-by VICTOR ANYA
It is evident that the All Progressive Congress (APC) led federal government has destroyed all the wonderful achievements the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) made in 16 years just under two years in office. Because of time and space constraints, this discourse shall be limited to the policies of the PDP that revamped the ailing economy it inherited from the military and not about the provision of infrastructures. Recall that the PDP came into power after almost 35 years of military misadventure and bad governance. Then, the country was reduced to nothing but a pariah as no country wanted to associate with the country. However, on assumption of office, the PDP didn’t bemoan the maladministration of the military as the APC led government is wont to blaming the PDP after almost two years in office! But the PDP hit the ground running by deregulating the telecommunication sector. This witnessed massive inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as MTN Communication Ltd, Airtel, Globalcom and Etisalat invested heavily in the sector. Thus, for the first time in the history of this country, Nigerians have access to Global System for Mobile Telecommunication (GSM). With this development, Nigerians are freed forever, from the shabby and horrendous treatment they were once subjected to, by the government monopolistic Nigerian Telecommunication Limited (NITEL). The harrowing days of queuing up for hours or sometimes even days with attendant overbearing charges just to make phone calls were dead and buried forever! Now, Nigerians can make phone calls from the comfort of their bedrooms or kitchens with ease!
Likewise, these telecommunication companies offered employments to millions of Nigerians. Many Nigerian musicians, actors and actresses were endorsed some musicians as brand ambassadors, receiving huge endorsement fees. The advent of the telecommunication companies also brought in massive investments in mobile phones. The Computer Village located in Lagos State and mobile phones trading centres in other major cities across the country are testimonials to this fact. Recharge card distributors and retailers are also prominent across the country; providing informal employment opportunities to Nigerians. The advent of the telecommunication companies has in no small measure boosted the Nigerian economy. The availability of smart phones has also led to high internet penetration and usage. High internet penetration has promoted the massive use of social media, social engagements and online business transactions. Many Nigerians now live on revenues generated from their online businesses. Today, many bloggers are smiling to the banks courtesy of immense internet penetration occasioned by the deregulation of the telecommunication sector of the economy.
The PDP government also reformed the banking sector of the economy. Before the emergence of the PDP in the political scene, the banking sector was archaic and dreary. Those were days when workers were offered public holidays just to go to the banks to receive their salaries and wages. It was the days when banks issued tally numbers to bank customers before they could deposit or withdraw money from their bank accounts; wasting many man hours or days! It was the days when bank account holders could withdraw money from only the branches of the bank in which their accounts were domiciled! But those sorry days were put behind us with the emergence of Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo as Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria. He began the banking reform by mandating the banks to recapitalise their capital base to N25 billion. This led to the emergence of 25 strong, vibrant and healthy banks that could compare favourably with other banks on the global sphere!
The banking reform also entailed online system whereby all branches of banks are linked with internet service, allowing bank account holders to deposit and withdraw money from any branch of the bank irrespective of the branch the account is domiciled. This made banking in the country smooth, easier and efficient. The greatest innovation in the banking sector was the introduction of the automatic teller machine (ATM). With these machines on ground, banking halls are no longer crowded like the days of yore as bank customers can now make withdrawal, deposit money into their accounts or transfer money to other customer accounts via the wonderful machine (ATMs).
Water processing companies also emerged in this era under review. Today, there are many water processing factories that make bottled and sachet water across the country. These have also improved the employment opportunities in the land.
•Victor Anya, a public affair analyst, writes from Lagos