Minister attributes Nigeria’s economic challenges to COVID-19

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Ogbonnaya Onu
Ogbonnaya Onu

By Anayo Ezugwu

OGBONNAYA Onu, minister of science and technology, has attributed the socio-economic realities facing Nigeria to Coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world. He says that the world economic outlook in 2020 affects key macro-economic imperative of all nations to the extent that human migration becomes difficult.

Speaking at the 2020 Worldstage Economic Summit, on Tuesday, November 10, on the topic: ‘New Reality: Consolidating Economic Diversification,’ Onu said that trade in goods and services within country and external; relations in production and services; strategic multi-lateral and bi-lateral activities and; internal and external threats to security and defence were all in the negative trajectory. He regretted that the capacity to implement well crafted budgets and development plans were distorted, resulting in the worst incidence of astronomic negative indices of employment generation, depreciation in disposal income; closure of key corporate bodies and suspension of major capital formation projects.

“It was in the last century or so that such world pandemic was observed by humans. Education and health services delivery came to a halt since the first quarter of 2020 such that teaching and learning were suspended in all levels of academic endeavour. Health matters became the first and last frontier of defence for all nations as Coronavirus spread across continents, countries and localities. Nations resources were deployed to save life, firstly before any form of relaxation of quarantine policies of nations, especially for businesses.

“Domesticating the current reality of COVID-19 pandemic for our dear country Nigeria requires orderly and well coordinated efforts by all stakeholders, including governments at all levels, businesses, development partners and the non-governmental/community based organizations. Permit me to recall the commitment of this administration under His Excellency, President Mohammed Buhari, to address the recession occasioned by very sharp drop in the world oil prices in 2015 and 2016 through its fiscal and monetary policies. In real terms, Nigeria recorded 2.27% Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This 2019 achievement was derived from the first quarter to fourth quarter positive growth respectively at 2.1% (Q1), 2.12% (Q2), 2.28% (Q3) and 2.55% in Q4. However, by 2020 (Q1) the real growth rate dropped to 1.87% and relapsed into contraction of -6.1% by the Q2.

“In summary, the current reality of the nation’s economy as depicted by the structure of the growth rates and relative sector contribution to GDP provides interesting, but mixed challenges to policy design, programme development and projects/activities. The profile is characterized by Oil & Non-oil sector performances contribution to GDP and Industries and Services growth and relative contribution in the 2020 (Q2) report released by the custodian of Nigeria Official Statistics-National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). I am compelled to show the summary of the structure of the Nigerian economy, 2019 to 2020Q2.

“In 2019 Q2, Non-oil GDP contributed about 91.07%, while oil sector accounts for only 8.93% and both show declining trend when compared to overall 2019 and first quarter 2020. Although Agriculture contributed about 24.7% in Q2 2020, its growth for the same period recorded 1.58% as contraction of  -6.1% was recorded for the entire economy. Except Agriculture with positive growth rate, industries and services contracted at -12.05% and -6.78% respectively,” he said.

Onu said the current structure of the economy shows that Nigeria’s economy could be successfully diversified during post COVID-19 with less emphasis on oil. He stated that the most instructive new normal is the contribution of crop production at double digit level of 21.97% in 2020 Q2 and 22.67 overall 2019. “Similarly at double-digit contribution at 14.3% in 2020 Q1 from 10.30 overall 2019 contribution in real terms in 2019 GDP. Before the recession in 2016 and the current situation influenced by COVID-19 pandemic, our economy was heavily dependent on Agriculture, Oil and Distributive trade.

“This current reality is a clear confirmation of my earlier strategic approach to leverage the Nigeria Science, Technology and Innovation ecosystem in restructuring the economy away from Commodity-based to knowledge driven economic development. As soon as I was appointed the Honourable Minister responsible for the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, I focused on Nigeria’s’ drive towards global competitiveness in identification, harnessing and utilization of our abundant human, raw materials and products development in Nigeria.

“Indeed by 2017, we secured the Federal Executive Council, FEC, approval of both the National Strategy and its Implementation Plan. Indeed, the national strategy was designed to develop/enhance a robust STI and Humanities/Art ecosystem that is serviced with well focused and targeted industry and services demand-driven R&D programmes, projects and activities. The main thrust of the strategy is to reduce Nigeria’s’ over-dependence on import, especially of items we are well endowed with ample comparative advantage to supply the world.

“This will save a huge foreign exchange, especially in R&D activities which will eventually translate to high quality Made-in-Nigeria raw materials, products and services. Our desire and goal is to ensure establishment of strategic alliance between the knowledge domain (Universities, Polytechnics/Monotechnics and R&D Institutions) and our industries, businesses and the entrepreneurs. These alliances are designed to observe the need to establish a strong and resilient National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) with support from the pillars of Standardization, Conformity Assessment and Metrology. As the regulatory establishments conduct mandatory Conformity assessment with requisite toolboxes, they are compelled to maintain delicate balances between Societal and Business Concerns before issuance of credible certification and Accreditation.”

– Nov. 11, 2020 @ 13:45 GMT |

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