Democracy cannot take root if the Presidency does not change
A large number of classical economists, 364 of them, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer took him on, but he poured enough whisky for the Prime Minister, to stiffen her spine, and she stayed the course. The rest like they say is history. She privatized under performing state assets, brought in imaginative ways of creating public assets through PPPs and PFIs, won the admiration of an equally focussed American President, Ronald Reagan, and found a Russian leader, the West could do business with, Mikael Gorbachev.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her team proved that classical economics is not the issue but their application (the technology of it) as expressed in markets that work that matter. Put in her words men that can make things happen.
Governance must focus, at all times, on the wellbeing of the individual (citizen) by constantly creating opportunities for them to reach their aspirations. It must move away from extreme ideological positions of sharing without creating, or the belief that wealth created at the top will trickle-down.
The new executive and legislature must arm themselves, with concepts of money and markets as veritable tools of analysis.
Having acquired their tools, they should use them to drive their policy decision processes, in such a manner, that the public good is always defended against the exploitative tendencies of private interests.
This is the only way to stop the fits of starts and stops which have bedevilled our privatization programme and the efforts to keep to the design plan of new cities.
If we are able to stay the course, while keeping to strict monetary targets, the markets and by extension the economy will equilibrate themselves. The levers of monetary control will begin to work again and hope will be restored.
There are many under performing and sub optimal markets in the economy. Power markets without definition, capital markets lacking in confidence, government gilts with blunting edges, healthcare without cover, farmers exploited by buying agents, skill markets that are inappropriate etc, etc.
Any place, real or virtual, where goods and services are exchanged is a market. Economic deregulation, which allows private sector participation in hitherto exclusive areas of government play, does not mean the market space will not be regulated.
Regulated to extract value through competition, while keeping a watchful eye for anti-trust and manipulations.
What needs to happen in the Presidency
I was at the swearing-in ceremony, and enthused by the President’s determination to make things work again, just like it did in the various empires that thrived in this geography (Sokoto, Benin, Kanem-Borno, Oyo etc).
Many cynics chose instead to focus on the pay line -”I belong to nobody and I am for everybody”
The empires of today, however, are no longer in that format, they are defined now, more by industrial specializations - the dairy belt, corn belt, ICT capital, fashion head quarters, motion picture entertainment sets, etc.
The Presidency in our democracy since 1999, has maintained its carryover from military rule, in which leaders brought up by line command control management style, are uncomfortable with debate.
That has to change, to allow democracy and solution driven debates take root. It is not good enough that the courtiers of the President, who are at breakfast, lunch and dinner with him are the same administrative, unelected bureaucrats. The many dining tables and conference rooms in the villa are there for him to entertain who he wishes to entertain and his guests must bring fresh ideas to resolving national challenges. It doesn’t have to be about photo ops and preferably out of the media blitzkrieg.
So why are we still unable to meet salaries and wage obligations, three years after getting on the saddle?
Is there a link between unpaid wages and weak trade and exchange activities?
What are we consuming as a nation, and how much of it is produced locally?
Do weak trade and exchange activities have employment implications?
Is unemployment linked to restiveness and public dissatisfaction?
Why are our markets collapsing one after the other?
Do we need to work on the budget laws to improve the efficiency of treasury spending rounds?
Even with the most brilliant administrative solution, such solutions are temporary and do not count in our match to civilized order, because a new administration can jettison it.
The President must invite the senate committee members, House members, captains of industry, as well as the intellectual class, he can work with, to find out why three years after, the challenges with wages persist. Such solutions can then be backed by law to sustain them.
The President will need to repeat this process with each and every challenge for the many governing efforts to count.