THE SOCIOLOGICAL CONCEPT OF INCLUSIVE ECONOMICS BY John Ozar:
The economic policies of the ALL PROGRESSIVE CONGRESS government led by President Mohammadu Buhari faces an unprecedented litmus test, inter-faced with current economic challenges and a globalized socio-economic phenomenon. The economic policies remain an illusion as it continuously fails to address the various hardship currently faced by Nigerians and foreigners living in Nigeria.
Like Nigerians are made to understand, the policies were meant to resolve the on-going harsh economic condition that Nigerians are suffering from. Secondly, it is intended to be competitive and sustainable. Thirdly, every Nigerian was expected to be accorded equal opportunity to drive the economy. Also,
the economy was expected to be a free market economy that accommodates all Nigerians as players irrespective of one’s ethnic or tribal inclination, status, class, educational background etc. These are some of the features of inclusive economics while it lasts.
Ideally, every Nigerian will have equal opportunity towards achieving their economic goal with the full backing of the provision of basic social amenities, and a redefined
government regulations as well as sanitised regulatory government agencies.
The economic policy further includes a re-defined contribution towards owning a house of yours just as we now define our pension scheme.
It is not in doubt that after assessing the economic policies of the APC led government, it appears to be a recycling of what still remains the Nigerian economic policy of successive governments over time before the Buhari administration came on board. So, where stands the innovation? Today, Nigerians of low class status still suffer LEGAL FUNDAMENTALISM and ECONOMIC Extremism that is largely controlled by the bourgeoisies.
An ‘inclusive economy’ reflects in the vibrancy of a sustainable economic growth but sustainability of the existing ‘inclusive economy’ is short-lived as social inclusion has been neglected. Such neglect will continue to breed corruption as it has done since independence. Class differentiation will deepen while class consciousness will be harnessed among those who occupy the upper social strata against those who occupy the lower social strata. Because of their social status, level of skills acquisition by the lower class will by no means be competitive with that of the upper class.
‘’The World Bank defined social inclusion as means of empowering the poor and marginalised people to take advantage of burgeoning global opportunities. It ensures that people have a voice in decisions which affect their lives and that they enjoy equal access to markets, services and political, social and physical spaces’’.
Social Inclusion is a central tenet in the World Bank Group’s dual goals of extreme poverty by 2030 and promoting shared prosperity.
Over the past decades, emerging economies in Asia have experienced fast economic growth, which has brought though, not equally distributed-large income gains to the majority of the population, but has lifted millions out of poverty. Yet, most of these countries still face a high degree of vulnerability-both at the macro level (e.g. triggered or at least aggravated by volatile capital in-and outflows) as well as at the micro level e.g. caused by illness, invalidity or death of the bread winner) which threatens to wipe out much of the progress achieved.
Against this background, there is growing public demand in Asia for social inclusion mechanism to reduce socio-economic risk or mitigate their effects-(Excerpts from the World Bank)
Capitalism is adjudged the platform on which the Nigerian economy is laid. Systemic economic outlays in developed countries and seemingly developing economy have been pluralistic in input and output. The United States of America, United Kingdom, other European countries, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and numerous others, are strong evidences of pluralistic economic systems.
These countries have different political systems from Monarchical, Parliamentary to Presidential, etc. Yet, they are toasts of global attractions both in growth and development. So, the Nigerian problem is not in the political structure but with the economy.
The Nigerian economic system is Capitalism. Such system alone is unfriendly, outlived and archaic in its interpretation and application of present economic realities.
If the Federated units that make up Nigeria are to exist as an entity. Then, merely restructuring the political landscape is not the solution to our problem as a nation. Rather, it will further deepen the problems. It will create an uneven development that largely favours the rich in a section of the society and impoverishes the other. Remember we once practiced the Co-federalism. Then, the unitary system; and today, we have the federal system. Yet, the problem still lingers. The Nigerian problem is the capitalist ideology that is so entrenched in the day-to-day running of our economy, and so, creates inequalities in means and wants.
Capitalism encourages unhealthy and unholy competitiveness in its practice, because the economy is individualized. In other words, individuals control distribution process of the economy and dictate prices of goods. In capitalist economy, monopolistic control is inevitable, suggesting that every resources found within a country are owned by those who are fit enough and against all legal hurdles. So, it is not in doubt that every social vice is implored to be able to grab. In such country, its laws are watered down. Its institutions are eroded because it has to do with survival of the fittest. In such economy, prices are unstable. Man is insatiable and so, inflation becomes uncontrollable.
Capitalism alone, as an economic system is weak in meeting up with complex societies such as Nigeria. Simple societies are more tolerable with capitalist economy because such societies have fewer people, less urbanisation slow industrialization and below 5% of unemployment compared to countries that have large population growth, high urbanization, industrialized and high rate of unemployment.
It is also paramount that in CAPITALIST economy, the rich get richer while the poor becomes poorer. The rich becomes the employer of labour and decides what to pay as salary. The results of this are found in our labour market and its players, including the Government as an institution.
This in its application will in no doubt, explore corruption to be able to meet up with some economic exigencies. Corruption is not natural and is not in the blood stream of any individual. It is a learned process. It is encouraged by our socialised attitude of GRAB or scramble for, as the resources in economic terms are few to satisfy individual wants, except if collectively shared.
The policy of social inclusion in Nigeria is inevitable considering her complexity in the size of population, urbanization, growing industrialization and globalized effects, against the backdrop of unemployment, crime, homelessness etc.
There is no country in the world that has not been blessed with its natural resources to better the lives of its citizenry. Nigeria is blessed and her resources are enough to eradicate the harsh economy, if we believe in sharing. The Nigerian crude oil is enough to harness unemployment benefits and execute other meaningful projects irrespective of the galloping oil price, if the Nigerian leadership is sincere.
We’ve had enough of the Federal government telling its citizens that the government cannot do all things. Meanwhile, the ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY BILLION DOLLARS (S150 Billion) supposedly Nigeria’s money, was stolen from the same purse that Nigerians were made to understand was never available in past administrations.
Corruption will not stop if social inclusion is neglected. Corruption is neither natural nor individualistic. It is born out of social interaction within the context of an ideological framework that is adopted by a country to run its affairs. Every society is built upon a systemic and structural arrangement and not on mystical reasoning. Institutions derive their offshoot from a good system.
Unfortunately, the social institutions, such as the family, health, tradition, education, economic, political or government and religion are continuously being frustrated in place of mystical reasons.
The welfare approach remains the global attraction if any economy will succeed. The welfare state is a concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the social and economic well-being of its citizens.
The sociologist T.H. Marshal described the modern welfare state as a distinctive combination of democracy, welfare and capitalism. In his words, welfare systems are social democratic, conservative and liberal.
Again, he went on to elucidate the fact that the welfare state involves a transfer of funds from the state to the services provided. It is funded through redistributionist taxation, often referred to as a type of combined economy. This helps reduce the income gap between the rich and the poor. So, where has the Nigerian government been diverting the tax payer’s money to?
Let Nigerians debunk the mentality that the crude oil alone cannot provide for any social inclusion and that the Nigeria population of 186 million is so much to accommodate for social inclusion. The Population size of any country is one of the indices of development. So, to us in Nigeria, it is a blessing. Nigeria’s population is not as much as that of China, India and USA and yet, these countries are better in growth and development.
Saudi Arabia has an economic welfare with free medical care and unemployment benefits. However, the country relies not on taxation but mainly on oil revenues to maintain the social and economic services to its populace.
Research has shown that an economic system that runs on capitalism alone will remain elusive and contradict the global phenomena. It is evident that despite President Buhari’s riot act on zero tolerance on corruption, corruption still thrives.
Corruption is not an individual problem. It is a problem generated by a system that is by no means, irrelevant to the scheme of things. So, as much as corrupt Nigerians are hunted and hounded into prison, many others are created. Today, no Nigerian can claim not to be corrupt either directly or indirectly because the capitalist system encourages it.
Every business in Nigeria is built on corruption. It is a systemic problem and not individual. The principle of development is global. There could be difference in peculiarities but same principle.
Welfare will reduce corruption to its barest minimum. Welfare empowers the low income earners of a country. It relives hope for the downtrodden. It serves as a shock absorber if job loss occurs. It will bring to its barest minimum, the criminal activities at play in Nigeria today. It reduces red-tapism in work organisations and confronts corruption absolutely.
It is on record that every rich Nigerian has a second home either in the UK, USA, CANADA and other developed countries. It is evidenced that the reason behind this is to have a safe haven for members of their family and possibly, queue behind the welfare package of such countries.