Some well-meaning Nigerians have been reacting to the national Gross Domestic Product as released by the National Bureau for Statistics, describing the exercise as very key in policy making by both the private and public sectors of the economy.
In an interview with Channels Television after the special press conference where the new figure of 510billion dollars was released by the NBS, Minister of Information, Mr Labarn Maku, said that the GDP could have done better if not for incessant insurgency in the land.
Also speaking, the Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mrs Sarah Alade and the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr Arunma Oteh, said that the new figure would definitely enable policy makers and analysts obtain more accurate set of statistics to work with.
For over two hours they sat listening to the presentation of the rebased GDP estimate for Nigeria 2010-2013, and the key point was that with the new figure of $510billion GDP, Nigeria now ranks as the 26th largest economy in the world, just behind Argentina, Belgium, and Poland, but ahead of Austria, South Africa, Venezuela and Colombia.
On a per capita basis, Nigeria stands at about $2,688 per capita and occupies the 121st position in the world; a figure with which Nigerians are being cautioned not to get carried away especially as the growth is coming amidst insecurity in the land.
How investors would apply the new figures in their judgement of where best to invest funds was of paramount importance and this could only be achieved if the investors had confidence in the figures.
Building this confidence was made possible by the injection of independent bodies in the data collection to ensure that the numbers were consistent.
The Minister of Finance and Supervising Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, revealed, “The work that was done by the Chief Statistician and his team was subjected to review by a panel of six Nigerian experts; Professor Olu Ajakaye, Professor Akpan Expo, Dr. Ayo Teriba, Dr Doyin Salami, Profesor Garba and Dr, Yemi Fagbeunsi.
“The Statistician(s) had all along an IMF consultant working with them because that is the key job of the multilaterals, particularly the IMF (International Monetary Fund). We later subjected the numbers again to checks through a team of multilateral institutions. The African Development Bank, the World Bank and the IMF, all took a look, so it’s been quite a rigorous process.”
One of the highlights of the new figure is that Nollywood (1.2%) and telecommunications (8.7%) have emerged as major areas alongside the agriculture sector (22%), with the share of oil and gas (15.9%) dropping in the new GDP; a lesson that Nigeria should double efforts to grow the other sectors.
The Bureau for Statistics expressed optimism that the exercise would be a regular issue, at least every five years; a challenge to both the private and public people to become more creative in policy making.