Can you really blame Nigerians for being cynical?
The National Bureau of Statistics published figures on the first work day of September which indicate that the country is now officially out of recession. A 0.55% GDP appreciation in the second quarter of 2017 was the winning number, an improvement from contractions that have taken place in the economy over five successive quarters from Q1 2016.
The Statistician-General of the Federation, Dr Yemi Kale, virtually spent the whole day on Tuesday attempting to attend to the pessimism on twitter and the accusation that his agency had doctored its figures to suit an APC propaganda. Some other Nigerians expressed the view that the figures did not (yet) reflect the conditions of food prices – of rice and garri – hence, there could be no sense in hooraying to the exit of the recession.
Yet, as Adekunle GOLD sings, “numbers don’t lie and I don’t make mouth” and the SG, Dr Kale, kept stressing that just as the bureau published the recession numbers when they were unfavorable, it had nothing to gain (or lose) by publishing them with the improvement now made. Moreover, it is still a fragile recovery, even as President Buhari noted.
“Until coming out of recession translates into meaningful improvement in people’s lives, our work cannot be said to be done” was the message from the @NGRPresident Twitter handle.
Rather than attack the veracity of the numbers, it would have been more appropriate for Nigerians to take on the Government directly on what its plans are towards a shift from an overbearing dependence on oil. The non-oil sector contributes more to the GDP but year-on-year and quarterly growths were not experienced by that sector. The increase by 150,000 barrels in production per day from the first quarter to the second quarter was significant in lifting the nation from recession, but demands should be made for greater push to accelerate agricultural development.
Again, with respect to oil, the NBS figures show just how important stability in the Niger Delta is to the health of the nation. The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has played some mediatory role by visiting communities in the region to appeal for the Federal Government’s interests, and it seems the appeals were heeded. However, there have been threats of shutdowns over the past two months following threats of evictions flying from Kaduna, through Umuahia to Port-Harcourt. A truce is now in place and all parties involved would have to build on the prevailing calm to start building the lasting structures that will make all Nigerians truly united towards one purpose.
Nigerians have been somewhat conditioned to doctored narratives for too long to build cynicism so it is not totally the fault of the majority who have not known it any other way to be pessimistic. That said, by their fruits, we shall know them. The NBS boss has a distinguished profile as a first class academic and a thoroughbred professional. Appointed SG since 2011 (under Jonathan) and renewed under the APC Government, the first time that has been done for a statistician-general in Nigeria, there must be something good in his locker. Let’s not forget a certain report about Corruption in Nigeria to which a current Assistant Commissioner of Police reacted to as the work of “jobless” people.
Meanwhile, the SG says he will not be intimidated into doing otherwise than he has done already, and if your mum was the first two-star general in the Nigerian Army, you surely would have learned a thing or two about not being intimidated.