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Nigeria Needs To Look Beyond Ultra-easy Policy For Growth – Anya

okeke anya 2
Posted: Apr 3, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)



Mr. Okeke Anya, the Chairperson of the State of the Union (SOTU) coalition, the only coalition to date that has tracked and engaged citizens, Governments and the African Union (AU) on the performance of Governments against a broad range of key democratic governance, economic, social rights, civil and political rights policy standards and instruments in this interview with Sylvester Enoghase, speaks on  how Federal Government needs to use all policy tools – monetary, fiscal and structural –  to collectively  achieve the needed economic goals. Excerpt.




Sir, from your point of view, do you suggest devaluation of Naira with regards to the current economic challenges confronting Nigeria?


Devaluation is not the lasting solution to current Nigeria’s economic crisis. There is urgent need for faster progress on structural reforms to bolster potential growth in the medium term and make our economy more innovative, flexible and resilient.


I think the best the Federal Government needs to do is to look beyond ultra-low interest rates to shake the nation’s economy out of its inactivity, while renewing its focus on structural reform to spark activity.


Monetary policy will probably have to be kept appropriately loose, even though people have realised that its role cannot replace fiscal policy


The recent Monetary Policy Committee Meeting report explained that the CBN had adopted accommodative monetary policy since July 2015 in the hope of addressing growth concerns in the economy, effectively freeing up more funds for DMBs by lowering both CRR and MPR, with excess liquidity arising from the lower CRR warehoused at the CBN. DMBs were to access these funds by submitting verifiable investment proposals in the real sector of the economy.


The Committee report argued that the funds have not impacted the market yet, because the CBN was still processing some of the proposals submitted by the DMBs.


The Committee report also argued that the delay in passage of the 2016 Budget, that was recently passed by NASS, though has not been accented to by President Muhammadu Buhari,  has further accentuated the difficult financial condition of economic agents as output continues to decline due to low investment arising from weak demand.


In my view, there is urgent need for the monetary policies to continue to support economic activity and ensure price stability, but I also feel that the monetary policy alone cannot lead to balanced growth, rather, the Federal Government needs  to use all policy tools – monetary, fiscal and structural – individually and collectively  to achieve the needed economic goals.


What is your take on the recent UN report on health conditions that compares data on health from urbanites in almost 100 countries?


The ‘Global Report on Urban Health: Equitable, healthier cities for sustainable development,’ jointly released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), compares data on health from urbanites in almost 100 countries. The criteria vary from clean water access to HIV knowledge, obesity and air pollution.


The report shows that in cities, progress in health depends not only on the strength of health systems, but also on shaping urban environments


The report shows that with nearly 4 billion people living in cities and the urban population growing, there is an urgent need to address health disparities and identify creative ways to ensure universal health coverage


Suggestions are made for world leaders, including Nigeria to initiate policies that would ensure access to water and sanitation, reducing urban sprawl, increasing road safety, making cities more friendly for different ages and for people with disabilities


This report gives countries and cities practical tools to reduce health inequities and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030


The examples in the report illustrate that the way the cities are planned can profoundly affect the ability of their residents to live long, healthy and productive lives. For instance, the residents in Ikoyi in Lagos have better health facilities than those in Ajegunle in Lagos. And so, the report gives the Government the better opportunities to plan ahead to ensure that same facilities in Ikoyi are extended to Ajegunle.


The report is particularly relevant given the growing disparities between the richest and poorest urban populations, which is a focus of the report.


For example, in addition to the 3.7 billion city-dwellers today from the report, another one billion will be added by 2030. Of that figure, 90 per cent will be in low and middle-income countries.


The report finds that in 79 low- and middle-income countries in the world, children in the poorest one-fifth of urban households are twice as likely on average to die before their fifth birthday compared with children in the richest percentile.


One factor is access to improved health coverage. On average, the report finds that coverage for the poor still lags behind. At least 400 million women, men and children are excluded from affordable health care.


From the report, what lesson, do you suggest the Federal Government should learn?


I urge the Federal Government to consider, or initiate policies that would ensure that basic human rights, universal health coverage is a target of the SDGs, which the international community aims, of which Nigeria is one,  is realised by 2030 because the UN report aims to equalise health conditions amidst exploding metro populations






As the Chairperson of SOTU, could you please, suggest why the new global development agenda is good news for women?


The new global development agenda is good news for women because issues from economic exclusion to violence targeting women and girls, the head of the United Nations entity tasked with promoting gender equality believes such challenges make it all the more critical to push ahead with the new global development agenda, which contains many targets specifically recognising women’s equality and empowerment.


Advocating on behalf of women and girls throughout the world means advocating also on behalf of the women and girls in Nigeria.


One big thing that is relevant for every woman and girl no matter who they are, and no matter where they are, is the fact that all governments, including Nigerian Government, represented by President Muhammadu Buhari, in September 2015, have agreed to the 2030 Agenda, and so, issues related to women and girls are front and centre in that Agenda and will allow greater progress to be made.


The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it up for Gender Equality,” referred to the deadline for the newly adopted SDGs in New York, which chart out a new roadmap for the empowerment of women and girls and other forms of development over the next 15 years.


The Planet 50-50 by 2030” defines  gender equality as making strategic decisions about including women in the economy, pushing for equal pay, reducing early pregnancies in girls and getting more girls to stay in schools longer, among other strides.


One of the detriments to gender equality is violence against women and girls, a priority area for UN Women, which works with governments to develop dedicated national action plans, and advocates for countries with weak or non-existent laws on eliminating violence against women to put the proper frameworks in place.


Could you please, tell us a little about the ideology of SOTU?


The State of the union  (SOTU),Coalition  formed in 2009 by Civil Society Organisations in ten countries  is a unique multi-sectoral monitoring group that is holding African Governments accountable for the ratification and implementation of African Union decisions.


The coalition seeks to do this through informing and empowering Citizens to act to claim key rights and freedoms; influencing the African Union and African States to ratify, popularise and implement key standards, and through building inclusive continental and national platforms.


SOTU coalition is the only coalition to date that has tracked and engaged citizens, Governments and the African Union on the performance of Governments against a broad range of key democratic governance, economic, social rights, civil and political rights policy standards and instruments. The coalition has demonstrated considerable continental policy impact within a remarkably short period of time.


Members of the coalition have strong relationships at national and continental levels with coalitions and organisations working on the full range of rights being tracked and advocated for. It is intended that these relationships be invited to collaborate on specific parts of the campaign with the State of the Union coalition.


SOTU is monitoring the implementation of 14 AU legal instruments & policy standards and the status of implementation in 10 countries (Tunisia, Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana & Senegal) across the 5 regions in Africa and at the continental level.


SOTU implements its activities under three key result areas: citizens informed and empowered to act to claim key rights and freedoms; the African Union & Member States act to ratify, popularise, and monitor implementation of key standards and inclusive national and Continental Platforms capacitated to popularise, engage and hold Governments accountable


The coalition has demonstrated considerable continental policy impact within a remarkably short period of time, especially on advocating the implementation of the 14 African Union (AU) instruments


Could you please, tell us these AU instruments?


Since the formation of the OAU, African Governments committed to ratify, domesticate and implement 42 Charters, Treaties, Protocols and Conventions. At least a third of these have been developed after the African Union was established in 2001. The 14 Key Instruments of the SOTU’s Campaignare: The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance; The African Convention on Prevention and combating corruption; The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights; The protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights on the rights of women in Africa;  The Africa Health Strategy;The Abuja call for Accelerated action towards universal access to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria services in Africa;  The Maputo Plan of Action for the operationalisation of the continental policy framework for sexual and reproductive health and rights; The African Youth Charter; The African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child; The revised African Convention on the conservation of nature and natural resources;  The comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program;

The Sharm El- Sheikh commitments for Accelerating the achievement of water and sanitation goals in Africa; The treaty Establishing the Africa Economic Community, and Protocol to the treaty establishing the African Economic Community relating to the Pan- African Parliament.


The trust of our advocacy campaign has been on these instruments through ‘My African Union’ in seeking to mobilise African citizens to be the voice that calls on African governments to implement the commitments they have adopted in the form of legal instruments and policy standards at the AU. It is hoped that through this campaign, African citizens will act/do/engage/speak-out on matters that affect their development, freedoms and rights.


The Campaign is being championed by the State of the SOTU Coalition, using the call to action “Be The Voice,” the campaign seeks to motivate Africans to unify their voices, demands and actions using the campaign as a platform to demand action from African governments and the AU.