- As Ezekwesili cries out: Buhari’s govt refusing to change wrong policies
Boko Haram terrorists, Monday night, invaded Dzaku village of Askira Uba Local Government Area of Borno State, killed eight persons and abducted an unspecified number of women and children.
Sources in the affected community disclosed that some terrorists came into Dzaku in two Hilux vehicles, armed with AK-47 rifles and petrol bombs, with which they wreaked havoc without confrontation.
Askira Uba is in Southern Borno senatorial district and about 180 kilometres from Maiduguri, the state capital, that had witnessed series of deadly attacks in the past. An indigene of the area residing in Maiduguri, Mr. Amos Ali, disclosed that one of his sisters was amongst those abducted by the attackers.
He said: “Because of lack of telecommunication service, we could not be contacted that night. We later received a distress call from our community on Tuesday (yesterday) that Boko Haram insurgents attacked our people and killed eight before abducting several others, including my sister.
“We are worried, especially now that the military said it has eliminated terrorists from the region.” All efforts to get confirmation from the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Victor Isuku, proved abortive, as his mobile lines were not reachable at press time.
In the meantime, a former Vice-President of the World Bank, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, has faulted the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s economic policies.
Ezekwesili, in an interview in the current edition of The Interview magazine, said that the government was adamant about its wrong policies.
When asked if Buhari’s government was timid, she stated, “It’s not timidity; it’s about doing the wrong things and being adamant about them. I feel that the government has not allowed itself to be persuaded by empirical evidence as the backbone for sound economic policy choices.”
Efforts to get the reaction of the Presidency failed as of the time of filing this report as the two presidential spokesmen, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, could not be reached on the telephone.
Ezekwesili warned the government not to focus only on spending its way out of recession.
She stated, “The point is that it is the quality of the government’s economic policies that put us in the turmoil in the first instance, so, it’s the quality of economic policies, accompanied by the quality of spending that will get us out.
“So, that’s already a bad situation. The only thing you can do is to embark on a massive fiscal consolidation programme. The fiscal consolidation programme changes a lot of things, therefore, it requires a complete restructuring of government so that the cost of running government will radically reduce. When it reduces, then it eases the space for you to be able to increase your capital investment.”
The former minister said that the country would be wasting its time, if it failed to change certain things in the structure and composition democracy.
She stated, “My fear is that structurally, we haven’t changed anything. Structurally, the humongous bureaucracy remains intact. So what’s different?”
Ezekwesili said that in order to change the composition of the budget, there was a need for massive restructuring of the economy and the government.
She said, “The structural issues are very clear; we have a huge bureaucracy that you must tend to. For as long as you keep that bureaucracy intact nothing would ever work as it should.
“We want to diversify the economy. How is that going to happen? Diversifying the economy is not by making a statement; it’s by repositioning the various roles of government, the roles of business, defining those roles in the kind of ways that will enable each play their own particular roles in a different kind of way from the past. That way, it would yield a different outcome.”
She noted that the country continued to expand the bureaucracy on the basis of a single commodity that had variable fortunes.
“In less than a month, we lost 60 per cent of our revenue simply because the price of oil dropped; a major economic shock to the economy. Do you want to retain that kind of a structure? These are hard questions that ultimately require answers and in galvanising the society to face this reality. It means that it has to be a conversation for all but it has to be led by political leaders and it’s their business to define the problem properly,” she said.
Ezekwesili said many states were are not viable. “For as long as we continue to bury our heads in the sand and think that we will just keep growing the scale of government and the spending of government and somehow, because we say we want to diversify the economy, it will happen, there won’t be much progress,” she said.
According to her, Nigeria requires about $20bn annually to build infrastructure. “Our infrastructural need is that much. Where are you going to find the money if your budget is mostly directed towards running bureaucracy?” She asked.
Vanguard with additional report from Punch