Sometime last year we initiated an opinion poll on our website, www.tell.ng. The trust was to determine the issues Nigerians want President Muhammadu Buhari to give priority to. The voters favour corruption, security, power and economy, in that order. So the President is in order fighting the corrupt and waging war on Boko Haram, one of the major viruses of insecurity in the land.
But experts insist that the breakdown of law and order is contingent on the pervasive incidence of unemployment and poverty. Not a few also agree that small-scale enterprises have been hobbled by the epileptic supply of electricity. All this boils down to the economy and the management of it.
Concerned for the drift in the national life, therefore, we have written many stories on the malaise of the economy and the way out. Some of the time, what we find is that some economists prescribe foreign solutions for our national problems. Perhaps that was why Ibrahim Babangida, former head of state once said that the economy had defied all theories applied to make it work. So the Editorial Board decided that we approach an outstanding expert in the field of economics to diagnose the problems and proffer solutions, looking at different case studies in the world and the peculiar situation in Nigeria.
The question then was who should do this for us? He must be someone who will not play to the gallery, one who is able to employ a vast knowledge of economics and be patriotic enough to prescribe workable, even if hard, solutions that will take the country out of the woods.
We really did not have to go too far. Professor Akpan Hogan Ekpo, director general, West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management, WAIFEM, Lagos, fits the bill. The Central Banks of Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea and Sierra Leone own the institute where he presides. So he is not strange to the challenges of developing economies. Ekpo, who has been vice chancellor in two universities in Nigeria, also consults for different local and international institutions, including World Bank, African Capacity Building Foundation, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, European Commission, National Manpower Board, National Planning Commission and Forum of Federations [Canada].
May we also whisper to you that those organisations asked for his services after his exploits as chairman of Akwa Ibom Investment Council from 1999-2007; member, Board of Utilities Charges Commission (2005-2007); non-executive director of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN (2005-2009) and member of National Economic Management Team (2008/2009). Did we hear you say ‘intimidating credentials’?
Truly, this page will not take even a brief sketch of his CV which runs into some 75 pages. Not for a man who is a member of the Nigerian Statistical Association, Institute of Public Finance [Germany], American Economic Association, National Economic Association [USA], and has participated in over 160 national and international professional conferences.
Permit us to also lay claim to this erudite scholar who has been a worthy columnist with us for a few years now. Ekpo, winner of the prestigious Nigeria’s National Productivity Merit Award in 2001 and Kwame Nkrumah Africa Leadership Award in 2003 in Ghana, believes that the best way to solve Nigeria’s economic problem is to look inward. And he communicates that with profound lucidity and authority, devoid of impressionistic jargons. His essay, How To Save The Economy, is a seminal presentation on how the country can be made good. It is the cover for the week. He has a companion in Festus Egwaikhide, of the department of Economics, University of Ibadan. Now, we are also proud to inform you that you will read the latter a little more regularly here from now on.
Supporting their efforts are two of our heavyweights in the newsroom. First is Salif Atojoko, deputy general editor, business and special projects, who anchored the special report on Worsening Fears Over Naira. Second is Tony Manuaka, senior associate editor who anchored More Troubles For The Y’hello Giant, a story that explores the travails of MTN, Nigeria’s leading telecoms operator. Manuaka and his foot soldiers, worked on it for weeks.
Glad that we fulfill our promise once again to give you an extra treat as regularly as possible.Follow Us on Social Media