Tinubu and free-market economy, By Segun Adediran

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By Segun Adediran
In the eleven months or so, Nigeria’s economy has been moving from one crisis to another. From the pangs of the Godwin Emefiele-led Central Bank of Nigeria’s naira notes “colouration” the fuel subsidy removal, the exchange rates floating to a gradual electricity subsidy removal and now, a paralyzing fuel scarcity, the economy has been gasping for breath while the mass of the people grapples with pain. Even the rich also cry! The right question to ask, therefore, is this: will there ever be a respite for the economy and a relief to the people on Tinubu’s watch?
On May 29, President Bola Tinubu will clock one year in office. One area where he hit the ground running was the economy. With a rare bravado, he declared that the fuel subsidy regime was dead and buried. Barely a month later,  the Central Bank of Nigeria’s new leadership cleanly floated foreign exchange. Both actions pointed unambiguously that Tinubu was prepared to take and lead the economy absolutely from a pseudo-mixed economic model to a free-market model.
A free-market economy is the backbone of a prosperous and innovative society. By allowing individuals and businesses to operate freely, without excessive government intervention, we unleash the power of competition, creativity, and entrepreneurship. This leads to efficient allocation of resources, increased productivity and innovation, economic growth and job creation. Other pleasant results include higher standards of living, and greater individual freedom and choice.
Decades of experience have taught us a bitter lesson of government intervention and over-regulation of the economy. It has stifled innovation, created corruption-riddled monopolies, and led to economic stagnation. In contrast, a free-market economy, which the Tinubu government is vigorously pushing, will reward hard work, risk-taking and innovation. It will equally drive progress and improvement in all aspects of life. By embracing the principles of a free-market economy, we can build a dynamic, adaptable, and resilient economic system that benefits all members of society.
I perfectly understand that this is the ultimate goal of the Tinubu administration. And it is, indeed, the path Nigeria should have taken the longest time. But bad and ignorant leadership has brought the economy to its knees and created misery and excruciating poverty for the people.
Ignorant leadership is a toxic force that can devastate organizations, communities, and nations. When leaders choose to ignore facts, evidence, and expertise, they put personal interests and biases above the well-being of others. This willful ignorance leads to poor decision-making, misallocated resources, stagnation and decline, demoralisation and disempowerment of employees and citizens, and a culture of fear, intimidation, and silence.
Ignorant leadership not only harms those being led but also undermines the very fabric of society. All this has painfully resulted in the state of anomie Nigeria is today.
Since his first day in office, President Tinubu has unmistakably shown that it’s not going to be business as usual. But as much as we believe in the path he is taking, it is our responsibility to call out deceit and ignorance in leadership and demand transparency, accountability, inclusivity, empathy and evidence-based decision-making in the pursuit of a free-market economic agenda. We must prioritize knowledge, wisdom, and compassion in our leaders, and hold them accountable for the consequences of their actions.
This is the reason why President Bola Tinubu should be regularly and constructively engaged in the task of rebuilding Nigeria. So far, the execution of his economic programme is pushing millions of people into poverty and exacerbating the explosive unemployment rate.
Creating a free-market economy requires a combination of policies, institutions, and cultural values that promote economic freedom, competition, and individual initiative. Doing otherwise will end in a political disaster for him and an economic catastrophe for Nigeria. Without a workable and productive constitution that supports a free-market economy, the Administration will just be riding against the tide. Nigeria needs a constitutional framework that will ensure separation of powers, decentralization of power, rule of law, and protection of individual rights and property.
More than ever before, the new constitution should promote private property rights, secure ownership and transferability of property, land, and resources and encourage entrepreneurship.
The Administration should break all bottlenecks and remove all obstacles in the process of business registration, licensing, and taxation to foster start-ups and innovation.
To foster competition, the stronghold of monopolistic practices must be dismantled. Government should enforce antitrust laws, and promote open markets. In the new scheme, NNPCL’s monopolistic hold on the downstream oil sector is an anathema to a free-market economy.
Minimum government is the bedrock of a free-market economy. There is a need to minimise regulations and trade barriers to allow market forces to drive decision-making.
A high taxation regime is a sure disincentive to investment, both local and foreign. Instead of the morbid rush to raise new taxes and levies, the government at all levels should encourage economic growth and investment with a fair and simple tax system.
President Tinubu appears not remarkably different from all his predecessors in fighting corruption. All that we hear from the anti-graft agencies are vivid sound bites without dental bites.
For now, the Central Bank of Nigeria is almost an extension of the presidency. This is bad for the economy.  A free-market economy requires a stable and reliable financial system. Establishing and promoting an independent central bank, ensuring sound monetary policies, and promoting financial inclusion will launch Nigeria on the path of exponential economic growth.
Any society with an uncommon emphasis on productive knowledge already has a leg up in national wealth creation. Investment in education and human capital will foster a skilled and adaptable workforce to drive innovation and productivity.
The Tinubu government should promote free trade, and open markets to international trade and investment to increase economic opportunities and competition without losing focus on the country’s industrialisation drive.
Since no society can rise beyond its cultural milieu, Nigerians must change.  We should cultivate a culture of individual responsibility and initiative, and encourage self-reliance, hard work, and innovation to drive economic growth and prosperity. The government should spearhead the patronage of Nigerian-made goods and services.
Truly, transitioning to a free-market economy requires patience, persistence, and a commitment to economic freedom. Leadership by example will make the journey less painful than what it has been this past year.
Adediran, a former PUNCH Editorial Board Chairman, wrote via

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