The average Nigerian likes to be engaged in any form of work- an activity that provides for his/her needs, whether the engagement is lucrative or menial, virtuous or vicious.
It is unimaginable that an economy can be so mismanaged that willing and able-bodied men and women can no longer find avenues for either paid employment or self-employment. This is the situation in Nigeria, today, even as the nation still wears the toga of “Giant of Africa”.
The Nigerian economy can be likened to the biblical giant- Goliath whose height dwarfed all other citizens of Philistine making it impossible for his compatriots to rescue him when he was knocked down. Nigeria, with a population of about 206 million people and a nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – The value of total national productivity of about US $466 billion (in 2020) is the Giant of Africa.
The problem is that this supposedly huge productivity is no longer sufficient for the population.
In comparison with other countries in Africa, the Nigeria citizen with a GDP per capita of about US $2,200 is worse off.
The short table below compares the GDP and population of major countries in Africa in 2020.
|S/N||Country||Population (2020) Million||Nominal GDP 2020 (US $ billion)||GDP Per Capita (US $)||Percentage of population in Africa||Percentage of Nominal GDP in Africa’s GDP|
- Africa’s Nominal GDP in 2020 is US $ 2.33 trillion
2. Africa’s population in 2020 is 1.36 billion
One major highlight of the table is that the nominal GDP contribution of most of these African Countries to the nominal GDP of Africa is either twice or more, (with the exception of Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Tanzania) in comparison with their percentage contribution to the population of Africa. The simple meaning is that the citizens of these other African nations are more productive than their Nigerian counterparts.
Economic opportunities in the Nigerian economy have been so badly skewed to grow and maintain very few Goliaths while the rest of the population are dwarfs who are either idle and unproductive, or underemployed and underpaid, whether in paid employment or self-employment.
The resolution of this manifestly low productivity of Nigerians is not in urging the few entrepreneurs and industrialists to create more jobs and employ more (even as they can no longer expand), nor in urging the citizens to become more entrepreneurial (as many have lost borrowed funds in enterprises due to low demand).
The solution lies in broadening the economy through a restructuring of the productive base. The existing monopolies and oligopolies on the economy’s steering wheel (in crude oil refining, cement production, electricity generation, transmission and distribution, inland water transportation, gas processing and transportation, etc) need to be broken.
As the Nigerian government and the citizens eagerly await the berthing of the Dangote refinery, sometime in 2022, the expectation is that the output of the refinery will curb the problem of the spiraling prices of refined petroleum products in Nigeria. It may sound pessimistic, but the point needs to be made that millions of Nigerians will be disappointed at the end of the day. The reason is that Nigeria needs more refineries, at least with a combined capacity up to the capacity of the Dangote refinery, in the Niger Delta region. The Dangote refinery will be an export-oriented refinery because of its refining costs, whereas refineries in the Niger Delta could take advantage of lower costs and produce for the domestic market.
The Nigerian economy will be in dire straits whenever the Dangote refinery comes on stream and its products are in competition between domestic demand and export incentives, such as a higher price in the neighboring countries.
Unless a deliberate expansion of the economy through inclusion is carried out, millions will continue to wallow in abject poverty. Too bad