By Dennis Agbo
ENUGU— Former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and Chairman, African Heritage Institution, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, yesterday, said only citizens’ action could rescue the country from the “massive compression” that the Nigerian economy had slided into.
Prof Soludo, who spoke in Enugu at the African Heritage Institution Policy debate, the Big Ideas podium, contended that the unfortunate trend in the country was for everybody to blame the leadership for every wrong while the citizens stay aloof to their obligatory action to remedy the situations.
*Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo
He noted that it would be a miracle for the present administration in the next eight years to return the dollar rate to where it met it, saying: “Nigeria is in recession in Naira terms but in massive compression in terms of US dollar.”
Among those who also spoke at the podium included former governor of Cross River State, Mr Donald Duke; member of Presidential Economic Advisory Board, Prof. Akpan Ekpo and former Presidential Chief Economic Adviser and Director of Institute for Development Studies in the University of Nigeria, Prof. Osita Ogbu.
Soludo, who resisted speaking on technical economic matters, but shared two ideas, said: “Nigeria is a fragile state with failing economy and everybody wants leaders to do this or that but what do we do ourselves?
“Nigeria is in recession in Naira terms but in massive compression in terms of US dollar. Recession is a small thing and it would be a miracle if in the next eight years, this government can return dollars to the rate it met it.”
Politicians full of propaganda
He lamented that politicians were full of propaganda and falsehood, pointing out that even though the present government met a bad economy, it had made matters worse.
“Nigeria will not be rescued by looking at government alone, only united citizens will come to the rescue,” he said.
The former CBN governor noted that it was a big luxury for people to just mind their own businesses in a falling economy, stressing: “We will get the leadership that we work for and we demand for. If only the politicians can implement 20 percent of their manifesto, what they promised in their campaigns, the country will change.
“We must all resolve to get our voices heard. Peaceful agitation must be tolerated because they call for our attention for perfection upon which we move Nigeria forward.”
Soludo argued that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, government promised to restructure the country, but regretfully had jettisoned the idea.
“Until citizens hold them to the jugular and ask them to deliver on their promise, Nigeria will continue to drift without united citizens action,” he said.
We’re big nation but think like small country—Duke
In his contribution, former Governor of Cross River state, Mr Donald Duke, said it was because there was no consequences in Nigeria that made corruption thrive, noting, however, that the debate was meant to challenge and provoke Nigerians as a people.
Duke said: “We are a big nation but think like a small country. We are gradually sliding into a nation where anything goes. We need to think outside the box. We’re not earning the respect of the world and it’s time to change the narrative.
“Development is not by chance, it is carefully planned. Corruption has continued to thrive in Nigeria because there is no consequence.”
Prof. Akpan Ekpo, however, disagreed that panic measure was required to stem the tide of recession, insisting: “It is a permanent feature in a market economy, it comes and goes.”
He also said Nigerian economy had been battered since 1999 as a result of bad governance and poor planning.
In his contribution, Prof. Osita Ogbu said competence must be a form of effective government.
“Honesty is not just enough, instability is a new norm and as a result we must be ready to grapple with inviolability which is inevitable in a market economy,” said Ogbu.