Lately, western economists have relied on predictive modeling and algorithm tools to set up socio economic agenda for short and long term state budgetary goals. Professionals of various government agencies in the western economies have used data mining and processing to uncover valuable treasures to promoting efficiency and effectiveness in service deliveries and resources management, tangent to the needs and wants of their respective citizens.
Often times, subsidy and deregulation – key fiscal economic tools are used interchangeably by consumers, analysts and government representatives. Supposedly, both tools are deployed into economic systems as incentive or mechanism to creating opportunities for growth and development or to rebalance acute wealth disparity among citizens of a society. They are also used as instruments to soften general economic hardship, and a phase to embolden nation’s confidence by structuring economic policies to attracting local and international investments, particularly in the more potent and risky; but growth oriented sectors of the economy. The vision and sincerity of politician’s direction on policy agenda, as part of a country’s socio economic problem solving are measured by the government agent’s ability to articulate the analytics and the project implementation process in a way an average citizen can relate with. While subsidy in most cases are cash hand-outs (common among politicians), deregulation is mostly geared towards a more efficient macro-economic initiatives that focuses on specifics; including market openness, creativity, opportunities, improved and competitive educational system, security, power, free and fair judicial system, transportation and a host of other services.
Critically, Nigeria government initiatives on policy issues are often driven by political motives rather than socio economic fundamentals. On the other hand, critics of Nigeria government policies mostly reacts on people’s emotions that often lack real substance.
The poor crude oil market has continuously weaken Nigeria economy, stressing an urgency for out of box solutions to Nigeria precarious situation. Interestingly, Nigeria policy contents have profoundly ignored the most crucial economic metric “constructive analytics” that may express a sense of socio economic direction the government should pursue.
The era of global economy has made instinctive economic remedy or trial by error resolution to a country’s policy issues obsolete. Many progressive developed and developing governments spends a reasonable share of their budgets on data management; processing and analyzing every available metrics as a guide to making rational decisions.
Why is data management critical to Nigeria government policies and its revamping efforts?
At this crunching time in Nigeria economic history, when resources are scarce and unemployment is alarming, a forward looking fiscal policies (particularly subsidy and deregulation) should be geared towards the following goals and objectives:
- Promotes efficient workflow process
- Ensure strategic goals that are consistent with country (and not) western culture
- Supports effective utilization of resources
- Improve expense management and
- Eliminate redundancy and inefficiencies.
The removal of petrol subsidy and the Nigerian government deregulation efforts, touching on some critical sectors of the economy including telecommunication and power have aroused criticisms from various quarters. The follow up reaction from Nigerians, particularly from the activists and workers union, lacked a clear adjudication of where the gains from these initiatives should be apportioned.
More important to Nigerians is a stable system that promotes business confidence, rewards hard work and ensure fairness to all. As a people, our activism, through the union leaders and concerned citizens should focus on engaging the government on the mix of policies that strikes a balance between a dynamic free market, and economic security that works for the masses through a process that ensure effective utilization of Nigeria natural and capital resources. We need to task the government on policy initiatives driven by specificity and macro-economic need that have the ability to unbundle resources yet untapped.
Nigeria government today has zero knowledge of its true demographics and the needs of its people. I wonder how a serious government can proscribe a progressive agenda for people she does not know. No business initiative in today’s challenging environment, especially in a volatile market like Nigeria will be accorded any serious consideration without a well-defined market plan. Lack of demographic data in Nigeria economic system is a draw back to new investment money that has the opportunity to unlock Nigeria economy potentials. Rather than fighting Nigeria government for subsidy removal or the selling of government elephant businesses, we should be agitating for a resource reallocation process that focuses on economic growth and the development of our societies. Data analysis relating to Nigeria students abroad who may have chosen not to return home should give us an insight into the country’s eroding capital resources, and therefore a reason to allocate a portion of the removed subsidy or a piece of the politician’s basket of pecks into revamping the country’s education system. Analysis relating to our aging farmers, and their inability to transfer their farming business to their children should be a guide to our agricultural policy. Part of gains from subsidy removal should be reassigned into addressing consumer products adulteration and counterfeiting – conscious policy measure to address this issue should attract new money as it target the country’s Customs and Exercise incompetency and the country’s porous borders. Total collapse of the Nigeria manufacturing sector should reinforce the need for a prudent budgetary system. High cost of food has left an average Nigerian no extra savings for raining days, and single parenthood is becoming endemic in Nigeria society. Outside of investment opportunities in oil and gas, telecommunication and banking, there are not many attractive sectors for investment ideas in Nigeria economy. This misfortune is not due to lack of real opportunities in Nigeria but because there are no sellable metrics to convince local and international investors of a trusting and viable market.
Obama came into the White House at the pick of recession when unemployment was over 10%, gas price was all time high, America auto industry was in total disarray and the financial sector was agog with toxic investment portfolios. He responded with a combination of fiscal and monetary measures ranging from taxing the wealthy people to subsiding public services for lower income citizens, and of course the introduction of “quantitative easing”. Since oil subsidy was removed in Nigeria, life has become harder for an average citizen, and analysts seem to be clueless as to what direction the country is heading. Currency trading is unpredictable, foreign investors are on hedge and economic activity is stalled. The government, against all odds have maintained a nuisance Band-Aid approach to the economic hemorrhaging, and government critics remained steadfast to their hypercritic-out-of-date-antics which has little or no bearing to the economic reality of today.
For almost a year, World Bank and other investment institutions have submitted a clear case, based on available economic data, that Nigeria government should devalue its currency in line with fair market value. The government ignored the fact, and waited until tens of millions of $ value stock portfolios were auctioned off Nigeria stock market and some foreign investments threatened to abandon Nigeria market before the government implemented a cosmetic and not very convincing FOREX regiment. The question again is whether the government decision to declare 41 products ineligible for a fair share in the current FOREX process is data driven or politically motivated?
If Nigeria government lack adequate data analytics about its residents, it surely has zero clue about policy initiatives that can ensure possible collaboration between Nigeria professionals in diaspora and those residing in the country. The current world boxing heavy weight champion is Nigerian born; but he carries the British flag. Some of the world best doctors, medical practitioners, engineers, accountants, lawyers, economists and other professionals are Nigerians whose yearly GDP contribution are enormous in the USA, Britain, Canada and other western economies.
Nigeria government effort on fighting corruption is fantastic, and the idea of recovering stolen money is even better, but the fact that there are no public disclosure concerning plans for the recovered money is worrisome. Nigeria economy needs liquidity now, to garner relief from the current unduly economic burden on millions of people who are hurting. Despite the country’s enormous human and natural resources, Nigeria is far away from attaining its economic potentials. As we continue to engage in political discourse as activists, concerned citizens or union members, we need to remain on track using facts and data to push for policy changes. Initiatives based on fundamentals and facts, as against emotions, creates enabling environment that is free and fair, ensuring that sincere and hard working men and women of this country are rewarded accordingly.
Long live Nigeria.
Femi Fabiyi is based in Connecticut, USA.