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There can’t be real economic progress without developing human capital – Prof. Munzali

What would be your agenda for the proposed economic summit by the federal government? The major issue should be how to diversify the economy. It…

What would be your agenda for the proposed economic summit by the federal government?
The major issue should be how to diversify the economy. It is gladdening that the government knows it is too risky to continue to rely on oil. We have to diversify into sectors such as solid minerals.
 For us to address our economic problem permanently, we really need to focus on building and development of infrastructure and basic amenities like water, electricity and communication. We also have to address the issues of fixed land lines. Then we need to develop our human capital. No economic progress can occur without these.
 The fight against corruption has to be formalised. If possible, some other body should be charged with leading the fight, while the president should be seen to be leading a comprehensive reform of the system and laying the foundation for a new Nigeria.
 Corruption is just one of the problems; it should not be the only agenda of the government. This is our last chance as a government to get things right and set the foundation for a new Nigeria. If we miss this opportunity then we are doomed. Not only our generation, but the generation of our grandchildren is also doomed.
 We are lucky to have a visionary leader in whom the country has placed its trust. This is a golden opportunity for us to lay the foundation of a new Nigeria through institutionalising a reform package which will make sure that things will never be done the old way.
  You can round up all the corrupt people and put them in jail, but if you do not reform the system so that corruption becomes difficult or impossible, you are wasting your time because after they serve their terms and you serve your terms, corruption will come back.
 There is still a lot of corruption going on because while the leadership is focusing on fighting corruption, the law enforcement agencies and the judiciary have not keyed in into the fight. Some weeks ago, there were reports in the papers that some officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the people investigating the top military officers in the Dasukigate, allegedly collected $15,000. This shows that they have not keyed in and they are operating with the old mindset.
 The judiciary has shown, by many of its decisions, that it is operating in a different world entirely and that if it had its way, it would actually turn the hand of the clock backwards, depriving us of all the gains we have made.
 It is time to overhaul the whole system because there are individuals who, if not flushed out of the system, would never allow reform to take place. They are deeply involved in corruption
You highlighted the need for the government to consult professionals before taking decisions on national issues. Could you expatiate?
Sometimes, government’s decisions are shrouded in secrecy. What we have been advocating is that government should be more transparent in the consultation process leading up to decision-making. We imply also that decisions or policies should be formulated using the bottom-up approach.
 In the military, decisions are taken from top to the bottom, but it is not so in a democracy because whatever you do should be in the interest of the people.
What is your take on the call for the devaluation of the naira?
Devaluation can only benefit countries that come here to do business, or for tourism. For example, it means that if you come with $2,000 from America, you can live like a king if the naira is devalued to N500 to a dollar.
 It is a simple law of economics – supply and demand. There is so much demand for foreign exchange, but there is little of it, especially because of the dwindling fortune of the country.  So, as long as you don’t restore that equilibrium between demand and supply, there is nothing better you can do.
The 2016 budget raised a lot of questions from concerned Nigerians. What exactly do you think went wrong?
 I think we are operating on the old mindset.  The current regime underestimated the level of opposition within the system. Again, the civil servants, I would say, are even more corrupt than political heads. I believe that this has been happening for a very long time, but people were in a hurry to approve the budget. And legislators didn’t mind, as long as their interests were accommodated.

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