Soyinka’s Economic Summit

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Not a few Nigerians accept that the Nigerian economy is, to all intents, on a downward spiral with almost all indices pointing to the fact that activities in prominent sectors are flying at half-mast. Based on this all- evident situation, Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, recently called on the federal government to initiate moves to halt the drift.

In his well-informed opinion, what is needed is a platform for all key operators in the nation’s economic sphere to meet, brainstorm and fashion out modalities that will provide a leeway for the economy to rebound. He said that this may take the form of a Summit during which a new thrust for reengineering the nation’s production processes will be designed and actionable proposals put forward in a manner that will guide the government in policy formulation and implementation.

Soyinka observed that the economic condition of a nation does not deteriorate overnight and insisted that a rescue operation involving as many heads as possible working together to plot a way forward is necessary

Two major players in the economy, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN), have already endorsed Soyinka’s assessment of what is going on. They accepted that the economy was not only drifting but that there was an emergency situation on ground and stressed that the current model on which the economy is operating lacks the specifics it needs to make it sound enough.

We are completely in agreement with the opinion of the Nobel Laureate and those of others who we are reasonably satisfied are well informed in their assessment and judgement. We also admit that what is going on today is a build up from the past based on a concatenation of factors, a significant part of which is the over-dependence on a single commodity- oil – that is not sufficiently dependable because it is not only a wasting asset but also non-renewable even as the value fluctuates given the vagaries of the market.

Another contributory factor is the scourge of mismanagement and corruption by leaders over the years who were not fore-sighted enough to know that a nation’s sources of income ought to be diversified. Even worse is the misfortune that, in the deployment and use of available resources, Nigerian leaders carried on like buccaneers and drunken sailors and created the impression that a rainy day will never come.

When we talk about leaders, it must be understood that they include those in the private sector who see nothing wrong in the actions of their public sector collaborators for as long as they get a piece of the cake.

However, we will flow with any idea that will restore sanity to the nation state as well as its economic wellbeing. But is there anything new to be said about the sorry state of the nation as a whole not just the economy? We have in place policies and strategies that can move this country to greater heights if well implemented. What this country lacks is a crop of leaders with the required drive and political will to make things happen.

In our view, it does not matter if the models for economic development are designed by the best brains in the world some of whom are Nigerians. Without the strength of character that a statesman and patriot imbues in a system, we will still be calling for an economic summit 50 years hence. But we surely do need one now.

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