By May Ubeku
IN August 2016, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced that Nigeria’s economy has slid into recession after negative growth in the first two quarters of the year. Prior to this time the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and different monetary organizations including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had warned that Africa’s largest economy may be heading towards recession if urgent economy reforms were not put in place.
IMF on its website wrote, “In Nigeria, economic activity is now projected to contract in 2016, as the economy adjusts to foreign currency shortages as a result of lower oil receipts, low power generation, and weak investor confidence.” As expected, the president and his economic team did nothing. Nigeria had no economic and monetary policies in place since May 2015 after Muhummed Buhari took over. Nigeria went into recession.
At the peak of this development when life was becoming unbearable for the average Nigerian as a result of recession due to high unemployment rate, falling average incomes, increased in food prices, cost of transportation etc, Nigeria’s finance minister Kemi Adeosun economic analysis of the situation was that “recession is just a word”. It is about mere figures that we shouldn’t bother ourselves about she told Nigerians. With 4.6 million people out of jobs over a period of one year that Buhari took over office, it is impulsive to think recession is a word. A reckless statement coming from a finance minister of the largest country in Africa faced with fall in GDP in two successive quarters is not only disgraceful but shows Adeosun’s lack of knowledge on matters of the economy. Of course, Nigerians didn’t spare her. The backlash on social media was aggressive.
Last week, a London-based organization, World Economics declared that Nigeria’s economy is out of recession, but that “conditions remain difficult for businesses”. The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, also, expressed optimism on Tuesday that the present economic recession in the country would end by the end of June or latest by the third quarter of this year, based on what he described as emerging positive economic indicators.
Good news. But of what use is the announcement when recession is just a word? Of what use is the announcement when our stomachs are still in recession? Of what use is the announcement and figures when it doesn’t translate to translate to food on our table?
Talking about food on the table, in April 2014, Nigeria overhauled its gross domestic product data for the first time in two decades. The statistical revision resulted in a higher-than-expected 75% increase in Nigeria’s nominal GDP to US$451bn (in 2012). Due to the rebasing, Nigeria overtook South Africa as the largest economy in Africa in terms of nominal GDP. I remember e-likes of Adeosun who think recession is just a word, didn’t hesitate to criticize the rebasing outcome claiming it only exist on paper and doesn’t translate to food on the table. I agree.
If this coming out of recession charade doesn’t not translate to low inflation rate, increase in employment, availability of forex for trade and others, and especially food on our table, Nigeria coming out of recession is just a word that exist on paper!