By Franklin Ihejirika, Lagos
To keen watchers of the economy, Is not yet uhuru for the Nigeria’s economy in three years of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of All Progressive Congress, APC.
The journey has been that of mix fortunes, ups and down in the last three years.
Shortly after his assumption of office, in 2015, the economy was hit by the fall in the global oil prices and the resultant effect was catastrophic on the economy , coupled with panic withdrawals by investors who were not sure of the policy thrust of the government, rising inflation, implementation of Treasury Single Account, TSA including the massive corruption and looting which characterised the last administration.
As a result of all these, the economy slipped into recession shortly afterwards.
This was also compounded by acute shortage of foreign exchange which made the foreign airlines in the country to sweat in the process of trying to repatriate their funds back home. Some of the airlines had to pull out of the country in the heat of that crisis.
All these among others adversely affected the economy, as jobs were lost in banking and other sectors, prices of food items such as rice and other commodities skyrocketed.
Many Nigerians who desperately looked for survival found solace in MMM Ponzi Scheme, and when this Ponzi Scheme collapsed, suicide became the order of the day among the investors.
Not only the MMM investors, ordinary Nigerians who could survive the harsh economic situation also resulted to suicide as things turn from bad to worst.
As the managers of the economy struggle to make things better, many Nigerians could not feel the impact of the measures put in place to alleviate their sufferings.
But today, the economy is gradually returning to normal in the last one year, thanks to measures and policies put in place by the federal government to reposition the economy on the path of sustainable growth.
Observers are of the opinion that the economy is gradually picking up in the last one year following measures introduced by the federal government through the federal ministry of finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN in area of monetary policies, agriculture and others.
Some of these good economic policies and measure in the area of finance, agriculture, fight against corruption, and others has helped the country to exit recession on time.
The banking sector has recorded a lot innovation and transformation in the last three years, but much work still needs to be done.
Today, most of the trapped foreign airlines money in the country has been repatriated back to their respective countries.
The presidency in their score card said the Nigerian economy is back and is on the path of growth after the recession of 2016-2017.
It said the Buhari administration’s priority sectors of agriculture and solid minerals maintained consistent growth throughout the recession with inflation fallen for the fifteenth consecutive month while the nation’s external reserves are at their highest levels in five years, currently double the size of October 2016.
According to the Presidency: “The new FX Window introduced by the CBN in April 2017 now sees an average of $1 billion in weekly turnover, and has attracted about 45 billion dollars in inflows in its first year, signalling rising investor confidence in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s Stock Market ended 2017 as one of the best-performing in the world, with returns of about 40 percent.”
It also said five million new taxpayers were added to the tax base since 2016, as part of efforts to diversify government revenue.
Also, tax revenue increased to N1.17 trillion in the first quarter 2018, a 51 per cent increase on the first quarter 2017 figure.
In the words of President Buhari: “In our efforts at diversifying the economy through Agriculture, solid minerals development and tourism, we are investing heavily in infrastructure. This administration has injected $9 billion to strengthen its investment in power, roads, railway in the past two years alone.
Also, this government is investing in human resource development by the introduction of the social investment programme that has benefitted 9 million people, still counting. These programmes include our Home-Grown School Feeding Programme that is providing one meal a day to 8.2 million pupils in over 45,000 schools in 24 states; N-Power.
programme that has employed 200,000 university graduates and is about to employ 300,000 more; the Conditional Cash Transfer under which some 298,000 poor homes are receiving 5,000 Naira monthly, and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme that has provided loans to hundreds of thousands of small business owners”.
In the last three years, the journey has been that of ups and down, more works is needed to reposition the economy on the path of sustainable growth and development.
More attention should be paid to the non oil sectors of the economy to change the narrative. Yes the Agricultural sector is fast picking up, but not not enough to sustain the economy without oil.
Here, the tourism sector is the low hanging fruits that can be quickly tapped into by the government.
The importance of tourism and its potential to national economies cannot be overemphasized. Tourism contributes to the wealth of nations and the well being of citizens, largely through foreign exchange earnings, generation of revenue, creation of employment as well as peaceful co-existence.
Truly, Nigeria’s economy in last three years is not yet uhuru as more works need to be done to fast tract the slow pace of development.