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Former Anambra governor, Mr. Peter Obi, has identified aggressive savings, diversification of economy through manufacturing and investment in education as what Nigeria needs to get out the current economic recession and turn its economy around.
He regretted that the leaders of Nigeria have been unable to cultivate the saving habit and that has been responsible for the country’s backwardness in economic growth and development as well as the current recession in the country; a situation he referred to as ‘the tragedy of our country’.
The former governor made the revelation yesterday during the first annual conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, GOCOP, at the Renaissance Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos.
Obi explained how countries like China, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia have been able to grow stable economies employing the three elements of aggressive savings, diversification of their economies and investment in education.
His words: “I like to compare the economy that has same trajectory like ours. I mean countries that have the same problem of corruption, military regimes, militancy and terrorism. If you compare such countries as Indonesia, Malaysia, China, South Korea and Thailand with us, you find out something we are missing. In 1980, our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $143 billion using 2010 dollar baseline. Indonesia was $161 billion, South Korea $149 billion, Turkey $200 billion, Thailand $6 billion, Malaysia $45 billion and China $341 billion.
“In the same vein, our foreign reserve in 1980 was $10.8 billion, Indonesia $6.8 billion, Turkey, Korea and Thailand had $3 billion each while Malaysia and China had $5.5 billion $10 billion, respectively.
“So, as at 1980, Nigeria had more reserve than all these countries, including China. But today, our reserve is $30 billion, Indonesia $115 billion, South Korea that was $3 billion is now $365 billion, Malaysia is at $104 billion, Thailand $160 billion, while China, that we were at par with, now boasts of a whopping $3 trillion foreign reserve. That is the crisis we face in the country.”
He said what made the Asian country to tower well above Nigeria economically, as shown by research, was that they embarked on aggressive savings.
“We didn’t save for yesterday and we are not saving for tomorrow,” the industrialist lamented.
Obi observed that the world was moving away from baggage economy to knowledge economy and advised that Nigeria should also diversify into knowledge-based export, support manufacturing companies and heavily invest in education infrastructure.
He also said until August 2016, when Nigeria experienced two successive quarters of negative growth and went into recession, the economy had been growing for the past years at over five percent.
The former Anambra governor warned that the Nigerian economy would continue to be weak and volatile until there is a solid export revenue base.
“Today, the GDP of China that was thrice that of Nigeria in 1980 is $12 trillion. They invested heavily in manufacturing. Eighty percent of China’s external revenue comes from manufactured goods. They attract $1.3 trillion foreign direct investments annually. For what they have done in the past 35 years, China has lifted 800 million people out of poverty,” he said.