Nigeria’s anti-corruption campaign “may become messy”

Apr 21, 2005 02:00 AM

Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Prof Ode Ojowu, in Lagos said the current anti-corruption campaign by the Obasanjo administration may become messy.
Ojowu who is also the CEO of the National Planning Commission, was speaking during the signing of Memorandum of Understanding between the National e-Government Strategies Limited (NeGSt) and Alliance Partners also disagreed with the announcement by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Nigeria's growth rate is 3.5 %.

According to him, the anti-corruption war is going to be messy and people should make sure that they are found on the right side.
"The war we are fighting is going to be messy. No matter how messy, be sure you are found on the right side."
Asked what he meant when he said the war is going to be messy, the boss of NPC said, "already you know a war of this magnitude is messy in the sense that when you get involved, you don't know when it will end. People think, for example, that the strategy that is adopted shouldnot be adopted. That is messy."

He said as some people have continued to praise the current efforts some others feel that not much has been done. Yet others think that a lot has been done.
"But whatever it is, the truth is that the war against corruption is on and I say it is going to be messy in the sense that it is not a clean war. It is a difficult war to fight. It is going to go through many messy terrain. Mr President, even members of his family, are not spared. That is messy. That is what I meant: that is not going to be an easy, straightforward fight. It is fight to which all Nigerians must make their minds to fight; to be on the right side and to be fighting, even in our individual homes,” he stated.

The Economic Adviser said the administration was not going to fight corruption to a standstill as some have said, but that, "we want to fight corruption and defeat it. Corruption is a monster. You have to say no. Those who don't want to say no, we will drive them out."
He added that, "we used to say that there are sacred cows. There are no sacred cows again. The only ones there are, are in India." Assuring that anyone caught would not go unpunished, Ojowu said, "people must be rewarded for what they are capable of doing."

He said Nigerians must be ready for value re-orientation.
"What is your value? Are you happy because somebody has been caught that is not your brother? And the next day your brother is caught and you are now abusing government because he is your brother or do you have a consistent approach to this exercise? Do you allow your sentiments to override the issues at stake? Are we all committed or even believe that this war is too late to start?" he asked.
He said it is not too late to intensify the war now adding that "fighting an evil is never too late to start and we've not just started. It is accelerated. In the process, there are going to be painful experiences in this exercise. That is why I consider it a messy one."

On the report credited to IMF that Nigeria'seconomic growth rate was 3.5 %, Ojowu said the figure was incorrect.
"The IMF has no independent source of data gathering in Nigeria capable of determining its own GDP growth rate. The events of 2004 did not show that there was any disaster here. There was no Tsunami here. There was no social upheaval that was particularly devastating to the economic growth. The policies of 2003 were pursued with consistency in 2004 and more so with the launching of (National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies) NEEDS in 2004, there was no reason for such reversal of growth to 3.5 %. There is no basis for it, and I don't think the IMF has the authority to unilaterally declare growth rate for Nigeria," he said.

He said the Fund did not object to the figures the NPC gave to it.
"The figure is 6.1 % growth rate. It is slightly lower than the year before, but when you now look at the growth of Agriculture, and the growth of oil sector plus the growth of whole and retail trade, these three account for about 80 % of the GDP," he said.
He explained that the growth of Agriculture and the oil sector actually accounted for 4 % of the 6.1 % growth rate and that that means there was no basis for saying that the growth rate in Nigeria was 3.5 % in 2004.

He said the communications sector alone, though starting from a very low base grew as much as 30 % in the last year.
"When you now have an international organisation that has had consultation with us, and arbitrarily declare figures to embarrass the country, I think it is not fair," he said.
He also pointed out that the country has moved away from the narrow base IMF poverty reduction plan for the “so-called highly poor countries,” which by its calculation, Nigeria did not qualify for. He said the country is now pursuing a more robust NEEDS programme which takes account of not only the need to reduce poverty but also to create wealth, have value orientation and to develop private sector.

The administration "consider more robust, and the consistency of policy, the fiscal prudence, the budget discipline, that we have imposed in the system and all the other indicators including the rate of inflation you have seen are consistent with the rate of growth of the GDP. So we are not sure where they got their 3.5 % from. I think it should be disregarded.”
“I think personally that if IMF wants to announce its presence and relevance in the Nigerian economy, it should do it in better ways," he said.

Source: This Day
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