Ademola Babalola in Ibadan
A renowned Professor of Economics at the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) and Managing Editor of the African Journal of Economic Policy, Professor Ademola Oyejide, has tasked President Muhammadu Buhari on the need to have a clear cut economic vision capable of driving Nigeria out of ‘recession’ currently bedeviling its growth and development in the comity of other economically viable nations.
Oyejide who spoke at the ‘Think Thank’ programme organised by the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP) in Ibadan, also said for Buhari’s ‘Change agenda’ to achieve its envisaged goals, the administration must, as a matter of priority, embark on national re-orientation of the populace on tax payment just as the citizens’ involvement in the budget implementation should be similarly stepped up.
Oyejide, an expert on monetary and international economics who served as Head of Department of Economics at the University of Ibadan between 1981 and 1985, spoke on a lecture entitled: ‘Getting the Budget and the Economic Fundamentals Right in in a Regime of Change.’
While noting that many of the internationally-mandated good budgeting practices and procedures are captured by Nigeria’s Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) of 2007, Oyejide lamented that the citizens’ expectations from the present government are yet to be met following the bureaucratic bottlenecks including ‘padding’ from some quarters, which greeted the preparation of the national budget.
He described budget as the primary instrument for the much-touted change but remarked that “in making such promises, the assumption was that you already have facts and figures of the cost implications of the electoral promises, having raised people’s expectations.”
The don then stated that since the federal government has started working on the 2017 budget, with President Buhari promising to present it to the National Assembly in September, all hands should be on deck while a strong economic team comprising experts should also be incorporated, to produce an enduring, all-inclusive budget that would stand the test of time.
He said: “Budget is too important to be left to government alone as it plays a major role in helping government and the people to achieve their desires. To this extent, therefore, there is the need for citizenship direct involvement in Budget preparation and implementation. Currently, people are not directly involved because most of the money involved do not comprise their tax. People don’t pay tax any longer except those concerned with PAYE. When you have a society where people don’t pay tax, do they have the right to question government? When we don’t pay for something, we least care for it.
“No country grows with the government taxing its citizens. It is part of the civic responsibilities of the citizenry. It is only then that you can question government. In addition, the citizens must be engaged to guard against insecurity in the land. …We must therefore have a clear economic vision that will address our constraints.“
Earlier, the Executive Vice Chairman of the ISGPP, Dr Tunji Olaopa, highlighted the activities of the school to work for the development of Nigerian nation through various executive, governmental and nongovernmental programmes and research-based technical know-how capable of engendering growth of the country.