The All Progressives Congress (APC) has described as an orchestrated distraction and a mindless public relations gimmick, the ongoing hullabaloo surrounding the rebasing of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which its current proponents say puts the country as the largest economy in Africa, ahead of South Africa.
In a statement yesterday in Washington, DC, the United States, by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, APC said coming on the heels of the damning World Bank report, which stated that Nigeria is one out of five countries that is home to the largest population of poor people in the world, “the rebasing noise is the government’s response to the classification”.
APC added: “However, the Federal Government has only succeeded in opening itself to ridicule. This is because if ever there was a clear play at oxymoron, this is it: the largest economy with the largest population of the poor; the largest economy with the largest population of unemployed; the largest economy with the largest population of citizens living in darkness and the largest economy with the worst infrastructure.
“Simply put, there is too much poverty in the midst of plenty, and the so-called economic growth the Federal Government has been trumpeting with its dubious statistics is not a result of any deliberate government policies.
“Government policies are expected to result in reduction of unemployment, increase in capacity utilisation by manufacturers, increased access to basic needs of life (food, water, electricity, health care, education, healthy environment, etc), increase in transparency and accountability, among others. On the contrary, the country continues to slip down the ladder on all of these fronts”.
The main opposition party accused the Federal Government of carrying its joke too far by even giving the impression that the so-called emergence of the Nigerian economy as the largest in Africa was a direct result of the economic policies under President Goodluck Jonathan, rather than rejig the figures calibrated to fool an unsuspecting public.
The party noted that “fortunately, no one has been fooled by the government”.
It said the government, however, succeeded, at least temporarily, in diverting public attention from the pervasive and worsening insecurity in the land, the hopeless power situation, which has seen Nigerians publicly protesting being thrown into perpetual darkness, the ticking time bomb of rising unemployment, especially among the youths, the unprecedented massive frittering away and looting of the commonwealth and the total absence of governance.
APC said: “The reactions of the economic experts and the business community within Nigeria as well as at the World Bank level to the rebasing hubbub have taken the sail out of the government’s wind and dampened its undue ecstasy over what is nothing but window dressing.
“For example, the business community has noted that while Nigeria, with the rebased GDP, is now ranked number 26 with regard to the size of its economy in 2013, it is ranked 147 in its ease of Doing Business report of the World Bank, out of the 189 countries profiled. Even Sierra Leone and Liberia had better ranking.
“In the same vein, our ranking in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index is 153, out of 210 countries. There is no better illustration of the disconnect between growth and development; between growth and quality of investment climate.
“Also, the World Bank, in a subtle but clear thumbs down, made it clear that the living standards of the citizenry and the productivity that generates those living standards are the key issues here, and that investors in London, New York, Beijing or Tokyo are not necessarily looking at the GDP statistics but how profitable their investments will be in a country.
“Therefore, President Goodluck Jonathan and his shadow-chasing economic team should quit wallowing in unnecessary chest-beating over the ‘rejigging’ of figures and the play on statistics and put their shoulders to the wheel to push our nation forward. If they cannot, they should get out of the way and allow those who are capable to do so. Enough of this choreographed distraction”.