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Elections: Experts task presidential candidates on structured economic agenda



Elections: Experts task presidential candidates on structured economic agenda
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Some economic experts have called on presidential candidates for the Feb. 25 general elections to focus more on policies that will restore the nation’s economy.

They made the call at a panel session of the policy dialogue organised by the African Resource Development Centre (ARDC), in Lagos, with theme: “An Agenda for the Next President”.

Mr Gbayode Shomuyiwa, Secretary, International Advisory Board, ARDC, in his opening remarks, explained that the programme was organised to identify areas in which the next President would prioritise in the early period of the incoming administration.

He assured that experiences of all the distinguished participants in their various areas of expertise or engagement could provide additional policy options for the next President to factor into his intervention area.

Shomuyiwa disclosed that ARDC would be providing the outcome of the policy dialogue to the presidential candidates and other stakeholders who are in a position to influence them.

A panelist, Dr Adeyemi Adeboye, an economist, said that once the election is over and a new President is inaugurated, the his job should start immediately.

“The job is to fulfill all promises made during election campaigns. The greatest expectation of the electorate is a better Life, through improved economy.

“The citizens want to have improved personal income, security of life and property, and access to basic amenities such as good education, health and other infrastructural facilities that can guarantee improved quality of life.

“What will make this possible is a growing economy with shared prosperity. Therefore, the preoccupation of the new administration that will take over come May 29, 2023 is how to stabilise, grow, and transform the economy within the first four years of the administration,” he said.

Adeboye averred that currently, the economy was not performing well, due to policy inactions or failures to implement appropriately in key areas, resulting in misalignment between expected performance and actual performance of the economy.

He cited certain data to underscore his point, affirming that by 2022, inflation was around 18.85 per cent, the highest in about two decades.

According to him, interest rate was 16.50 per cent; exchange rate averaged N456 to the dollar in the Import & Export Window and N740 to the dollar in the parallel market.

“Unemployment was 33.3 per cent, deficit spending was 3.39 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product(GDP) and the GDP grew at 2.25 per cent. All the indices show an economy in distress when compared to 2010,” he said.

For the economy to be stabilised, he further suggested that the situation had to be reversed, saying that “some key action points are required to reverse the negative indices and stabilise the macro economy.

`Stop all forms of oil theft and take full control with proper accountability of all crude oil transactions to ensure steady flow of oil revenue in the immediate.

“Make sure all refineries work within the next three to six months in office, Stop subsidy to petroleum products and use saved money to improve education, health and social investment projects,” he said.

Adeboye added: “Revenue agencies must give accurate account of money collected and no more zero remittances.

“Stop all forex allocation to Bureau De Change operators (BDCs) and special rates to selected few, and banks should freely source for their forex needs.

“Increase revenues through improved tax compliance, a wider tax-base, extensive performance management of government-owned enterprises and enabling laws and policies.

“Plug external resource leakages by fixing problems in the education and health sectors, to make these sectors attractive to Nigerians to patronise.

“Give full autonomy to tertiary institutions and make them self-funding, while basic education and basic health care could be partially funded by existing funding and perhaps a more innovative funding mechanism,” he said.

An entrepreneur, Ms Adebukola Adeniyi, said that the Nigerian youth were faced with many problems, particularly unemployment.

According to her, the youth lack skills and easy access to start-up funds for aspiring entrepreneurs and agropreneurs.

`There is also lack synergy between the Federal Government and State Governments on land accessibility to intending farmers and multiple taxations at State and Local Government levels,” she said.

According to her, the Nigerian National Youth Policy (2019-2023) is a detailed policy that should bring about a rise, not only in youth employment, but also youth employability, by addressing the major issues an average Nigerian youth is encountering.

She also said that the N-Power Programme was built to address the issue of youth unemployment and help increase social development.

“The programme targets youths between 18 and 35 years and is to help these youth acquire and develop lifelong skills to enable them become change makers in their various communities.

“The reality though is that these policies are yet to fully deliver in a comprehensive manner. The President should set up agencies with technocrats who will see to the implementation of the policies.

“The National Orientation Agency should be more proactive in sensitising youths on these policies. It should employ the use of social media, the youth today spend more time on their mobile devices.

“Government should priotise buildimg more research institute s: More interdisciplinary in-depth research across different geo-political contexts promises insight into the multifaceted nature of the youth employment challenge.

New theoretical understanding can emerge from detailed and integrated case studies.

“Ensure that there is synergy between the federal and state governments, and in some cases, the local governments too. Prioritise process, impact monitoring, and assessment,” she said.

The President, Directors’ Guild of Nigeria, Dr Victor Okhai, discussed how the movie industry could significantly become a net foreign exchange earner for Nigeria if given the right attention and support.

“The infrastructural challenges, lack of access to capital and lack of political will to generate the right environment for the movie industry to grow well beyond its current state and reach its full potential are key elements for the next President to take into consideration.

“The President and state governors should offer incentives that will motivate the private sector to cite at least one cinema house in each Local Government Area in Nigeria.

“Government should also provide tax incentives to those in the movie industry to stimulate creativity and production and encourage synergy between Nigerian and international film makers to co-create.

“Relevant governments and the private sector should invest in training facilities for film production and entertainment generally to enhance the skill set of young persons interested in working in the industry,” he said.

Dr Oluwole Onifade, Director, Inter-Faith and Special Duties, Nigerian Baptist Convention, called for the return of the mission schools to their owners.

“Before and for several years after independence, most of the educational institutions in Nigeria were mission schools, run by faith-based organisations. These schools were well run.

“The quality of their curriculum and the products they graduated was extremely high. This situation would be progressively reversed with the take over of schools by the governments of the federation.

“It is not compulsory to declare free education when the entity making such a declaration does not have the capacity or the resources to implement it meaningfully,” he said.


Source – NAN