The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) says President Muhammadu Buhari has not brought any meaningful reform in the education and health sectors.
In its assessment of the economy under the Buhari administration, the CDD said a number of campaign promises made by the president for both sectors have not been met.
The appraisal, which was shared with TheCable on Tuesday, was the second in a series of assessments of the president’s performance since coming into power in 2015.
The CDD said failure to pay the needed attention to the education and health sectors could hinder Nigeria’s economic growth and development.
“The education and health sectors, the core human capital sectors, have not experienced worthwhile reforms,” it said of the last few years.
“The government has failed to follow through on campaign commitments to provide free tertiary education to students pursuing STEM degrees, restructure education curricula from primary to tertiary levels, provide free quality comprehensive health care based on a national health insurance scheme, and double the number of practising physicians and health care professionals.
“Failure to prioritise human capital development not only limits the productivity of the country’s work force but also hinders economic growth and development.”
The centre added that the extent which reforms in the power sector have been successful is debatable, adding that bailout funds provided to private operators years after the sector was privatised “only creates a moral hazard problem that induces bad corporate behaviour.”
“In a worse-case scenario, operators in the power sector may become zombie companies that require bailouts in order to operate,” it said, before adding that interest payments on such loans are “likely to be passed on to consumers in the form of higher tariff.”
The CDD also faulted the government’s job creation and social welfare programmes saying although they have recorded huge successes, the method for selecting beneficiaries is “sub-optimal”.
It said this is because the beneficiaries are identified “based on opinion as opposed to having an income threshold where every earner below the threshold is sure to benefit from the cash transfer programme.”
“The current method limits the number of eligible people who are supposed to be beneficiaries and also provides opportunity for bias in the selection process,” it added.
According to the centre, although there have been economic reforms targeted at developing the private sector and improving its participation in the economy, the reforms “fail to include critical elements that continue to hinder the economy’s regulatory environment from being business friendly.”
“These include limited access to electricity and credit as well as inadequate measures towards resolving insolvency,” it said.
“In addition, the limited access to finance at affordable rates particularly for SMEs limits their expansion, and in some cases may threaten their existence.
“The implementation of the existing credit facilities for SMEs is inefficient and inequitable as the process by which the loans can be accessed and are being disbursed is not transparent, objective and egalitarian.
“Relatedly (sic), the absence of a comprehensive policy or law on bankruptcy, which stipulates transparent and enforceable rules on the decisions creditors can influence during bankruptcy proceedings, makes it difficult for commercial lenders to provide credit as well as offer the appropriate interest rates and maturity terms for loans.”
To address the identified loopholes, the CDD recommended: the reduction of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) “quasi-fiscal role”, improving credit information and sharing, more transparent government operations and reforms in human capital sectors, as well as addressing regulatory and structural issues such as bureaucratic bottlenecks and lack of enforcement of existing laws.
Source: The Cable