NONSO OBIKILI
African. Economist. Plus other things
Current.
Education. PhD Economics. SUNY Binghamton

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Employment History

Policy Associate
Economic Research Southern Africa
July 2013 - Date

Research Associate
Stellenbosch University
April 2016 - Date

Contributor
The Guardian Nigeria
Aug 2016 - Date

Director of Applied Economics
African Heritage Institution
Aug 2016 - Nov 2016

Lecturer
State Univeristy of New York at Binghamton
Jan 2010 - May 2013

Teaching Assistant
State University of New York at Binghamton
Aug 2009 - Dec 2009

Research Assistant
Central Bank of Nigeria, Microfinance Division
Aug 2006 - Aug 2007

Consulting

LEAP-PERL

National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria

United Nations University - WIDER

National Treasury - South Africa

Mathers and Savant

WNT Capitas

Nextier Advisory

Research.Publications

"State Formation in Precolonial Nigeria". . Oxford Handbook of Nigerian Politics. Forthcoming

"Fiscal Policy During Boom and Bust". with Kingsley Moghalu. Oxford Handbook of Nigerian Politics. Forthcoming

"Markups and concentration in South African manufacturing sectors". with Johannes Fedderke and Nicola Viegi. South African Journal of Economics. 2017

"The trans-Atlantic slave trades and local political fragmentation in Africa". - . Economic History Review. 2016. 69(4):1157-1177

"A dream deffered: the microfoundations of direct political action in pre- and post-democratization South Africa". with Biniam Bedasso. Journal of Development Studies. 2016. 52(1):130 - 146

"An examination of subnational growth in Nigeria: 1999 - 2012". - . South African Journal of Economics. 2015. 83(3):335 - 357

"Social capital and human capital in the colonies: a study of cocoa farmers in Western Nigeria". - . Economic History of Developing Regions. 2015. 30(1):1 - 22

"The introduction of higher banknotes and the price level in Nigeria". with E. N. Egbuna. International Journal of Economics and Finance. 2013

Research.Working Papers

Research.Works in Progress

Climate, yams, and precolonial centralization

Emigration and education: the schooling of the left behind in Nigeria with Biniam Bedasso and Ermias Gebru

Tax Appeals and Social Intermediaries in Lagos Nigeria with Adrienne LeBas and Jessica Goetlibb

Colonialists, Taxation and Punishment: Prisons and Labor Coercion in British Colonial West Africa with Belinda Archibong

Decolonizing with data: Cliometrics in Africa with Johan Fourie

Convict Labor and the Costs of Colonial Infrastructure:Evidence from Prisons in British Nigeria, 1920-1938 with Belinda Archibong

Op-Eds.(Selected)

"Bi-monthly column". Guardian Nigeria newspaper. https://guardian.ng/contributors/nonso-obikili/

"The trans-Atlantic slave trade and local political fragmentation in Africa". AEHN. September 2016

"Long-term effects of slave exporting in West Africa". Oxford University Press. March 2016

"Buy Naija to Grow the Naira: probably pointless but potentially dangerous". Premium Times. 24th Febraury 2016

"Naira devaluation and the Nigerian economy: focusing on the big picture". Premium Times. 20th February 2016

"Myths about devaluation". Premium Times. 15th Februaru 2016

"Removing the autonomy of the CBN: a really bad idea". Business Day. 8th June 2012

"Who really benefits from fuel subsidies". Business Day. 5th December 2011

Blog

Who implements bad policy?

Mon, 16 Jul 2018 04:01:55 GMT

There is a common misconception about leaders and policymakers who made decisions during “bad economic policy” times. There is the assumption that bad decisions were made because the leaders or policy makers we’re bad people who didn’t want to make the country better, or just wanted to enrich themselves, or were more interested in keeping their positions, or were just downright evil.

This is not to say that those types of people did not exist in government, but I would wager that most people who were decision makers during bad-policy times were regular people who cared about the progress of the country as much as regular people do today.

Take the ministers of finance during the debt binge in the 1980s for instance. This was the debt binge that crippled the federal government and is one of two major sets of decisions responsible for the stagnation of the economy over the next two decades. The second is the FX policy but let’s not get into that. Economic stagnation by the way is not just a textbook idea but in reality meant more poverty, more destitution, and quicker deaths. No joking matter.

Sunday Essang, who was the minister of finance under Shagari, was one of the architects of the first debt binge. Was he a bad person? Probably not. He was a regular economics professor. Went to Kings college. Got his PhD in economics from the US. Was a Dean at the University of Calabar before his appointment as minister of finance. For all intents and purposes he was a regular academic at the top of his field and probably cared as much about moving the country forward as any other person.

Onoalope Soloye, who was the next minister of finance, was also for all intents and purposes a regular guy. He studied at LSE and the University of Manchester, although he was a sociologist so…🤷🏾‍♂️.

Guaranteed, I haven’t met any of the two personally so I cannot speak for their character but I doubt they went into office planning to ruin the country. They probably went into office and implemented policy they thought was in the best interest of the country. In hindsight, those policies turned out really bad.

As it turns out, regular people with good intentions can implement bad policy that results in bad outcomes.

Now if you went back in time to ask them why they chose those policy options, their answers would probably look a bit like this;

We were limited by the political realities of the time. We did what we had to do to get things done in the short time we had. We hoped that our policies would yield results but they were cut short by regime change. We had to implement policy that connected with the man and woman on the street.

You get the point.

A casual glance at the ministerial lists since 1999 will show lots of respected individuals who have achieved much in their fields and who, on average tried to make the country better. Yet here we are, the new poverty capital of the world. The common denominator is usually political expediency.

If regular people with good intentions can implement bad policy with horrible outcomes then why do we think this time will be different? If any of us gets into positions to suggest or implement policy, are we humble enough to accept that our suggestions can be bad regardless of our intentions?

Random musings from a guy who couldn’t sleep.


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