What Nigeria expects from Biden

As expected, President Muhammadu Buhari has joined the ranks of other African leaders to congratulate Joe Biden on his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States.

The president, in his message to Biden, said he looks forward to working closely with him.
The president, whose message was made known in a statement issued by his media assistant, Mr Garba Shehu, welcomed the inauguration of Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris as President and Vice President of the United States of America respectively, and expressed hope that their presidency will mark a strong point of cooperation and support for Nigeria as well as the African continent.

The president expressed hope that the Biden-led presidency would mark a strong point of cooperation and support for Nigeria and African continent.
The president congratulated the leaders and entire country on the successful transition, describing the event as a success for democracy as a system of government and for the global community as a whole.

“We look forward to the Biden presidency with great hope and optimism for strengthening of existing cordial relationships, working together to tackle global terrorism, climate change, poverty and improvement of economic ties and expansion of trade,” he said. “We hope that this will be an era of great positivity between our two nations, as we jointly address issues of mutual interest.”
The president said Nigerians rejoice with Joe Biden, sharing the proud feeling that the first woman elected Vice President of the U S has an African and Asian ancestry.

Of course, like the president, many African leaders believe that the Biden-led presidency could bring an improved, even stronger, bilateral relations to the continent that analysts say president Trump had ignored for the most part of his four-year rule.
But what can Nigeria, reasonably, expect from President Biden? For many analysts, the Biden-led administration could restore cooperative links between the continent and the United States, something the Obama-led administration favoured during his eight year presidency.

Some analysts believe that the Biden-led administration will refocus American policy in Africa and repair relationships soured under the Trump administration. They believe that the new administration is a credible reset and brings with it the prospects of a more predictable policy towards Nigeria and Africa in general in which nations will again be treated as important partners that they are and, above all, respected.

Under the Trump administration, tens of billions of dollars for food, water, education, health, security and other development needs were put on the line. The Trump administration was notorious for using aid cuts as a foreign policy cudgel, but with the Biden presidency, Nigeria and Africa in general, may not fret about USAID’s shrinking budgets annually.

Others are of the view that the Biden-led presidency could see a more targeted approach to international trade, instead of Trump’s more blanket approach.
Biden is seen as a unifier who wants to build alliances, especially with Africa and Nigeria, the most populous black nation and largest economy in the continent.

On the other hand, while it is tempting to think that the Biden-led presidency will simply extrapolate from the Obama administration, some analysts think that what is more likely is that Biden will continue Trump’s policy of “Making America Great Again” in the key area of trade.
Some analysts see Biden as unequivocally committed to restoration of American jobs and values that give power back to the American workers.

They believe that Biden will do more than bring back the jobs lost due to COVID-19 and Trump’s incompetence and attempt to create millions of new manufacturing and innovation jobs throughout all of America.
Thus, analysts are of the opinion that if things work according to their expectations, Buhari and other African leaders will have good enough reasons to throw their support behind President Biden and congratulate him on his inauguration.

On corruption and other rots in government…

A survey reviewed by some senior officials of the Nigerian government has revealed persistent corruption, duplicity of functions, poor service orientation and several anti-business dispositions in some of Nigeria’s regulatory agencies.
The Cost of Compliance Report by the global auditing firm, PwC, was presented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) on Wednesday, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity in the office of the Vice President, Mr Laolu Akande, has said.
The statement said Osinbajo, who presided over the meeting, directed that CEOs and heads of such government regulatory agencies involved should be presented with the outcomes and interaction should take place regarding some of the worrying disclosures in the report of the survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

However, regrettable as that report is, corruption is constant in society and occurs in all civilisations. However, it has only been in the past 20 years that this phenomenon has begun being seriously explored.

Corruption has many different shapes as well as many various effects, both on the economy and the society at large. Among the most common causes of corruption are the political and economic environment, professional ethics and morality and, of course, habits, customs, tradition and demography.

Its effects on the economy (and also on the wider society) are well researched, yet still not completely. Corruption, thus, inhibits economic growth and affects business operations, employment and investments.

It also reduces and wastes and misuses tax revenue and the effectiveness of various government financial programmes. The wider society is influenced by a high degree of corruption in terms of lowering of trust in the law and the rule of law, education and, consequently, the quality of life (access to infrastructure, healthcare).
However, while the need to kill corruption in all its ramifications cannot be overemphasised, there does not exist an unambiguous answer as to how to deal with corruption. Something that works in one country or in one region will not necessarily be successful in another.

Thus, in an attempt to kill corruption and deepen the reforms of the nation’s business environment, the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) recently resolved that heads of federal government regulatory agencies should be presented with the outcome of a recent survey that exposes major pitfalls in their operations.
The Cost of Compliance Report which was presented to the council at its first virtual meeting of the year revealed persistent corruption, duplicity of functions, poor service orientation and several anti-business dispositions in some of the regulatory agencies.

The Vice President said: “I am in full support of holding our CEOs to account because they, in turn, must hold their staff to account. If there is systemic corruption, bribery and extortion, and nobody is held to account, there is a problem.”
Osinbajo said that the plans of the federal government to grow the economy and change the lives and livelihood of Nigerians for the better is largely dependent on the business environment.
Still, to fight corruption, we must first understand it. Underlying the various forms of corruption – grand, political, and administrative, which include public resource transfers to private entities, allocation of public resources to political allies, and misuse of public funds – are three important factors.

The first is a lack of transparency of critical financial and other information central to economic development, in particular revenues and budgets. Second is the weakness or total absence of institutions, systems and processes that block leakages. Third, just as Osinbajo stressed, is the pervasiveness of impunity – limited political will to hold accountable and punish those found guilty of such corruption.
But the tougher problem is how to build strong and enduring institutions. Building institutions takes time and does not deliver the quick results that typically attract politicians or donors.

But it is essential if Nigeria is to fight corruption systematically and ensure long-term stability.
We are fortunate to now have technology that enables us to build electronic platforms to manage government finances, biometric systems to bring integrity to our personnel and government payment systems, and web-based platforms to provide transparency of government finances.
However, we need to go even further to see how we can deploy block-chain and other emerging technologies to underpin our contract negotiations and procurement systems that constitute themselves as a huge source of corruption and leakage in our country.

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