By Ayo Akinfe
(1) When I read all the gloomy economic forecasts about Nigeria and grapple with the fact that our economy is only growing at a rate of 1.9%, while that of Ethiopia is forecast to grow by 10.8% this year, I ask what is going on. I am sure all these international financial institutions must be asking the same questions too because it is not as if Nigeria lacks the brains to turn her economy around
(2) What is most perplexing is that a lot of these brains are actually in the government. When I look at the likes of Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, his deputy Kingsley Obiora and Yewande Sadiku, the chief executive of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, I ask why we are not witnessing year-on-year double digit gross domestic product (GDP) growth
(3) When you look at how the contemporaries of all these our sharp minds in other African countries are successfully attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), it is easy to tell that our people are in office but not in power. If just these three I mentioned above were given the free reign to run the Nigerian economy as they saw fit, surely, we would not be having all these problems. I believe we have an economic team that could easily attract a minimum of $10bn in FDI annually into Nigeria if given the freedom to do their jobs as they want to
(4) President Buhari was elected with a popular mandate in 2015. For the first time in our history, ordinary Nigerians contributed their widows mite to a presidential campaign. Can you just imagine how he would have performed today if he had followed this up by delegating all economic matters to the sharp minds around him. Just imagine an economic team lead by Prof Yemi Osinbajo and made up of the likes of Godwin Emefiele, Kingsley Obiora, Yewande Sadiku, Lamido Sanusi, Charles Soludo, Pat Utomi, etc running the Nigerian economy. President Buhari could just have sat back and got all the credit for their achievements
(5) What President Buhari is doing by trying to be oga at the top, is part of a Nigerian national malaise. All our governors and past leaders are guilty of it. For me, the one shinning exception was General Yakubu Gowon, who was exemplary. Gowon came into office as a 31 year old Lt Col in 1966 with no experience of government whatsoever but ended up presiding over the biggest economic boom in our history
(6) When I look at the economic growth figures of the Gowon era, I want to tear the hair out of my head – 1969 (24.2%), 1970 (25%), 1971 (14.24%), 1974 (11.16%). How were we getting such massive GDP growth then but cannot even manage 5% today?
(7) I will tell you how Gowon did it. He created a National Economic Council with himself as chairman and Obafemi Awolowo as vice chairman. He then filled it with the sharpest minds in the country like Aminu Kano, Joseph Tarka, Anthony Enahoro, etc. They formulated economic policy and Gowon just took it to the Supreme Military Council to get their decisions ratified
(8) It is no surprise that the Gowon administration embarked on an unprecedented infrastructural development spree including Tin Can Island, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Murtala Mohammed Airport, three oil refineries, National Theatre, National Stadium, Nitel Tower, 10-lane Ikorodu Road, etc. I bet not one of these was Gowon’s personal idea but alas, he must get the credit for it today
(9) When I look at people like Abba Kyari, Garba Shehu, Mamman Daura, Mustapha Boss, Isa Funtua, etc, who are around President Buhari, I ask myself if he just wants to fail. It is no surprise that this government is performing woefully in key areas like the economy, security, infrastructure, etc. How do you succeed when you surround yourself with sycophants, praise singers and political desperados, while you shut out the brains around you?
(10) President Buhari was around during the Gowon era and saw how things were done. I simply cannot get my head around why he has not followed suit. Shutting out your best brains will always result in abominable failure. Sadly, Nigeria is a nation in which sycophancy trumps intellectual firepower any day