Nigeria just slipped out of economic recession. We must make sure we never travel that road again.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s GDP grew by 0.55 percent in the second quarter of 2017; an improvement on the -0.91 percent in the first quarter of 2017 and -1.49 percent in the second quarter of 2016.
It’s a cheery bit of news for the simple reason that this recession was the worst this country has seen in 29 years.
What this exit essentially means is that business activities have picked up (however slowly) after the shock to the country’s economy by the steep plunge in the price of crude oil in the global market.
When oil prices began plummeting circa 2015, so did Nigeria’s economy.
Nigeria can’t seem to wean itself off sweet crude and that, my friends, is one helluva problem.
After emerging from the worst recession that has hit this country in three decades, it’s time for Nigeria to hearken to the cliché that says: “when you find yourself in a hole, just stop digging”.
Nigeria had no business heading into a recession in the first instance. Africa’s most populous country has been blessed with an avalanche of human and natural resources. It’s got swathes of arable land as far as the eyes can see. It’s got an inexhaustible pool of mineral resources aside from oil. It’s got an industrious and intelligent population.
But head-on did Nigeria plunge into recession because leadership has been a perennial curse.
At some point during the Goodluck Jonathan years, crude oil was selling for over $100 per barrel. But no one was saving. Worse, the Jonathan administration paid lip service to diversification.
It’s been that way for years. Since the nation gained independence, Nigeria’s leaders have often carried on as though oil will never dry up. As though the forces of demand and supply won’t force down the price of the product and hit the purse strings hard. As though oil will not go out of fashion someday.
We've been spoilt by the free money that comes from oil. Time to hit the brakes.
Nigeria may have swam out of recession, but we are no way near Uhuru. Let's leave the Champagne on ice because this means nothing just yet.
The path to recovery will be the real test of how far we are willing to go as a nation.
Inflation remains at double digit and commodity prices won’t stop skyrocketing. There’s unemployment everywhere you turn and beggars have taken over every street corner across the country.
There are about 5 million out of school kids and all our institutions have collapsed from poor funding.
For the man on the street or the trader down the road, today’s bit of news from Statistician General Yemi Kale, means nothing because life is still as tough if not worse—brutish and short.
The Buhari administration shouldn’t celebrate this news because there’s still plenty of work to be done. The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) has got to be religiously implemented if Nigeria must stay out of recession for a long while yet.
The ERGP is a nice, little policy or blueprint. But like everything Nigeria, implementation is the biggest hurdle to the efficacy of the document.
The Buhari administration’s mantra of “Buy Nigeria to grow the Naira” shouldn’t just be a sing-along. Government has to fashion out implementable steps to drive and underpin the campaign.
Nigeria has to diversify its economy this time or burst. We’ve got no choice. Oil is a dying commodity. Most nations of the world won’t be driving gasoline powered cars in a few years.
Nigeria has to return to manufacturing and agriculture. We have to till the land and innovate. The nations who’ll be here in a few years are those who use their brains and not those who run rent economies.
We may be out of recession but the real work starts now. There’s got to be a sustained vision from government to ensure we never head back to consecutive quarters of negative growth.
We are in a hole. Let’s stop digging.