A former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, on Thursday provided insight to how countries with similar challenges as Nigeria fixed their economies and left Africa’s most populous nation behind.
He said Nigeria needs to embark on aggressive savings to return to growth pattern and sustain it.
He was speaking in Lagos at the annual conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, GOCOP.
The programme, themed “Sustaining Growth Through Diversification of the Economy,” was held in Ikeja.
Mr. Obi noted that Nigeria’s economy was growing and became the largest in Africa until it slipped into recession.
He explained that the economy is already fairly diversified because the non-oil sector contributes about 80 percent to the GDP.
“The tragedy of our economy is that our export revenue is derived 90 per cent from one sector, the oil sector,” he said.
“If you look at our last figures, 2015 earnings, we earned $45.5 billion from export; $42 billion came from oil, which is less than 20 per cent of our GDP; 80 per cent of our GDP which is non-oil sector contributed only $3 billion––that is the tragedy of our economy.”
He explained that what needs to be done beyond the rhetorics of diversification is to get more export revenues from other sectors, especially manufacturing.
He explained that in the 1980’s, Nigeria’s manufacturing and agriculture industries contributed immensely to Nigeria’s export earnings.
Mr. Obi said other countries who had the same challenges like corruption, maladministration and military rule as Nigeria have come out of their challenges, saying Nigeria should adopt and domesticate the development models of those countries.
He listed the countries to include Indonesia, Malaysia, China, South Korea, Turkey and Thailand.
“In 1980, our GDP was $143 billion, using the 2010 dollar baseline. Indonesia was $161 billion, South Korea was $149 (billion); Turkey was $200 (billion); Thailand was $6 billion; Malaysia was $45 (billion); and China $345 billion.
“To go further on this economy, our reserve in 1980 was $10.8 billion. Indonesia was $ 6.8 billion; Turkey, Korea, and Thailand were all at $3 billion; Malaysia was $5.5 billion and China (was) at $10 billion. So, by 1980, Nigeria had more reserves than all these countries. We were on top.
“Today, our reserve is $30 billion; Indonesia is about $115; South Korea is about $365 billion; Malaysia is about 105; Thailand about 160. And China that we were at par, is not at 3 trillion. We are not even 1 percent of China. That’s the crisis that we face in the country.
“The question is how did we get here?” he asked.
“Research has shown that these countries embarked on aggressive saving. We didn’t save for yesterday and we are not saving for tomorrow.
“What did they do? They diversified their economies––those of them with similar raw materials like us, into knowledge-based exports, products and everything. That’s what they did. They supported manufacturing companies, they invested money in infrastructure and education.
“I can show you (that) aggressive saving, diversifying the economy through manufacturing and investment in education is what we require today to turn around our economy.
“By aggressive saving, you will be able to have the resources to bring about micro-economic stability in your country, defend your currency, be able to attract foreign direct and portfolio investment and unlock the resources to invest in your deteriorated infrastructure,” he said.
Earlier in his address, the outgoing president of GOCOP, Musikilu Mojeed, said the association was formed to checkmate hate speeches, fake news and other irregularities on the cyber space.
Mr. Mojeed, who is the Editor-in-chief of PREMIUM TIMES, said since the inception of the guild, the online media space in Nigeria has ballooned.
But he noted that the exponential growth has come along with a lot of positive and negative developments, adding that the guild has put measures in place to check its members.
“While we will continue to advocate for widening of the space for citizens to express themselves, GOCOP is ready to support authorities concerned in a bid to sanitize this industry.
“We however demand that all stakeholders, including this Guild and all other identified Nigerian media stakeholders, join hands to find solution to this problem. We are for sanity but we do not want a regulatory environment that gags or muscles the nation’s media space.”