A new Nigeria: The economics of survival
THE group of seven most developed nations, including Canada, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Italy, guard their fortunes jealously.
The G-7 summit at Schloss Elmau in the Bravarian Alps, in Germany, holds on June 7 and 8 this year. The G-7 nations are also united by shared values. They are the pioneers in resolving major challenges of globalisation. Germany, which now holds the G-7 presidency and is hosting the 2015 summit, wishes to continue making active contributions to the world economy.
Issues on the agenda of the G7 meeting are very germane. The German hosts are conscious of the expectations of the developing countries –which is why they will be focusing on the expiry of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals in 2015.
The G-7 agenda includes support for independence of women. This involves promoting vocational education and making entrepreneurship more interesting for women.
Again, poor leadership must have prevented us from qualifying for membership of such summits. Even the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa could not suffice our membership, though we have both the population and the oil resources.
It is only the MINT group that could accommodate us. That group consists of Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey. Buhari now has the onerous task of revamping the economy and creating integrity and transparency for Nigeria.
Those nations classified above have been so classified due to their technological advancement. They have been industrialized by their leaders, which empowered them with a high degree of economic clout occasioned by technological capacity.
Thus, those nations have come to wield such immense influence and respect among the comity of nations. It is instructive then that industrialization is the backbone of economic development of any nation.
Nigeria’s aspiration to be among the 20 top economies in the world by 2020 aimed at transforming from an agrarian to an industrial society should be pursued vigorously.
Economists, like Prof. Adedoyin Soyibo of the Ibadan School of Economics, have avowed the possibility of Nigeria attaining a development miracle in 10 years, given transparent leadership though this looks impossible at the moment with 170 million Nigerians depending mainly on oil.
Besides, unemployment is rising yearly with many school leavers being unable to get jobs. Other problems such as falling standard of education, weak institutions, weak Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) capacity and leadership failure, among other factors collectively keep us stymied. However, in spite of high expectations on the President-elect, it is pertinent to realize that these problems have persisted for long and that all of us must work very hard to solve them.
With the rebasing of the Nigerian economy in 2014, the country ranked 26th largest economy in the world with a GDP of $454 billion. This performance shot the economy well above those of South Africa, Denmark, Malaysia and Singapore.
The rebasing appeared more motivated by politics of shoring up the image of President Goodluck Jonathan to gain cheap popularity as the elections closed in; political because the level of poverty in Nigeria does not reflect a comparable statutory prosperity. On the quality of life, Nigeria cannot compare favourably with Singapore for example.
According to the UNDP Human Development Index report of 2014, the standard of living, life expectancy, literacy, education and quality of life show that Nigeria ranks 175th while Singapore ranks 34th out of 185 countries so measured.
That shows Nigeria’s rating on the low end of human development and Singapore on the high performance index of human development. According to a UNDP report, Nigeria has not been recording any remarkable progress in its human development index as against claims by the president’s advisers that the country’s economy is robust and resilient.
According to UNDP, life expectancy in Nigeria is 52 years while 68 per cent of Nigerians live on a dollar daily. For Singapore, it ranked second after Switzerland in the world’s top ten economies in 2014.
In fact, like most African states, Nigeria’s economy is inert since most of our foreign reserves are spent to buy foreign goods and technologies. Much has also been frittered away on trite issues as constitutional amendments and the Transformation Agenda.
What it will take Buhari to triumph, therefore, is pruning the high cost of governance, keeping electricity privatized, privatising the refineries and setting up a national full employment programme, to keep every Nigerian working. Indeed, the most urgent task is to restore electrical power to its optimum capacity.
This he can do by inviting a board of experts with power to invite and pay foreign power generating companies. There is yet another option: Let the Federal Government buy 30 per cent equity in every privatized state institution.
Through the 30 per cent, it could send spies into those institutions to observe what is going on there. For the past 30 years, Nigerians have celebrated corruption as a way of life.
The best way to deal with the scourge is to privatise every department or agency of government wherever possible. As Adedoyin Soyibo said in his book, Images: Prologue to Africa’s Development and Economic Renaissance, the country can adopt the emulation strategy that advanced development in the industrial societies of the West. Soyibo went on to say that what Nigeria needs is trade, not aid. This is imperative when we consider the level of trade in the world.
In Africa, trade among states is only 12 per cent. Whereas in Asia, it is 48 per cent, in North America, 47 per cent while in Europe it is 70 per cent. Let Buhari increase trade among African countries to make Nigeria become the industrial hub on the continent. To privatise the NNPC, let us look to how other OPEC members are managing their oil companies. All Buhari needs to do is to imitate and invite other nations for assistance. All things are possible to him that believeth. •Ogunmupe lives in Lagos.