March 2011 - CPPA / MMF Nigerian Presidential Policy Dialogue 2011

CPPA / MMF Nigerian Presidential Policy Dialogue 2011
L-R: Mrs. Ayo Obe, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu (ACN Presidential Candidate)
and Dr. Folarin Gbadebo-Smith, MD, CPPA

A ‘Policy Dialogue with Presidential Candidates’ for the 2011 General Elections, organized by the Murtala Muhammed Foundation in partnership with the Center for Public Policy Alternatives, was held on March 8-9, 2011 at the Musa Yar’dua Centre in Abuja.

The object of the Dialogue was to get the Presidential candidates and the Nigerian populace to address issues rather than personalities in the run-up to the 2011 Presidential elections. The Foundation believes that it is time that Nigerians pay more attention to critical national issues bordering on infrastructure, education, health and poor quality of governance rather than the perennial resort to primordial and personality politics.

The Presidential Candidates were chosen after a nationwide electronic survey conducted by the Center for Public Policy Alternatives to guage which candidates the Nigerian public would want to see in a presidential debate. The results ranked the top 5 candidates for the dialogue as Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nuhu Ribadu of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Ibrahim Shekarau of the All Nigeria’s Peoples Party (ANPP), and Pat Utomi of the Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP).

Watch interviews online:

“Export Intensity on primary Commodities Does Not Retard Growth”
A Report on the seminar; “First the Horse, then the Carriage: A simple plan for Nigeria’s Economic Diversification”, delivered by Dr Melvin Ayogu of the Brookings Institution, USA

First Public CPPA Seminar

The Centre for Public Policy Alternatives (CPPA) convened its first public seminar at its office at City-Hall, Lagos on the 19th of October 2011, the lecture titled, “First the Horse, then the Carriage: A simple plan for Nigeria’s Economic Diversification”, delivered by Dr Melvin Ayogu of the Brookings Institution, probably the most prominent Think Tank in the USA.

The lecture which was attended by private individuals and staff of research institutions, government agencies and civil society groups, witnessed a robust engagement with the impediments to Nigeria’s economic growth. Proceeding from the premise of Nigeria’s comparative advantage in exporting primary commodities, based on her large stock of natural resources, Dr Ayogu argued for an export intensive framework which will help redress the monocultural focus of the Nigerian economy on oil. The benefits of economic diversification include reduction of the amplititudes of cycles especially such as occasioned by structural unemployment or a lull in certain sectors of the economy. Also, that development is driven by opportunity windows, and that such a window exists at the present time with commodities prices at their present peaks.

The need for economic diversification was reinforced by a highlight of the cyclical nature of commodity prices in the past five decades. Thus, with diversification, the Nigerian nation should have varied sources of revenue that would act as a natural hedge to oscillating prices in global commodity markets. Diversification will also help prevent a violation of the transversality condition, which Dr Ayogu indicated as a situation in which the price of one commodity or economic activity should not surpass the growth rate of the economy, which is the Nigerian economic situation in respect to oil prices.

Moreover, Dr Ayogu posits that the achievement of Nigeria’s vision 2020 will be enhanced by competitive benchmarking against developing countries such as Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, who have accelerated their GDP through the process of industrialization and diversification. Dr Ayogu in his argument, rejects the idea of a “resource curse”, which in the Nigerian situation is referred to as the “oil curse”, rather he espouses Nigeria’s endowments as necessary implements in her drive for economic development, which is proven by the rapid growth of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The need for economic diversification was referenced by the presentation of the report of a study analyzing Human Development Index (HDI) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of select developing countries, which reflects the translation of economic losses to human development losses. The study reveals that With an HDI ranking of 142, Nigeria ranks lower than Ghana at 130 and Kenya at 124, both countries earn majority of their foreign exchange earnings from export of primary commodities and tourism. The disparity in the HDI rankings is graphically displayed by Nigeria’s adult literacy rate of 78.8%, which ranks lower than Botswana’s at 84.8 % or South Africa at 89.3%. At 2010, Nigeria had the lowest life expectancy of this group at 48.4 years and highest rate of maternal mortality of 1100 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births. A diverse economy then should enhance access to education, health and employment by providing sources of revenue for government and income for a broader range of Nigerians.

Again referring to the Transversality trap, in sequencing steps in Nigeria’s pathway to development Dr Ayogu suggests the need for an informed polity as a basis for good governance, which will erode legitimizing frameworks that exists to perpetuate corruption, especially through Shell banks, Off-shore banking havens, Miss-invoicing, Value chain distortion and politics. He made an urgent call for political organization and education of the polity against validation of corrupt practices, for which he reiterated the power of social networks as a tool for canvassing for inclusive governance for the benefit of all.

Localizing the responsibility for economic growth and development in individual citizens; the imperative of collective action and political organization as a check on bad leadership was highlighted as the basis for shared growth and inclusive development in Nigeria. Understanding and accepting this concept will impact on efforts in addressing spiraling rates of unemployment and the call for infrastructure development, good governance and education; indices which will release the inherent entrepreneurial spirit in most Nigerians. Therefore, the pathway to the growth of the private sector will be charted through first, addressing political structures, delivering responsive governance through access to information and high quality education; investment in good infrastructure grows in parallel to these less tangible but critical steps.