Every patriotic Nigeria should be excited about the recently released new GDP figures, which puts Nigeria’s annual GDP at $510 billion and making ours the largest economy in Africa by far.
Our latest GDP figures make Nigeria’s economy larger than those of several EU countries. Countries like Belgium, Austria and Poland.
Even with the old figures, our economy was still larger than that of Ireland, Portugal and Greece.
The other reason the new GDP figures should give us hope in Nigeria is because, for want of a better expression, “we are not even trying”! Oil remains the mainstay of our economy for the past forty years; there’s practically no manufacturing sector; usually a lot of noise about export but nothing happens; no national carrier, no plans to develop tourism, which is the mainstay of so many economies. Now, how about electricity? Nigeria’s electricity production is below 10% capacity.
Now, let us imagine our economy was roaring at full speed: Manufacturing, tourism, entertainment, education, aviation and constant power supply nationwide. What do you think our GDP would be? A trillion dollars or even two trillion, putting us at par with the United Kingdom whose GDP is just under $2.5 trillion.
There’s a reason the new figures won’t make any meaning to the average Nigerian. It is because it never translates into more money or better standard of living for him.
Bloomberg, while reporting the new figures placing Nigeria among the 30 richest countries in the world, were quick to point out that Nigeria ranks 121 on the Income par capita chart with the average Nigerian earning $2,688 per annum. Another chart puts Nigeria at 143, way below Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Namibia and Angola not to mention South Africa.
How could the 26th richest country in the world place 143rd when it comes to income per capita? The obvious answer to that question is unbridled corruption and official profligacy.
Nigerian government officials don’t believe in equitable distribution of wealth. Kilo n je be? (“What does that mean?)
Government officials, starting from the very top, simply clean up the treasury and believe they are doing the rest of the populace a favour by leaving some for them.
The Presidency allocates a percentage of the budget to itself, the National Assembly believes it is entitled to an even bigger portion or else it will refuse to pass the budget or even threaten to impeach the president.
Meanwhile the state governors, all 36 of them, take a cue from the Presidency in allocating money to themselves and the state legislators also follow their National Assembly colleagues in threatening the state governor unless they also get a significant portion of the national cake.
How about the ministers? A convoy of bullet-proof cars for each minister? Check. A Private jet for each one? Non-negotiable.
How about state commissioners? The list of profligate government officials is endless and it will be tiring going through it.
Lastly, 492 delegates at the National jamboree for ex-ministers, retired police officers and so called elder statesmen, currently taking place in Abuja, are expected to earn about N12 million each at the end of the jamboree.
The government is said to have earmarked over N7 billion for the exercise.
We can only imagine how many jobs that figure will create for jobless Nigerians.
Some will argue that a bulk of the GDP calculation is based on private sector business. That is true but success in the private sector cannot translate into better standards of living because ministers and legislators do not have the moral will-power to hold the private sector to account. Most government officials are too busy creaming off the treasury to pay any attention to private businesses ripping off the public.
On the other hand, government officials who raise a voice against the private sector are simply paid to look the other way.
On a more positive note, there’s a lot of potential for the Nigerian economy. I dare say we have not even started.
The moment Nigerians start to consciously grow our economy we will be unstoppable.