GDP as ‘Gen­eral De­vel­op­ment Pic­ture’

Daily Trust - - VIEWS - By Con­stance Okechuku

Fol­low­ing the re­based Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct (GDP) fig­ures for 2013, which showed an 89 per­cent in­crease in the es­ti­mated size of our econ­omy, I had tried to ex­plain to a teenage neigh­bour what GDP is, and what it means for us all. I first told Adamu that GDP is the money value of the goods and ser­vices pro­duced in the of­fi­cially recog­nised sec­tors of a coun­try’s econ­omy within a cer­tain pe­riod, usu­ally one year. Adamu looked at me as if I’d just spo­ken Greek and then asked, “What about the sec­tors that are not of­fi­cially recog­nised?” I knew then that I had a chal­lenge to face.

What fol­lowed was thirty min­utes or so of me ex­plain­ing the lit­tle I know about GDP and Adamu al­ways ask­ing me more ques­tions, un­til a light bulb flashed in my head and I said that GDP can also be seen as a ‘Gen­eral De­vel­op­ment Pic­ture’ of a coun­try.

The idea un­der­stand­ing GDP as a ‘Gen­eral De­vel­op­ment Pic­ture’ is not a friv­o­lous one. Af­ter all, GDP is of­ten used as a fac­tor in de­ter­min­ing a coun­try’s stan­dard of liv­ing. And that is why I can’t agree with the so-called ex­perts who have been jump­ing from one me­dia plat­form to the other pro­claim­ing that the re­based GDP fig­ures would have no ef­fect on the life of or­di­nary Nige­ri­ans. The truth runs much deeper than that be­cause there is sim­ply no way that the re­based GDP fig­ures will not have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on all Nige­ri­ans, re­gard­less of class or sta­tus.

In real terms, GDP (or Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct to give it its proper name) mea­sures pro­duc­tiv­ity within an econ­omy. And it is an es­tab­lished fact that pro­duc­tiv­ity in any workplace is af­fected by morale, which is de­fined as an in­di­vid­ual’s “psy­cho­log­i­cal well­be­ing based upon a sense of con­fi­dence and

of use­ful­ness and pur­pose.” It is equally well-known that psy­cho­log­i­cal well­be­ing can be af­fected by good news or bad news. Good news is likely to raise a per­son’s morale while bad news may do the op­po­site. As such, the fact that Nigeria’s econ­omy is now the largest in Africa is al­ready a ma­jor morale­booster to Nige­ri­ans in all walks of life.

The un­will­ing­ness by some people to con­cede that the Good­luck Jonathan ad­min­is­tra­tion is do­ing any­thing pos­i­tive in the coun­try may be be­hind the at­tempt to di­min­ish the pos­i­tive ef­fects of the re­based GDP fig­ures. But the re­al­ity is that the gen­eral de­vel­op­ment pic­ture—which my young grants of be­tween 1 to 10 mil­lion naira to thou­sands of young Nige­ri­ans un­der the Youth En­ter­prise with In­no­va­tion in Nigeria (YOUWIN) ini­tia­tive. This is in ad­di­tion to the hun­dreds of thou­sands of youths be­ing em­ployed and em­pow­ered across the coun­try through the SURE-P Pro­gramme.

It is also worth men­tion­ing that the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, showed in a pre­sen­ta­tion at an in­ter­ac­tive ses­sion with the pri­vate sec­tor that the ad­min­is­tra­tion cre­ated 1.6 mil­lion jobs in the year 2013 alone.

Mean­while, on April 7, 2014, Busi­nessDay news­pa­per re­ported that “the Min­istry for Trade and In­vest­ment did not is­sue a sin­gle li­cence for the im­por­ta­tion of ce­ment in 2013, which has tra­di­tion­ally been a huge drain on Nigeria’s for­eign ex­change.” In a story ti­tled Break­ing down Nigeria re­based $510 bil­lion GDP, the paper also re­ported that: “In ad­di­tion, the min­istry has also de­signed the Nige­rian Au­to­mo­bile In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment Plan to pro­vide the en­vi­ron­ment for the or­derly de­vel­op­ment of the sec­tor.”

These are but just a few in­di­ca­tors of how the Nige­rian econ­omy is chang­ing for the bet­ter and no so-called ex­pert should try and con­vince Adamu and my­self that the re­based GDP fig­ures will have no pos­i­tive ef­fects on our lives.

As I said to Adamu, with this gen­eral de­vel­op­ment pic­ture which shows how Nigeria’s place in the world econ­omy has changed for the bet­ter un­der Pres­i­dent Jonathan, it is wrong for any so-called ex­pert to go on a me­dia plat­form and say un­pa­tri­otic things about our coun­try. Adamu still had one more ques­tion for me when I fin­ished. He asked: “When will they bring out the fig­ures for the sec­tors that are not of­fi­cially recog­nised?” I told my young neigh­bour that I had no idea, but that it is an open se­cret that Nigeria’s in­for­mal econ­omy is al­most as large as, if not larger, than the for­mal econ­omy. Let the so-called ex­perts re­flect on the eco­nomic growth im­pli­ca­tions of that.

Okechukwu wrote from Abuja <con­stanceokechukwu1999 @ya­hoo. com>

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