Democ­racy can­not take root if the Pres­i­dency does not change

Business a.m. - - COMMENT - CHARLES IYORE WO WEEKS BE­FORE THE SWEAR­ING IN CER­E­MONY of Pres­i­dent Buhari, I pub­lished the ar­ti­cle “Hope is alive again”. As the Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion winds down and pre­pares to seek a fresh man­date, I’d like to re­view from my per­spec­tives, what has hap

Tcesses.

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.

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