“We are proposing about nine geo-economic zones in the country to support the geo-political zones that we have…”
Adamu Garba is a presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He speaks of his plans to revive the economy and improve the power sector.
Nigeria just barely came out of recession even though inflation rate is still high and the cost of food has skyrocketed. If you win the ticket of your party and the election, what plans would you put in place to revive the economy?
My chances of winning our party’s ticket are very high because I am confident in my capacity to govern. This is the time for youths to get more involved in governance and inject fresh ideas into how things should be done. I plan to carry out what I call the three-R system. The first R is defining the principle of what it is to be a Nigerian. We need to reawaken the consciousness of Nigerians to understand that this country is an economic entity, an economically integrated unit which has nothing to do with politics.
Politics is what is dividing us and because of this extreme politics, we are split into several structures which has created a lot of confusion around us. We have created geo-political zones which are actually supposed to be geo-economic zones but we would try to transform them back into geo-economic zones. We are even proposing about nine geo-economic zones in the country to support the geo-political zones that we have. We have different tribes and religions but we are not the only country that has these kinds of arrangements. If you look at Indonesia, they have about 800 tribes, China about 446 tribes and India too, yet they are united because they have a platform that keeps them together as one nation which makes them understand that the failure of one tribe in the country is the failure of other tribes.
If for instance, I have a stall in the market and I have to trade with somebody from Zamfara State and I know that I have a strong presence there, no matter how influential I am in the market, if he is affected negatively, it would automatically affect my own productivity and output and also profitability. If I succeed in emerging as President, I am going to function in two roles; as Chief sales officer for the country trying to market the country and as chief security officer.
As the chief marketing officer, we would market Nigeria as a new brand and that brings me to second ‘R’ which I mentioned at the beginning of my interview and that is rejuvenation.
Now on the rejuvenation part, it would be a complete process of building an enabling Nigeria for effective productivity. How do we do that? We would do that by focusing on the economy. We want to run a legalised capitalistic market economy, and before we start that, we need to look into key economy indices that we need to address, most especially inflation. To tackle inflation, you need to build up your supply.
When you investigate, you would find out that most of the factors that cause inflation is the cost of goods and service delivery; it is a very difficult process because we don’t have the supply chain and there is the issue of infrastructure deficit. These makes supply very difficult and we need to bridge that gap.
So we would focus more on making sure we put a serious Central Bank governor that is investment friendly, somebody that will not just pick the dollars and share with politicians but make sure that whenever funds are approved, it goes to addressing the infrastructure deficit. How do we build our roads? What do we need to do to utilise Rivers Niger and Benue because these are one of the strategic advantages that the British realised when they came to Nigeria. They can be a good source of land waterways traffic, and if we are able to dredge Rivers Niger and Benue, transportation of goods and services on water would be eight times cheaper than it is on land. When this is done, it would naturally bring down the cost of living. We also plan to build about 40,000 kilometres of roads across the country. Nigeria has about 193,000 kilometres of roads and from independence till today, we have succeeded in paving 29,000 kilometres of roads; that means there is gross under productivity in that area. So we need to extend it to 40,000 kilometres.
How do you plan on improving electricity supply seeing that the country has grappled with power failure for decades?
Nigeria has the capacity to produce all the electricity that is needed in this country. But we abandoned the resources that we need for electricity and are focusing on things that are relatively not really of high value especially in modem age. Our hydro gives us only 19.5 percent electricity generation out of the so called 5000 megawatts. This is grossly inadequate. We have coal in Nigeria, more than two billion tons of coal. Between Enugu, Anambra, Kogi, Gombe and Nasarawa State, there are large deposits of about two billion tons according to Nigeria Coal Corporation. We abandoned them after the civil war simply because of some political considerations and we are now focused on hydro. We also have gas; one of the largest gas deposit reserve in the world is in Nigeria. We consume gas by bringing 5,000 kilometres of pipeline across the country to power our homes but we need to export more of it to get the dollars that comes into CBN. We can also use solar power to supply energy. We have large amount of sunlight from Sokoto down to Maiduguri which can be harnessed to provide solar energy instead of depending only on hydro power. We can generate up to 40,000 to 45,000 megawatts of electricity which is sufficient power to handle productivity in the power sector. Then on trade, we would concentrate on formulating a sound fiscal and foreign policy because for a long time our foreign policy has been heavily political. What the country needs now is somebody that will bring dollars into our economy through foreign investments. So, when we are dealing with countries, we should be able to know our demands; what are you bringing into the country, what do you have, how do we gain from that? We import so much consumer goods in this country and as I was discussing with someone, we have spent over N300 billion on consumption of consumer goods in a short time, the problem is that we don’t even properly negotiate most of what we import; we should have a good negotiating power whereby we can get goods at a reasonable price in exchange for something. We should not just throw our forex away; we should negotiate from the position of strength.
For instance, if you investigate some of the products we import like vehicles, you would notice that most of the transactions are done through middlemen which usually increase the cost of purchase. Nigeria can go directly to the motor companies and negotiate terms of importation at a very good rate in exchange for skills.