Need For Power To Reboot The Economy | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Need For Power To Reboot The Economy

economy, Buhari
Posted: Aug 29, 2016 at 4:05 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

On Monday August 22, 2016, it was widely reported that President Muhammadu Buhari sought emergency powers from the National Assembly, elaborate enough to reboot the economy and unleash sweeping changes that could set the country on the path of resurgence.

Among the critical areas the president reportedly expressed interest in securing emergency powers to frontally break the structural rigidities that have long tethered the economy to an irritating spot despite its huge potential were amendment to Public Procurement Act, Virement of budget allocations, and payment of 10 per cent UBEC counterpart fund by states.

Moving contract mobilisation fees from 15 per cent to 50 per cent, sales of non-core assets, use of barges to supply gas to power plants, issuance of visas on arrival, skewing the award of contracts in favour of local firms, ease of business registration, and harmonisation of immigration, Customs and Department of State Security Service (DSS) functions at the nation’s airports also formed the president’s interest.

In response to this reported move, an elated business community that had been gasping for breath under the yoke of economic pains has readily thrown its weight behind the President’s purported proposal to be given emergency powers to give a rebound to the nation’s economy that has experienced a perfect storm.

However, information from the Presidency surprisingly suggests a cacophony of voices at work on the otherwise important issue. For instance, the Federal Government says the proposals remained, at best, tentative and had neither been passed on to the President nor to the Federal Executive Council, casting blurs on the reports.  Information quoted to have emanated from the office of the Vice-President says: : “The economic management team has indeed been considering several policy options and measures to urgently reform and revitalise the economy. Some of these measures may well require legislative amendments and presidential orders that will enable the executive arm of government move quickly in implementing the economic reform plans.

“This has not been passed on to the president, the Federal Executive Council or the legislative arm of government.”Although this in turn, suggests that government indeed may be looking in the direction of evolving the requisite elixir to rejuvenate the troubled economy, it is shy of the expected details to enable concerned interest groups understand the direction the economy is headed. It is our view that core stakeholders see and understand what the core issues holding back the economy are, and at the same time contribute in the effort at revivifying the economy for the benefit of the larger segment of society.

It is our strong belief that the endorsement given by the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to the idea of reclining on workable policy planks to break the deadlock and viscosity holding back progress in the economy, is a clear pointer to the desirability of razor-sharp, results-oriented reforms to turn things around.

While it remains our cherished view that appropriate measures be put in place to achieve recovery, we dare say that speed is required in the process, as so much has already been lost, leading to hardship and gnashing of teeth being experienced by majority of Nigerians.

We are quick to add, albeit, that caution remains the watchword whenever it would be implemented and whatever form the envisaged reforms take, that government should note that trust is paramount, and the essence of the exercise is not subverted to the detriment of the nation and its economy.

In as much as emergency powers are desirable to make remarkable change at a faster rate, there must be a strong refrain from subverting the objective and the tendency to place the judiciary under the arm-pit of the executive arm of government or that of the National Assembly.

All efforts must be made to ensure the reform process and programme are not compromised and that the exercise is used to break all short-circuiting tendencies that tend to portray our variant of democracy as burdensome, anti-people, and anti-development, contrary to the long-held definition of democracy as government of the people, by the people for the people.