Nov 9th, 2012 | By | Category: Ireland Cubicle


By Dunstan Ukaga.

We start our article with an assertion made on Wikipedia:
“By 2020 Nigeria will be one of the 20 largest economies in the world, able to consolidate its leadership role in Africa and establish itself as a significant player in the global economic and political arena.”
Is this a dream or reality?
Nigeria, by all indices, is the largest black nation on earth and has been endowed with natural and physical resources envied across the world.  In spite of her endowments, however, she is like a baby learning to crawl and is thus a source of ridicule to Nigerians.

A country of 167 million people living without even five hours of uninterrupted power supply; where 120 million live below N200 a day; where the national and subnational governments budget 80 per cent of resources on conspicuous consumption; where leaders are not ready to make any sacrifice for the sake of the nation; where everything is imported; where the stench of corruption in public places is high; where you cannot sleep with your two eyes closed; will become one of the 20 largest economies in 20:2020?

I ask how a country with 167 million people, without a functional rail network and constant power supply, thinks it could be a global player by 2020?  This is an aberration of sorts because two indices that are seen to spur national economic growth are good road networks and constant electricity.

Even though President Goodluck Jonathan, through his erstwhile Minister of Power, Professor Barth Nnaji, made bold stands in electricity and ushered in a new lease of electricity supply, most Nigerians in their different cities still say they have not seen the improvements in power supply. Therefore we ask, could a country be a world economic and industrial powerhouse without constant power generation and supply?
From Lagos in the west to Kano in the north, from Owerri in the east and the largest market in West Africa, Onitsha market, no Nigerian could travel to these places on good road networks. Even within Lagos, which is the economic town of Nigeria and the most industrialized, one cannot boast of a functional rail network. Since we cannot boast of a functional rail network here, does it tell us all over Nigeria Nigerians boast of rail networks?
Seeing this vision as a mere dream and writing on the Vanguard, Mr. Omoh Gabriel notes (like me):
”There is an economic dreamer out there. His name is Goldman Sachs. In 2004, he dreamt that Nigeria will emerge one of the 20 largest economies of the world in 2025. Another dreamer, Olusegun Obasanjo, then President of Nigeria, though, he did not dream this time around, said 2025 was too long, he said his own dream was 20:2020. So Nigerians were forced to accept the dream in the name of Vision 20:2020.”
Eight years to the dreamed promised land, another dreamer, this time, Fitch Rating Agency, said that Nigeria can make it to the dreamland in the next eight years—not minding the poverty, lack of infrastructure, political bickering and insecurity in the land.

In a recent presentation on Nigeria’s Debt Capital Markets, Richard Fox, Fitch Rating’s Head of Africa/Middle East sovereigns, had compared Nigeria’s current sovereign debt metrics to those of Emerging Markets (EMs) that have recently made the transition to investment grade (IG) and came to the conclusion that Nigeria is on the path of success.
He said: “Since 2004, seven EMs have moved up the rating scale from Nigeria’s current ‘BB-’ level to the lowest investment grade ‘BBB-’ rating. The most recent was Indonesia in 2011; the others are Azerbaijan (2010), Brazil (2008) and Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Romania and Russia (2004). Of the seven, four are oil producers to varying degrees. . . Among the key indicators that Fitch uses to assess sovereign creditworthiness, three stand out as being well outside the range of experience of recent newly IG EMs: per capita GDP, reserve cover and governance (the latter measured by the World Bank’s governance indicators). These areas represent Nigeria’s biggest challenge to improving its rating, as highlighted in Fitch’s previous research. Of the three, reserve cover is the most susceptible to rapid improvement, particularly at current high oil prices. But although Nigeria’s reserves have risen by around $2 billion this year, they are not rising as fast as in the majority of big oil exporters. “Other external data such as the current account and net external assets are comparable to those of newly IG sovereigns.”
Nigerians are proud and kind people. I must tell you that pride and kindness do not make a country’s people well off.
For Nigeria’s economy to come close to the dream of Vision 20:2020, structural and political reforms must be planned and implemented in the electricity, roads, oil, and agriculture sectors.  Then there must be a real definition in infrastructural development. Part of the poverty Nigeria faces as a nation is the weakness of her infrastructures.
In the educational sector, if Nigeria is to attain the Vision 20:2020 national economic projection, concerted efforts must be made to improve the human capacity competence of Nigerian graduates. Since the Nigerian workforce will be the key players herein, poor human capacity development will affect the attainment of the Vision 20:2020 vision, due to the fact that Nigerian graduates are expected to constitute the pool of workforce from which the drivers of the vision would be chosen.

Tellingly, Nigeria even imports toothpicks. Unless Nigeria reduces importation, its aspiration to rank among the world’s 20 most developed countries by the year 2020 will be a mirage.  The world’s leading democracies and economies achieved such a milestone because they were pioneers in the Arts, Engineering, Science and Technology. To achieve success in this area, Nigeria should emulate the world’s leading economies by studying the vast opportunities in Science and Technology to solve Nigeria’s socio-political and economic problems.




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