Nigeria Heading The Wrong Direction, Onuoha, Awoyemi Lament On Wasteful Spending By Govt - EDU-BIZNEWS


Monday, December 11, 2023

Nigeria Heading The Wrong Direction, Onuoha, Awoyemi Lament On Wasteful Spending By Govt

Confronted by a myriad of issues including bloated cost of governance, high-level profligacy by government across all tiers, fiscal crisis and a misalignment with monetary policy, Nigeria is headed the wrong direction. 

This was the consensus reached by two top-rated finance experts, Mr Ugo Onuoha and Mr Olufemi Awoyemi who were Guest Speakers on the popular interview discourse, Boiling Point Arena on Sunday. 

Mr Ugo Onuoha, a development expert and erstwhile Managing Director/Editor-in-chief, Champion Newspapers, who was first to fire the salvo, identified lack of visionary leadership as the bane of Nigeria's problem, noting that the country simply went on spending spree but failed to plan for the future.

To him, the bane of Nigeria's problem is that "there has been a succession of political leaders who couldn't think beyond the bridge of their noses and by their actions, the country's progress and development have become stunted"

Mr Olufemi Awoyemi, Chairman/CEO, Proshare, in corroborating this viewpoint, lamented that Nigeria has a "spending problem built around institutionalized indiscipline".

Awoyemi said: "One of the stark examples of profligacy in Nigeria's governance is the high cost of maintaining political office holders who live posh lifestyles funded by the public treasury.

Boiling Point Arena, the 14th in the monthly installments of the online interview discourse, is the brainchild of Dr Ayo Arowojolu, a media professional with 33 years multi-varied career experience spanning the Media, Banking and Education sectors.

The two Discussants spoke on the topic: Speaking on the topic: "Dismantling Profligacy in our Governance System and How to Chart the Path to Nigeria's Economic Revival".

Answering questions on the programme which held via Zoom and transmitted live by an Abeokuta radio station, Sweet 107.1FM, Onuoha said the nation failed to manage the excess income during the oil boom days.

Onuoha said further: "Our problem has been a succession of leaders without vision. Countries that have visionary leaders have policies that they cannot spend certain amount of money which goes into reserve. That is why some of them have excess crude account running into several billions of dollars.

"They have built a buffer over the years, but we felt that we have excess revenue and we didn't know what to do with it and that was wrong and that was part of the problem that has caught up with us today.

"We didn't see tomorrow. We did not think strategically, we fail to diversify our income revenue when we should, we fail miserably and that is why we are paying for it. It boils down to leaders who have no vision."

Onuoha said that despite the talk around diversifying the economy by successive administration, the country is still dependent on revenue from crude oil. 

"Our sole problem is the lack of vision. Our leaders couldn't think beyond the bridge of their noses. Our leaders couldn't see tomorrow. Our leaders couldn't identify areas in which we could have invested."

"Every regime in the last 24 years have talked about diversifying the economy. How much have we achieve? Virtually nothing! We still demand on crude oil sales and when there are problems the shock is so enormous on our revenue and well being because we don't have control over the market or the pricing.

"I am still not fully persuaded that we have started moving in the right direction in term of making our economy a lot less dependent of crude oil."

Also speaking on the same topic, Olufemi Awoyemi said legislative and executive spendings as well as the huge debt and fiscal management accounted largely for the negative impact on the economy and bloated cost of governance.

Awoyemi lamented: "Spendings on high 
salaries and allowances, unaccounted
security votes, a retinue of unnecessary aides, and extravagant spending on official quarters and vehicles are some of the examples of profligacy in Nigeria's governance.

"For instance, members of the 9th National Assembly were to receive N4.68 billion as a take-off allowance, a sum that includes substantial allowances for furniture and 
accommodation.This kind of spending is seen as excessive, especially in comparison to what similar officials earn in other countries. 

"Another example is the procurement of brand new 2023 models of Toyota Land Cruiser and 
Prado Sports Utility Vehicles that will cost the nation at least N57.6 billion in total for 
lawmakers, which has been a subject of 
public criticism. 

"However, this  practice has been criticized as insensitivity to the economic hardships faced by average Nigerians and a 
deviation from the government's monetization policies".

The Proshare Founder also criticized Nigeria’s debt management policies, saying "Our external 
debts have grown significantly ($43.2 billion as of June 2023), and a large portion of government revenue is now used for debt servicing and the increase in borrowing, mostly for recurrent expenditure rather than capital projects, has further strained the economy and have
contributed to high inflation rates and the devaluation of the Naira."

The keynote Speaker, Olowu of Owu Kingdom, Oba Prof Saka Matemilola who chaired the interview discourse charged Nigerians not to relent in their hope and faith in the imminent transformation of Nigeria through their collective efforts.

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