Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) has stated that with the no-clear economic policy of the present government, Nigeria is no more in recession, but in depression.
Agbakoba, who although hailed President Muhammadu Buhari’s effort at curbing corruption in the country and degrading the strength of Boko Haram terrorists to carry out attacks on the people, scored the president below average because his government seems not to have clear-cut economic solutions to the present hardship in the country.
At a press conference held on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 in Lagos, the senior lawyer and activist said, “We are no more in recession, we are now in depression because five consecutive quarterly growth which Q1 2016 shows a negative balance is a depression. Technically speaking, you calculate growth rate by GDP over population, goods and service produced over population. Do you know the current growth rate for the Q1? According to the National Bureau of Statistics, it is 0.34. The last growth rate was two., so we lost two.
“Therefore, we are now at the depression stage. Also, if you look at all the critical indexes, you will find out that things are really bad, foreign direct investment is zero, stock market is down, petroleum prices are up, in fact no good news.”
According to him, there is no doubt that Nigeria was in a state of chaos and disorder before 2015 elections, loaded with massive insecurity, weak political structure empty treasury and corruption, but after 365 days, how has the president handled these issues?
He urged Buhari to look back in history and borrow a leaf from President Roosevelt of the United States whom he said ably dealt with the shock of the great depression that ravaged the country in the 1930s.
Agbakoba said: “And in appraising the one year of President Buhari government, we must also acknowledge the crises of the old order. So all I am saying is the crises of the old order and the hope of change, and now what has happened?
“The crises of the old order meant that things were very difficult, there was high rate of corruption, insecurity occasioned by Boko Haram among others, so how has President Buhari handled all these?
In the beginning, I was cautiously positive, but now, I am cautiously negative. I am waiting to see what will happen, but in fairness to Buhari, he has been challenged by the envisaged crises of governance that he found. These crises meant that he was bucked down. Also, more credit should go to him in respect of the anti-corruption war but the anti-graft programme is a rigmarole, and like I said, if you keep looking in the rear mirror, you don’t move. The anti-corruption programme is suffering from the equivalent of a driver who is looking in the rear mirror on what has happened behind, he is not going to move forward.”
He further noted: “We know that many people have stolen money, but what we want to see is an aggressive action plan. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other law enforcement agencies clearly don’t have the resources, capacity and skill, so the resources we could have gathered (at least 3 to 4 trillion naira from the anti-graft war) are not coming in.
“We hear a lot about corruption, although quite agreed that there have been strong action from the government in respect to corruption, insecurity has had flip flops – Fulani herdsmen, kidnappings, Niger Delta militancy, and the suppressed Boko Haram – with all these, and we need a new anti-corruption apparatus that can deliver results but let’s also agree that something has happened in the anti-graft war.”
The senior advocate said what Nigeria is really missing is what the Europeans realised 600 years ago that without peace and stability, no country can’t make progress, adding that: “For those of us who are married; if you and your wife are always fighting, you can’t have peace, so Nigeria is in a low-grade civil war because they are few places you can go without thinking about your safety, this is the low-grade civil war situation we are in the country which we don’t easily realise because we are participants.
“But if you go away and come into the country from the airport or Apapa, you will feel the conflicts everywhere, the militants are constantly blowing up oil installations which has led to 900,000 barrels of oil a day, and that is a serious situation.”
In his suggestion, he said: “We need to re-balance the federation. We need to include all Nigerians. So I think that the president appraisal in handling political stability in the country has be rather weak.
“Going forward, he needs to address how to make Nigeria a place where everybody participate, so that little issues don’t this national ramifications.”