The statistical rebasing of the Nigerian economy that has it overtaking South Africa as the largest economy on the continent is an orchestrated distraction and a mindless public relations gimmick, the All Progressives Congress (APC) said on Thursday.
Nigeria overtook South Africa as the largest economy in Africa as the rebasing was confirmed last weekend, the exercise having boosted the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 89.22 per cent in 2013
However, the APC the news of Nigerian becoming the largest economy in Africa, coming after the damning World Bank report which declared Nigeria as one of the countries harbouring the largest population of poor people in the world, there is no doubt that the rebasing noise is the government’s response to the classification.
”However, the federal government has only succeeded in opening itself to ridicule. This is because if ever there was a clear play at oxymoron, this is it: The largest economy with the largest population of the poor, the largest economy with the largest population of unemployed, the largest economy with the largest population of citizens living in darkness, and the largest economy with the worst infrastructure,” the party said in statement issued in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Buoyed by an annual economic growth of 7 per cent in the last decade and the new statistical measurement, Nigeria had been on course to replace South Africa as the biggest economy in the continent, with the National Bureau of Statistics having worked with technical assistance from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to capture new sectors like Nollywood and telecoms.
“This would increase Nigerian GDP in 2013 – US$270 billion in 2012, according to the IMF – to $400 bn., against projected total South African GDP this year of $392 bn,” a report by Africa Confidential had stated in January.
Notwithstanding the collaboration with both the IMF and World Bank on the rebasing, APC said: ”Simply put, there is too much poverty in the midst of plenty, and the so-called economic growth which the FG has been trumpeting with its dubious statistics is not a result of any deliberate government policies.
“Policies of government are expected to result in reduction in unemployment, increase in capacity utilization by manufacturers, increased access to basic needs of life (food, water, electricity, health care, education, healthy environment, etc), increase in transparency and accountability, etc. On the contrary, the country continues to slip down the ladder on all of these fronts,” it said.
The party also accused the Federal Government claiming that the so-called emergence of the Nigerian economy as the largest in Africa resulted from economic policies under President Goodluck Jonathan, rather than a rejigging of.
Thursday’s statement read in part: ”The reactions of the economic experts and the business community within Nigeria as well as at the World Bank level to the rebasing hubbub have taken the sail out of the government’s wind and dampened its undue ecstasy over what is nothing but window dressing.
”For example, the business community has noted that while Nigeria, with the rebased GDP, is now ranked number 26 with regard to the size of the economy in 2013, it is ranked 147 in its ease of Doing Business report of the World Bank, out of the 189 countries profiled.
“Even Sierra Leone and Liberia had better ranking. In the same vein, our ranking in the UNDP Human Development Index is 153, out of 210 countries.
“There is no better illustration of the disconnect between growth and development; between growth and quality of investment climate.
”Also, the World Bank, in a subtle but clear thumbs down, made it clear that the living standards of the citizenry and the productivity that generates those living standards are the key issues here, and that investors in London, New York, Beijing or Tokyo are not necessarily looking at the GDP statistics but how profitable their investments will be in a country.
”Therefore, President Jonathan and his shadow-chasing economic team should therefore quit wallowing in unnecessary chest-beating over the rejigging of figures and the play on statistics and put their shoulders to the wheel to push our nation forward. If they cannot, they should get out of the way and allow those who are capable to do so. Enough of this choreographed distraction,” the party added.