Thursday 27th April, 2017
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Nigeria - No shadow of turning

Nigeria - No shadow of turning

It often seems imaginative to be pessimistic about Nige­ria. And those who are, hard­ly go wrong. But reality check, also informs that the prevailing pessimism derives not from nifty analysis, but from Nigeria’s con­sistency in being an outlier. This reality is further underpinned by political muddling and growing fragmentation in governance. The year 2016 is passé, along with its good and bad. As a year of prom­ised change; of supposedly tangi­ble and progressive shift, it flat lined from start to finish.
 
In hindsight, 2016 as a change year was deplorable on all counts, except to those engaged in po­litical varnishing. Though all through Nigerians remained hopeful, activities of the past year did not in any way offer a modi­cum of hope for better governance in Nigeria. The disjointed year de­rived its impetus from a fledgling Executive Branch dogged by Leg­islative Branch hubris and the re­sultant Executive-Legislative run-in from the outset. The residual impact lingers and will either fos­ter further challenges and or re­tard envisaged progress, if any.
 
Factually, but without a clear divide, year 2016 presages year 2017, a new year, in which Nige­rians have taken to the social me­dia early to “appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari of the rul­ing All Progressives Congress for good governance.” Contextually, though not tottering on the brink, and far from collapse, a hopeful Nigeria is presently consigned to the grouping of states that are “highly dysfunctional and unable to control all its territory.” Hence, Nigeria remains the paradox that it has been all along.
 
Accordingly, prognosticating on year 2017 and what lies ahead for Nigerians, only conjures great­er concerns. Worries about Nige­ria’s inability to overcome pre­vailing governance challenges are indeed germane. Truly, there is no shadow of turning, if prevail­ing assessments are to be counte­nanced. Still, while recognizing that such challenges will not trans­late to governance stopping com­pletely or the country imploding instantly, the prospects of the po­litical and economic challenges lingering, must give any observ­er pause as the prevailing nation­al malaise may be debilitating in the long run.
 
What Nigeria needs is to re­form its governance toolkit – thought process, vision and op­erators. Elected legislators can’t run that gauntlet since it’s inimi­cal to their wellbeing; which places the onus on the Executive Branch, which retains the prerogative to hire and fire. Routine, normali­ty and business as usual won’t cut or foster change. You can’t change ways of doing business with the very template you want to change; nor for that matter, with the same insidious mindset.
 
As a matter of reduction and deduction, the successive budg­ets presented by the Buhari ad­ministration for 2016 and 2017, are stark metaphors for how not to engender change. Both mirror the other for lackluster policy and bureaucratic foggy thinking and for not grasping how to streamline policies, so that they can be imple­mented “within available resourc­es”. Granted that deficit budget­ing is almost always involuntary, but a nation committed to turn­ing around its wellbeing can’t will­fully continue to wallow in deficit. Whatever happened to the max­im “It will get worse before it gets better?”
 
Some analysts point to discern­ible fiscal and economic progress made in 2016. At best, such pro­gress represents a mixed bag with hardly any redeeming value. Cut anyway, such halting progress is not good enough, even as projec­tions are indicative of a possible 2.5 % growth in 2017. What mat­ters, is attaining the catalytic kick start required for an irreversible turnaround of the economy and bringing the stagflation to an end. To celebrate a 2.5% prospective growth as opposed to the desira­ble minimum benchmark figure of 7.2%, which is in tandem with national GDP and GNP potenti­alities, is to be uninspired. To re­hash what I’ve said elsewhere, the 2017 budget, if passed as is, may turn the nation around, but only, if fully funded and implemented.
 
Though oil prices are inch­ing up towards $65 per barrel, the $100 per barrel days is no longer attainable, outside a ma­jor conflagration in the Middle East, bigger than the Syrian im­broglio. Moreover, greater uncer­tainties lie ahead as no one knows what a Donald Trump presiden­cy will mean for Africa and Ni­geria as well.
 
Obaze is a public affairs com­mentator 

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