President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said that the present administration would continue to work until the nation’s economic numbers are translated into concrete and visible improvements in the life of all citizens.
Speaking at the launch of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Focus Labs in Abuja, the President said that government has achieved several noteworthy milestones in the past ten months.
“As you are aware, economic growth returned in second quarter of 2017 due to a clear follow-through of some of the economic initiatives we set out to implement,” he said. “Since then, we have consolidated on the recovery path, reaching a real GDP growth of 1.92 per cent by the fourth quarter of 2017. We have also restored stability in foreign exchange market and have recorded improvements in our foreign reserves which have grown from 24 billion US dollars in September 2016 to 42 billion US dollars by mid-February 2018 and now 46 billion US dollars.”
Although today, the GDP in particular and other indices of economic growth are highlighted by economists, politicians, top-level decision-makers and the media as though they represent overall progress in human life, the President said significant progress was made in the agricultural sector with the expansion of the Anchor Borrower’s Programme to more beneficiaries to boost local production across the country.
And this is what the people need – boost in agriculture production to enable them have food on their tables, not so-called GDP or other forms of economic numbers always dished out.
For too long and for exactly no fault of theirs, Nigerians have suffered many forms of deprivations borne mainly out of corruption and maladministration perpetrated by those charged with the responsibility of keeping the nation and its treasury safe from looting and embezzlement.
Of course, with the president’s statement that the government will produce 1 million metric tonnes of fertilisers in 2018 and with advances in agricultural technology, improved seedlings, drought-resistant crops and better storage facilities, you would think that there should be enough food for everyone at affordable prices. How wrong you would be.
Actually, some people are hungrier today than at any moment in our history, mainly because of unemployment and the rising prices of food. Regrettably, when food prices rise, some families cope by pulling their kids out of school and eating cheaper, less nutritious food which can have catastrophic life-long effects on the social, physical and mental well-being of millions of young people.
The President must not allow this challenge. Fortunately, the causes of unemployment, hunger and lack of agricultural expansion, wars, bad policies, crises and corruption are not insurmountable. With grit, they can be successfully tackled through implementation of strong and stable policies and sustained investments in agriculture.
Hence, the President should take a hard look at the nature and direction of his government. There is a plausible argument that at the heart of the country’s growing multiplicity of problem is the issue of bad governance which is bad for the generality of our people because it is wasteful, unresponsive and inefficient and corrupt.
This is why there is widespread corruption, disease, illiteracy, civil conflicts, wars and poverty mercilessly ravaging the country today.
To address this problem successfully, Nigeria which prides itself as the giant of the continent, must enthrone the culture of good governance at all levels of government even as it dishes out its list of economic numbers. In matters of governance, Nigerian leaders must put people first over and above every other consideration.
This is the best way to work until the nation’s economic numbers are translated into concrete and visible improvements in the life of all citizens.
Indeed, Nigeria with its rich human, land and mineral resources has no good excuse for its continued failure to solve problems besetting its development.