By Odeya Ogbetuo
A renowned businessman and socio-political analyst in the Niger Delta, Chief George Owarieta has said that the present political and economic structure of the Federal Government of Nigeria won’t allow the planned diversification of the economy to work, rather the nation’s economy would continue to plunge downward because of clannish and sectional economic policies and mode of governance.
In chat with newsmen in Warri on the state of the nation’s economy, Chief Owarieta said the policy of the government doesn’t encourage investors to stake their resources in a dwindling economy because of insecurity, galloping inflation and the growing cynicism of the governed about the sincerity of government
Chief Owarieta noted that in a situation where Mr. President appear to be absent minded while addressing economic and security issues and a palpable perception from the citizenry that Mr. President is not in charge of the governance of the state, scares away investors from such an environment. He noted that it is only in Nigeria, where privatized institutions are still receiving government subsidy. Or the paradox of government fixing prices of goods and services of privatized enterprises.
Which private investor will tolerate an overbearing government regulatory agency that concerns itself with imposing prohibitive prices rather than focusing on the quality of service to the consumers? He said recent increases in the prices of petrol and electricity is a clear manifestation of a deliberate Government policy to impose extreme hardship and poverty on the people
According to him “Under the current structure diversification won’t work because through ill-conceived privatization policies and actions a government sponsored monopoly companies have emerged. These companies enjoy loans from government development banks, are allowed to control prices, manipulate production processes and prevent the market from being the economic regulator. He said such a situation will prevent new entrants to the market, thereby frustrating attempts to diversify the economy.
On the 2021 budget, Chief Owarieta said the budget has failed from the beginning as the prices of crude oil are not stable coupled with Covid-19 that has imposed tremendous economic hardship on the people. Cost of financing insurgents and banditry by some government agents and politicians from a section of the country is escalating cost of governance.
He added that this is in addition to the widely criticized bloated salaries and allowances of government officials. He argued that the 2021 budget will end up serving the interest of politicians and government workers rather than diversifying the economy.
He disclosed that the Federal Inland Revenue may not be able to generate enough money to revamp the economy or run the government because most industries have closed down, adding that the high rate of unemployment has worsened the very stressful situation.
“Pensioners are owned salaries; corrupt individuals are dangerous to the economy. Many have not been tried and those tried couldn’t produce good results. Who are those people to diversify the economy or to finance the budget? In fact, budgets in Nigeria are mere statements, no one means them”.
He advocated that we need a genuine democracy in Nigeria as well as true federalism where the states or federating units have autonomy and not where a group of people (Cabals) stand and dictate the pace of development to others.
“Let National Assembly have its voice, let the State House of Assemblies have their voices. create autonomous local government structure removed from the apron strings of state governments”.
Let there be proper separation of power, once there is separation of power all the parties will be respected. There will be fresh impetus for growth and development the way it is today, you can see that when the National Assembly summoned ministers they didn’t go, when they asked President Buhari to come he refused to go.
In good democracies, those are impeachable offenses, try to move impeachment motions in Nigeria against the president, the cabal will cry to high heavens that you are against the north. Let the political elite separate the person of the president and regions or state then we can see clearly.
The same factors are also responsible for our helplessness over the removal of security. Chiefs despite their abysmal failure or unwillingness to tackle insecurity.
He added that while the country groans on a daily basis because of the reckless killings by bandits, Boko Haram, and kidnappers, security personnel are being rewarded with promotions and decoration of medals on television, even those retired from service are rewarded with ambassadorial position.