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OPINION: Advise for Mr. President – Part 1

By Alex Abutu

Dear Mr. President,
I write you today as a Nigerian who means well for the country and wants to also ensure that your tenure as President leaves a legacy to be proud of.

Politics and politicking have ended. The time to govern the country and turn your vision into concrete realities for the people to benefit from is here.

I have taken it upon myself to write this series of advisories, well aware that I am not one of your advisors but as my President, I have the moral obligation to advise you on how you manage the affairs of the country.

You are too hasty about some of your policy measures and as a President, you should not have to apologize everytime as a result of inappropriate policy pronouncements. Since you assumed the leadership of this country, there have been policy steps you rushed to implement which required a longer time for strategy before action.

One, is the issue of subsidy removal. After all the suffering that the citizens have gone through and are still going through, we hear, the subsidy is back, haba you can do better than that. One of the things you condemned during your electoral campaign was the infliction of more injuries on Nigerians following the numerous injuries caused by the last administration.

Recently, you directed that universities should now remit 40 percent of their internally generated revenue (IGR) in a letter signed by the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mrs Oluwatoyin Madein.

The Director of Revenue and Investment, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Felix Ore-ofe Ogundairo, said the auto-deduction policy of gross IGR was in line with the Finance Circular with reference number FMFBNP/OTHERS/IGR/CRF/12/2021 dated December 20, 2021. This policy directive was rejected by almost everyone especially as it is on record that those universities are poorly funded and are even stressed to keep afloat.

The Secretary-General, Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Prof. Yakubu Ochefu, has said “If you look at the Act, it didn’t say 40% IGR, but surplus. So, who determines what is surplus? The Finance Act of 2020 is explanatory, and it is the institution that is supposed to decide and send you the surplus if there is any. But FG says it now wants to deduct it from the source. We have protested and written to the Ministry of Education. If they insist, it means they want to ground the universities to a halt. Or we will be forced to add the 40 percent to what we are charging the end users, and these end users are complaining already.

Again, late last week, the news came that you suspended that directive. Like I mentioned above, you are the President of the giant of Africa and going back to retract your statements is neither good for your person nor your office.

Mr President, you have the whole Nigerian intellectual community at your disposal to deploy in any area of the economy for sound and appropriate advice to inform policy formation. Take advantage of these groups of Nigerians to begin the formation and implementation of policies that will profit the people. Carry out due diligence so that the people are not subjected to unnecessary burden and suffering.

One of the things you need to quickly bring under control is the arbitrary increase of the cost of goods and services in the country without consideration to the purchasing power of the citizens.

This arbitrariness also applies to public and private sector operators. Why should we continue to pay for electricity that is never available or why should a 10 am flight be delayed till 4 pm and the airline cares not how passengers feel.

We need you to set up a National Price Control system that would regulate the price of goods and services within Nigeria.

There are various reasons why a country might adopt a price control system, and these reasons can vary based on economic, social, and political considerations some of which may include:

Inflation Control: Price control can help prevent or mitigate inflation by stabilizing the prices of essential goods and services. Inflation occurs when there is a sustained increase in the general price level, leading to a decrease in the purchasing power of a country’s currency. By regulating prices, governments can manage inflationary pressures.

Affordability: Price control can make essential goods and services more affordable for the general populace. This is particularly important for basic necessities such as food, healthcare, and housing. By keeping prices in check, governments can ensure that these essential items remain accessible to a broad segment of the population.

Social Equity: Price control can contribute to social equity by preventing excessive price hikes and ensuring that the benefits of economic growth are distributed more evenly. This helps to reduce income inequality and promote social cohesion.

Consumer Protection: Price control protects consumers from exploitation by businesses that might take advantage of market conditions to charge excessively high prices. This is especially relevant during emergencies or crises when there may be disruptions to supply chains.

Encouraging Investment: Stable prices create a more predictable business environment, which can be attractive to investors. A price control system that provides stability in the prices of key goods and services can contribute to economic growth by encouraging investment.

This system will fulfill one of your promises to Nigerians: to make basic healthcare, education, and housing accessible and affordable for all. Keep your promises Mr President.

 

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