Patrick Okedinachi Utomi is a Nigerian professor of political economy and management expert. In this exclusive telephone interview with Legit.ng's regional reporter in Lagos, Adeoye Adewunmi, the economic guru shares his views on the Nigerian economy, insecurity among other issues.
As an economic expert, what do you think are the reasons why Nigeria not exempted from debt relief by IMF?
Ordinarily, when you considered the fact that so much money disappeared from Nigeria’s corruption, you will not be in a hurry to seldom pay for obligations when you think of it. Right now in Kenya, we have a scenario where the people are saying that the IMF should not give Kenya any money because the president himself said that corruption was siphoning most of the money away.
Why should he go and be borrowing money when he himself said so. If you go on the internet, you will see an interview with President Buhari when he was saying that the money for prosecuting the war against Boko Haram that the security chiefs would just put in their pockets and go away.
If you were the one, would lend them money to go and put in their pockets? Since oil started flowing, Nigeria has earned 1.2 trillion dollars not Naira from oil sales. What do we have anything to show for it?
Somebody who squanders his father’s money comes back and says ‘look! I am a prodigal. Forgive me. You are going to wonder if he would not come back next week and say forgive me again? So, naturally, you would be more reluctant to grant such a person relief.
Advice to the Nigerian government on this
Economies don’t grow unless investments produce growth out of production. So, what is required is to have a production mindset. If the least productive members of your society consume more of your resources, you are not likely to produce.
You, therefore, lose the service to the economy when you do not impose more stringent conditions on them which is what they called ‘conditionalities’ on different kinds of behaviour that would affect production.
You need austerity to curtail the excesses of power in using public resources. A public fund is recklessly used by politicians and civil servants in Nigeria. And if you don’t change that mode, you will never grow an economy. The biggest problem of the Nigerian economy is a lack of discipline.
Some are saying austerity measure is not the way
What I am saying is that there should be severe austerity measures on how public funds are used. When we have income decline under Obasanjo in 1976, Obasanjo declared that we must cut the cloth according to our cloth not according to our size.
The biggest car anyone could use was Peugeot 504. That was what they used as the heads of state. That is austerity in the use of resources. But, austerity on cutting away the things that would lead to production is a different matter. But we need severe austerity for public resources being used.
Way out of Nigeria’s insecurity
Stop making people being poor. There is insecurity in the country because people are poor.
FG should negotiate with bandits
Talk is better than fighting. It depends on how you are negotiating but not paying ransoms. Real negotiation to solve problems is not a bad idea.
The military solution never works. But, you have to talk to the people who are fighting the course. I don’t think this is a course. I just see people trying to make money. But, the course is identified.
Prominent Nigerians may launch a Mega Party ahead of 2023
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that some prominent leaders of thoughts under the aegis of the National Consultative Front (NCF) said they may launch a mega political movement aimed at rescuing the country.
It was reported that they said their first mission would be to mobilise towards having a new constitution that works for all which would serve as a basis for sponsoring credible candidates in the next election.
The report had that the leaders included a former presidential candidate, Prof. Pat Utomi, a former speaker of House of Representatives, Ghali Na’Abba, and a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba, among others.