In an interview with The Cable, Akpan Ekpo, a former vice chancellor at the University of Uyo said Nigeria's economy would soon become like that of Zimbabwe or Venezuela if not professionally managed.
“More so, when some people running the key ministries are not in the profession that you need to look at the economy. They are either core politicians who have not been involved in running an economy for a long time,” Ekpo said.
“I will give you an example. During the tenure of late General Sani Abacha, he appointed Chief Anthony Ani as minister of finance. But Anthony said he is an accountant and that he does not think he has what it took to run the economy alone.
“So, Abacha approved for him a ministerial advisory committee. He brought in only economics and a lawyer to drive the process during that process. Go and look at the macro-fundamentals at that period. And there was a link between the ministerial advisory committee and the national economic team headed by Prof. Sam Aluko.
“So, even Abacha who was a dictator left the economy to be run by experts and the economy did well then. I was involved. In fact, I was the chairman of that ministerial committee in the ministry of finance for four years. We ran the economy.”
He said the current foreign exchange policy is affecting investments in the country
“You can see that the misalignment between the inter-bank and parallel market rates is too much. When I last check, government was still the greatest supplier of foreign exchange, and they give it to the banks to sell,” Ekpo said.
“Any bank official would be rational and want to round trip. So, the gap is just too much. And that is going to affect foreign direct investments. What you will have is hot money.
“So, when there is a recession, you adopt what is called economic nationalism. So, let's pray that the economic recession does not continue for a long time, because if that happens and we enter into a depression, we may just be like Zimbabwe or Venezuela,” he said.
He says President Muhammadu Buhari need strong economic management team to steer the affairs of the nation
“If you look at Nigeria's economic history in the last 56 years, there are some episodes where you could say they appointed technocrats to manage the economy,” he said.
“But since 1999, there have been problem because politics dominated the economy.
“The military, for some reasons were able to recruit some technocrats. I can tell you that everything about the Nigerian economy has been researched, documented and written about, before 1999. They are on shelves,” he added.