Top of the World, sorry; Top of Africa.

A country of 170 million economists!

Rebasing is the technical adjustment process where a country takes a look at the productive indices of its economy and adjusts the statistics based on current figures and development to reflect in its GDP. It is a routine statistical exercise carried out say every five years in many developed countries. But Nigeria has not done anything of that sort since the year I was admitted at Nsukka as an undergraduate. This is the best way I know, I can explain this to my wife,who has no patience for economic jargon.

As always, every bit of news item in this country must be extremely interpreted along a fiercely partisan line. Since the issue of the need to rebase the Nigerian economy came to the fore three year ago, I knew it will elicit this level of reactions. Even those who heard of the word ‘rebase’ for the fist time yesterday, have an expert view on the subject.

Fro majority of Nigerians, this issue must be viewed from their narrow ( and getting narrower by the day) prism of pro GEJ and anti GEJ or better put, PDP/APC prism. And that is why they are all wrong. I get worried at the extent a people can go to reduce their frames of references in life and deny themselves the opportunity to see thing from a much more broader perspective.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBR), Nigeria’s nominal GDP in 2013 at current prices was $509.9bn,this makes the Nigerian economy about 60% bigger than South Africa’s, with a nominal GDP of $322.6bn last year, based on figures from the South African statistics agency (Statistics SA) and the Rand-Dollar exchange rate on December 31 last year. Why the fixation on South Africa, is what I dont get.Growing an economy is a marathon, not a sprint

Are there advantages in this exercise?

Contrary to some APC inspired comments and articles, there are advantages in this piece of news, but not the sort eliciting chest thumping, ego tripping, intellectual masturbating and genuflections of many GEJists. First, this revision projects Nigeria in positive light as one of the world’s up-and-coming investment destinations. And the importance of this, is that this is coming at a time when foreign direct investors are becoming increasingly worried about Africa’s most sophisticated economy (South Africa), and growth prospects in the developed world crawling at best.

Thus put side by side, Nigeria may have a leverage over South Africa as where it is happening in Africa.In a statement attributed to Shilan Shah of Capital Economics, “Perceptions of the two countries (South Africa and Nigeria) might be affected, a larger recorded Nigerian market means that investors may now look for opportunities in Nigeria potentially at the cost of other countries, including South Africa.” I agree.

I aslo agree that with this new figures, destination Nigeria will be viewed at with more seriousness than before.It will also cause the name to prop up at different fora where investors are taking decisions on where to stake their capital. As is the case with every positive statistics,it will help to burnish Nigeria’s image,at least there is now a positive attached to the size. Many will now start seeing it from the lens they looked at China 30 years ago. All these and many more will be to Nigeria’s advantage if, like all economic projections, all things being equal.

The all things being equal of this news.

In the various arguments I encountered, I found out that this in an area many APC adherents hold on to as if their life depends on it. Lets loosen the grip a bit.

This new figure in itself is not something to roll out the drums for, it does not have the capacity to change the quality of food I am going to take this night, nor will it ensure my neighbourhood will not be in darkness as we have been in the last two weeks, it will not make our teachers teach well,or our doctors remember their Oath of Hippocrates. It will neither point the light to where the missing $20 billion is hidden, nor will it force Sanusi to vomit the close to N400 billion he misappropriated at CBN. Rather this calls for sober reflection, if there is still anything like that in Nigeria. It demands we sit down and visualise all the great opportunities this offers and ask ourselves, how best to harness them, and ensure we utilise them for the best of Nigeria.

We should worry about how not to throw this opportunity away, for example, if the much expected investors come, how hospitable is our country, how friendly is our business environment, how secure will they be, and do they have the support base of infrastructure.What effort are we making to allay the concerns of direct investors about rising political risk, poor governance and weak institutions?

And I vehemently disagree on this.

Most people discussing this focused mostly on the fact that we now have a $510 billion economy,the biggest in Africa, but what they may not have read was that with the rebasing, our per capita income has doubled. From about $1,555 in 2012, to about $3,020 at present. How is this so, this means that the minimum annual wage is N510,000.This is where we need to question this statistics. For a country where the minimum wage is N18,000, which translates to N210,000 per annum, where then did they get the per capita income of $3,020?

Moreover, I get worried at the quantity of emotion being expended on this news. Why the APC people and their allies are busy trying to downplay the news, the GEJists and their PDP allies are noising it abroad at the top of their voice. But this is not about President Jonathan, it cannot be attributed to his government as their achievement. But if for the purpose of our reasoning as Nigerians we want to do so, then, IBB,Abacha, Abdulsalami, OBJ and UMYA should all be thanked for this, because this rebasing factored in every development from the time I got admitted into the university, and if my memory is as sharp as it used to, my school was closed down for six months for engaging in IBB Must Go demonstrations.

Now that we are the biggest economy in Africa, what are we gonna do with it?

I think this should be our focus

Words by: Kelechi Deca.


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