An Associate Professor and member of the faculty at the Lagos Business School (LBS), Dr. Doyin Salami, has advised the federal government to articulate and make clear its policies and aspirations so that the private sector could key into them and they could be viable enough to attract the requisite investments.
Salami gave this advice at the launch of three books namely, The Nigerian Economy, Shared Prosperity and The Art of Central Banking, authored by Dr. Temitope Oshikoya and launched recently in Lagos.
According to him, “If the private sector is to key into the aims and ambitions of the government, those ambitions must be articulated properly. Beyond that they must be articulated and implemented. I’m not saying here that articulation does not mean it cannot change. There must be a process by which it changes.
“You cannot invite people to put money at risk without clarity. There was a time the Central Bank of Nigeria was clear about inflation, then the country decided to set inflation bound of 6-9 per cent in 2012.”
Salami criticised the Central Bank of Nigeria for managing inflation without also focusing on growth. “The irony is that if you manage inflation in an economy that collapses because of lack of growth is like you have done nothing.”
“Today, inflation is about 17.5 per cent. Anybody who have done an analysis on this would know that 17 is the threshold beyond which rising inflation directly reduces output. We have got a real problem in our hands with two pertinent questions: Should we seek to manage inflation or manage growth,” he added.
In his own admonition, former Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Prof. Osita Ogbu, noted that, “at the time when the global community is in search of answers on how to make growth and development inclusive or better still how to uplift millions out of poverty in spite of the unprecedented wealth the world has witnessed in the last couple of decade, there is wealth and prosperity for a few, while poverty for many.
“Wealth that has seen the growth of billionaires including those from Africa, while many drown daily as they make a conscious effort to escape poverty in Africa.”
Ogbu, who cautioned that, “The consequences of this growing apart stare us in the face, thereby threatening the foundation that generates the wealth in the first place”, called for urgent retreat from the policies that creates this widening gap.
He admonished both market and state led purists to understand the inevitability of dealing with both forces in what is appearing to be an intractable policy dilemma of our time.
According to him, “If policies are used to create the market, it can be used to address policy imperfections. We organise the market for the benefit of all, without a doubt we will not know that the growing inequality is dangerous. But many don’t know how dangerous.”
The former chief economic adviser believed: “The pathway to shared prosperity is asking the private sector to work together. Government should bring people like Oshikoya to advise them on how to tackle poverty and get out of recession. Also to create an intelligent state that looks at the policies necessary in these hard times. Inequality is not something you can postpone; it needs to be addressed now.”
The author of the books, Dr. Temitope Oshikoya, believed the level of economic discourse on the Nigerian economy needs to be raised.
“I drew inspiration from columnists from the Washington Post, and the New York Times. They don’t write frivolously. They write based on research and evidence. While drawing policy implications and given the implications on the Nigeria economy, we need to help the government in terms of thinking through these issues and proffer solutions. The solutions have to come the public and private sectors,” he explained.