Former governor of Akwa-Ibom state, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has said President Muhammadu Buhari should seek to co-opt members of other political parties who have economic knowledge to contribute their quota towards economic transformation, even as he (Buhari) searches for solution out of the present economic recession rocking the nation.
He gave the advice in an interview with newsmen.
Akpabio said the federal government should think out of the box in seeking for knowledge out of the current recession, adding that the right approach to growing the economy is from bottom-up and not from top-down, because “a good economic policy starts from a good polity.”
He revealed that the National Assembly was determined to produce a 2017 budget that will include the private sector so as to ensure massive economic growth in terms of reduction in the rate of unemployment in the country.
He urged the federal government to sustain the fight against insurgency, noting that insecurity was an aspect of getting out of recession because without a secured economy, Nigeria can never have economic growth.
While lamenting the multiple exchange rate regime currently in operation and the nation’s over-dependence on domestic borrowings to meet demands for funds, the senator reiterated his call for the government to go across party, ethnic, and religious lines in search for solution to the economic problems of the country.
He said: “The first thing is that the federal government must think out of the box, and we must go across party lines to seek knowledge to get out of recession. We believe strongly that it is important to grow the economy from bottom-up and not from top-down, and it is also important for us to recognize the fact that a good economic policy starts from a good polity.
“That is why at the National Assembly, we are very determined to produce a good budget and not just a budget that will be for debt-servicing and recurrent expenditure alone but a top-notch budget that will help Nigerians to get out of this recession.
“It will include the private sector in ensuring massive growth in reducing the unemployment rate in the country. We are looking at the budgeting aspect of it.
“And, we are also thinking that insecurity is an aspect of getting out of recession. We must work hard in bringing the Sambisa saga to an end. That is, the North East situation, and also to ensure that the Niger-Delta people’s’ aspirations are met. So we must work hard to ensure that we bring the insecurity situation under control. Without a secured economy, we can never have economic growth.
“We must be very honest with ourselves. We cannot continue to have three exchange rates; where we have the official rate, the black market rate, and the insider trading rate. That kind of regime cannot be good for the economy where businessmen are shut out of the system, and then the country continues to go into domestic borrowing without external borrowing.
”In 2016, 95% of our borrowing was from domestic sources, at very high interest rate; and that means, that the private sector must have a meeting with the government to borrow money from the bank and what was the result? The result was that even the Treasury Bills went up.
”The reality is that we must think about different things, and also to get our borrowings from outside the country at very low interest rates. Otherwise, we cannot think of getting out of the economic recession but if you want to know more, I think those in charge should come for consultancy.
”But we must do everything possible to work together and bring about a secured environment and also all the suggestions that we can bare to make sure that we get out of recession across party lines, across ethnic line, across religious lines.”