Examining Nigeria’s Statistical Fiction By Nasiru Suwaid
“The conclusion is that any evaluation of whether Africa’s rise (of GDP) is real or not must begin and end with careful evaluation of the growth and income evidence. Without such analysis one runs the risk of statistical fiction.”
-Morten Jerven, Assistant Professor at Simon Fraser University, School for International Studies, in his book; Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled By African Development Statistics And What To Do About It.
This is an incontestable fact, which is that with the exception of Almighty God, the most high and apart from those within the ranks of believers in the monolithic Abrahamic faiths, every other thing on this earth comes in pairs, including those whom we worship as gods and goddesses of the adherents traditional religious beliefs and where they came in distinctive pairs of two, they also exist as an opposites, which rationally explains why they attract each other for cohabitation and procreation, in the case of living and breathing beings, while in the case of other forms of creation, they co-exist to give true meaning to what any reasonable human being could easily comprehend and understand as normal situation of things. It is within this context that a single soul or entity could not be or act to be in two distinctive pairs, putting it in a much simpler context, a boy could not be girl or act like one and it did not attract social disapproval, for partaking in such deviant behavioral trait, which is also a punishable crime within the realm of the rule of law.
However, such fundamental distinctions are not only about the genetic hormonal differences between males and females, rather, it applies to every sphere of human activity and indeed, words that describe every human endeavor are also pronounced in the pairs of two opposites. Thus, where you have the wording happy, at the opposite side is sad, when the word compassionate is announced, what follows from the adjacent angle is heartless but an individual could not rationally combine the two sets of emotions at the same time and be normal. Just like a nation could not be rich and poor at the same time or in a space of a single week, have its position significantly lowered by the credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s due to poor management of its finances, be declared by the World Bank as being amongst the top most nations, having the largest majority of citizens as living in abject poverty and penury, yet within the same week, the country’s Gross Domestic Products would be rebased to enable the nation to be pronounced as the largest economy in Africa, where it an individual to exhibit such contradictory tendencies, we would have quickly cited the ailment Multiple Personality Syndrome as the prognosis.
Now the analysis, the calculated Gross Domestic Products of Nigeria for the year 2013, as of today stood at 80.2 trillion naira, which is the equivalent of 509.9 billion dollars, clearly, an increase of 89% from the old estimate of the same 2013, which was 42.2 trillion naira, that is 269..5 billion in United States dollar terms. It is worthy of note, at least by the import of the report that Nigerian economy is much diversified than previously projected, as the agricultural sector which was before now estimated as 33% of the Gross Domestic Product, it has now to shrank to 22% of the economy, while the services sector, consisting of information, transportation, art, entertainment, banking and insurance services, which used to account for only 26% of economic activities, has now rose to 51% of the Gross Domestic Product. Other notable sectors recorded in the report, include oil and gas which stood at 15%, the manufacturing sector that has rising to 6.7% and Nollywood film industry which is 1.2% in the newly calculated rebasing.
The Nigeria’s debt to Gross Domestic Product ratio has declined from 19% to 11% percentage points, while our tax revenue to Gross Domestic Product ratio dropped from 20% to 12%. According to the calculated projections of the report, Nigeria is now the 26th largest economy in the world, while after the rebasing was done, the per capita income of each and every Nigerian citizen stands at 2,688 dollars from the previous 1,555 dollars. But critically, one thing that must be noted about the report and which was even repetitively pronounced in the document is the fact that the statistical economic production of the National Office of Statistics is nothing more than a measure of economic activity in the country. It is the generally accepted rule in any democracy and need I say capitalist free market economy, which is for politicians, the measure of popularity is through the ballot box, for any government proposal requiring the consent and assent of the public, it is through a referendum such acceptance or rejection is measured and obtained.
In the case of any new economic policy pronouncement, be it the rising or lowering of interest rates, easing or hardening of borrowing terms, morphing of excess liquidity or raising the liquidity level or even Gross Domestic Product rebasing, the only measure of its acceptability or otherwise is through the stock market, thus if we want to measure the new Gross Domestic Product statistics, which was announced on the Sunday of the 6th of April, the closing numbers in the next active market day, which is Monday the 7th of April 2014 is most important. By the closing of that day in the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the market capitalization stood at 27 billion naira, and All Share Index lost 86.65 points or a 0.22% percentage loss to close the day at 38,626.11, which when compared to the last market day of Friday 4th of April 2014, the volume of trade stood at 38,712.16, what the figures has shown was that the volume of shares traded has dropped by 40.29% percentage points.
Usually and normally, for an ecstatic nation but most particularly, for a euphoric financial community, because of the announcement of such morale boosting figures, traders in the stock market were expected to throw caution into the wind, by buying and selling stocks as a celebration of a recent certified status of being the largest economy in Africa. Alas the market did not buy into the figures or at best merely expressed disappointment with the released data, especially given the fact that Nigeria which is hailed as having surpassed South Africa, as the largest economy in the continent, has a significantly lower per capita income of 2,688 thousand dollars, as against the southern African nation having a per capita income of 7,507 thousand dollars and the per capita of a nation is the fulcrum base of any economic growth, which is a driver that generates economic activity, creating a negative or positive movement in the Gross Domestic Product of a country.
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