THE socio-economic problems of the country deserve direct attack and not the indirect method of the market. Studies abound show that state –led market economy is more suited to former colonial countries. The works of Joseph Stiglitz( 2002)- Globalization and its Discontents and Jeffrey Sachs(2005) The End of Poverty—are relevant here. They teach the wisdom of adapting global ideas to suit local needs including state participation in economic activities. Experience shows that each society has a duty to design and implement development policy and programs that are consistent with its values, culture, problems and aspirations.
Let it be remembered here that when Adam Smith advocated free trade as basis of ‘wealth of nations’ he had the interest of his country in mind. When Hamilton as Secretary of Treasury insisted on using State resources to grow capitalism in the 18thc USA and Roosevelt decided to use the state funds to halt depression and save American capitalism in the 20th century both had the interest of their country- the USA in mind. The Marshall plan of the post Second World War was done with European interest at heart. Not long ago-2008, Obama, and even much earlier Bush ploughed public funds to save the USA economy from her financial crisis. Why is Nigeria so afraid to do the needful? The state must be made to lead the economy in a highly liberalized atmosphere of the market.
It was high time we made a rethink based on correct diagnosis of the problems. The question is what is the best approach to the problems such as unemployment, poverty, insecurity, infrastructure, health, education in a non-industrialized country such as Nigeria with infantile capitalist institutions? What are relevant lessons from history and experiences of other countries? More specifically how do we provide jobs for over 40million unemployed youths today, organize security for all corners of the country, promote rural development and agriculture for food self-sufficiency, urban infrastructure and general amenities, effective citizenry participation, democratize leadership and management, patriotism? Why did our public enterprises fail and how do we rectify things? It is needless to say that the current market approach will not do the magic.
We have travelled for too long on the wrong road of development and it was time to turn to the right way. The right one would consist of intelligent mix of market and state activities in which the state would lead the way. Call it state-led capitalism. The American model is only one of the cultures of capitalism. While Charles Hampden-Turner & co1993 speak of ‘seven models or cultures of capitalism ranging from the individualism of the United States to the community values of Japan’ and explained the underlying ‘values and different approaches ‘ taken by ‘each country to achieve economic success’ it should be emphasized that one of the fallacies of the later part of the 20th century was the relegation of the state to the back seat of development under the wrong notion that it has ‘no business with doing business’. . We are here concerned with national development in all its ramifications and our view is that there are better models than presently obtains say the Japanese, the Chinese model with to follow.
Still there is the need to take Soludo’s criticism of the Economic Management Team seriously especially as it seems to conflict with the role of the National Economic Council – a strategic provision in the Constitution to coordinate the economy under the chairmanship of the Vice President. It provides opportunity for the managers of the economy to meet, review development, trends, and compare notes. Unfortunately for quite a long time in 2014, the Council did not meet. He wants the Economic Management Team strengthened but I suggest its replacement with a Development Management Team to be made up of experts in all aspects of societal development and chaired by an experienced Nigerian-not necessarily an Economist – because societal development is a multi-faceted exercise far beyond the realm of economics. The state can work hand in hand with the private sector but it must lead the path to meaning development of society hence-forth.