Weak economy: Why FG must spend heavily, create jobs — Tinubu 

National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu, has noted that the country’s economy remains fragile, despite exiting recession recently, calling on the Federal Government to build on the foundation laid by the country’s founding fathers. 

Tinubu, who gave the verdict in his speech as chairman of the 2021 Sardauna Memorial Lecture held at the Arewa house in Kaduna, on Saturday, noted that the high rate of unemployment, especially among youths, is fuelling youth restiveness and insecurity in the country. 

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in its latest statement, put the unemployment figures for the last quarter of 2020 at 33.3 per cent from 6.2 per cent that it was in the second and third quarters of 2020. 

As one of the ways to strengthen the economy, the former governor tasked the Federal Government to spend heavily to create jobs for the youths and also address poverty. He drew a line between poverty and insecurity, noting that “insecurity, poverty, unemployment and extremism have many things to do with governance over time.” 

Tinubu said what the economy requires to return to buoyancy is not austerity, but to spend more even if it means the Federal Government will use its power to issue currency to make more money available for job creation and industrial development. 

He said government must not be afraid to undertake what he calls ‘activist fiscal policy,’ noting that the private sector, which he said had shown signs of weakness in addressing the challenges, lacked the capacity to stimulate the economy back to life. 

“The Federal Government can and should spend more to create more jobs for the youth in both the North and South which is key to eradicating restiveness and sundry criminality among the youth. 

“Fiscal wisdom but not necessarily austerity is required for an economy like ours in a time like this, to ensure equitable wealth redistribution and meaningful use of resources. “The years have shown that the private sector is much too weak to spur the growth we need. If the private sector could manage this feat, it would have already done so. Where the private sector is too weak or unable, the government must fill the void. 

“Take a look at the world. Those nations that recovered most quickly from the 2009 economic crisis and now from COVID-19 are those nations that most engaged in government stimulus spending to revive their flagging economies. 

“This was not by accident. It is due to purposeful policy and the deeper understanding of the nature of money and the role of a national government in saving a flagging economy,” he said. 

The APC chieftain, who spoke on the theme of the lecture, ‘Reduction of the Cost of Governance for Inclusive Growth and Youth Development in Northern Nigeria In a Post-COVID-19 era’, argued that call for reduction should be weighed against the benefits derivable from the cost of governance. 

“The development of any populous nation has always been dependent on the ability of government to allocate sufficient funds to projects and programmes that create and encourage enduring growth and employment. 

“We must reject that mode of thinking that assumes government expenditure is inherently unproductive as well as harmful to the overall economy,” he said. 

Tinubu called on the political leadership in the country to build on the foundations laid by departed nationalists, including Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe for the country to achieve its greatness He recalled that the contributions of ‘these extraordinary men’ led to the establishment of Nigeria as an indivisible and independent country. Tinubu praised the late Sardauna for standing strong among the fathers of the nation, noting that he was more than just the Premier of the Northern region. 

“The nation-building contributions made by Sir Ahmadu Bello can never be overstated. More importantly, they should never be forgotten. 

“He laboured tirelessly and with great tact and intelligence. Working together with other shining lights such as the late sage Papa Obafemi Awolowo and the esteemed Nnamdi Azikiwe, this great Sardauna of Sokoto helped establish Nigeria as one indivisible and independent nation. 

“He was one of the chief architects and builders laying the foundation for the nation destined to be the leader of Africa and a model for the black race. 

“It is upon the foundation laid by these extraordinary men that we must continue to build so that Nigeria may achieve its manifest destiny and realise the promise of a greatness too long deferred,” the for Lagos State governor said. 

Also speaking at the event, chairman of Northern Governors Forum and Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong has advocated that all tiers of government must cut down high cost of governance if they must provide the necessary amenities for the citizens. This was even as he suggested that public funds should be directed to critical areas that will improve the lives of the citizens. 

The governor was emphatic in affirming that high cost of governance had made it increasingly difficult for governments at all levels to meet the basic needs of the people. Lalong, who spoke while delivering the Sardauna memorial lecture, said funds that would be freed up from scaling down government expenses should be redirected to critical areas of development that will address challenges facing the country.

He noted that corruption, insecurity, large number of government appointees, high salaries are among the factors driving high cost of governance in the country. He stressed that this must be addressed immediately to change the trajectory of growth in the country in general and the North in particular.

According to him, the high cost of governance has worsened the standard of living in the Northern part of the country which continues to battle with infrastructure deficit, poverty, illiteracy, culture of patronage, laziness, diseases and insecurity. He said the Northern Governors Forum has seriously examined the economic situation in the region and is working in unison to address the high cost of governance and other obstacles to development. Representative of President Muhammadu Buhari at the event and his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, said the Federal Government has continued to implement various measures to reduce the cost of governance and free resources for development.

He said, so far, the results were positive and the Federal Government would work with state governments, including those of the Northern region, in adopting measures that would further reduce huge spending and wastages so that funds would be available for development. Other dignitaries at the lecture included Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State; Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State; AbdulRahman AbdulRazak of Kwara State; former Governor of Kano, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso; Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Garbai Ibn El-Kenemi; Kaduna State Deputy Governor, Dr Hadiza Balarabe; and Arewa Consultative Forum chairman, Chief Audu Ogbe, among others.

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