By Yinka Lawal, Lagos
Former Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State on Thursday listed three economic pathways that Nigeria must tow to get out of the lingering economic recession.
These are aggressive savings, diversification of the economy towards manufacturing and creating value added export earning product and investment in education.
Speaking at the first annual conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, GOCOP, held at the Renaissance Hotel, Ikeja G.R.A, on Thursday, Obi said,
“For me the Nigerian economy has for the past decade been growing at 5.5 per cent until August 2016 when we began to experience negative growth…our economy is fairly diversified today. The non-oil sector contributes 80 per cent to the GDP. The tragedy of our economy is that 90 per cent of our export revenue is derived from one sector, oil. So the question is to change to get more revenue from the non-oil sector through aggressive savings, the diversification of our economy towards manufacturing and creating value added export earning products and investment in education”.
He said Nigeria does not have to re-event the wheel in its attempt to grow the economy as we country learn from others, which have towed the same pathways to growth, particularly countries with similar challenges facing the country, such as militancy, terrorism, corruption, unemployment, decaying infrastructure.
These countries, which are China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and South Korea were behind Nigeria in terms of GDP and economic reserve in 1980, according to him, but have today surpassed the country.
“In 1980 our GDP stood at $143billion using the 2010 dollar exchange rate. China’s was $34.1b. Taiwan’s was $6b, S/Korea’s $141b, Indonesia’s $161b. The same year, our economic reserve stood at $10.8billion, Indonesia had $6.8b, China $10b, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan stood at $3b.
“Today the story is different: Taiwan’s economic reserve stands at $160b, S/Korea has $356b, Malaysia has $105b, Indonesia has $115b, China has $3 trillion and Nigeria has $33 billion” he said, asking rhetorically, “How did we get here? How did they do it?”
He answered: “These countries embarked on aggressive savings. We did not do it yesterday; we are not doing it today. They diversified their economy into knowledge based product export and invested in education, a critical sector. We are the only country that has no mention of savings in our Constitution. Today we are busy sharing what we should be saving, whether it is Paris or Japanese loan refund.”
He called on the government to see the signal that is already coming from the developed economies and take a cue, which is the ongoing plan to do away without petrol for cars in the future.
Harping on the need for the government to support SMEs, agriculture and manufacturing to unleash the economy towards growth, he cited the example of the singular effort of Dangote cement in making Nigeria a net exporter of cement and the high prospects of about $5billion annual revenue expected from Dangote refinery when it comes on stream in 2019. Such support, he said, will give assurance to investors to come in and support the economy.
“ Nigeria’s entire capital market is worth N30b. Indonesia’s is worth $400, Malaysia $300b, S/Korea #1.2 trillion and China $7 trillion. So which investor is going to come to Nigeria?
“Vision and committed leadership is key so that we know where we are going and know how to get there”