The nation’s economic terrain over the major part of our post-Independence era could be best described as, “a land of abundance flowing with oil and gas”.
Prior to these discoveries, the three major regions in the country were known for their agricultural exploits on certain cash crops as Cocoa (in the West), Palm oil (in the East) and the Ground nuts (in the North). These agricultural products made waves globally at the early stage of our national life. At the international circle, the nation’s annual trade balance on agricultural produce constantly netted surplus for the three regions respectively.
This led to the manifestation of the regional corporate organizations that flourished and some of the very successful gigantic developmental projects like the “Cocoa House” in Ibadan (for instance). Other historic landmarks that were recorded as a result of their hard-work, resourcefulness, diligence, transparency and accountability; led to the Malaysian delegation that collected the oil palm seedlings from the Eastern part in the sixties. Today, Malaysia is the foremost exporter of palm oil and allied agricultural produce (along its value-chain) globally.
In the present economic and social dispensation, the Petroleum sector has contributed immensely to the growth, physical development and the political dynamics of the state called Nigeria, as a corporate entity. Source of funds and the means for governmental expenditures, structurally hinge on the revenue generated from our major and almost “a lone source” (the extractive operations in the international oil market) best characterized as a mono-economy, where virtually more than 90% of both the nation’s income and the recorded profligate spending made, directly correlate around our foreign reserves (the nation’s current account).
It is therefore noteworthy to say that our current infrastructure underdevelopment, stunted economic advancement and growth after several decades of our corporate existence is nothing short of our reckless and prodigal expenditures clause under the ledger of government recurrent expenditures in all the past budgetary appropriations. Wastes, overspending without strict financial prudence and discipline counters the proverbial principle of a miserly thought that teaches and advocates that, “the firewood reserved at dry season is most usefully consumed and burnt at the rainy season”. These attributes of good leaders saving for the ‘rainy-day’ should be embraced by all citizens of our country who are placed in the exalted political positions that demand responsible exemplary leadership. Our nation had not been fortunate enough to enjoy consistency in good governance without a corrupt political overhang since our political history.
The major reason being that other-people’s oriented leadership always strives and always aims at a continuously and progressively improving on the people’s general well being. One should site classical examples in the governance of the former Gombe state (Senator Goje), the Rivers state governor (Chibuike Amechi) and the Lagos state governor (Fashola, SAN). They may be addressed as leaders that are equipped with the fear of God. They are able at all times to protect and defend the poor and the needy through godly & mass-oriented policies and programs by their people’s centered, selfless services at all times (they are never oppressors) and that is the clear manifestation of the challenge of leadership.
As stewards, they throw “self” overboard and only seek responsibly to satisfy the led at all times. We are talking about the leadership posture that demands a total sacrifice in “service to the people”. With the Excess Crude Account (ECA) and the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) as veritable tools for socio-economic emancipation through growth and development. The level of light thrown into a recent discussion by some financial experts and the recent insight given by the Minister of Trade & Investments (Olusegun Aganga) on how the 34 trillion naira investments were going to be funded within the next four years; I stand to urge the governors to have a rethink over their latest stand on the SWF.
If every person is well tutored on the workings and utilization of the fund, it would be appreciated that such fund wasn’t going to be an idle financial source but, one that would encourage, spur and ginger even foreign investors to get attracted into the economy, considering the confidence and signals of a stronger financial base it portends on the economy. The transformation agenda focuses real hard on the manufacturing sector development. No remarkable success shall be recorded without the necessary infrastructure not properly fixed and put in place in the system. They could be fixed by even some state governments through such internal grants of funds SWF, being actively utilized in providing necessary enabling environment for economic and commercial activities to thrive and propel macro-economic growths in all sectors of the economy.
The choice of ECA that is constantly shared out among the three tiers of government keep putting a wrong picture in the minds of many Nigerians as, a sharing of the “national cake” without preplanned program of reinvesting such funds (into the future). The SWF on the other hand, paints a very promising picture of diligence to serious business and duty; armed with a programmed physical development plan that ultimately impacts positively on economic empowerment and growth. With the curtailed recurrent expenditures, let SWF be actively utilized and exploited towards economic growth.