• Says Nigeria needs fiscal federalism to be true federation, commends CBN on redesigning naira

The 58th President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Mr. Tijjani Musa Isa, has tasked Nigeria’s political leaders on delivering improved productivity in the economy, security and governance in order to create enabling domestic conditions that would stem the tide of brain drain afflicting the country’s economy.

Isa said this yesterday, in Lagos, during a press conference to mark the global celebration of the International Accounting Day 2022, where he commended the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) decision to redesign the naira. However, he said Nigeria’s federalism was presently structured in a manner that would hardly enable the economy to grow.

He said: “The November 10 commemorates the day in 1494 that Venetian Mathematician, Mr. Luca Bartolomeo de Pacioli, published his critical work titled ‘Summa de arithmetica, geometria, proportioni et proportionalita,’ which translates to ‘everything about arithmetic, geometry and proportion’ that included analysis and documentation of bookkeeping practices.

“This publication was the foundation for further advancement of accounting and positioned de Pacioli as ‘The father of accounting.” 

Commenting on the brain drain affecting the nation, the ICAN President noted that, “there is no forced labour in this country. So, the point is that we should create the enabling environment if we do not want people to leave the country. 

“I was a student in The United Kingdom (UK) for six years, three months. I lived in London for five years. But it never crossed my mind to remain in The UK. My return ticket was with me all through because the jobs were here in Nigeria.

“I got two jobs on the day I finished my NYSC, one from the Kano State Government and another from the Bank of the North. Now your child will finish NYSC and stay in your house for five years or more because the enabling environment is no longer available.”

He also pointed out that there was no incentive for a medical doctor that trained in Britain and exposed to excellent enabling environment to remain in Nigeria where he might not be able to have access to simple diagnostic equipment.

The president of the ICAN said creating enabling environment also demanded infusing Nigeria’s federalism with fiscal content and improving local value addition of commodities and products that are exported from Nigeria.

He said: This country is structured in a way that the economy will hardly grow because our federalism is only in a name. There is no fiscal federalism. The oil we are taking from the South-south belongs to the South-south if we are operating a true federalism. That was how the four regions in the First Republic developed and made their economies very healthy. Our federalism should be a reality and not in theory.

“Again we have to look at our economies in terms of value addition. What value are we adding to the crude oil we export? Do we have the technology for the oil exploration? Do we have the technology for oil drilling? Do we have the technology for transporting the crude from the oil wells to the oil tankers? No!

“What are we doing to develop and exploit our God given landmass? What has happened to out textile industry that has tremendous multiplier effect in terms of the value chains in the textile industry from growing the cotton and rolling it out in fabrics from the textile mills.”

He added that insecurity has so much degenerated that farmers in Zamfara State would pool N172 million as ransom to bandits before they could go and harvest their farm products.

Isa also acknowledged, “the CBN’s objectives in its recent initiative to redesign the Naira: discourage hoarding of bank notes by members of the public, address the worsening shortage of clean banknotes and reduce the increasing risk and ease of counterfeiting.

“While ICAN would soon release its position on this policy initiative, it suffices to say that the CBN should consider the views of the various stakeholders and ensure that critical issues (such as the cost of designing and printing the new currency notes, the timing of the policy, the policy’s likely impact on inflation and exchange rates) are satisfactorily addressed.”

He, however, noted that the naira, which depreciated on the parallel market last week, could not be helped.

“You can hardly control the rate of your currency if you are not an industrialised country. That is the truth. This problem started with the Structural Adjustment Programme, which to me was implemented more out of political expediency than economic expediency.

“I think the government then wanted acceptability by the West and was ready to destroy our economy to please the West and remain in power. I may be wrong. But what were the elements of SAP? And how do you expect Nigeria to float its currency when it was not an industrial power?” he asked.