Former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, on Sunday, said the increase in the nation’s economic growth of five per cent as announced by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is not worth celebrating because it does not translate to better lives for Nigerians.
Featuring on the Channels TV programme, “Politics Today”, he contended that “I believe in fiscal federalism, it would help the country to grow. At this point, the country is not growing, productivity is very low. The NBS report that the nation’s economy grows at 5per cent should not be celebrated.
“That 5per cent is being compared to minus 6per cent of the same quarter of 2000. That growth is driven by transport because we had a total lockdown last year and there was no movement. Now you are opening up and there is transportation.”
According to him, “look at it again from the perspective of ICT. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a boom in ICT and people now use zoom for meetings.
“Five per cent growth in the economy doesn’t need celebration because it is not creating jobs, increasing your per capital income. I can say that no growth that added to your GDP is growth. It is just a growth that is coming from minus and you have been able to come to level ground.
“What bothers me is that the country concentrates on sharing revenue. Nobody is talking about how to generate income and production. The country is not productive.
“That is why we are preoccupied with sharing. If we are productive, it will be easier for the country to grow and create jobs and do what other countries are doing.
“Every part of this country has the potential to grow and compete with others. I don’t want to make more comments on VAT because the matter is before the court.
“Like you mentioned that Anambra has been identified as an oil-producing state. Oil is a great asset, but with the plan, I put in place before I left as governor of Anambra State, if it was followed, our state could be generating more money than Nigeria could generate from oil.
“How much are we getting from oil? We generate $18 billion. You can’t compare it with other smaller states are getting from other investments different from oil.
“All they have done is to invest in education, ICT, health, agriculture and other sectors. All you need to do is pulling your people out of poverty. The money you are talking about on what we can get from oil, I don’t see Anambra generating from oil in the next 10 years about half a billion dollars even if they start today.
“But I can tell you that if Anambra is able to key into what we are targeting by raising $1 billion to $2 billion dollars by the year 2030 by supporting SMEs across the state, our exports would be generating six times that amount of $2 billion, ” Obi remarked.
He continued, “if you look at the country in terms of revenues for this year, you will find out that we are not doing well. You cannot use one-quarter of economic growth to measure what is happening.
“You have to find out if you are creating jobs, are people living better lives. These are the things that measure growth.
“Today, an average Nigerian spends over 100 per cent of his income on food alone. Just a temporary growth in the figure, like this, is not to be celebrated.”
“If you look at the fundamentals of your budget this year and the amount we are borrowing, you will see that things are still very dire.
“The country is not investing in the right direction. I will give you what will show you that we are still in problems. From January to May, our revenue expectation was N2.7 trillion.
“Our actual revenue was N1.845 trillion Our expenditure within that period was N4. 8 trillion. Our debt servicing which was supposed to be N2.8 trillion moved to about N3 trillion.”