By Emmanuel OGBECHE
A report, An Assessment of Nigeria’s Economy 1999 to 2020, has indicted incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and three other former presidents as lacking in long term economic planning.
The report by the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, published on January 9, 2022, noted that “The common characteristic of the plans of each of the four administrations under review is that they were not long-term in nature. Even when some appeared to have been drawn from the Vision 20:2020 plan, both their targets and strategies were different.
According to the report, “the Nigerian economy has experienced four distinct stages of traditional business cycles – peak, trough, contraction, and expansion since 1999.”
It listed the past four administrations of having four distinct development programmes; Obasanjo’s “National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, NEEDS; the 7-Point Agenda of Yar’Adua; Transformation Agenda of the Jonathan Presidency; with Buhari floating the Economic Recovery Growth Plan.
The CDD report notes that despite all the plans, only the NEEDS took states governments into serious consideration.
On President Obasanjo handling of the economy, it states that the Nigerian economy “experienced sustained economic growth with a significant spike in growth of 10.5% in 2002. On average, the economy grew by 6.8% between 1999 to 2003, with growth largely driven by improved activities in the services sector.
“The performance was attributed to the impact of NEEDS, enhanced confidence in the economy, and deregulation policies with respect to the services sector that allowed telecommunications to flourish,” quoting CBN reports.
As for the administration of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who succeeded Obasanjo in May 2007, it observed that he inherited a growing economy and sustained it with an average growth rate of 7.6% between 2007 and 2010.
“Although short-lived, the second democratic administration had the best economic performance, as real GDP growth peaked at 9.1% in 2010. During this period, reforms in the services and agriculture sectors contributed significantly to sustaining the GDP growth, despite the significant dips in both price and production of crude oil in 2009.”
Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, the report says, “inherited both rising GDP growth 1999. During his two four-year terms, a growing oil sector with substantial foreign exchange earnings and public sector revenues. His administration was unable to sustain the inherited growth however, as it dipped to 5.3% in 2011. Growth further declined by 1.1% to 4.2% in 2012. During this period, crude oil production was sustained at 2.1 mbpd, while prices peaked at US$114 per barrel. The slight decline in crude oil production in 2013 and 2014 was compensated by a price increase. Growth
under Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda was 6.2% in 2014.”
The report acknowledges that when President Muhammadu Buhari took over in 2015, the economy was already in decline; but “would have been ameliorated had the Buhari administration hit the ground running”.
Proffering the way out, the report suggests that “Nigeria needs to work a lot harder to bring the major macroeconomic variables influencing the economy under its domestic policy. The ongoing economic/fiscal challenges brought about by the collapse of the global oil prices and compounded by the impact of the COVID19, as well as the burgeoning opportunities present in the ICT and digital knowledge, could well provide the needed springboard for a new policy direction for Nigeria not to miss the fourth industrial revolution.