Mrs. Ezekwesili was one of the speakers at The Platform, a public policy forum that happened in Abuja over the weekend.
She said President Muhammadu Buhari’s current economic policies are similar to those he promulgated during the military regime he led in the 1980s, a former Minister of Education and social critic, Oby Ezekwesili, has said.
Mrs. Ezekwesili said Mr. Buhari’s “archaic” and “opaque” economic principles are not only encouraging massive corruption and abuse of power, but also hurting the poor they were intended to help.
“During the first coming of this our new president, a command and control economic system was adopted.
“During that era, inflation spiralled. During that era, jobs were lost. During that era, the economic growth level dipped,” Mrs. Ezekwesili said. “That era wasn’t the best of eras in economic progress.”
“What did not work in 1984 cannot possibly be a solution in a global economy that’s much more integrated.”
Mrs. Ezekwesili said Mr. Buhari was rehashing the same “command and control” approach towards economic issues which has left the country’s economic indices worse off since he assumed office almost year ago.
“In over one year, the president is still holding to the premise that command and control is the only way out,” Mrs. Ezekwesili said. “In a year we have lost the single digits inflation status we maintained in past administrations.”
Mrs. Ezekwesili said Mr. Buhari’s distortion of foreign exchange system has left the poor it was intended to support even worse off.
“The president comes into this economic philosophy on the premise that he does not want the poor to suffer. I can relate to that, a leader must not allow the poor to suffer, especially a leader who knows that most of his votes came not from the elite but from the poor.”
“The problem though is that the intention and the outcome are diverged.
“The weakest and the most vulnerable suffer the impact of inflation the most. Enormous power is being abused as a result of opaque economic policies.
“Companies are suddenly finding themselves unable to produce because they’re unable to access foreign exchange,” Mrs. Ezekwesili said.
Mrs. Ezekwesili, therefore, urged Mr. Buhari to sit down with his administration officials and reconsider the impact his polices have had on the nation’s economy, quoting an American parlance that says if something is not broken there’s no need fixing it”.
“Mr. President should sit with his team and look at the economic evidence that speaks loudly. It’s time to sit back and review the well-intended idea of command and control economic principle.
“He should do what the Americans say that if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it,” Mrs. Ezekwesili said.