By Ayo Akinfe
(1) As we prepare for 2020 and the prospect of Nigeria turning 60, it is time for our political debate to grow up too. Until it does, we will keep going round in endless and incoherent circles wondering where we are heading and scratching our heads as to why our economy simply refuses to grow
(2) Over the last few days, President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the 2020 budget into law but I ask, will it help? It is only $28bn and even if every penny is spent judiciously, will it make much of a difference?
(3) When 200m people are scrambling over a paltry annual budget of $28bn and a meagre gross domestic product (GDP) of $375bn, is there really any hope? Bear in mind that 70% of the budget goes in recurrent costs like salaries and the maintenance of government
(4) Just to put everything into context, Egypt’s 2019 annual budget was $95.8bn, while South Africa spent $103bn in 2017. With our population growing at a rate of 2.6% a year and our budget remaining stagnant at $28bn, we are practising economics of the madhouse. We simply do not know what we are doing as a nation. Even Jesus Christ could not make $28bn work for 200m people. It is a bigger challenge then feeding 4,000 people with five loaves of bread
(5) Both Egypt and South Africa have smaller GDPs than Nigeria yet they are spending about three times more than us. Apart from the fact that we need to spend more, we also need to generate much more wealth. I take the view that if Nigeria has a GDP of $2trn and a budget of $200bn, we will start to live at ease with ourselves
(6) For me, the big question is how do we generate more wealth. Simply put, we need to force the issue as this gradualist approach of waiting for foreign investors is simply not working. They demand that everything becomes perfect and we meet all kinds of conditions before they invest $1 in Nigeria
(7) Aliko Dangote once said he does not know of any economy in the world that was developed by foreign investors. He added that every economy is always developed by local investors such as himself
(8) In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has developed a unique way of attracting investment. He gathers all the oligarchs in the Kremlin and gives each of them targets. Anyone who fails to meet their investment targets gets charged with tax evasion, is sent to jail and their businesses get seized. Nigeria simply needs to find a similar way to force this issue
(9) There are two sets of very wealthy people in Nigeria at the moment – the oligarchs like Dangote, Otedola, Adenuga, Alakija, etc and the religious oligarchs like Adeboye, Oyedepo, Okotie, Joshua, etc. Any Nigerian President who is serious about moving our economy forward has got to compel them to invest in the economy as without that, the country will just collapse on top of our collective heads
(10) Were I Nigeria’s president, I would invite all of them for a Christmas dinner at Aso Rock on December 25 and allocate investment quotas to them that look something like this: Dangote – $20bn in cattle ranches, dairy factories and leather tanning facilities; Oyedepo – $20bn in rail; Otedola – $10bn in footwear factories; Adeboye – $20bn in steel plants; Alakija – $10bn on toll roads; Adenuga – $20bn to dredge the ports of Warri, Port Harcout and Ikot-Abasi; Joshua – $10bn on food processing plants and Okotie – $10bn on power plants. Does anyone else have a better alternative about how we attract investment into Nigeria? If they do, I would like to hear it!