Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, has the potential to become a major player in the global economy because of its vast human and natural resources. Sadly, the nation has not achieved a tenth of its potentials even after fifty-eight years of independence.
Despite humongous revenue at the government’s disposal during PDP’s 16-year administration, the nation still depends largely on importation; consuming what it doesn’t produce and rely solely on the sale of one resource: Crude Oil.
The Former President Goodluck Jonathan enjoyed the bounty of high oil prices ranging from about $80 in 2010 to over $100 per barrel between 2011 and 2014 when oil prices fell again. He initially built-up foreign reserves from $32bn in 2010 to over $43.8bn by 2012 before it declined to approximately $30bn by the time he left office in 2015. The ECA also fell to $2bn.
Under the PDP administration, the economy suffered from collapsing infrastructure, corruption and misuse of public funds and lack of jobs which hovered around 4.8% per annum buoyed by high oil prices and consumption.
This continued from June 2014 to June 2016 when the price of crude oil fell to an all-time low of $28 per barrel, a failure of the past administration eventually led the country into recession.
Since taking the mantle of leadership in 2015, the Buhari-led administration has put in place policies and framework to cushion the effect of economic hardship on Nigerians.
The current administration recognizes that the economy will remain on a path of steady and steep decline if nothing is done to change the trajectory. Since inception in May 2015, this administration has made several efforts aimed at tackling these challenges and changing the national economic trajectory in a fundamental way.
Consequently, the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) for the 2016 Budget of Change was developed as a short-term intervention with visible successes and achievements having been recorded. However, it is recognized that more needs to be done to propel the country towards sustainable accelerated development.
The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), a Medium Term Plan for 2017 – 2020, builds on the SIP and has been developed for the purpose of restoring economic growth while leveraging the ingenuity and resilience of the Nigerian people – the nation’s most priceless assets. It is also articulated with the understanding that the role of government in the 21st century must evolve from that of being an omnibus provider of citizens’ needs into a force for eliminating the bottlenecks that impede innovation and market-based solutions.
The Plan also recognises the need to leverage Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) and build a knowledge-based economy. The ERGP is consistent with the aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) given that the initiatives address its three dimensions of economic, social and environmental sustainability issues.
The ERGP of the Buhari-led administration has three broad strategic objectives, this includes restoring growth, investing in people, and building a globally competitive economy.
The Buhari administration has also promised to invest in health and education to fill the skills gap in the economy, and meet the international targets set under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Hence, the ERGP will improve the accessibility, affordability, and quality of healthcare and will roll out the National Health Insurance Scheme across the entire country. It will also guarantee access to basic education for all, improve the quality of secondary and tertiary education, and encourage students to enroll in science and technology courses.
Recent GDP figure by the Bureau of Statistics is a sign that the economy is expanding and improving. The fourth quarter of 2018 growth performance implies that real GDP recorded an annual growth rate of 1.93% in 2018. Nigerians must reject any attempt by past looters of our treasury to take us back in a reverse direction. The recent gains of the Buhari-led administration must be sustained.
In its bid to place Nigeria among the top players in the Digital World, the President Buhari Administration initiated the Smart Nigeria Digital Economy Project to increase the contribution from ICT and ICT-enabled activity to GDP. The overall goals of a digital-led strategy for growth centre on the establishment of an ICT ecosystem in Nigeria. This is enabled through significantly expanding broadband coverage, increasing e-government, and establishing ICT clusters, to drive a programme to build the skills in this sector, focusing on training IT Engineers in software development, programming, network development, and cybersecurity.
The introduction of the Sukuk Programme is another laudable achievement of the Buhari Led administration. The programme which was oversubscribed by Nigerians shows the confidence and trust Nigerians have in this government. The proceeds from the subscription will be used to fund infrastructure projects across the six geo-political zones in the country.
Lest we forget, the PDP ruled like a colossus for 16 years. Throughout this period, it plunged and betrayed the confidence of millions of Nigerians reposed in them. We voted them out in 2015 to usher in a new era of change under the leadership of a man of impeccable character, Muhammadu Buhari. Sadly, after being out of government and ‘jobless’ for the last three years, they have gathered again they thought we had forgotten:
1. That the Price of Crude oil during their regime was an average of $100, it all ended in private pocket leaving Nigerians impoverished
2. That there was a widespread political assassination across the country. The death of the Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige in his bedroom is still fresh in our memory
3. That during their regime the nation’s oil assets were left in ruins. The oil refineries production capacity was left to decline all that was important to them was to import fuel into the country.
4. That the nation’s infrastructure was left unattended to. Despite allocating a huge budget for Capital expenditure, all funds end in private pockets.
5. That the nation’s Education neglect became an object of ridicule among nations.
6. That the funds meant for the purchase of weapons for our military to fight the insurgents in the North-East was shared. The main actor who was then the National security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki is currently facing trial.
7. That the attack on oil facilities by youths in the oil-rich Niger-Delta is now a thing of the past.
8. That despite spending huge resources on Power, the PDP house of comedy could not find a solution to the power challenge.
9. That the health facilities in our public hospitals were left to deteriorate.
10. That several youths lost their lives during the Fraudulent Immigration Aptitude Test organised across the country.
11. That the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway became a cash-cow for looters and throughout their 16 years of their reign the Expressway remains unattended to. Many to the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari for showing courage and the political will in ensuring the completion of this economically important highway.
12. That it took the timely intervention of the APC government to start work on the abandoned second Niger Bridge.
Nigerians will continue to appreciate the good job the Buhari-led administration has done so far which will be consolidated at the Next Level. (SDGs) given that the initiatives address its three dimensions of economic, social and environmental sustainability issues.