Economic crisis troubling —Gowon

Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), on Thursday, declared that the present economic crisis bedevilling the country is serious and troubling, even as he said the  fight against corruption is a fight that must be won decisively.

Speaking at the Northern Nigeria Stakeholders Town Hall Engagement, organised by CITA NGO at Arewa House, Kaduna, Gowon said “corruption has made good governance impossible in Nigeria.”

According to him, corruption has rendered public institutions, including regulatory and judicial agencies sterile.

Gowon said  “corruption has also caused deterioration in the quality of infrastructure, healthcare delivery and education among others,” which has ultimately robbed government of the respect and loyalty of ordinary citizens, just as it erodes the authority of the state.

He  described the current economic situation facing the country as “one of the very serious and most troubling economic crisis.”

He said  “challenge to the economy is multifaceted and caused in part, by the uncontrolled, unregulated flow of oil revenue into the Nigerian economy, which encouraged importation of consumer goods and lack of planing vitally killed domestic production, which in turn caused unemployment and its anti social consequences.”

“I believe that the trouble and problems we have gone through in the past few years had helped Nigerians to see more clearly the difference between a self sustaining economy and one that relies totally on wasting asset such as oil,” he said.

He  said  stakeholders have a roll to play to sanitise the system and urged them to do their best.

“The fight against corruption is a fight that we must overcome, we must win it and win it decisively,” he declared.

Guest speaker at the occasion and governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, in a paper entitled “Nigeria’s path to growth and prosperity,” said the situation which the country  found itself had necessitated the need to address critical areas, which would enable the growth and productivity of business.

According to him, “the path  to growth and prosperity is investing  in basic infrastructure like roads, airports, railways and information technology as well as enhancing fiscal policy more than ever before.”

Represented by the zonal director of CBN, Kaduna, Alhaji Ahmed Gusau, the CBN governor said the agricultural sector remains the backbone of the nation’s economy, stressing that “whatever  we can do to jumpstart growth, we cannot afford to ignore the agricultural sector,” adding that it  remains the largest employer of labour and contributes 42 per cent of the nation’s GDP.

“We are gratified that the CBN’s borrower’s Programme, together with other initiatives like Commercial Agricultural Scheme and NIRSAL, are proving to be successful in several states.

“To date, the bank has committed close to N23 billion in the Anchor Borrowers Programme with active participation across 14 states of the federation.

“In addition to the actions of CBN, we also have to consider attracting private sector leaders who will commit themselves to invest in certain agricultural produce on a large scale while government may need to give some incentives to encourage them to invest.”

He added that  non-oil export would be pursued to reduce the heavy dependent on oil revenue.