Recession: Expert advocates sale of national assets, extensive borrowing

FAAC: FG, States, LGs shares N647.39 billion as February revenue
United Bank for Africa

A Professor of Banking and Finance, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Prof. Josephat Onwumere, has stated that for Nigeria’s economy to be reflated, a lot of surgical operations would have to be carried out, which among them is to sell some of the national assets and equally borrow, extensively.

Onwumere stated this as the 115th inaugural lecturer of the university. The lecture, which was titled, “Financing Nigeria for Economic Development: Cornucopia/Pandorax Box?” said Nigeria must rise from the colonial fever to be truly independent and take its destiny in its hands.

The professor suggested in the alternative of outright sale of the national assets, adding that such assets could be concessioned for a period of time and the proceeds used to finance the economy.

He also said that Nigeria must borrow extensively like the N29.9 billion the federal government planned to borrow, which is now a subject of debate, pointing out that once the purpose for borrowing is made clear and how it is to be repaid, there was nothing wrong with borrowing.

Onwumere stressed that there must be increase in return to investment and lamented that borrowing from banks is a herculean task while interests they give to depositors are poor.

He pointed out that to finance the economy for economic growth, workers’ salaries must be reviewed to reflect the changing times so that the workers, because of poor remuneration, do not put their hands into vices that would give room to corruption, which could endanger the economy.

He lamented that whereas Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), seems to be on the increase, poverty is very much in the land because there is no corresponding economic development.

He blamed the decline of the economy on over-reliance on oil and said that the economy ought to be diversified for it to grow and in the process, economic development will follow.

He added that the oil industry ought to be diversified to perform optimally.

Prof. Onwumere noted that Nigeria is blessed with natural resources such as solid minerals apart from the oil, which ought to be harnessed to add to the economic development. According to him, Nigeria has a lot of potentials in agriculture that should be focused for economic growth and for the economic development.

While pointing out the potentials in agriculture and solid mineral, Onwumere noted that manufacturing and technology are areas that can quickly revamp the economy.

“Financing development means that the funds must be generated. There must be a solid structural economic base to produce necessary goods and services that will generate revenue locally and foreign exchange from exports.

“The economy must be diversified into sectors other than oil and gas. Agriculture, manufacturing and mining must be given primacy of attention,” the lecturer pointed out.

He said that to achieve all these in order to finance the economy for development, there should be planning, targeting, disciplined implementation and that all relevant hands must be on deck.

For Nigeria to achieve development, Onwumere posited that the fight against corruption must be intensified to stop financial leakages in the system, otherwise, all efforts to finance development for growth would not be feasible.

He noted that governments in the past had come up with policies aimed at driving development to no avail. Such policies as the National Economic Empowerment And Development Strategy (NEEDS), State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (SEEDS), Operation Feed the Nation, Back to Land, Vision 2020 among other lofty programmes, he said, could not achieve the desired results, adding that if Nigeria is serious about disposing its assets, it must diversify the economy and pay attention to manufacturing, education, economic development would be achieved.