must spend out of a recession – we would have avoided the recession. A budget of 2016 was passed on May 6; even as we speak, we don’t know how far they have gone with the implementation.”
He also said there was a delay in fiscal policy.
“For a long time, monetary policy was the only thing people were talking about because we didn’t see any fiscal policy. When it started coming out, it was late.”
An expert in Financial Economics at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Prof. Leo Ukpong, said the Buhari government made a lot of mistakes in the way the government handled the foreign exchange challenge.
He said, “The foreign exchange policy could be done such that it reduces the negative economic pressure. I think when they allowed the naira to be fixed for too long, for more than a year; it destroyed our ability to shore up manufacturing capacity.”
He stated that the government had not been aggressively pursuing industrialisation and had not been seen to have come up with serious economic plan to reduce unemployment in the country.
“Right now, what we need is to create jobs and keep people employed. I have not seen any clear-cut policy in that direction,” Ukpong added.