THE World Bank recently released its 2018 economic growth forecasts for nations all over the world. Global Gross Domestic Product, GDP, is supposed to grow by 3.1 per cent during this year. Sub-Saharan Africa will grow marginally faster by 3.2 per cent. But Nigeria, the presumed largest economy on the continent, will manage only a 2.5 per cent growth – if it succeeds. By contrast, Kenya will jump by 5.5 per cent, Tanzania 6.8, Senegal 6.9, Cote d’Ivoire 7.2 per cent and Ethiopia, a whopping 8.2 per cent.
Not only does the comparative growth rates demonstrate the superior quality of economic management policies those countries adopt; they show a uniform pattern of more visionary and capable political leaderships. Among other things, annual budgets in those countries are invariably passed by the legislatures and signed into law before the start of each fiscal year. In contrast, Nigeria has hardly been able to procure its annual budgets before April in the past ten budget years.
Kenya last year went through a stormy election yet, its budget was passed on time. Nigeria had no national election in 2017, still its budget was not approved by the National Assembly until late May. It was signed into law in June. The Nigerian 2018 budget has again become hostage to bad politics which is the arch-enemy of good economics.
More worrisome is the ratio of projected growth to population increase, which also weighs heavily against Nigeria when juxtaposed with most other African countries. People living in an economy growing at 8.2 per cent while its population grows at 3 per cent will experience an increase in their per capita income annually. They get richer.
Nigeria has a population growth of three per cent. With a GDP growth of one per cent in 2017 and the expected 2.5 per cent in 2018, we will end up with a lower per capita income and become poorer at the end of 2018 than we were in 2012, for example.
Handlers of our economy can always make the excuse that having just experienced a bruising recession, the economy is on the path of growth. Be that as it may, we urge them to break out of their lethargy and engage the challenge before us head-on. This country will keep living in poverty until we can get the economy to grow at a rate comfortable enough to cope with our uncontrolled population expansion.
We can no longer afford a laid-back attitude. We must take the business of governance more seriously than just sending people into public office to go and enjoy the perks.
We must re-enact the feat of the Olusegun Obasanjo years when world renowned Nigerian technocrats were brought in to take our economic growth toward the double digit mark.