The National Co-ordinator of Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Dr Anthony Omojola, has said that Nigerians are getting poorer because there is no cohesive policy to better our economy.
According to him, Nigerians are fighting for survival as “there is no cohesive policy to make the economy better, saying it’s not a surprise that even Aliko Dangote, Nigeria’s richest man, is no longer the wealthiest African.
Omojola who was speaking on the sidelines of ISAN monthly meeting to kick-start the second half of the year aired his views about the economy so far in the unfolding year of 2022, touching on the issues of the capital market, fuel subsidy, security, inflation, CBN efforts to boost food production and etc.
According to him, the only way to improve our economic fortunes is for the federal government to get serious with the fight against insurgency in the country, maintaining that the government appears to be treating terrorism with kid-gloves.
On economic outcomes within the period, he said that is a mixed bag, harping that the economy showed “strength in the sense that the federal government have tried in the area of budget implementation. Although there had been hindrances because Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) failed the government as a result of the subsidy matter. In the month of June the oil corporation was already operating at a loss and might soon be asking FG for monetary support.”
He also blamed the government at the centre for determining that ”they will not increase fuel price again during the life time of the President Muhammadu Buhari tenure. It’s my thinking that it would make a lot of sense to increase fuel price. The price could have been moved up a bit to beyond the current N165 per litre.
“For me, I think that the refusal to do that is why the revenue short fall is causing more havoc. To add insult to injury NNPC has not been living up to our OPEC oil production quota as a result of oil thieves. So, we have not been benefiting from the oil price upsurge as a result of the war between Russia and Ukraine.
”And the revenue we get, we use 98 percent of it to pay interest on our debts. It is clear we are suffering from bad economic policy. The debts are certainly unnecessary and over bloated. Instead of building up such a bloated debts, Buhari could have used private-public partnerships to build the projects that instigated them. This should have enabled us to avoid the heavy loans he took and is taking from China and other sources.
”The case of Boko-Haram and Fulani herdsmen appears to be very funny because we have not seen anyone that has been arrested, persecuted or jailed. So the government appears lackadaisical in the fight against terrorism. Buhari should step up the fight against terrorism. His appointees should be pro-active and not just pacifying the victims of terrorists after the fact. They should ensure that they are ahead of the terrorists in order to prevent their acts.”
Going further, he stressed that the second half of the year would be inflationary, saying among other things: “Naturally when elections come there are usually more money in the system. Nigerians have learnt how to spend money; they believe the politicians are rogues and those kicking against vote buying appears to be complaining because the largess being shared are not reaching them. Unfortunately, majority of them don’t vote because they believe elections are not credible that results have been written before the fact. That is that the results have already been determined before the elections.
”My only regret is that not many youths are not participating in the process. However, it would be good to see the programmes of the various political parties and see how they will reflate the economy, provide work for our teeming youths and boost economic productivity. The only cheering news for me in the oil and gas sector is the promise by FG that our refineries will start functioning again during the tail end of the Buhari tenure.
The ISAN Boss disclosed that in terms of agriculture, CBN is doing its best but government needs to put a check on bandits and herdsmen to ensure our survival and that ”FG should increase fuel price to say N200 so that that sector will stop bleeding and pacify the agencies, operators and unions, while we wait for Kyari’s NNPC Refineries year end.”
The capital market, according to Dr Omojola, is a function of the economy. “If you have more inflows, the capital market will bubble. Now as it stands, the capital market is operating within the limited conditions of our bad economy. A good number of investors are divesting or changing base. Some of the companies are leaving the country for greener pastures. Some who are not changing base are delisting.
”I must remark here that Seplat Plc and Exxon-Mobil business arrangement which was stopped by Muhammadu Buhari, who happens to be the Petroleum Minister is very wrong and sent a bad signal to the outside world. This means that the ease of doing business is yet to really take root in Nigeria. As for the exchanges, they are performing credibly well. By this, I mean the NGX,FMDQ and others.”
On ISAN, the National Co-ordinator has this to say: ”The activities of Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria was heavily impacted by Covid-19.But we have over-come that now. This is our Triennal year.
“Our Triennal year comes up every three years and it is when we hold our national conference and National Executive Council meeting, elections and gala night. We hope to chose a theme that would be very beneficial to the national economy. We also hope for support of important people in the economy and our stakeholders.”