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(From Vanguard (Nigeria) - AAGM)
Byline: Allison Ayida
IF there is any one Nigerian who contributed so much to national development planning in Nigeria is Professor Ojetunji Aboyade. As an opening tribute to him, I should like to quote from one of his contributions to the second national development plan 1970-74, chapter 4, page 32 'National Objectives' translated as "Directive of Public Policy in the Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution."
"What Nigeria lacked most in the past has been the national sense of purpose, particularly in economic matters. The Federal Government will, therefore, occupy the commanding heights in the quest for purposeful national development and provide the leadership and honest administration necessary for the attainment of a national sense of purpose. Government intervention in economic matters designed primarily to protect and promote the public interest is therefore fully justified.
The five principal national objectives are to establish Nigeria firmly as: * a united, strong and self-reliant nation; - a great and dynamic economy; - a just and egalitarian society;- a land of bright and full opportunities for all citizens; and, - a free and democratic society. It is appropriate for the Government and people of the country to seek to give concrete meaning to these objectives and ensure their full realisation at all times. Since perestroika, glasnost and eventual collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc countries, social scientists, especially economists, have had great difficulty adapting to non-Cold War theorising on development options in today's globalised environment. The main reason for the ensuing confusion has been, it would appear, the apparent failure of traditional macroeconomic policy instruments in arresting the overwhelming tide of poverty and thus shedding further light on the nature of the development process itself.
Today, forty-one years on since political independence was achieved on 1 October 1960, confusion still prevails over the direction Nigeria is moving and what national priorities, if any, can possibly be. Good governance has become as elusive as appropriate socio-economic policies, in spite of the profusion of local and international experts and a long list of failed policies from which relevant lessons could sensibly be learned. In this lecture, I shall attempt to draw attention to some basic concepts and ideas on national development planning and current canons in this poorly understood area with a view to urging a shift in focus and thus a re-examination of major socio-economic policies and instruments, especially privatisation as presently bandied around as panacea to our ailing economy and troubling socio-economic problems. 'In order do to this, especially since human memories can be quite short and selective, I think it advisable to proceed by way of refreshing our minds about basic concepts surrounding, and the philosophy underpinning the notion of a; market economy. This shall be followed by brief comment on the idea of national development planning, and closing with the seeming contradiction of national development planning in the context of a market economy in today's Nigerian socio-economic realities and international economy.
The conclusion shall be that the wholesale privatisation of public enterprises is not likely to impact positively on our economic fortunes given the structure of the economy, import-dependent industries, and the relative lack of interest and/or incapacity of indigenous commercial and business class in engaging in those medium to long-run investments that could enhance the relative autonomous productive capacity of the economy.
The Market Economy: The common wisdom and current expert opinion is that the forces of demand and supply remain the best mechanism for the most efficient allocation of prices and thus of resources in an economy. This, it is held, removes a lot of what are called 'distortions' in the resource allocation process and achieves more rapid economic growth. The original model of a market economy as …