ASPECTS OF THE ECONOMIC REFORMS OF OLUSEGUN OBASANJO’S ADMINISTRATION, 1999-2007

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PREFACE

The focus of this study is to examine and analyze some aspects of the economic reforms of Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. The study is organized into four chapters. Chapter one is the introduction, which gives the background, statement of the problem, purpose, scope and significance of the study, as well as the conceptual framework, literature review, methodology, sources and organization. Chapter two examines the political, social and economic issues prior Obasanjo administration. Chapter three deals with the reforms in the communication sector during the Obasanjo’s administration. Chapter four looks at the antigraft economic reforms undertaken by the Obasanjo’s administration in an attempt to combat corruption by the inauguration of two key agencies (Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission), Finally, Chapter five is the conclusion, which contains the summary and assessment.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title page
Preface
List of abbreviation
Table of contents

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
Background of the study
Statement of the problem
Purpose of the Study
Significance of the study
Scope of the study
Literature review
Methodology
Sources
Organization
References

CHAPTER TWO: NIGERIA ON THE EVE OF OBASANJO’S RULE: AN OVERVIEW
Political issues
Economic issues
Social issues
References

CHAPTER THREE: INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION AND TECHNOLOGICAL REFORM, 1999-2007
Mobile communication
Mass media
References

CHAPTER FOUR: THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION (ICPC AND EFCC), 1999-2007
The Independent Corruption Practices Commission
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
References

CHAPTER FIVE: CONCLUSION
Assessment
Conclusion
References
Sources and Bibliography
Appendix

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The significance of good governance in any given nation cannot be underestimated. Therefore, the essence of governance is to ensure the development of every sector of the national entity. To this end, every emerging and successive government formulates policies in order to reform the political, economic, cultural and social structures. Irrespective of reformed policies, they are primarily intended to ensure the uplift of the societies in all ramifications-education, health, transportation, etc. Hence, considering the significance and how vital reform policies are made, they attempt to meet the needs and aspirations of the people of a particular country as instituted by existing government.

Because of the above reason, the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007) embarked on certain economic reforms during his tenure in office (1999-2007). In the 1999 elections, the first in sixteen years, he decided to run for the presidency as the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party. On 29 May, 1999, Obasanjo took office as the first elected civilian head of state in Nigeria after 16 years of military rule. The month of May is now commemorated as Democracy Day. It would be recalled that prior to his election in 1999, the nation had been under the yoke of military rule. The military regime did not help matters when it postponed severally the return to civilian rule. Many people were of the view that the worst civilian administration is better than enlightened military dictatorship.1

From the 1960s, when Nigeria gained her independence, development plans of varying durations were launched. The Nigerian leaders were aware that political independence without economic independence would endanger the country’s sovereignty. Hence, they were out to protect this hard won sovereignty as well as give their people the best. The major initiative and plans fell on governments for national economic and social developmet.2 Before and during Obasanjo’s reform, the economic conditions in the country could be considered as dire.


According to Otese Simon, the economic situation of the country prior to Obasanjo’s administration, could be said to be a period when the political leaders of newly won independence sought to consolidate their hold on power, and not actually doing the peoples biddings. It was a period of scramble for power and political positions at the expense of the nation’s real economic needs.

By any yardstick, military rule was a monumental disaster for Nigeria. Despite the country’s huge endowments in human and material resources, Nigeria under military rule had all the classic features of a failed state. Infrastructure such as schools, roads, and hospitals were barely functioning. In view of the sordid record of military rule, there was a widespread expectation in the country on the eve of the military’s departure from politics that the elected civilian administrators would set to work immediately to improve the living standards of the people.

From 1983 when General Muhammed Buhari toppled the civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari to the era of General Sani Abacha, the economic situation of the country was bad.3 The apparent improvement during this period was made worse by the Structural Adjustment Programme of the General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida administration. As if these were not enough, the national currency was devalued; thereby causing further worsening socio-economic condition in the country.4 All the sectors of the nation’s economic activities were jeopardized. This ranged from the health, education, transportation to other sectors of the economy.

The Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) was embarked upon due to series of global economic disasters during the late 1970s, the oil crisis, debt crisis, multiple economic depressions and stagnation. The Structural Adjustment Programme favoured reduction of trade barriers and free market. The programme included internal changes such as privatization and deregulation, as well as external ones, especially the reduction of trade barriers. Since the late 1990s, the term “Structural Adjustment” has emphasized “poverty reduction”. The SAP was controversial and the critics emphasized that it created hardship for workers and the poorer classes.
In specific terms, Nigerians expected that the termination of military rule would lead to a drastic reduction in corruption, criminal and wanton violations of human rights. Nigerians also hoped that the termination of military rule would put an end to the divide and rule tactics which had become the hallmark of military administrations. It was hoped that a civilian government had would be ushered in and bring an end to such tactics, ethnic and communal violence, which had claimed so many lives. It was believed that a civilian administration was expected to lead to a better management of the nation’s resources and with good governance, unemployment, insecurity and criminality would be reduced.
After a comprehensive study of all aspects of Nigerian society, a Bureau was set up in 1986, and submitted its report on March 1985.5 The third part of the report was mainly concerned with the programme of transition to civil rule. It noted that for a transition to civil rule to be successful, there was need to democratize all the process and institution of government. It called for a broadly spaced transition in which democratic government can proceed with political learning, institutional adjustment and a re-orientation of political culture at sequential levels of politics and government beginning with local government and ending at the federal level.6

Assuming office in 1999, as an elected President, following the handover of power by General Abdusalami Abubakar, President Olusegun Obasanjo embarked on policy formulation and implementation in order to redress the dilapidated economic condition in Nigeria. These policies were seen in his effort to curb corruption, by the inauguration of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2003. Reforms were also carried out on other aspects such as electricity, transportation, agriculture, infrastructures etc.

The economic reforms of Obasanjo were intended to transform the Nigerian society, compared to what existed before his election in 1999. It is to these reforms in economic policies that this study addresses. It hopes to emphasize that during the eight-year leadership of Obasanjo, there was a remarkable improvement in the economic sectors of the nation. The appointment of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and that of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Minister of Finance whose handling of our finances helped drastically to reduce our foreign debt profile. The President’s actions here were on the credit side of that regime.

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

When President Obasanjo came to power in 1999, the government stated its desire to bring about “democratic dividends” through responsive participatory, transparent and....
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