When last have we wondered what ideologies our policy makers and administrators cling to in terms of the economy? Are we being guided by capitalists or socialists? Is the economic frame work they are developing based on Marxist principles or the capitalist drives of the American 20th century economists?
Is there really a frame work? I ask these questions because I believe they might point to some sort of indication as to what direction these stewards of government are taking us economically, even if it’s just a slight indication. Nigeria’s government has always preached diversification, while claiming to encourage industry and entrepreneurship. This has gone on for almost two decades and the tangible gains are few and far between. Instead we continue to see a government heavily reliant on oil receipts while the citizenry finds itself import heavy reliant at the same time.
To be clear Nigeria’s problems aren’t singular or easily fixed by simply legislating enactments or simple policy implementation (well, a combination of both can be a step in the right direction), it takes more than that because the problems we face on a daily basis in the struggle for economic survival goes very deep, deep into the Nigerian psyche. People have come to see the system working in a certain way and deviating from that despite the many long term benefits such a deviation will ultimately bring is alien to most and will naturally be met with significant resistance.
There is a growing concern on my part to identify any clear economic school of thought that our policies align with, the only one I can truly identify is political survival. A short term plan implemented by despots and dictators who seek to ensure their political longevity by simply throwing money at the citizenry till the money runs out. Yes, there might be superficial attempts to stimulate the economy through what might appear to be well thought out policies but beneath it all these attempts are barely skin deep or sustainable because most of them have been built on nothing; non-existent foundations of skilled labor, well run infrastructure or transparency that ensures an equal playing field and assures foreign investors we are worth handing their money over to.
It is a hard pill to swallow but we have to begin to tell ourselves the truth. We really are not ready for the new age of information technology and automation; in policy roundtable discussion officials still talk about job creation through establishment of industries whereas modern industrialization entails a far more significant input from automated machines with further research being developed to limiting human involvement. We still talk about subsistence farming when large scale farming projects are constantly being embarked upon capable of feeding nations and having enough left over to export.
How do we continue to discuss encouraging entrepreneurship when we haven’t created a large enough consumer base for innovative products? So who are entrepreneurs designing and developing services for when our middle class keeps on shrinking and disposable income is basically non-existent.
We really need to figure these things out.