RECENT developments portend scant optimism for Nigeria achieving significant economic recovery very soon. A report of second quarter growth of 0.55 per cent, reversing five consecutive quarters of contraction, collided with continued depression of international oil prices, high unemployment, collapsing infrastructure and visibly saner policies in peer countries. To avoid disaster, President Muhammadu Buhari should empanel a robust economic team and take the necessary policy measures to reboot the economy.
Severe stress in the socio-economic environment accentuates the urgency of the moment. Crime is rising everywhere just as dissident groups are threatening the fragile foundations of the state; vandalism in the Niger Delta region is once again putting the seamless flow of oil and foreign earnings at risk; ethnic nationality rivalries and contest for power and economic access have given way increasingly to hostility, while federal functionaries, including the President, are losing touch with ordinary Nigerians.
Grappling with recession and the “vandalised” economy it inherited from its degenerate predecessor, the administration is understandably eager to flaunt modest gains. But as the Statistician-General, Yemi Kale, cautioned while unfolding the National Bureau of Statistics Q2 report, negative or meagre growth in key sectors like services, manufacturing and agriculture translates to Nigerians not feeling the impact of emerging from recession. Indeed, experts say the marginal drop in inflation from 16.10 per cent in June to 16.05 per cent in July and foreign reserves now at $33 billion, provide little to cheer about given the stubbornly high unemployment rate hovering at 14+ per cent and youth jobless rate of 42 per cent. We reaffirm our charge to the government to make job creation the ultimate barometer of success in all its plans.