NBS Report As Product Of Structural Reform By Nasiru Suwaid
This week, if I am to be perfectly honest with myself, I might be doing what I had accused others, which is about projecting into the future, because, apart from discussing the first quarter National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigerian Quarterly Economic and Statistical Data Report, that had just came out last week ending, I will be making a conclusion on the second quarter report, which is yet to finish, thus, have not been aggregately formulated nor published, yet I am making a declaratory pronouncement on it.
Actually, there is no easy way to put it, than to openly admit that the first quarter report was a grim reading, because, for an economy that was projected to grow, albeit, in a much slower pace, it contracted disproportionately, into the realm of an unwanted negative economic growth.
Statistically, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate for the first quarter of this year (Q1, 2016), negatively grew by -0.36% percentage point, thus, highlighting the contraction in the Nigerian economy, year on year (YOY), the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted by 4.32% percentage point (Q1, 2015), it is also much lower than the preceding quarter by 2.47% percentage point (Q4, 2015). The first quarter unemployment rate climbed higher to 12.1% percentage point, from the statistical data in the preceding quarter of last year, which stood at 10.4% percentage point (Q4, 2015).
As for the aggregate inflationary trend and Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the first quarter period, it surged to 13.7% percentage point year on year (YOY) in the month of April, 2016.
Now, to better comprehend and understand the figures beyond the numbers, we have to refer and defer to the two of the most credible indexes, measuring growth activity and productivity in the private sector of the Nigerian economy. Both the World Economics headline Sales Managers Index (SMI) and FBN Quest headline Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), have most often, admittedly acknowledged that the private sector, unlike what is obtained in the developed and industrialized countries of the world, does not constitute the bigger portion or proportion driving growth in the Nigerian economy.
In fact, the reverse is the case, because, even the private sector, heavily relies on the Nigerian government to stimulate growth, indirectly, in terms of general consumer activity, as it relates to the manufacturing sector, the services sector, trading activities and even the agricultural sector. And directly, because of the government being the highest employers of labour in the nation and the performance of its social contract through creation of jobs in the provision of infrastructure, which could only be achieved when contracts are awarded into the economy.
But, under what spending and expenditure framework, could the government impact and effect economic activities in Nigeria? It is through the Appropriation Act or more popularly known as the national budget.
It is instructive to note, that the 2016 Appropriation Act was only signed in the beginning of this month or if I am to be most specific, the budget was assented into law by President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) on the 6th of May 2016, virtually, not having been implemented for the first five months of the year, mind you, in an administration that has tight monetary as well fiscal controls and it is deeply focused on fighting corruption in the public service, surely, in a tight financial environment, it must seriously affect economic activities and more generally, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of any nation so highly impacted, so much that it creates a negative contraction on such an economy.
It is of utmost importance to note, unlike the previous democratic regimes of the past, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) have openly stated, many times without number, that it is the instrument of the national budget, which would define and drive economic policy direction of the government.
However, in a national society where budget management is implemented more in breach and in fact, budget padding has became an attitudinal norm, so much so that rather than the document, being a social covenant and social contract with the Nigerian people, it is merely seen as a meaningless annual ritual, where leaders make projections and promises, nobody expected them to honour, implement or diligently execute.
Unfortunately, an appropriation Act, apart from being a projective expenditure plan, it is also a law, which could elicit impeachment for non-implementation or tempering with through padding, as it has happened to the suspended from office Brazilian leader, President Dilma Rousseff.
The predicament for the present Nigerian leadership was whether to insist on the formulation and characterization of the national budget, as a sacred covenant with the people, in a restructured thought process that changes the subsisting culture in the public service of the federation.
As a counter, because of what a spending delay could do to the Nigerian economy, by pushing it into a unintended but consequent recession period, the budget could be treated as it was done before; padded, unfocused, unimplemented and unexecuted, however, if that is done, wouldn’t it be the ultimate betrayal and breaking of a promise, for a government that vigorously campaigned and vowed to bring economic change to Nigeria.
And this two other things:
PRIOR CONSULTATION AS A DOUBLE EDGE SWORD
Last week, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) or rather, a faction of the worker’s umbrella body, organized a highly unsuccessful strike against the government, to seek the reversal of the removal of petroleum subsidy policy, which they vowed to resist by crippling economic activities in the nation. One of the charge against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, was the lack wide consultation, before the new policy was announced, most especially, a prior consultation with the labour, preceding the unveiling of the new policy, as it is the usual norm in government versus labour relations.
Unfortunately, the culture of prior consultation, within the context of recent Nigerians attitudinal behavior, does not only mean meeting the labour to explain things, seek their understanding and offer them palliatives. It also includes such interaction, being an avenue to compromise them materially, as it has been alleged, many times without number, against past Labour leaders who engaged the government, threatening fire and brimstone before the meeting, but came out singing a different tune of understanding, for a policy they could not have accepted, without any motivation that borders on corruption.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO THE PARTY OF CHANGE
This week ending, marks the first year anniversary of the All Progressive Congress (APC) government of President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB), although many have claimed that not much has been achieved by the administration, if you are like me, who remembered this period of last year with dread, even revulsion, that going to the Mosque on the eve of a Ramadan season, amounts to signing a death warrant for oneself, as the usual bombs would be detonated to blow worshippers into pieces.
If you are like me, who abhor the usual weekly circle of an upcoming weekend, where many of my Christian brethren would go to Churches and they might not likely come back home, because, some heartless terrorist would seek to kill them with bombs. That alone if nothings else, it is something worth celebrating and most importantly, it enables Nigerians to explore their economic potentials and entrepreneurial spirit.
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