Pre-Poll Worries that Country heads back for Recession
It’s exactly a year since Nigeria was technically declared out of recession with assurances by the economic managers that efforts would be expedited to set the country on a growth trajectory aided in part by clearly defined economic recovery plan. Expectedly, the government Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) was introduced just in time to get the economy back on an even keel.
As proof that things may be in the upswing, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in a release said the economy had exited recession as shown in the results of the second quarter of 2017 with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 0.72 per cent. According to the release, the GDP growth rate rose to 1.17 per cent in the third quarter of 2017, 2.11 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017 and 1.95 per cent in the first quarter of 2018 while the most recent figures show a further slowing down of the economy to 1.5% in 2Q2018.
Interestingly, the projection of the International Monetary Fund that the economy would grow by 2.1 per cent by the end of 2018 was also lauded by the NBS as something achievable.
It however remains to be seen if such plans have actually impacted the economy positively thus far as in view of concerns raised by economic watchers. In the opinion of those who hold the levers of the economy they are hardly convinced that things are in the clear. As far as they are concerned, the numbers don’t add up yet.
In the view of Mr. Olusegun Oshinowo, Director General of Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, the economic uncertainties occasioned by lingering recession, led to a gale of job loss in the past few year, especially in the organised private sector.
Specifically, he said, “The unemployment situation is worrisome. We have a youthful population, which ordinarily should be a demographic blessing but unfortunately has become an economic challenge in terms of providing gainful employment.” The NECA boss, who also serves as a Director of Nigerian-German Chemicals PLC including boards such as the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Nigeria Labour Advisory Council, National Pension Commission (PenCom), National Orientation Agency, and the National Health Insurance Scheme, lamented that there is quite a lot wrong with the system. “We are not yet there at all. If you are talking about green initiatives, you are talking about green jobs. The stage we are now really, going by the statistics the NBS released recently, almost about 12.2million Nigerians are unemployed. I can tell you that is quite conservative, very, very conservative. In fact, I won’t believe it because if 75% of our populations are youths and you apply the unemployment rate in Nigeria to that youthful hands in our demographic profile, the figure you will get, will be far more than 12.2million. Now, if you want to promote a green job initiative, the issue is that, when you look at the environment in Nigeria, what type of job is the Nigerian economy capable of producing now."
“We have got to be really honest with ourselves; there is nothing near in the economy of green jobs. Our priority actually is to make our economy grow to a level where it can generate jobs for millions of our youths. Our youths are not looking for big jobs. They are looking for the jobs or perhaps any job for that matter, to be engaged in. I am saying in the context of Nigeria given the scale of unemployment we are in, what we are interested in really is, are good jobs for our youths. The next level of that engagement can now be whether those jobs are green or not. But let us engage them productively first,” he said matter-of-factly.
Echoing similar sentiments, the former director general to Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Dr. John Isemede, stated that the country cannot be said to have exited recession with the figures being released for the economic performance of the first quarter (Q1), which recorded growth of 1.95 percent, and the second quarter (Q2) is 1.5 percent.