The blessed trio Jonathan, Jega, Nnaji
With the confirmation of Professor Attahiru Jega (in photo) as INEC Chairman by the Senate and the appointment of Professor Bert. Nnaji as the Adviser on Power, President Jonathan could not but feel happy that the solution to some of the nation’s problems is nearer.
It is assumed that the mood of the nation, for the first time this year, is being brightened by the prospect of better life for Nigerians as promised by the Federal Government.
The optimism of many Nigerians is borne out of the fact of long suffering from those days of total darkness, elections heavily rigged and deepening poverty of the masses.
The appearance of three â€˜philosopher kingsâ€˜(not the Plato type) might tend to calm the rebellious minds of people who have heard sweet promises before without any trace of redeeming them.
Although there are cautions on false hopes by many respected analysts, there is that justified confidence that with President Jonathan as a tested politician and good party loyalist, with Professor Jega as a radical reformist, and Professor Nnaji an underutilized development scientist, ALL WILL BE WELL.
In fact, all may not be well in a country without the ingredients of basic unity, improved economic infrastructures, respective and flexible minds for change.
The fear is that progress might be little or none in a primitive environment where any innovation is viewed through ethnically or religiously shaded glasses.
Another glaring problem is the time frame.Â President Jonathan is expected to perform a feat within a year; a miracle which his ruling party has been unable to perform in the past eleven years.
The task is simply _ prosperity in a united and stable polity.Â While the economic eyes are focused on Vision 20:20, many believe that Vision 20:15 or short term vision would be preferable for launching the country into a long_term vision of hope.
Within a shorter period, it is possible to experiment with macroeconomic stability without uncontrolled inflation.
At present, there is lack of coordination between fiscal and monetary policies necessary for economic stability.Â As admitted by the Central Bank, money supply to the economy is far short of expectation while credit to the real sector of the economy is lagging behind extended credit to the public sector.
One agrees with the Central Bank that the key challenges remained the negative growth in monetary supply and the private sector credit.
The main problem lies in the sticky high lending rate of the deposit banks in the face of falling interbank rates and the Central Bank lending rate of 6 per cent.
The average lending rate at the moment is about 18 per cent.Â The deposit rate of the banks is about 4 per cent, leaving a wide gap between lending and deposit rates.
It is recognized that it would take a long time for the deposit banks to rekindle their old friendship with the private sector in view of the uncertainties of the present Banking Reforms and in particular, the inability of Finance Minister to clarify government intention on privately or family owned banks.
The moot question is whether the Central Bank has the right to sell banks in which it has no single share.Â Perhaps the â€˜bailed out moneyâ€˜has been converted into shares without adequate information to the shareholders.
The Central Bank has to resolve within itself how to â€˜unlockâ€˜credit to the real sector of the economy (engine of growth) through its policies. For instance, its policy on excess liquidity needs review.
It stands to reason that all things being equal, excess liquidity should affect lending rate downwards to encourage borrowing by the productive sector of the economy.
Expansion in the manufacturing sector would tend to increase supply of products and have sobering effects on their prices. But the Central Bank is adept on paying oil revenue to the recipients in Naira, thus increasing the volume of money in circulation, and then wait for a while before mopping up the excess through the sale of Treasury Bills.
If the expected mapped up funds of N132 billion is encouraged to be pushed into investments in development of infrastructures, the nation would benefit immensely than the amount sitting idly in the covers of the Central Bank.
Perhaps, the mopped up funds would add to the existing N500 billion allocated to lending for infrastructural and power developments.
The allusion to economic highlights is to inform the President of the cooperation necessary between the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance in formulating and execution of policies designed for economic growth with tolerable inflation.
Some commentators would caution against low interest rate with strong Naira in the interest of the savers. The real problem is with the nature of import dependent Nigeria which needs cheap money and cheap imports to transform the economy.
President Jonathan has promised Nigerians a fair and credible election and has enjoined the new Chairman, Professor Jega to oblige. The radical Professor has promised to do his best with the cooperation of the stakeholders, some of whom are known to be notorious riggers and artful doggers.
In the absence of complete electoral reforms, there is little that Jega and his team could do.
It is a pity that the Uwais Committee Report has been treated with unpardonable levity by both the ruling party and the legislature. People are wondering on which pillars would the promise of fair and free elections rest with nothing realistic on the ground and riggers becoming more sophisticated at every election.
Provision of adequate Power Supply is another promise of President Jonathan for economic growth. Professor Nnaji as a scientist has no problem in harnessing power from our abundant resources of water, oil, gas and coal.Â It looks like a balanced choice for a dedicated mind.
The most complex problem is time frame. President Jonathan has not indicated the time needed for his reforms.
To many, one year may be too short to complete assignments which his party has taken more than ten years without noticeable achievements.
Today, we have the Blessed Trio, the next time the epithet might change if no notable improvement is observed.
By Adisa Adeleye, Nigiera
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