Wednesday, 15 June 2016

President Buhari article about Nigeria on Wall Street Journal

Nigeria is at a crossroads. Just over a year ago, people voted in a
historic democratic election to end corruption and business as usual,
opting instead to build an economy that delivers for all Nigerians.
The old order was based on an unsustainable commodities supercycle.
While the boom had many positives and contributed to Nigeria becoming
Africa's largest economy, it fostered an epidemic of corruption and
inefficiency. Foreign businesses and financial institutions also
benefited as some people spent and sometimes hid huge sums abroad,
lifted by the rising tide of oil exports and dollar revenues.
Now we are living in a new world of low energy prices. The economy has
slowed while unemployment and inflation have jumped. Longstanding
structural imbalances and overdependence on imports have been cruelly
exposed. We are an oil-rich nation that imports most of our gasoline.
We are a farming nation that imports most of our basic food staples.
This is simply not acceptable or sustainable.
Our solutions must be in proportion to the challenges. Fundamental
change takes time and we are driving not one but three changes to
reposition Nigeria for inclusive growth.
• Restore trust: We have begun to tackle the endemic corruption and
mismanagement that is crippling our economy and corroding trust in our
institutions. The anticorruption fight is at the heart of combating
poverty and improving security. We have stepped up enforcement and new
prosecutions to get our house in order, and I have called for foreign
governments to work with us to identify where funds stolen during
previous administrations are lodged and for multistate cooperation to
combat oil theft.
Fighting corruption is not enough. We need accountable government and
a public sector that can do more with less. We have already taken
initial steps by bringing all government finances into a single
treasury account where we can monitor spending and impose discipline,
implementing zero-based budgets and benchmarks targeted at waste and
fraud, and establishing electronic platforms for government agency
interface.
• Rebalance our economy: In a world of lower oil prices and dollar
revenues, the only sustainable path is to reduce Nigerians'
overreliance on imports. We must rebalance our economy by empowering
entrepreneurs and producers, big and small, to create more of what
their fellow Nigerians demand. The supply of foreign exchange to the
economy must be increased. This requires radically increasing exports
and productivity and improving the investment climate and ease of
doing business.
Nigeria's growth and job creation will be led by the private sector.
We are a young, entrepreneurial society with vibrant success stories
in new industries such as telecommunications, technology and
entertainment. Government is doing its part to lower taxes on small
businesses, eliminate bureaucracy to bring the informal economy out of
the shadows and provide development funding for priority sectors such
as agriculture. The central bank has moved to introduce greater
flexibility in our exchange-rate policy. These actions are a
downpayment on our people's ability to succeed.
• Regenerate growth: We must reposition our economy by attracting
investment in domestic industries and infrastructure. Nigeria has huge
untapped gas reserves and also a critical shortage of electricity. Our
private sector loses too much of its revenue due to brownouts and
power outages. Half of my fellow Nigerians have no access to the power
grid. Investment in our power infrastructure, restructuring of the
state-run oil-and-gas sector and development of other industries such
as solid minerals, metals and petrochemicals will help to create a
virtuous circle of growth and exports while creating jobs and reducing
poverty.
I am optimistic that our actions are providing the breathing room
Nigeria needs during this period of fundamental change. But we cannot
improve living conditions and restore fiscal health without making
people feel safe and secure—just as we cannot defeat militancy without
reducing poverty and dislocation.
One of our main achievements this past year has been to unite regional
and global allies to push back Boko Haram. What we do in the next
three years to build an economic bridge to Nigeria's future will be
just as important for bringing lasting peace and prosperity.

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