Ben­e­fi­cia­ries of Nigeria’s re­based GDP

Daily Trust - - VIEWS -

De­spite un­mis­tak­able in­con­sis­tency be­tween most of the so-called pos­i­tive eco­nomic growth fig­ures in Nigeria and the re­al­ity on the ground, govern­ment’s grow­ing ob­ses­sion with the gen­er­a­tion, or rather fal­si­fi­ca­tion, of such fig­ures is grow­ing even at the ex­pense of real and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment. This is be­cause while it takes vir­tu­ally no ef­fort to fab­ri­cate such fig­ures, it takes hon­esty, lead­er­ship skills and po­lit­i­cal will to achieve real and sus­tain­able growth.

The re­cent Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct (GDP) re­bas­ing, which in­creased the size of Nigeria’s econ­omy by al­most ninety per­cent at once, made it the largest in Africa and the 26th in the world, fol­lowed many other so-called pos­i­tive eco­nomic growth fig­ures which have in­di­cated that the coun­try has been achiev­ing im­pres­sive and steady eco­nomic growth over the past sev­eral years. In­ter­est­ingly, eco­nom­i­cally speak­ing, the size of a coun­try’s GDP doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily de­ter­mine the ac­tual qual­ity of its people’s stan­dard of liv­ing, es­pe­cially if it (i.e. GDP) is con­sid­ered in isolation from other rel­e­vant eco­nomic fac­tors.

Also, the ac­cu­racy and cred­i­bil­ity of fig­ures gen­er­ated and re­leased by a coun­try de­pend on the amount of ef­fi­ciency and trans­parency that de­fine its bu­reau­cratic sys­tem. Cer­tainly, Nigeria where cor­rup­tion, opac­ity and medi­ocrity char­ac­ter­ize the bu­reau­cracy doesn’t have a moral right, in the first place, to as­cribe any ac­cu­racy to the fig­ures it gen­er­ates.

For in­stance, fig­ures as es­sen­tial as the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion, in­di­vid­ual states’ pop­u­la­tions, lit­er­acy/ il­lit­er­acy rate, un­em­ploy­ment level, health re­lated sta­tis­tics, per­cent­ages of var­i­ous eth­nic and re­li­gious groups in the coun­try and even the ex­act amount of crude oil of­fi­cially or un­of­fi­cially pro­duced and lifted etc. re­main de­bat­able in Nigeria.

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In any case, whether the GDP re­bas­ing was tech­ni­cally ac­cu­rate or not, no one can deny that it is sim­ply con­tra­dicted by the ag­o­niz­ing re­al­ity of ab­ject poverty that rav­ages com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try. In other words, while the coun­try’s econ­omy is said to be grow­ing, or rather grows sta­tis­ti­cally, on one hand, the alarm­ing rate at which or­di­nary Nige­ri­ans go des­per­ately des­ti­tute continues to get worse, on the other.

Af­ter all, not for pro­ce­dural pur­poses nec­es­sar­ily re­quired in pol­icy-mak­ing process and im­ple­men­ta­tion mech­a­nism, it would not re­quire any fig­ures to re­al­ize that the rosy pic­ture painted by such “pos­i­tive” fig­ures with re­gards to Nigeria’s econ­omy con­tra­dicts, or least un­der­es­ti­mates the ex­tent of the ex­cru­ci­at­ing mis­ery to which the vast ma­jor­ity of Nige­ri­ans have been sub­jected.

More­over, by cel­e­brat­ing and flaunt­ing these so-called re­based GDP fig­ures or any other sim­i­lar empty fig­ures amid this un­bear­able eco­nomic con­di­tion, Nige­rian lead­ers have proved how unapolo­get­i­cally in­sen­si­tive they are, and in­deed how con­temp­tu­ous they are, to the sen­si­bil­i­ties of or­di­nary Nige­ri­ans. Yet, Nige­ri­ans are not that naïve to at­tach any value to those re­based fig­ures any­way. Nige­rian lead­ers may al­ways come up with more “pos­i­tive” fig­ures in many more sec­tors like ed­u­ca­tion, health, em­ploy­ment, se­cu­rity, and may even go the ex­tent of sta­tis­ti­cally com­par­ing Nigeria with Nor­way, for in­stance, if they so wish, yet it won’t make any dif­fer­ence to the long-suf­fer­ing or­di­nary Nige­ri­ans.

Be­sides, or­di­nary Nige­ri­ans have been greatly dis­ap­pointed over the decades, and have in­deed suf­fered enough to re­al­ize the fact that, even if the econ­omy has ac­tu­ally grown that big, the real ben­e­fits will al­ways cir­cu­late among the ex­tremely few priv­i­leged at the ex­pense of the overwhelming ma­jor­ity of hard­work­ing Nige­ri­ans,

if due to the lopsided equa­tion of wealth circulation cre­ated by the pre­vail­ing cul­ture of nepo­tism in the land. This is very ob­vi­ous in view of the rate at which the rich get su­per­flu­ously richer while the poor get des­per­ately poorer.

Also, even the muchtalkede­mer­gence of the so-called rich mid­dle class Nige­ri­ans, which govern­ment and its apol­o­gists of­ten cite as a sign of a sus­tained eco­nomic growth, is not in re­al­ity a sign of a bal­anced eco­nomic growth. Be­cause con­trary to what is ob­tained else­where where mid­dle class are largely well-paid hard­work­ing pro­fes­sion­als who can af­ford a rea­son­able level of lux­ury life­style within their le­git­i­mate in­comes, the so-called rich mid­dle class in Nigeria are mostly cor­rupt serv­ing or re­tired govern­ment or pri­vate sec­tor em­ploy­ees who have im­mensely and il­le­gally ben­e­fited from cor­rupt prac­tices, or de­vi­ous con­trac­tors and fraud­u­lent busi­ness­men fronting for the thiev­ing elites, and fa­cil­i­tat­ing the process of laun­der­ing their ill-got­ten wealth.

Fur­ther­more thanks to this re­bas­ing ex­er­cise, and even against the back­drop of the ab­sence of com­men­su­rate and bal­anced real eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in the coun­try, Nigeria may still be qual­i­fied to ac­cess some fa­cil­i­ties, avail of some op­por­tu­ni­ties and gain some priv­i­leges in in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic trans­ac­tions par­tic­u­larly as they re­late to for­eign in­vest­ment. How­ever, the ac­tual ben­e­fit would al­ways re­main con­fined among the above-men­tioned priv­i­leged few and their so-called mid­dle class cronies, while the or­di­nary Nige­ri­ans con­tinue to toil in vain and wal­low in de­grad­ing poverty.

Nigeria could be likened to a lazy and hope­less es­capist who, in­stead of be­ing coura­geous, dili­gent and cre­ative enough to con­front and solve his self-in­flected predica­ments, chooses to waste his time in brew­ing an in­tox­i­cat­ing con­coc­tion to take and get im­mersed in a mo­men­tary fan­tasy that gives him a false sense of suc­cess while his predica­ments con­tinue to ac­cu­mu­late.

It is very un­for­tu­nate that, while other coun­tries vig­or­ously pur­sue and achieve tan­gi­ble re­sults in eco­nomic growth and so­cio-po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity, Nigeria prefers to live in self-de­cep­tion pre­tend­ing that all is well, or at least, it is not that bad, and that things are get­ting bet­ter in light of some ob­vi­ously fab­ri­cated in­dices.

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