Nigerians were exhilarated last week with the cherry news that the country’s economy had exited recession, as data of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has shown that the economy grew at 0.55 per cent in the second quarter (Q2) of 2017. The Q2 2017 growth rate of 0.55 per cent (year-on-year) is said to be 2.04 per cent higher than the rate recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2016 (-1.49%) and higher by 1.46 per cent points from rate recorded in the preceding quarter, which was revised to –0.91% from –0.52% due to revisions to crude output for March 2017.
Also, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says the country’s inflation as measured by Consumer Price Index (CPI), further dropped to 16.05 per cent in July from 16.10 per cent in June. This is contained in the NBS CPI July 2017 report released last week in Abuja. The report showed that the headline inflation again reduced to 16.05 per cent (year-on-year) in July compared to 16.10 per cent in June 2016.
These are clear indicators of the federal government’s determination to bring the nation out of the woods and economic doldrums which the profligate Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) plunged it through massive looting of public treasury and maladministration of the nation’s economy. The recovery of the economy from recession is a clear indication that various policies of government towards reflating the economy as set out in the ERGP, were yielding results.
It would be recalled that when the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) confirmed Nigeria’s slide into recession some months ago following rising inflation, unemployment and plummeting foreign capital importation, President Muhammadu Buhari urged Nigerians to be patient with his administration, assuring them that the pains they are currently going through would soon give way to development.
Earlier in the year the federal government took the bold step of injecting N700billion into some critical sectors of the economy to catalyse growth and foster massive development.
To the chagrin of PDP detractors, the federal government announced the release of a staggering N700 billion for capital projects to reflate the economy, after holding an anti-recession retreat for government stakeholders in Abuja. The monies were targeted at capital projects in key sectors of the economy such as power, works and housing, interior, transport, agriculture and defence. Another N350 billion was released at the end of the cash planning meeting to enter into the accounts of the various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
Also, President Buhari tackled state governors on the joint accounts with the local governments across the country. Some N60 billion was released for social intervention programmes, including school feeding programme and teachers’ assistants scheme designed to put money into the pockets of Nigerians,. The federal government is also funding the rehabilitation of abandoned airport projects across the country. Significant funding is going into agriculture, because of the time sensitivity of the sector. The Government’s intervention is ensuring that massive food production was restored to bring down rising food prices. A lot of money has gone in for defence, as the nation needed to rebuild and retool the capabilities of the armed forces to continue with the efforts to combat and finally defeat Boko Haram insurgency in the North East part of the country. The Federal Government is also working with the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) to fast track the process of contracts so the delays could be removed, so that monies could trickle down into the pockets of Nigerians. All of these led to the nation’s exit from recession.
The current anti-corruption war and bold efforts by the federal government to right the wrongs of the PDP is welcomed by most Nigerians who now appreciate better what the current administration of the All Progressives Congress led by President Muhamadu Buhari is doing for the nation. Nigerians should be prepared for better days ahead as the economic managers are set to bolster the nation’s economy. It was good that most economists appreciated the efforts of the government last week advising on the need to continue the efforts of managing the fragile economy and guarding it jealously to impact more positively on the common man at the grassroots.
It was therefore heartwarming to know from the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, that the Federal Government will continue to pursue aggressively the implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) to sustain economic growth.
It is obvious that the government would require the continued cooperation of all Nigerians to enhance the recovery rate and ensure the achievement of the objectives of the ERGP. It is important to emphasise at this point that the government would also work on improving the ease of doing business in the country to attract more investments, particularly Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
The minister said that two major objectives were in focus when the ERGP was launched by the President early this year – to get the economy out of recession and then put it on the path of sustained inclusive and diversified growth.
Now that the nation is out of recession, attention should be on growing the economy as rapidly as possible because, as the economy continues to grow, the people will feel the impact of the growth more than it is currently.
In my view, government should take deliberate steps to reflate the economy through spending in strategic sectors like infrastructure, agriculture, solid minerals to galvanise economic activities and empower the people.
The country equally needs stable and uninterrupted power supply to get out of its current economic challenges. Stable electricity supply is a panacea for economic growth and development of any nation. Stable power supply is needed for the country to boost its economy. Industries must enjoy reliable and stable electricity to produce optimally. At the moment, South Africa generates 34 megawatts daily, Nigeria needs to even surpass this feat for it to remain the leader of Africa economically.
With stable power supply, the production capacity will increase at a lesser cost, unlike when it solely relies on generator. The output will be massive and will enlarge the market. The Federal Government must act fast by investing in the power sector to revive the economy.
If for no other reason, it will encourage local investors and attract international investors. They will be willing to do business in Nigeria as the environment will be market friendly. This is the sure way the APC will permanently keep the PDP out of power in the country.
Mr. Dan Owegie is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Edo State.