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How Buhari can avert economic depression

By Abba Dukawa
27 November 2020   |   2:09 am
Officially Nigeria has entered its second recession in five years as official figures published on Saturday show that the economy shrank again in the third quarter of this year.

Sir: Officially Nigeria has entered its second recession in five years as official figures published on Saturday show that the economy shrank again in the third quarter of this year. The National Bureau of Statistics, in its Gross Domestic Product report for Q3, said the GDP, the broadest measure of economic prosperity, fell by 3.62 in the three months to September.

Last month, the World Bank revised its 2020 forecast for Nigeria’s economy to -4.1 per cent from its previous projection of -3.2 per cent, saying the country’s near-term outlook was subject to “considerable uncertainty.” The Global bank had said in June that the collapse in crude oil prices, was expected to “plunge the Nigerian economy into a severe recession, the worst since the 1980s coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately within three years Nigeria is experiencing two recessions because   Covid-19 has put global economics in uncertainty again, Nigeria’s economy is being caught in the cross-hairs.  Above all, Nigeria must stop borrowing.    Now is not the time to trade blames but to focus on ways to manage the situation and need for administration to “swallow its pride, and accept its limitations, so that they can open their minds to ideas, without caring who the messenger is.

The recession could have been avoided if government had listened to nation’s economist and other concerned Nigerians’ advice during first recession. That is, to diversify the economy and to develop the country’s untapped mineral. The domestic mining industry is underdeveloped, leading to Nigeria having to import minerals that it could produce locally.

The provocative policies of the past and present administrations in over depending on oil resources as a source of foreign exchange earnings to the detriment of agriculture also puts pressure on the nation’s source of foreign income.  There is need for government to formulate  policies towards developing  the country untapped mineral. There is no denying the fact that the country is currently facing a financial crisis. However, a depression is least likely in the Nigerian situation, as experts predict that most countries will come out of the current crisis by 2021 and at most by 2022.

Let  the executive and legislative arms reduce cost of governance and  expunged unnecessary allowances, estacodes, welfare packages, and new vehicle purchases   from the proposed 2021 budget. If the government further diversifies the economy and also implements the Orosanye report or at least a modified version of it, then the recession might be short lived.

Government must work more to reduce corruption, the level of which is still high, according to global body, Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) that gave Nigeria a low ranking out of 180 countries surveyed.

The reports are clear reflection of neither improvement nor retrogression to that of previous years where marginal improvement was recorded. Curiously, there is a missing link between the efforts of the government against the graft and public perception of corruption.

Under the watchful eyes of our once fearful General Muhammadu Buhari, the level of corruption in Nigeria has reached a  height whereby it can only be curbed when these agencies rise up to the occasion to prosecute  offenders  irrespective of their political affiliations.
Unfortunately, the anti-corruption  agencies are more like toothless dogs that can only bark but cannot bite.
Abba Dukawa, public affairs commentator, wrote from Kano.