Abuja – Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Minister of Finance on Friday said the essence of rebasing Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was to ascertain the actual size of its population.
Okonjo-Iweala made this known at a workshop on: “A Reflection of Nigeria GDP Rebasing: Issues, Facts and Fiction” organised by Kukah Centre in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance in Abuja.
She explained that knowledge of the country’s population would help to direct the country’s economic policies and how to manage it.
“The reason we did the rebasing is to get the actual size of the economy; it was done purely to get the facts on the table.
“When we saw the final number we were so afraid and we spent three months with our own experts to arrive at the number.
“You know, when the Director of the Centre spoke, he talked about much the number means to us as a country.
“And, he spoke about the cynics, those who will say ‘na GDP we go shop’ and that brings me to the central point of what we want to make about the rebasing.
“It was neither done for optimism nor for pessimism nor cynicism and I find it quite astonishing that people are commenting on this,’’ she said.
Okonjo-Iweala, who is also the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, explained that rebasing of the GDP had allowed the country to examine the key sectors of the economy “and also to identify those sectors that are making progress and those not included in the GDP.’’
She said that the rebasing had also enabled the Federal Government to know that Nigeria’s economy was moving in the same direction like the economies of other parts of the world.
She said that one of the major problems in Nigeria was that people found it difficult to accept facts, adding that accepting the facts was necessary to move the country forward.
“When we have facts, let us accept them and move on. We should not write columns and commentaries on issues that are facts.
“Some things in life are facts; it is a fact that for 24 years we did not know the size of Nigeria’s economy, because we did not do what every country is supposed to do in every five years and that is to rebase GDP,” she said.
The minister called on all Nigerians to disregard the challenges in the country and device ways in which the country would move forward.
She commended the Kukah Centre for organising the programme which provided opportunity for debate on issues affecting the people.
“We cannot have enough; we need this kind of thoughtfulness, and we need thinking people to really put up institutions that will lead this country.
“ I and the country look forward to more from your office and I will like to have more informed debate and if the Kukah Centre can help us on this, it will really be good,” she said. (NAN)