By Gidado Ibrahim
Vibrant Economy is the life wire of any nation. Globally, where the economy is buoyant, the benefits are sure to trickle down on citizens. For Nigeria, the story of economic prospects has been that of a mixed bag of misfortune. This is due to the inability or unwillingness of Nigeria’s successive leaders to diversify the economy away from oil. Oil has accounted for more than 80 percent of our national earnings. It is more so that surplus or excess earnings from oil were not divested into other productive aspects of the economy to serve as a buffer in case prices of oil in the international market plummet. No nation can boast of working to become prosperous under this type of arrangement.
With what we have on ground under Buhari in terms of the economy, it is quite mischievous and ungodly for the opposition to say the Buhari administration has returned Nigeria to a “beggar state” and that the Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) has destroyed “every sector of our national life” as a result of “manifest incompetence and unbridled corruption”.
So bad was it before President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015. Though the administration was welcomed by recession, it still did not deter President Buhari and his economic team headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo from executing the promise to diversify the economy away from oil.
In its determination to create jobs by attracting investments, the Buhari-led government turned its attention to improve ease of doing business. The Cable News Network (CNN) reported that “Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, improved its ranking on the latest World Bank ease of doing business index.
“The country now ranks 131 on the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 index. The west African nation moved up 15 places from its 2019 spot and has been tagged as one of the most improved economies in the world for running a business,” CNN added.
To begin with, there were excessive leakages in the economy, outright pilfering and all manner of sharp practices. First, the war against corruption was amplified, therefore freeing monies that could have been stolen for development. For the first time in Nigeria’s history, the citizens started witnessing the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) generating as much as N2.3 trillion revenue into the federation account in 2021, surpassing the target of N1.679 trillion. This feat is despite the COVID-19 pandemic that is ravaging the global economy.
The Buhari reforms did not stop at Customs Service. The operation at the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) improved tremendously. For instance, the agency generated revenue of N4.2 trillion between January and September 2021, a feat hitherto unthinkable.
This feat was achieved as a result of the efficiency and effectiveness of the newly introduced in-house ex-service solution (TaxPro Max) and intelligence/data gathering. Other innovations that have helped this feat are FIRS e-services, e-receipt, e-TCC, e-filling, e-stamp duty and e-tax payment and the deployment of the TaxPro Max platform, which boosted the capacity of the FIRS to achieve the federal government’s set revenue target of N7.6 trillion for the service in 2021. Buoyed by the renewed vigour, the agency’s revenue projections for the 2022 financial year is N10.1 trillion.
The cumulative effects of the Buhari economic policy is that Nigeria experienced 11 straight quarters of GDP growth since its recession ended. President Buhari had set out to diversify the nation’s economic strategy and has focused on agriculture to achieve the poverty reduction goal. In addition to the agricultural industry, President Buhari has sought to revamp the cotton, tactile and garment industry. Furthermore, the nation has focused its efforts on increasing non-oil exports such as cocoa and sesame seeds. Revenue from these exports grew by $79.4 million and $153 million respectively. These examples serve to show the promise of diversifying and strengthening the Nigerian economy amid unstable times.
To ensure that he delivers on his promise to revamp the nation’s economy, Buhari, with less than 16 months to the end of his tenure, appointed Dr. Doyin Salami to serve as his first Chief Economic Adviser. Salami is to closely monitor national and international developments, trends and develop appropriate policy responses and make recommendations to the President. He is also expected to pay attention to national economic policies to foster macro-economic stability, promote growth, create jobs and eradicate poverty.
President Buhari has never minced word at any given fora to restate his administration’s commitment to implement “rapid, sustained, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.” President Buhari focused again on agriculture-based strategies and the utilization of more land throughout the country. Nigeria currently only irrigates about 2% of its land, indicating significant room for agricultural development. Buhari said that raising agricultural productivity is vital to address the disparities between regions and “ensure macro-economic stability.”
The apex bank has so far cumulatively disbursed N174.48 billion for the Anchor Borrowers Scheme through 19 financial institutions under its ABP since 2015. The programme has supported 902,518 farmers working with 194 anchor companies. Moreover, the scheme has so far created 2.8 million and 8.4 million direct and indirect jobs respectively.
– Ibrahim is director, Communications and Strategic Planning, of the Presidential Support Committee (PSC).