Thursday was the 11th edition of the Bola Ahmed Tinubu colloquium, a yearly event to commemorate the birthday of the APC National Leader who turns 67 today.
Tinubu used part of his speech at the event to advocate for big government interventions in the economy, as opposed to a laissez faire approach which he described as “let’s stay poor economics.”
- He advocated against a blind following of the economic path of other nations, calling for the construction of a “Next Level progressive ideology that will take our people out of penury, diversify our economy more aggressively, and empower and retrain our youth.”
- Nigeria should not be fixated with GDP rates and similar statistics, he said. Those are intended as “suggestive measurements” not as “the destination.”
- “In the current global context, the best translation of laissez faire economics is ‘let’s stay poor’ economics,” he said. “To believe that we are at our best when everyone focuses solely on maximizing their own position is to believe that one hundred hands can clutch at the same naira note but no one will get scratched.”
Side Note: Laissez faire economics is a part of free market capitalism, and it basically argues that the less government intervenes in the economy, the better it will be for businesses. It has its critics however, including Tinubu, who say capitalism does not always protect the weakest in society.
- The key point in Tinubu’s ideology: “To pull the nation from poverty, government must play a decisive role. It must at times direct and even develop markets and opportunities. This is nothing novel. I am only restating what the established economies did when they were young and assumed their trajectories toward growth.”
He advocated that Buhari’s second term should dedicate itself to changing the structure of the economy, focusing on infrastructure, especially power.
- “I believe the second Buhari administration will work to increase electricity generation, transmission and distribution by more than 50 percent within the next 4 years. We require serious and bold reforms to achieve this.”
- He called for an end to billing people for electricity they never received. “A person should be charged accurately and only for the power that they use.”
- “We must commit ourselves to a national highway system linking our major cities and towns, our centres of commerce, with each other. This will save lives, spur commerce, cut costs and bring Nigerians closer together.”
- “Water catchment and retention systems in strategic locations should also be introduced to end the destructive cycles of flood and drought affecting many areas.”
- “Government funded social security for the aged and government backed affordable housing and mortgage facilities are things we must continue to explore in an aggressive manner.”
Go deeper: Read the full speech HERE.
Bottomline: Too much should not be read into Tinubu’s positions. He delivers a semblance of this speech every year, sometimes with the president even in the audience. Quite a few of his recommendations have however been ignored.