Ekpa Stanley

Nigeria is currently ranking 29th with 91 million poor citizens and GPD of $397.30 billion.

Global economic outlook shows that although China’s economy slowed to the weakest pace since quarterly data began in 1992, amid a trade standoff with the U. S., the country is still gaining on the U. S. with some economists claiming that China has already overtaken the U. S.

While the Chinese leaders are working round the clock for stability; the U. S. economy remains the world’s largest with a nominal GDP forecast to exceed USD 21 trillion in 2019, representing about 20% of the total global output, with a highly-developed and technologically-advanced services sector; while Japan is building innovative technologies to take care of its aging population and her next generation job space challenges, and ranking third in terms of nominal GDP forecast to come in at USD 5.2 trillion in 2019.

Germany maintains its 4th spot with a nominal GDP of USD 4.2 trillion; with an estimated GDP growth of 1.5% in 2019; United Kingdom keeps it 5th place with a nominal GDP of USD 3.2 trillion; having overtaken France economy in 2018, India with a nominal GDP of USD 2.9 trillion is projected to overtake the UK by 2020 to become the 5th largest economy in the world, but still remains the 6th largest economy; others are France $2.58 trillion; Brazil $2.05 trillion; Italy $1.93; Canada $1.65 trillion; South Korea $1.53 trillion; Russia $1.52 trillion; Australia $1.38 trillion; Spain $1.31 trillion; Mexico $1.15 trillion; Indonesia $1.01 trillion; Turkey $849 billion; Netherlands $825.75 billion; Saudi Arabia $683.82 billion; and Switzerland as the 20th largest economy with a nominal GDP of $ 678.57 billion; Nigeria is currently ranking 29th with 91 million poor citizens and GPD of $397.30 billion.

By the second quarter of 2020, if Nigeria fails to achieve a minimum gross domestic product (GDP) of $700 billion; if Nigeria is not industrialized, economically competitive, productive, diversified, sustainable and inclusively prosperous; and remains at its current 29th place in nominal terms, then Nigeria would be adjudged to have failed to earn a hotspot among the enviable league of the top 20 economies by 2020.

On the strength of some analysts (including Goldman Sachs) prediction on the prospect of Nigeria’s economy and a research conducted by economists at an American Investment Bank which revealed that Nigeria may become one of the top 20 global economies by 2025 on the assumption that Nigerian leaders would galvanize and channel her abundant human and material resources to set its national economic goals, the Federal Government of Nigeria set an ambitious economic goal to leapfrog Nigeria into the revered club of top 20 economies – tagged Vision 20:2020.

To avert the familiar and historic antecedents of polilcy failures, reversals and summersaults in Nigeria from the first national economic plan of 1962 to the recent Vision 2010, the National Council on Vision 20:2020 and the National Steering Committee on Vision 20:2020 were created and focused on two broad objectives of making efficient use of human and natural resources to ensure rapid economic growth; and to translate the economic growth into equitable social development and opportunities for all Nigerians.

The strategies for actualizing these were to urgently address the major constraints to Nigeria’s growth and competitiveness such as weak institutions and infrastructure like epileptic power supply, poor transport system among others; to invest in human capital development that would create a class of active citizens for national development; to aggressively pursue a structural transformation of the economy from a mono-product to a diversifed and industrialized economy; and to hugely invest in infrastructure that would create an enabling conditions for growth, productivity, and industrial competitiveness.

10 years and few months later, Nigeria’s agricultural activities are still largely mechanical, our industries and manufacturing companies produce only about 10% of what we consume, major roads connecting the regions are still in deplorable conditions, manufacturers are still using alternative power supply, the entire country engulfed in insecurity and a widening opportunity and development gap.

The subtle art of political deception in global politics is most manifest in captivating and impeccably articulated policies of governments all over the world. The needs of Nigerians were never sorted out by the poor implementation of the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (NEEDS); the 3Rs never Reintegrated, Rehabilitated, nor Reconstructed Nigeria; neither did the Structural Adjustment Programme confront Nigeria’s daunting development challenges. Vision 20:2020 was designed to be implemented within 11 years, from 2009 to 2020; let us ignore development statistics a bit and focus on the policymakers’ intended possibilities for actualizing this ambitious goal – within this period, Nigeria continued to manifest an array of contradictions: a rich country of very poor people and decaying infrastructure resulting from corrupt practices; multiple policy summersaults yet expects magic policy results; we plant the seeds of insecurity and expects a peaceful atmosphere for investment and economic development. Nigeria has only arrived at its current 29th place in world economic ranking by figures and not by the real development of the country and we must be sincere to own up this reality. In China, when the country introduced its economic reform in 1978, the country ranked 9th in nominal gross domestic product (GDP) with $214 billion; 35 years later, Chinese leaders have creatively and patriotically coordinated the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors of their economy to become the world’s second largest economy – this is leadership and Nigeria must learn the art of such seriousness, sincerity and drive for development results in governance.

The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), SDGs, and the African 2062 Agenda present fresh opportunities for Nigeria to fix its wide development gap. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) aims to, among other plethora cardinal objectives, create a single market for goods and services and facilities the free movement of people, capital, goods and services.

The trade pact has the real potential to transform the continent by creating a market of about 1.27 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.12 trillion and expected to grow to about 2.5 billion consumers by 2050 if successfully implemented. Nigeria must produce the goods and services for this single market initiative. More importantly, Nigeria must ratify the agreement within a reasonable time to give it a binding effect. Though this is not the first time Nigeria is committing to such initiative, in 1980, Nigeria was at the centre stage of the Lagos Plan Action for the Economic Development of Africa, and subsequently the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community in 1991, Nigeria must regain itself as a leading regional economic power this time around, reestablishing itself as a manufacturing, industrial and commercial centre of Africa.

Both the Federal and State Governments must improve and provide industry enabling infrastructure like stable power supply, good road network and transport system, and security; tax increments as indicated by Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, former Minister of Finance in June that the Federal Government was planning to increase VAT to 7.5% from the current 5% by 2020 may help the government to shore up falling revenue in the immediate but the policy can only overburden and futher weaken our industrial and manufacturing sectors; and we must improve and sustain the monument on the ease of doing business and access to capital.

Nigeria has lost the opportunity of becoming a 20 top global economy by 2020 but Nigeria has definitely not lost an opportunity to achieve the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP); to achieve the SDGs 2030; African 2062 Agenda; and the chance to build an economy that can lead the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) initiative. Nigeria has a renewed opportunity to build an economy that will help local businesses to expand and grow, create jobs, facilitie industrialization, competition and creativity; Nigeria has an opportunity to bridge her infrastructure gap to unleash economic growth and wealth creation; improve good governance, rule of law, security, and engendering more efficient and effective use of resources to promote social harmony and conducive business atmosphere for economic growth.
Nigeria must never aspire to join the 20 top economies just in nominal terms, we must aspire to build Nigeria where the citizens and her institutions operate on an entrenched culture that is compatible with the ethics of an industrial nation. We have to build a social enthusiasm for a technological and technical society. Entrenching a creative mindset for innovation in our educational system; building human capacity and workforce for productivity, industrialization and technological advancement; and creating a smart nation that manufactures quality products for its consumption and for the world at large; a safe and peaceful nation that assures the safety of investors, investments and the host communities.

God bless Nigeria.
Ekpa, Stanley Ekpa, Director, Development Watch Nigeria; and Editor-in-Chief, Nigerian Corruption Cases Law Report, writes from Kaduna, via ekpastanleyekpa@gmail.com