A believe that the reasons Nigeria is broke is not because the price of crude oil per barrels have collapsed in the international market nor is the reason for our sudden financial insolvency as a nation resulted from the lack of patronage of our crude oil by the United States who have found shale oil in commercial quantities as alternatives to our crude oil. The major reason for our being broke now as a nation is because of over bloated political class and the unprecedented quantum of cash that goes into servicing them. Why for instance have we failed as a nation to amend the constitution to specifically state that Nigeria does not need more than ten ministers? What is Nigeria doing with over forty ministers some of whom simply move from one state to the other masquerading as public office holders and costing Nigerian tax payers hugely in wages? I doubt if the United States or China with all their heavy wealth as developed nations have the high number of federal cabinet level officials that Nigeria currently parades.
The federal Government must cut down wastages and close all avenues for wastages that currently exists in government at all levels. Government must create the policy and legal frameworks to make it punishable with heavy judicial sanctions such things as engagement of civil and public servants in activities that deplete the resources of Nigeria such as foreign medical trips. There is even this legendary issue of lack of transparency in the extractive industry in Nigeria even as corruption in public procurement regime is massive. What has happened to the $20 billion USD some itching fingers in NNPC allegedly stole over twelve months now?
If we want to do belt tightening of the Nigerian economy to face the emerging economic realities then we must amend the Nigerian constitution to reflect that we need not more than ten ministers and that these ministers must not engage more than a staff as a technical person and that each of these ministers must be drawn from relevant fields of study and the statutory mandates of these ministries so they do not have the reason to go fishing for jobs for their boys. The next reason we are broke is our wastefulness and our possessiveness by the ghost of consumerism and our lack of productivity. We must as a nation stop this ugly appetites of consuming everything foreign and behave like the Chinese who have developed their domestic economy borrowing from the best technologies that can be found in all parts of the World.
Secondly, if we are to concede to the new gospel of Mrs Okonjo- Iweala that we need belt tightening measures then we must task this government to stop forthwith the retrogressive practice of reckless issuance of import waivers to politically favoured sons and allies. Why for instance has few individuals enjoyed waivers to import commodities as easily produced as sugar when it is known that Nigeria is so resource rich that there are states that are heavily endowed with raw materials to manufacture sugar in commercial quantities?
Then again, in the area of justice delivery why is it that sensitive economic related cases are compromised on the altar of nepotism and cronyism by the judges and there is weak legal framework for punishing these corrupt judges? A nation with this kind of weak, compromised and corrupt justice sector will find it almost impossible to attract good foreign direct investors who would play by the rules and create a good business environment that would boost job opportunities and productivity on the side of the populace. Again, why is it that Government compromised in the execution of the privatisation exercises in key economic sectors to an extent that after government sold out the vital electricity power plants built over the years with public fund running to their billions of dollars at very give away prices to mostly the cronies of some top government officials?
Why is this same government playing around with the voodoo policy of raising funding assistance to these same new owners of the power plants who ought to have mobilized private and independent funds to developed and expand their business and services to the members of the public? A nation that auctions its hard earned economic assets to a few rogue elements and turns back to raise funds to these parasites will inevitably become broke because there is no economic wisdom in so doing. To the minister of finance, let her know that three factors have made us poorer as a nation namely- corruption; wastages by public office holders and thirdly on the side of the followers the appetites for consumptions of anything foreign are contributory and we must collectively exorcise these ghosts to regain our economic freedom as a sovereign entity.
Emmanuel Onwubiko heads Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria.