by Salim Salihu Muhammed
No doubt, Nigeria is making progress in industrial growth, the absence of infrastructure to complement the concerted efforts of attracted investments is slowing down employment opportunities that abounds the ever increasing work force.
Many countries over the world, including “third world countries” had had one plausible transformation stride or the other, ranging from human capital development to technological advancement; a product of a successful implementation of economic policy goals. The World Bank review shows that growth is seen to rise by an average 5.6% in 2013 in Sub-Saharan Africa for resource-rich countries which includes Nigeria; a positive scenario that denotes a decline in poverty and unemployment. Notwithstanding what the figures shows, serious developmental challenges still swarm in Nigeria in relations to governance and transparency; our “economists” seem to have failed to avail on themselves simple economic realities and parameters that would aid a realistic evaluation and implementation of policies that will leap-frog the country into the ambits of economic success driven nations.
It is noteworthy of mention to remind us that a country that does not focus on the factors that over the longer term matter greatly for its economic success is a country whose prosperity is in jeopardy. While economic success is a panacea to growth, its practical and direct impact on its citizenry in relations to well-offness and financial power to access all their basic and essential services could be a better measure of a country’s economic strives. For more than three decades, the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Competitiveness Reports have examined the many factors enabling national economies to achieve sustained productivity improvements and economic growth.
Nigeria’s Statistician-General had once told the world that he disagreed with the public notion that his Bureau’s positive figures on Nigeria’s growth had not in any way impacted on the lives of Nigerians by way of employment generation; thus, he failed to provide us with a statistical record of the over 70% underemployed Nigerians labouring in the production arm of the private sector, neither did he examine the statistical records and negative impact of growth on the employment exploitation sagas that requires employable Nigerians to part lump sums as bribe to get employed in the public sector. For an ordinary economic student, this scenario is a negative index towards National Income and adversely affects inflation in an economy; the absence of tax on such monies also dwindle the effects of the country’s fiscal policies.
However, my concern is in the near absence of the country’s “economists” professional focus on factors that had aided other nations across the globe in attaining economic success. These factors – which range from good governance and macroeconomic stability to the efficiency of markets, education, technological adoption and innovation potential, to name but a few – drive the productivity enhancements on which a country’s present and future prosperity is built. On a narrow outlook, these factors, as it may benefit the current Nigeria’s reality includes – but not limited to – Peace (empowering human resources of the country), Honest governance (Representative democracies that are able to have peaceful transitions of power), Capital (the making of money with money, other than embezzlement), Population control (not as in the case of Lagos state), Infrastructure (Not mere advertorial of awarded contracts) and Skilled labour (supporting education with manpower development).
Well, figures they say “don’t lie”; Nigeria recorded an all-time drop in inflation rate of 8.6% in June 2013, the lowest since April 2008, propelling growth at 6.6% in the first quarter of 2013. However, GDP in the last quarter of 2012 was impressive at 6.99% even though inflation index was higher at 6.9%. The reason for the fall in GDP was attributed to a slow growth in production from the non-oil sector. In other words, the non-oil sector had a drop in production to meet its output in the preceding quarters; this drop could also be proportionally attributed to a shortfall in the factors of production, which labour seems to be a vital influence in this case. Where do we place the Statistician’s assertion that employment generation had improved with economic growth?
No doubt, Nigeria is making progress in industrial growth, the absence of infrastructure to complement the concerted efforts of attracted investments is slowing down employment opportunities that abounds the ever increasing work force. It is expected that honest governance, in a quest to list Nigeria among economic successful nations, will provide the needed impetus that will motivate a free market economy (market efficiency) where robust investments will engulf the non-oil sectors as “witnessed” in the $3 billion investment in the sugar sector in the first quarter of 2013. Economic success is a complex and often-elusive goal! A positive success can be pronounced if there is a drastic decrease in maternal deaths (not just data from the cities), a huge fall in child mortality rate, stabilizing HIV infection, increased primary school education and completion, as well as fall in the number of people living in extreme poverty.
Despite the impressive economic data on Nigeria’s growth, serious developmental challenges thrives; governance and transparency remain weak, absurd and unnecessary legislations, continuous rise in maternal mortality death rate, a rather standstill than falling education system, a poor democratic institution with a vague respect for rule of law, hyper-unemployment rate, decayed infrastructure, abject poverty; the list is ever growing. One seems to wonder if Nigeria is not caught in a deadlock economy!
A redirection of focus can see Nigeria imploring people friendly policies that will ensure economic efficiency, liberalization of priorities for the future; a salvage over the developmental challenges that had hindered real growth. It is real growth that will provide a GDP per capita of the people’s ability to meet their basic needs as well as a government’s ability to garner the tax revenues needed to foster continued economic development with programs that foster health, education and the general welfare of the people. It is real growth that will ensure the provision of infrastructure in roads, bridges, airports, and seaports, power and telecommunication networks, as well as the natural infrastructure – navigable rivers, accessible coastlines and level landscape provide. To get these things right, Nigeria need to take a long-term view on her economic policy goals; who knows, many of her citizenry could fall in the “middle-income” status.
Read this article in the Nation Newspapers
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