Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala
Obinna Chima examines the self-evaluation process aimed at unlocking its potentials, which was initiated by Delta State
The fluctuations in crude oil prices as well as theft of the commodity, which remains Nigeria’s major source of revenue brings to the fore, the need for both the federal and state governments to initiate policies that will diversify the economy.
In fact, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, pointed out recently that without the diversification of the country’s revenue from oil, the economy might collapse.
While most states are still very comfortable with revenues from rent-seeking activities, Delta State last week took a bold step towards lifting its economy out of this unfortunate situation with the announcement of the commencement of a self-evaluation process to be undertaken by renowned international strategy consulting firm – Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.
Chairman of Delta State Economic Advisory Management Team, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, explained that the process would help in repositioning the state.
This, he stressed, was to lead to the diversification of the state, such that it would no longer be wholly-dependent on oil revenue.
“Delta State is being repositioned. This is to let you know that what we have embarked upon is a process which is unique to Delta state and Nigeria, in the sense that it is a self-evaluation process, not dictated by anybody, but by our self because at this point in time, there is shortage or inadequate accountability in the Nigerian governance.
“So as private sector operatives, we suggested to the governor that we must embark on the concept of ‘what gets measured gets done.’ We agreed at the initial meeting of the Economic Management Team to set up a dashboard and today we are launching that economic dashboard,” the financial advisory expert declared.
Rewane stated that the dashboard was expected to rest of four pillars namely: revenue and planning, development, infrastructure and productivity.
According to him, “the dashboard is like a traffic-like methodology where we look at all the sectors, the ministries, departments and agencies and subject them to a rigorous level of scrutiny and come out with a result on their viability.”
He revealed that a much-more granular analysis of what is happening in the state would be undertaken through the self-evaluation process, such that the internal management capacity of the state would be developed and institutionalised.
“This economic dashboard is something that is used in many European and other emerging economies so that the governor, stakeholders, bondholders, members of Nigeria investors and international investors that invested in Delta state bonds, will know exactly what is happening within the state.
“This was not imposed from outside, but it is in furtherance of corporate governance within the public sector which though is extremely needed, is in very short supply in this country,” he added.
The Evaluation Strategy
Project Manager, Roland Berger, Angela Adeboye, explained that her firm had worked closely with the state to develop a tool that is easy to use in the process.
Adeboye also revealed that the tool was automated, adding that the software had been designed such that it could be used by civil servants in state as well.
She averred: “It is important for them (civil servants) to understand how to use the tool because the idea is not to keep bringing consultants every year and government continues to spend a lot of money. But the idea is also to build capacity within the State. We have worked closely with the Ministry of Economic Planning on this process.
“We have gathered a lot of data from the different ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in the state. We have segmented them and we have tried to set targets for each of the MDAs over time.
“In setting the targets, we leveraged state’s Vision 20:2020 documents, we looked at the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the national benchmark and other international comparables. But in doing these, we took into consideration, the constraints and peculiarity of the state. The uniqueness of this method is that it gives government an idea of what is going to work and what is not going to work,” Adeboye added.
Also, another official of Roland Berger, Mr. Maximilian Moran stressed that the method is “state of the art and we are very happy that Delta State found the courage to develop a self-assessment method. They are the only state to do such in Nigeria and it gives the government and idea of where it is going.”
However, a member of the Delta Economic Management Team, Dr. Ndidi Nolly Edozien, maintained that the process would instill corporate governance within the public sector.
Edozien who is also a strategy consultant added: “This is to track whether we are moving forward or backward. It is worth mentioning that the constitution of the economic team is a combination of private and public sector. What it symbolises is a partnership in the interest of the society.
“The only way you can plan is by using data and the only way you can measure your progress is by using data. So by having the data and putting in place the parameters, forms the benchmark of where we are now so that one can track if we are moving forward or backward.
“One of the key points that we are pushing forward is action and transparency. We are trying to promote integral development that is really holistic because we must find a sustainable means to develop our people. We must find means that would generate income for majority of the people.”
Reviving Moribund Companies
Having realised the wide gap between the State’s potential Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the real GDP, the Economic Management Team also disclosed plans to carry out an inventory of all moribund companies in the state within 90 days, with a view to reactivating them.
According to Rewane, a major challenge presently confronting Delta and most states in Nigeria is the issue of moribund companies that had been left dormant and non-existent.
“All you need is a little push, turnaround and reactivation of these firms. So we resolved that within 90 days, we will have an inventory of all dormant companies in the state, package them for reactivation and injection of equity or possible sale to active investors.
“We are engaging banks, institutional investors and pension funds to take a hard look at these companies. Those that are retrievable will be retrieved, those that are dying will be killed and some would be given a re-birth,” Rewane added.
Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chike Ogeah, said the committee had also designed programmes that had multiplier effects and linkages to job creation.
According to Ogeah, Notore, a leading agricultural firm- Notore, had been engaged to integrate the state into its strategic agricultural development plan. This is also to ensure that food security is guaranteed, while the state remains viable in the commercial agricultural space.
He further said that three major crops had been identified. They include cassava, maize and rice.
Ogeah added: “Government’s plan to set up 10 industries was commended by the committee. It urged government to establish more factories and intensify incentives for individuals to establish small and medium scale enterprise under its micro credit scheme.
“We believe that we can move from subsistence agriculture to commercial agriculture where we can be competitive and actually ensure food security.
“Basically, what we are trying to do in Delta State, which I think is the first to be undertaken by any state in Nigeria, is to be able to look at our self through a kind of peer mechanism review and look at all facets of government and benchmark our self.”