YES! NO ROOM FOR MUTINY AND DISLOYALTY By: Obasi Okpo Ojah

While the Department of State Service (DSS) recently disclosed that there are certain groups and forces bent on destabilizing Nigeria’s democracy, the Nigerian Military on the 27th of July, 2020 through the Coordinator of Defense Media Operations (DMO), Major General John Enenche said the renewed commitment of the Nigerian Military has become imperative in view of an inciting and instigating comment said to have been made by the National Chairman of the National Democratic party (NDP), Chief Chidi Chukwuanyi. The outburst of this serious allegations forms the basis of this new analysis written by Lord Obasi Okpo Ojah, a Media Consultant and Global
Development Activist. In a recent publication made available to newsmen, an opposition party chieftain of the National Democratic Party (NDP) Chief Chidi Chukuwanyi stated that “the state of corruption in the country calls for the replication of the Ghanaian experience under former President Jerry Rawlings in Nigeria”.
According to the Major General Enenche, by referring to a former Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings, the politician was inadvertently calling for insurrection, adding that ” what Chidi Chukwuanyi is calling for is a combination of unpopular act of insurrection and mutiny which cannot be taken for granted by the Armed forces of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria”.
For the benefit of lay readers, the word Mutiny means a situation in which people, especially soldiers or sailors, refuse to obey the person in charge of them, and try to take control of themselves, While Disloyalty means being unfaithful to your friends, your country or the you belong to.
The resultant effect of the aforementioned in government setting is either coup d’etat or rebellion. Therefore, one rightly agrees with the DMO Coordinator Major General Enenche that such an inciting statement should not be taken for granted; and it is also pleasing to note that the military command has strongly warned Officers and Personnel against acts of disloyalty and munity because their oath of allegiance and total loyalty to constituted authority in the country cannot be compromised.
“…from the obvious retrogressive and calamitous woes witnessed by the above countries particularly, Nigeria as a result of acts of disloyalty and mutiny, the negative consequences of such acts cannot be over emphasized or quantified if it was to happen in a situation or country where the Government of the day is working tirelessly and assiduously to meet the needs and aspirations of its citizenry.”

In a retrospective journey, one cannot run away from historical effects or events where acts of disloyalty and munity had led to several coup d’etat in the Country, beginning from the toppling of the first post-independence democratic government in 1963 where the likes of the Prime Minister ABUBAKAR TAFAWA BALEWA and several regional leaders as well as opinion leaders paid the supreme price in the midst of insurrection which was led by Major Kadua Nzeogu During the Gowon era, another set of mutinous soldiers led by Colonel Emeka Ojukwu propelled a rebellion leading to the declaration of BIAFRA Republic, an act of Munity which caused a 3 year bloody civil war that was intertwined between Ojukwu on the Biafran side and General Gowon on the Nigerian side. Soon after making a NO
VICTOR, NO VANQUISHED declaration at the end of the war, General Gowon’ military regime was eventually dethroned as an act of mutiny led by General Murtala Muhammed. Again, there was soon another unsuccessful mutinous attempt of General Murtala Mohammed’ regime but which lead to his tragic death’ paving the way for his second-in-command General Olusegun Obasanjo to be sworn in as Head of State;
And in quick succession, General Obasanjo organized the 2nd republic general elections which produced Alhaji Shehu Shagari as Nigeria’s 2nd democratically elected president.
Still, it was not uhuru for perpetration of acts of mutiny as one young Major General Muhammadu Buhari ousted President Shagari on account of excessive corruption in 1983. Again, the act of disloyalty and mutiny roared its head as Buhari’s then henchman and Chief of Army Staff, General Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) dislodged him who was on pilgrimage to Mecca in 1986.
Paradoxically, General Babangida’s regime ended up organizing the nation’s freest and fairest election which was won by Chief M.K.O Abiola, but shamelessly opted to step aside after inaugurating a phantasgomerical Interim National Government (ING) with Chief Ernest shonekan as the ceremonial head.

Finally, the truncation of Chief Ernest Shonekan’s Interim National Government (ING) by the despotic General Sani Abacha can be considered the last act of disloyalty and munity in Nigeria’s political history.
More so, apart from Nigeria, one must not forget that acts of disloyalty and mutiny have been witnessed in other countries of the world, namely; Irag, Syria, Libya, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan and most recently Mali etal.
To this end, from the obvious retrogressive and calamitous woes witnessed by the above countries particularly Nigeria as a result of acts of disloyalty and mutiny, the negative consequences of such acts cannot be over emphasized or quantified if it was to happen in a situation or country where the Government of the day is working tirelessly and assiduously to meet the needs and aspirations of its citizenry.
Therefore, the call by the DMO Coordinator, Major General Enenche that all officers and men of the Nigerian armed forces must continue to abide by the constitutional provision in section 217, sub-section 2(c) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should not be toyed with.
This clarion call translates to unalloyed loyalty to the President and Commander in-Chief as well as full subordination to civil and constituted authorities of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; hence there is no room for acts of mutiny and disloyalty.
This news commentary was written by lord Obasi Okpo Ojah, a media Consultant and a Global Development Activist. He can be reached via 08096630373 (SMS only)

 

 

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REVENUE GENERATION: BEYOND COVID -19 TAX RELIEF By: Hon. Mike Igbo

The aim of any tax administrator is not to aggravate the burden of the tax payers at perilous times like these, rather, it is the tax agency’s responsibility to educate the tax payers, enlighten and sensitize them on the need to be fully alive to their tax obligations and be encouraged to build a positive consciousness of seeing tax payment  as part of a strategic partnership towards development.  At these perilous times, the Tax Administrator assumes the Administrator assumes the role of a first responder and provider of relief to the taxpayers.
However, while providing relief in emergency situations is essential in the short term, but what happens to the beneficiary of the relief in the longer term is of utmost concern both to the beneficiary and the benefactor. It is in this regard that the IRS commends the State Governor, Sen. Ben Ayade for approving a Tax Relief and incentive regime to assist taxpayers mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
The impact of COVID-19 pandemic has affected virtually all aspects of human endeavors. Economies all over the world were shut down in the quest to slow down and limit the spread of the Corona-virus, The pandemic caused economic distress throughout societies as workers could no longer go to work, many businesses, were either shut down or out rightly folded up as a result of the impact. Cross River State was not exempted. As a social corporate responsibility on the side of government, the Governor, magnanimously gave approval for some forms of tax relief to be granted tax-payers in the State in line with the guideline of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) and the World Bank STFAS programme.
The State Internal Revenue Service as a revenue authority apart from strictly implementing CDC recommended measures to curtail the spread of the virus amongst staff and her esteemed taxpayers. It commenced the implementation of the approved palliatives to alleviate the economic distress that could affect taxpayers either big or small. According to the Executive Chairman of CRIRS, Mr. Akpanke Ogar, at a press conference, in conjunction with the State Ministry of Finance, “The tax relief regime of incentives has been provided by the State Government as one of the avenues for cushioning the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Ogar, ”the key contents of the package were developed with the extensive participation of various taxpayers’ segments and other stakeholders who have prioritized the areas of intervention required from government.” It is pertinent to know that, revenue generation goes beyond just granting waivers or tax abatement occasioned by the dire need to cushion the effect of the pandemic; We should also see revenue generation as encapsulated in tax collection as a viable option for sustainable development even after the COVID period.
While taxpayers are enjoined to see the tax relief as a good gesture from government to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Government on its part should develop, and use this period to re-strategize for post COVID19 era, as we enter 2021. The strategy should be, building infrastructure and attracting businesses to the state. The time has indeed come for us to remind ourselves that government can only meet her obligation to the citizens if the
citizens play their own part by paying their taxes. For government to collect taxes they must justify their position for tax collection. Government must create prosperity for the taxpayers. There must be a strategic alliance between the public sector and the private sector to support the survival of our fragile state economy occasioned by our delisting as
an oil producing state. In 2021 we cannot afford to depend on allocation from the federal coffers. It is obvious that priorities in terms of revenue generation will change in the emerging post COVID-19 era starting from 2021 and the world will begin to focus on what is really important. Luckily, Cross River State is blessed with abundance natural and human resources which is begging to be harnessed for the benefits of the citizens of the State.
Kudos to the Agro revolution of this present administration. This implies that we must make internal revenue generation a top priority for the State. There is no doubt that no government will continue to provide tax waivers for individuals and corporate organizations for a very long time. The reality of the state 2021 budget is enough impetus to make internally generated revenue a key priority. Given the massive drop in government revenues, government should therefore, begin to engage the taxpayers in strategic town hall meetings, where the imperative of their contributions as partners in the development process of the state will be highlighted. This will invariably aid voluntary tax compliance in the post COVID era and beyond.
This window of waiver granted to taxpayers has a definite timeline which at most will expire in December 2020, with exception to the tax exemption law for low income earners in the State. It is therefore expected that taxpayers should reciprocate the good gesture of government and prepare themselves to resume their civic obligations of paying their taxes in 2021 to enable government serve us better.

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NIGERIA: GAINS AND PAINS OF CLOSURE OF THE NATION’S LAND BORDERS

Nigeria’s recent border closure, ostensibly aimed at eliminating the flow of smuggled goods, enhancing national
security and also protecting the interest of local manufacturers, has become a subject of Local, National, Sub-regional and even global discourse, considering the country’s status as the giant of Africa in terms of her population, land mass, natural resources and its robust marketing cum commercial value to the African continent and the world
at large. The aftermath of this border closure pronouncement by the Federal Government therefore means that the ban on both legitimate and illegitimate movement of all sorts of goods in and out of the country through the land border has come into effect.

As a result, all goods can only be allowed into the country through our seaports and airports in order to ensure that thorough screening and proper certification of such goods are being carried out by the relevant authorities like the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Immigration Service (NIS) and other agencies responsible for conducting such trans-border certification duties. This also means that importation and exportation of goods between Nigeria and her neighboring countries in the West African sub-region can reach a well-defined mutual agreement on types and kinds of goods that should be allowed in and out of the country in line with the reconstituted ECOWAS protocol. Reacting on the immediate gains of the recent border closure policy, the Controller- General of the NCS, Col. Hammed Ali (rtd) disclosed that contrary to his initial fears of dwindling revenue projection, the revenue base of the service after enforcement of the pronouncement had greatly increased by not less than 2.5 trillion naira.

The development, he revealed had also led to the seizure of 2.3 trillion naira worth of smuggled goods such as guns, rice, textiles, automobiles, petroleum products, several agricultural products and other contraband goods since the policy came into effect.

…Nigeria needs to fix the structural, institutional and political shortcomings that perpetuate the phenomenon of smuggling and increase vulnerabilities.

The Customs Boss also asked Nigerians to be patient, pointing out that the exercise was done to send a warning signal to neighboring countries like Niger, Benin Republic and Chad whose inactive posture simply means they are directly or indirectly aiding and abetting transborder crimes thereby causing untold hardship to local manufacturers and informal sector workers in Nigeria. But on the other hand, a leader of organized labour in Cross River State, Comrade Bisong described the border closure policy as a further strain on the struggling economy, adding that the policy was an implicit admission of the ineptitude and incompetence of the Nigerian Customs and Immigration
Services as well as sister agencies operating at the nation’s land borders. According to him, a cost-benefit analysis by the Custom’s boss as well as the result of supply chains disruptions are incomparable as prices of goods are now rapidly on the increase, several jobs have been lost, legitimate import and export businesses across the sub-region
have been strangled, economic activities of border communities have been disrupted with the consequence of poverty, unemployment, crime and criminality waiting to explode. Comrade Bisong however observed that while appreciating the Federal Government’s quest to tighten security in our nation’s borders in a bid to minimize smuggling, he stressed the need for government to put palliative measures in place to cushion the effect of the policy
which has taken its toll on the informal sector workers, individuals and corporate bodies who are doing legitimate business across the borders.

Similarly, briefing newsmen in Lagos as reported by the Telegraph, the Director General of Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Muda Yusuf posited that “while not diminishing the importance of security in the border management process, it is also true that neighboring countries have been sabotaging the Nigerian government’s efforts to curb smuggling and check insecurity, the government has a duty to manage the situation and
deploy appropriate response. According to him, over 90 percent of Nigeria’s trade with the West African sub-region was by road, adding that export of goods such as agricultural products, detergents, toothpastes, plastic products, steel products, kitchen utensils, grains, ginger, onions among others have been affected adversely.

These are sources of livelihood of Nigerians doing legitimate business and there are thousands of transporters who make a living from these legitimate trading activities. These are costs that would run into hundreds of billions of naira hence, we must weigh the costs and benefits because most often, we do not count the cost of government
policy on citizens and business. Therefore, we should not underestimate the contributions of trade and commerce to the economy of the country, Yusuf noted.

…there are more turbulent storms waiting for local manufacturers and MSMEs as the country’s GDP is set to lose N20 trillion according to the World Bank. The choice is therefore left for the Federal Government to rethink.

In comparing and contrasting the views from the aforementioned stakeholders, one is therefore poised to agree that Nigeria needs to fix the structural, institutional and political shortcomings that perpetuate the phenomenon of
smuggling and increase vulnerabilities. “And unless our country addresses these shortcomings, it would be difficult
to put an end to the problems of smuggling. Therefore, our institutional capacity to police the porous borders across the country needs immediate attention. Secondly, the need to deploy both ground and aerial technology in
surveillance of our nation’s borders cannot be overemphasized. Again, the weak productivity in the domestic economy which aggravates production and operating costs, thus impacting adversely on domestic prices and competitiveness, high transportation costs and weak domestic connectivity which affects domestics prices, high poverty incidence which makes majority of citizens crave for cheap products, including food items must be looked into.

As a matter of fact, the Federal Government should review the high and prohibitive import tariff, which creates compliance and enforcement challenges for the Nigerian Custom Service and also perpetuate corruption, foreign
exchange policy, which incentivizes imports and penalizes domestic products and exports, unsustainable subsidy regime on petroleum products, high transaction costs, high charges, combat corruption and ensure adequate equipment at the nation’s port making the cost of clearing cargo at the ports very prohibitive.

To this end, there are more turbulent storms waiting for local manufacturers and MSMEs as the country’s GDP is set to lose N20 trillion according to the World Bank. The choice is therefore left for the Federal Government to rethink.

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THE RELEVANCE OF AGRICULTURE

Prologue Agriculture is the primary industry of any society. At the early stages of economic growth, agriculture plays
a very vital role in that it is the initial provider of employment,income and foreign exchange that can get the economy going. This was the situation in Nigeria until crude petroleum was discovered in commercial quantity in the late 1950s. In fact, it is only after agriculture has been developed beyond the subsistence level that it makes economic sense to move resources away from agriculture to manufacturing without a fall-off in the growth and productivity of
agriculture. Even at the third stage of growth of the economy as identified by Rostow, agriculture must be made to grow in tandem with manufacturing for industrialization to be sustained.

However, even without government neglect, agriculture could naturally decline relative to manufacturing because of the relatively low income and price elasticizes of demand for agricultural primary products that often create surplus output which depresses prices of agro products, the income of the farmer and consequently the returns on investment in the sector that the economy is like a tree. Agriculture is its roots; the government, including the services sector is its stem while manufacturing is its branches and foliage. Roots, as we all know, are very important part of a tree. Without the roots to hold the tree firmly on the ground and to transmit nutrients through osmosis from the earth to the foliage where the fruits are borne, the tree would be useless and may die.

Countries that are not naturally endowed with agricultural land spend fortunes to artificially develop one for agriculture. Israel is one of such countries that I know very well that continue to spend a fortune to make her land arable to sustain agricultural development. In fact, in one of my trips to that country when I served as the Executive Secretary of the Cross River State Pilgrims Welfare Board, we were shown farms in Israel. What we saw amazed us. You need to see how crops grow on land that was supposed to be arid. Israel sits on a stony topography, yet she is one of the agriculturally tuberous countries in the world, exporting maize, grapes and other fruits to some countries in Europe where the chalky soil texture there does not support the cultivation of these items. Now, in the study of the world economy, we realize that in the Israeli economy, income is fairly distributed; there is sustainable employment, industrialization and the GDP is also growing in leaps and bounds. In Israel, agriculture is next to tourism in the generation of foreign exchange, yet this is a country that supposes to lack enough food to feed her population without falling back on other countries for food aid. The Israeli economy is growing not because that country is operating a socialist economic system but because of the continuous social investment in agriculture. In Nigeria, the tradition of our economy is replete with facts that before the discovery of crude oil in the late 1950s, agriculture was the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. We were told that the sector was contributing more than 60% of the country’s export earnings and almost 100% of domestic income was also being generated from this sector up to 1969 as indicated in the table below.

But with the outlandish rise in oil prices in the world market in the post-Civil War years, the returns on investment in oil exploration and exploitation rose sharply higher than that of agriculture.(See graph above.)As a matter of wise economic decision, the Nigeria government then, faced with the mounting challenges of rehabilitating a postwar
economy, had begun to pay more attention to oil exploration and exploitation where it was able to generate enough revenue that could tide it over its public expenditure program on the rehabilitation of the post war economy. Consequently, the government had to completely divest from agriculture which had begun to bring lower returns after 1969. Consequently, resource allocation by the government which was expropriating the greater chunk of
the country’s resources began to tilt in favor of oil exploration and exploitation. In fact, in the 2nd and 3rd National Development Plan periods of 1970–1975 and 1975–1980 respectively, agriculture was allocated a paltry percentage of the total government expenditure relative to petroleum exploration and exploitation in these two development plan periods. The growth of agriculture and domestic food production in the country had accordingly begun to decline. What followed afterwards was the food crisis that erupted in the country with skyrocking food price inflation. What the country generated as revenue from crude oil exports was then used in importing food to feed the ever-increasing population of the country rather than being used in importing capital goods for domestic industrialization. Our foreign reserves, rather than grow, were often depleted through payment of mounting food import bills. Furthermore, the growth of unemployment in the economy became outlandish. The increase in rural unemployment because of the neglect of agriculture had forced the youths to migrate to the urban areas. The congestion in the urban areas did not only bring pressure on existing infrastructure there but the crime rate in the cities had increased.

Agriculture will not only generate the raw materials for the industrial goods; it will also generate the domestic income and the domestic market for these goods.

This is how far agriculture is important. From all indications, government’s decision to divest from agriculture was a grave mistake because no country, according to Thirlwall, can maintain self-esteem and be able to hold herself high among the comity of nations if such a country cannot feed her teeming population without recourse to other countries. The prologue to this article aptly explains the fact. Quite certainly, no country can ever achieve industrialization and industrial growth if, first of all, her agriculture is not developed. So the best approach to industrialization is for Nigeria to develop agriculture first and then use the foreign exchange that would be generated from agricultural export to develop the industries that would use the raw materials that would be produced by agriculture to manufacture human consumables. The country has no justification whatsoever to begin to import such things as fruit juice, tomato sauce, rice, etc. Agriculture will not only generate the raw materials for the industrial goods; it will also generate the domestic income and the domestic market for these goods. The rhetoric for justifying agriculture has become superfluous and it needs not be over-flogged here; but despite this rhetoric, government still pays little attention to agriculture.

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Agriculture Promotion Policy (2-2016-2020) and Rural Development In Nigeria

“Though faced with several challenges, agriculture remains viable in driving the development agenda of Nigeria.”

INTRODUCTION

Agriculture is the engine that stimulates economic processes when it comes to national development. Historical facts show that before the oil boom in the 1970s, agriculture was the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy (Ayodele, Obafemi, and Ebong, 2013). Each region was known for a particular agricultural produce – the Northern region was known as groundnut pyramid; Western region for cocoa, one of the world best commercial viable seeds; the Eastern region was the home of palm nut and cassava, and collectively, the proceeds from these agricultural products made Nigeria the beauty of Africa.

Facts from research have shown that agriculture contributed to over 90% of the country’s GDP, which was once upon a time (Opinion Nigeria, 2013). though faced with several challenges, agriculture remains viable in driving the development agenda of Nigeria. Fatokun (2015) enumerated some of the potentials of the sector to include,

1. A shift in mono culture economy i.e. diversifying from over-reliance on crude oil especially at a time
when the price plummeted which is beginning to tell on the economy.

2. Provision of food and raw materials through development of agriculture to Nigeria’s teeming population and the development of the manufacturing sector respectively, which also discourages heavy
dependence on importation.

3. The agriculture sector is also capable of reducing the country’s level of unemployment on the account that the sector is labor intensive.

4. Agriculture will also curb the effect of rural-urban migration which will help to de-congest the urban areas and make life easier for people both in the rural or urban area.

5. Agriculture will also help the government to make more effort in developing the degrading
infrastructure throughout the nation in an attempt to ease movement of goods from one location to the
other, likewise for the preservation of Agricultural output.

6. Development of the Agriculture sector will also help in improving other sectors and thereby curbing
the level of the existing corruption in the country.

7. The development of Nigeria Agriculture sector may also help to reduce the level of corruption in the
country.

Nigeria’s economy is blessed with various natural resources, yet the citizens suffer in the midst of plenty. Nigeria has a high poverty rate in comparison with other African countries despite its higher Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Currently, Nigeria has over 80% of its land arable but unfortunately less than
40% of the land is cultivated despite the country’s teeming population and level of unemployment (Fatokun, 2015). Putting Nigeria’s agriculture sector on a path to growth requires action to solve
two major problems: produce enough fresh, high-quality foods for the Nigerian market; and serve the export market successfully and earn foreign exchange. the new federal Agricultural Promotion
Policy (APP) is a strategy that focuses on solving the core issues at the heart of limited food production and delivery of quality standards.

As productivity improves domestically and standards are raised for all Nigerian food production, export markets will also benefit in impacting positively on Nigeria’s balance of payments. Given limited resources and the importance of delivering sustainable results, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) in consultation with partners, has identified an initial pool of crops and related activities that will be Nigeria’s path to tackling the aforementioned gaps. the study is designed to evaluate the policy framework, action plans and envisage challenges. This will be supported by prospects required in the effective implementation of the policy framework.

EMERGING ISSUES FOR CONCERN

Among several challenges faced by the Nigerian agricultural sector, emerging studies (World Bank, 2013; Ayodele, Obafemi, and Ebong, 2013; FAO, 2014; Shittu, 2017; FMARD, 2017) indicate two key challenges. One is an inability to meet domestic food requirements, and secondly, an inability to export at quality levels required for market success. the former problem is a productivity challenge driven by an input system and farming model that is largely inefficient. As a result, an aging population of farmers do not have enough seeds, fertilizers, irrigation, crop protection and related support to be successful
(Carbaugh, 2009). the latter challenge is driven by an equally inefficient system for setting and enforcing food quality standards, as well as poor knowledge of target markets. these challenges if not carefully tackled will affect the prospects of the Nigeria Agriculture Promotion Policy.

AGRICULTURE PROMOTION POLICY 2016 – 2020: ASSESSING THE POLICY FRAMEWORK

In response to the need to end hunger and malnutrition in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari took appropriate steps with the implementation of a new Agriculture Promotion Policy (2016- 2020). Also referred to as the Green Alternative, the policy is the outcome of an intensive consultative process between November, 2015 and April, 2016, which involved multiple stakeholders. From farmer groups to investors to processors to lenders to civil servants to academics, many stakeholders provided detailed input, commentary, and support (FMARD, 2017).  e policy is driven by engagement of marketplace participants, farmers, states, investors, financial institutions, and communities. the vision of the Buhari Administration for agriculture is to work with key stakeholders to build an agribusiness economy capable of delivering sustained prosperity by meeting domestic food security goals, generating exports, and supporting sustainable income and job growth.

therefore, in 2016 to 2020, Nigeria’s policy now needs to be readjusted to solve the aforementioned challenges. the go forward federal priorities (in partnership with State Governments) will be the following four: food security; import substitution; job creation; and economic diversification (FMARD, 2017). the new policy regime tagged the Agriculture Promotion Policy (APP) is founded on the following guiding principles:

1. Agriculture as a business – focusing the policy instruments on a government-enabled, private sectorled engagement as the main growth driver of the sector.  is essential principle was established in the ATA and will remain a cardinal design principle of Nigeria’s agriculture policies going forward.

2. Agriculture as key to long-term economic growth and security – focusing policy instruments to ensure that the commercialization of agriculture includes technologies, financial services, inputs supply chains, and market linkages that directly engage rural poor farmers because rural economic growth will
play a critical role in the country’s successful job creation, economic diversity, improved security and sustainable economic growth.

3. Food as a human right – focusing the policy instruments for agricultural development on the social responsibility of government with respect to food security, social security and equity in the Nigerian society; and compelling the government to recognize, protect and fulfill the irreducible minimum
degree of freedom of the people from hunger and malnutrition.

4. Value chain approach – focusing the policy instruments for enterprise development across successive stages of the commodity value chains for the development of crop, livestock and fisheries sub-sectors, namely input supply, production, storage, processing/utilization, marketing, and consumption. Building complex linkages between value chain stages will be an important part of the ecosystem that will drive sustained prosperity for all Nigerians.

5. Prioritizing crops – focusing policy on achieving improved domestic food security and boosting export
earnings requires a measure of prioritization. therefore, for domestic crops, the initial focus in 2016 – 2018 will be expanding the production of rice, wheat, maize, soya beans, and tomatoes. For export crops, the initial focus will be on cocoa, cassava, oil palm, sesame, and gum Arabic. From 2018 on wards, the export focus will add on bananas, avocado, mango, fish and cashew nuts. Investments in closing
infrastructure gaps to accelerate productivity and investment in these crops will also be sequenced
to reflect capital availability and management attention.

6. Market orientation – focusing policy instruments on stimulating agricultural production on a
sustainable basis, and stimulating supply and demand for agricultural produce by facilitating linkages
between producers and off -takers, while stabilizing prices or reducing price volatility for agricultural
produce through market-led price stabilization mechanisms (commodity exchanges, negotiated off -take agreements, extended farm-gate price under value chains coordination mechanisms, agricultural insurance, etc.)

7. Factoring Climate change and Environmental sustainability – focusing policy instruments on the sustainability of the use of natural resources (land and soil, water and ecosystems) with the future
generation in mind while increasing agricultural production, marketing, and other human activities in the agricultural sector.

8. Participation and inclusiveness – focusing instruments on measures to maximize the full participation
of stakeholders including farmer’s associations, cooperatives, and other groups, as well as NGOs, CBOs,
CSOs, development partners and the private sector. this places a premium on the role of these organizations or groups as agents of economic change in the general and agricultural economy, in particular, thereby drawing benefits from their policy advocacy roles as partners to and watchdog of government.

9. Policy integrity – focusing policy instruments on measures for sanitizing the business environment
for agriculture, in terms of accountability, transparency and due process of law, ensuring efficient allocation and use of public funding and fighting corruption on all programs involving public resources. this also applies to compliance with international commitments, protocols, and conventions that Nigeria is a signatory to.

10. Nutrition-sensitive agriculture – focusing policy instruments on addressing the issues of stunting,
wasting, underweight and other manifestations of hunger and malnutrition with particular reference to the vulnerable groups, which include children under 5, nursing mothers and persons with chronic illness and disabilities

11. Agriculture’s Linkages with Other Sectors – focusing policy instruments on the connected relationship between agriculture and other sectors at federal and state levels, particularly industry, environment, power, energy, works and water sectors (FMARD, 2017).

Within the set of policy principles, the framework maintained that the Federal Government will concentrate on providing an enabling environment for stakeholders at federal and state level to play their distinctive roles. the policy emphasis will be on providing a conducive legislative and agricultural
knowledge framework, macro policies, security enhancing physical infrastructure and institutional mechanisms for coordination and enhancing access to adequate inputs, finance, information on innovation, agricultural services and markets (FMARD, 2017).

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES OF THE AGRICULTURE PROMOTION POLICY

According to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), the policy action plans are as follows: First, FMARD will prioritize improving productivity into a number of domestically focused crops and activities. these are rice, wheat, maize, fish (aquaculture), dairy milk, soya beans, poultry, horticulture (fruits and vegetables), and sugar. Nigeria believes that the gap can be closed by partnering closely with private investors across farmer groups and companies to develop end-to-end value chain solutions. these chains will receive facilitated government support as they make deep commitments to engaging a new generation of farmers, improving the supply of specialized fertilizers and protection chemicals, as well as wider scale use of high yielding seeds. In addition, Nigeria expects to
work with investors to sharply improve the distribution system for fresh foods so as to reduce time to table, reduce post-harvest losses, and overall, improve nutritional outcomes e.g. lowering of diabetic risk, stunting risk, etc.

Second, FMARD will prioritize for export markets the production of the following crops and activities: cow-peas, cocoa, cashew, cassava (starch, chips, and ethanol), ginger, sesame, oil palm, yams, horticulture (fruits and vegetables), beef and cotton. FMARD will also work with a network of investors, farmers, processors and other stakeholders to deepen the supporting infrastructure to ensure that quality standards are defined and maintained across the value chain. that will involve adding more testing laboratories, improving trace-ability of crops, disseminating intelligence on export markets and consumer preferences, etc. Our goal is to build a high-quality brand for Nigerian foods based on rigorous data and processes that protect food safety for both domestic and export market consumers. to ensure that the strategy is executed as intended, FMARD is working closely with states and other federal MDAs e.g. Power, Transportation and Trade. FMARD will also evolve itself to become a more focused policymaker and regulator to ensure accountability for results. FMARD will use its convening and related powers to ensure that the enabling system is in place to support agribusiness. From investments in rural roads to reduce transport time to improved security of farming communities to reduce the incidence of criminality to a reduction in intra-state taxes and levies, FMARD will intensify oversight. that oversight will ensure that farmers and investors are working in a market that is safe, competitive, and capable of enabling wealth creation in the coming years and decades.

Finally, FMARD will periodically publish metrics to track performance against the strategy e.g. tonnage of rice paddy produced, or yields/milking cow. the systems to repeatedly collect accurate data and integrate these into policy making, as well as investment planning will be  refined over the next few months as part of this next wave of reform. We anticipate that if successful, key gaps such as Nigeria’s continued imports of rice will disappear, while Nigerian produce e.g. beans and cocoa will once again become a quality benchmark across the globe. Reaching that point will require significant investments in
people, processes, and systems. Nigeria is committed to taking the necessary steps in order to move Nigerian agriculture from “a business” to a commercial ecosystem that can produce the capabilities necessary to create sustainable jobs and wealth.

CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS OF ACHIEVING THE AGRICULTURE PROMOTION POLICY

The challenge facing the Nigerian agricultural sector is historical. the period of the colonial administration in Nigeria, 1861-1960, was punctuated by rather ad-hoc attention to agricultural
development. During the said era, considerable emphasis was placed on research and extension services. the first notable era was the establishment of a Botanical Research Station in Lagos by Sir Claude McDonald in 1893 (Ayoola, 2009). In 1912, a Department of Agriculture was established in each of the
then Southern and Northern Nigeria, though the activities of the department were virtually suspended between 1913 and 1921 as a result of the First World War and its aftermath. It was during this period that West African Institute for Oil Palm Research in Benin was started and the research on cocoa was intensified at Moor Plantation, Owena near Ondo and at Onigambari near Ibadan (Diao, Hazell, and thurlow, 2006). Achievement of the period include the development of ‘Alien Cotton’ in the South; rice cultivation in Sokoto, Niger, Ilorin, Abeokuta Colony and Ondo province; and so on (Opinion Nigeria,
2013). Over the years, these institutions have not functioned effectively (Ayoola, 2009). this trend was the case with several policies and programs designed to tackle the problems of agricultural development in Nigeria.

Past policies include the National Accelerated Food  Production Programme (NAFPP), the Nigerian Agriculture and Co-operative Bank (NACB), Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF), the River Basin Development Authorities (RBDA), the Green Revolution (GR), National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) and Special Program for Food Security (SPFS) (Adebayo, 2010) among others. Judging from previous experiences of lag in the
implementation of development policies in Nigeria and further assessing the policy framework of the Nigeria Promotion Policy, there are a lot of concerns. these issues are central and must be addressed
to ensure the prospects of implementing the policy for the general well-being of the Nigerian rural economy.

1. The Nigerian rural economy is still faced with the challenge of subsistence farming.  is affects the
inability to meet domestic food requirements in rural Nigeria. Although there is a provision for private partnership in this regard, the policy has not stated in clear terms how the vulnerable rural poor will
be able to access farming support programs without collateral (Ayodele, Obafemi, and Ebong, 2013). Access to support to enhance commercialization by rural farmers has always and still is a challenge in achieving the Nigeria Promotion Policy. Subsistence farming is no longer a solution. Nigeria has to commercialize agricultural production and fully adopt mechanized farming. In addition, mechanization of the agricultural industry is the way out of solving Nigeria’s problem. this can be achieved by matching up human input with mechanization, bringing in machinery and increase the scale of production, so that whatever the rural sector produces, it will match the population growth rate.

2. Soil erosion caused by water and wind, a lack of development and the dependence on imported foods
all hinder the development of agriculture in Nigeria. the main problem that affects soil fertility is soil erosion (Muhammad-Lawal and Atte, 2006). Wind erosion, in particular, is quite damaging. Over
time, strong winds expose seedlings and crop root systems by blowing away loose, fine grain soil particles. Another effect is the accumulation of soil particles in drifts, which can cover crops. Also, wind erosion changes the texture of the soil. the particles responsible for water retention and fertility, such as clay, silt, and organic matter are generally lost, leaving behind a sandy soil (Osagie, 2011).

3. Not all soil in Nigeria is fertile and this requires the use of fertilizes: the problems of agriculture in Nigeria begin with the soil. Most of the farmable land in Nigeria contains soil that is low to medium
in productivity. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO, 2011),
with proper management, the soil can achieve medium to good productivity (National Bureau of Statistics, 2012).

4. Lack of water management system. the low-lying  floodplains are very fertile during the rainy season, but the lack of rain during the dry season hinders agricultural development. the lack of water management systems in these areas is a concern for many farmers. By adding irrigation canals and access roads to these areas, yearly production yields are expected to increase. A strategic system of water management across the whole country must be adopted. Currently, the government places a lot of emphasis on irrigation systems in the North. this is a lopsided development. It must be made to cover the whole country.

5. Food processing issues also affect the prospects of Agriculture Promotion Policy in Nigeria. It is estimated that about 20-40% of the yearly harvest is lost during processing. the primary cause is the lack of efficient harvesting techniques. Most rural farmers harvest crops by hand, instead of using machines. Also, storage methods are not generally up to standards. Most of the crops are lost to physical damage caused by insects, bacteria, or fungus. Nigeria must adopt modern technology in food storage and rural farmers must be trained accordingly.

6. Nigeria is a net importer of food and this affects the growth of cottage industries. the country does not
produce enough food to meet the demand of its people. this produces a lot of problems with regard to
agricultural development. Generally, there is less incentive for local farmers to grow local foods when
cheaper, more palatable foods are imported. this forces local farmers to reduce prices, which reduces
the income generated by the farm. the consequence is decreased farm production. To combat the effects
of imported food on development, several initiatives are suggested, including providing farmers with micro-credit that is subsidized and increasing tariffs on imported food.

7. On the whole, a lingering problem of agriculture in Nigeria is a lack of investment and institutional corruption. the government budget for agriculture is not enough to meet the challenges. International
aid groups have supplemented the funding of the government, but most of the funds don’t reach the
local farmer due to corrupt practices experienced by the diversion of such funds for other purposes. While there is an advocacy for increased budgetary allocation in the agricultural sector as well as private
sector partnership, corruption must be checked by all means.

CONCLUSION

the importance of agriculture is multifarious. However, the paper has identified few. the Nigerian rural sector depends on a wide range of agricultural products in almost all aspects of life. It is a key economic driver. It is central to individual livelihoods and alleviates poverty. Provider of energy fuel-wood and medical plants, it helps in the nation’s economic growth. Agriculture is a key to the healthy biosphere; it provides food, which is a key determinant of human health. In general, the contribution of Agriculture sector provides food incremental markets for new products manufactured in the industrial sector; it
has contributed immensely on the supply of new materials to other sectors, tax revenue to the Government to provide a foreign exchange. this justifies the initiative of the Buhari administration
through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to initiate the Agriculture Promotion Policy (Nigeria Opinion, 2013).

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The State of Our Economy

“Social overhead capitals which ought to be subsidized by the government are outrageously expensive to access and this is affecting, negatively, the cost of doing business in the economy.”

Our economy, I mean Nigeria’s economy is, from all indications, cadaverous. As in the views of John Mayne Keynes, the renowned 20th century British Economist, our economy has no tendency to either move forward or backward. No thanks to the obtuseness of the managers of the economy. From June, 2015 to date, the central authority has not come out with a blue print for the development of the economy; and due to the inability of the managers of the economy to properly direct the macro economy
on course, the micro-economy is affected. Businesses are finding it difficult to break even, which is a clear departure from what was happening between June, 1999 and May, 2015.

Actually, the economy needs direction; but nobody, this time around, appears ready to direct it. Everybody, particularly those calling the shots, are suspected to be busy promoting ethnic and tribal chauvinism in the name of playing politics or enthroning democracy. the political leaders who are supposed to be the managers of the economy seem to have completely jettisoned economic craftsmanship for ethnic chauvinism. their political philosophy seems to be blurring their understanding and respect of even the constitution, let alone the intricacies of managing an economy. the naturally heterogeneous activities of the private sector need to be coordinated by economic craftsmen to avoid activities that conflict with the principles of economic growth. Kidnapping, armed robbery, smuggling and insurgency are not synonymous with economic activities, yet these activities are flourishing because our legal system has failed to avert such obnoxious activities.

How can a notorious, well-known kidnapper or armed robber be allowed the luxury of the court room atmosphere when he or she is supposed to be immediately isolated in a dungeon or demobilized? There is no reason for us to continue to have in our markets, foreign consumable items that could be economically produced in the domestic economy. We cannot continue to import fuel when we are major producers of crude oil. Our monetary and fiscal policies are always in conflict with one another, no thanks to the managers of the economy. When they conflict, it is always the common man who would suffer. these two tools for demand management are owned and controlled by the government. there is, therefore, no reason for them to be in conflict with one another if the managers of the economy know what to do.

The managers of our economy lack scientific knowledge to understand how the economy works. the managers of our economy can decipher inflation but they do not know how to curb it or take preemptive steps against its occurrence. For instance, in most cases, fiscal policies are expansionary when the economy is overheated with excess liquidity, and therefore the economy needs a contracting fiscal policy. What an intelligent administration should do when it is confronted with the need

to redeem its electioneering promises, is to observe the cyclical stage of the economy before embarking on any holistic public spending program. What is being emphasized here is that the execution of public projects should, in most cases, take cognizance of the cyclical position of the economy to avoid pumping excess liquidity into an economy already liquidity-saturated. We cannot continue to depend on the ability of the monetary authority to mop up any excessive liquidity because the poverty rate in the country would naturally frustrate the effort of the monetary authority in carrying out this function, except that in most cases, foreign investors would come to our rescue to stabilize prices and the naira exchange rate by investing in our government stocks. But what happens if the foreign investors would, one day, decide to snub our government stocks?

This phenomenon has rendered the economy unable to be self-adjusting. Most of the things we consume as a nation are imported. this is abnormal. there is no effort to encourage home production: the government in power few years ago was trying to promote home production when it came up with many economic empowerment programs for the citizenry. We, as a nation, do not have the wherewithal to play in the international economic arena, yet we continue to subscribe to global trade conventions such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

But we have to play along because we have no alternative in the global economy. the players in our domestic economy are very corrupt: corrupt morally and financially. They have no respect for market situations. When Lever Brothers achieves efficiency in the production of its detergents and so comes out with new products at much reduced prices, why should retailers of the new products continue to charge higher prices? Unemployment keeps rising because of moral and financial corruption. Private and public businesses are not properly managed and so there is high turnover of business failures. Our concept of profit and professionalism are faulty and not progressive. Imagine a company tasking its marketing corps to generate a certain outrageous income target. Is this not madness? What the management of a company in a growing economy should entrust its marketing department with, is to ask the department to conceptualize a kind of marketing strategy that would enhance the patronage of the products and service of the company, such as design of posters for bill boards, adverts for the electronic and print media, and flyers and stickers; and not to ask the staff of the department to go out on the streets to arrest customers to patronize the company.

A salesman is different from a marketer, just as a nurse is different from a doctor. In a small, underdeveloped economy where businesses like the type we had in the 1960s and 1970s, are at their nascent stages, salesmanship can suffice but not in a well-developed economy where businesses are growing and expanding. At the end of the day, the marketer is unable to meet his or her target, and so he or she is fired. the domestic macro-economic environment is not conducive for growth of businesses and it is the government that makes it so. Social overhead capitals which ought to be subsidized by the government are outrageously expensive to access and this is affecting, negatively, the cost of doing business in the economy. How should Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) formerly called National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) be giving out outrageous bills? If PHCN is giving a monthly bill of N40,000.00 to a residential house, how much is it giving to factories? You can imagine! How can businesses break even under this circumstance?

Finally, I posit that Nigeria’s economy is dying because it is not properly managed by the authorities.

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Rural Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development in Nigeria

PREAMBLE

Rural poverty in Nigeria exists in multi-dimensions and proportions. It is an experience commonly associated with persistent communal conflicts, poor health conditions, lack of portable water supply, lack of basic education, gender inequality, lack of good shelter, superstition, diseases, poor sanitation, hunger and high rate of fertility. Rural poverty is seen as a “paradox” in a country Blessed with abundant natural resources for which it is considered as one of the wealthiest in Sub Saharan Africa. This poverty phenomenon has recently attract The concern of international bodies because of its attendant rate of affliction, suffering and pains. This study therefore examines rural poverty development strategies as a means to improve the livelihood of the poor. The study adopts a historical descriptive analytical research method which helps to highlight the Focus of the study. The study utilized secondary sources of data collection such as journals, textbooks, internet services, and newspapers. The study identified some Challenges (problems of identification of the target group, corruption, lack of accountability and transparency and lack of participation of the beneficiaries in poverty program formulation and implementation) that make rural poverty reduction difficult. The study concludes that poverty reduction can be made possible through a strategic frame work of sustainable development as a means to improve the living conditions of the poor.

 

INTRODUCTION

Nigeria is in the Sub Saharan Africa. The country is richly endowed with abundant natural resources like petroleum, gas, rubber, cocoa, limestone and other gifts of nature. At present, it is experiencing one of the world’s highest economy growth rates averaging 7.4 percent (World Bank, 2014). Paradoxically, despite these natural resources, the country is facing the menace of poverty at alarming high rate especially in the rural areas which has been difficult to eradicate (Eteng, 2016). Rural dwellers in Nigeria are daily

Rural poverty is connected to mental poverty, lack of basic education, inability to satisfy basic needs, inability to pay children’s school fees, and communal or family disputes over limited resources or access to land use.

Confronted with the hurdle of poverty that has made development to be elusive. However, the government development goals have been directed towards solving these problems. As part of the millennium goals, various strategies were put in place to guide and assist the people to meet their needs and aspirations. Some of these development strategies which are embedded in the policy framework of the government include: Better life for rural women, capacity enhancement program, skill acquisition etc. These important measures show the seriousness and the willingness of the government to reduce poverty at all cost. Generally, an assessment of these programs will be predicated upon improvement in the living conditions of the rural poor. Imoke (2008) opined that “where for instance, the people are economically and socially bankrupt, the attendant risk is that policies and programs of government may be mis-targeted, poorly implemented or abandoned which may adversely affect social welfare and hinder the possibility of replication anywhere else” (cited in Ndiyo, 2008)

However, the yardstick for evaluating improvement in the living conditions of the poor rural dwellers is based on the ability to reduce poverty. Rural poverty is a disease that seriously affects the rural people in many areas of life.  This includes health, Finance, housing, transportation and economic growth. Therefore, given the poor socioeconomic conditions of the rural areas, one cannot overlook the dangers of poverty. It is therefore necessary to reduce poverty which as a “monster” is affecting several millions of rural dwellers resulting in inequality, Worsening economic conditions, lack of basic needs like education, electricity, and mass transit that are seen as luxury in the rural areas. In the light of the level of poverty in the rural areas of Nigeria, this study is intended to suggest remedies to this problem by looking at sustainable development strategies that can reduce the effect of poverty and enhance improvement in the living conditions of the rural people

CONCEPTUAL CLARIFICATION

In order to achieve a clear understanding of the study, it is necessary to conceptualize some of the terms used in this study. This will enhance process and clarity. Therefore, the terms that needs to be clarified are; rural, poverty reduction and sustainable development strategies. Rural:  This is similar to the countryside which lacks basic needs and amenities like portable water, electricity, health centers, mass transit and other paraphernalia commonly associated with the city or urban areas in Nigeria. These facilities are luxury which causes rural-urban drift. Rural areas have common economy, culture and lifestyle. They are organically related with scanty population.

POVERTY REDUCTION

This is a coherent plan which is aimed at transferring resources towards a Targeted population with the intention to improve their socioeconomic “well-fare Profile”. The strategy involves skill acquisition, job creation, rural development schemes and providing basic needs to the people

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES

This is a multifaceted plan of government which as “support activities” is intended to deal with the poverty problem while positively impacting on the live of the people in order to improve their conditions of living. These are economic, social, Institutional and environmental in nature. Economically, the strategy involve maintaining a “baseline level of economic welfare” (Ndiyo, 2008) continually and in line with the international bench-mark of “dollar-a-day”. Socially, this requires the ability to eradicate social segregation and inequality with the aim to promote equity, participation and fair play. Institutional sustainability involves a framework which can impact positively on the poor masses through “well defined laws, participation policy making processes and effective public and private sector organizations” (Ndiyo, 2008). Environmental sustainability involves conserving a country’s motivational resources so that it will be beneficial to the future generation.

RURAL POVERTY REDUCTION: WHY?

Poverty results in insults and abuses especially when seeking for assistance or help from close friends or siblings (Eteng and Anam, 2016). Rural poverty is connected to mental poverty, lack of basic education, inability to satisfy

Poverty is an agonizing condition which results in inability to control self, particularly when one is hungry or relatively deprived.

 basic needs, inability to pay children school fees, and communal or family disputes over limited resources or access to land use. This condition gives rise to afflictions, pain and frustration at the village level with high fertility rate. People hardly feed or have the capacity to better their living social conditions of poverty. There is general deprivations which often make rural people to be aggressive and be warlike. These conditions of suffering among rural dwellers are vividly summarized by Odumoso (1999) in the following manner:

Starvation and death stare at his face as in medieval times. Indeed time have not changed since the Dark Ages. And as though these a_ ictions were not enough, it is he – and this is the greatest agony of all – who gives birth to the largest number of children thus spreading and multiplying misery to a dark universe of destitution. When death comes to him _ nally, he seems to be happier than those he has left behind him. (Cited in Eteng, 2015) Poverty is an agonizing condition which results in inability to control self, particularly when one is hungry or relatively deprived. It causes people to be engaged in armed robbery, prostitution, house breaking, stealing and high rate of crime especially among miscreants who under these conditions threaten the peace of the area, while family heads resort to drunkenness as a way to escape from the heavily hearted depressive conditions of life. Rural poverty can be seen than imagined in the conditions of the rural houses, environmental hazards, cooking utensils, clothes, food and hygienic conditions with several health challenges. No one can dare seek for an explanation for rural poverty because one can meet it in and outside their houses with leaking roofs. Ukertor and Ezekiel (2006) described this miserable condition as follows Don’t ask me what poverty is because you have met it outside my house. Look at the house and count the number of holes. Look at my utensils and the clothes that I am wearing. Look at everything and write what you see. What you see is poverty (cited in Eteng 2015). However, although at different periods the government and donor agencies have made several efforts to tackle this problem, yet the situation seems to defile any solution which made rural livelihood very miserable. Based on this, poverty reduction in the rural areas in Nigeria becomes imperative and need urgent attention. _ is study will examine rural poverty highlighting the challenges of poverty reduction and suggests strategies needed for sustainable development as a way to cushion the impact of poverty and improve the socioeconomic conditions of the rural people.

LITERATURE REVIEW

This is an integral part of this study which tends to highlight earlier works  on the subject matter of inquiry. It is meant to show what particular research efforts have been made on the concept of poverty and what value can be added to the already existing knowledge. In line with this ideological perspective, Obikeze and Anthony (2004) defined poverty as “the absence of the capacity to acquire the means to sustain a standard of living”. This will involve capacity to participate with dignity in society. In Nigeria, about 80 percent of the population is rural dwellers with little or no capacity to maintain a minimum standard of living. The concept of poverty has given rise. Poverty is further defined as “not having enough to eat, a high rate of infant mortality, a low life expectancy, low educational opportunities, poor water, inadequate health care, unfit housing and a lack of active participation in the decision making processes” (Federal Ministry of Co-operation and Development, 1992). According to World Bank Development Report (1990), poverty is defined as “inability of certain persons to attain a minimum standard of living.” Anam (2013) maintained that poverty is “lack of basic necessities of life.”  There are two levels of poverty; relative poverty and absolute poverty. Both are linked to the shortage of vital resources and the endurance of harsh and inhospitable environment including the final breakdown of economic, demographic, ecological, sociocultural system, and bad governance (Central Bank of Nigeria, 1999). Anyanwu (1997) categorized the following as poor, especially within the Nigerian rural context:

  1. Households or individuals below the poverty line and whose income are insufficient to provide for their basic needs,
  2. Households or individuals lacking access to basic service, political contracts and other forms of support:
  3. People in isolated rural areas who lack essential infrastructures;
  4. Female-headed households whose nutritional needs are not being met adequately;
  5. Persons who have lost their jobs and those who are unable to find employment as a result of economic reforms under the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP) and those who are in danger of becoming ‘new poor’ and

Ethnic minorities, who are marginalized, deprived and persecuted economically, socially, culturally and politically (Anyanwu, 1997). The prevalence of these poverty indicators calls for the need to assess the perspectives of rural poverty in Nigeria. The World Bank (2013) maintained that “the quantity of poor people in rural and urban areas is also different”. The number of poor people in the rural areas is twice higher than that of the urban ones. The Nigerian government have made considerable efforts through policies and programs to address poverty. Onah (2006: 86-96) itemizes these as follows:

  1. Gowon’s National Accelerated Food Production Programme (NAFPP) and the Nigerian Agricultural and Co-operative Bank, NACB (1972);
  2. Obasanjo’s Operation Feed the Nation, OFN (1976);
  3. Shagari’s Green Revolution Programme, GRP (1980);
  4. Babangida’s National Directorate of Employment (NDE); the Directorate forFoods, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI); Better Life Programme (BLP), Peoples Bank (PB), Community Bank (CB); and the National Economic Reconstruction Fund (NERFUND) (1986-1992);
  5. Obasanjo’s third Republic National Poverty Eradication Programme, NAPEP, (1999 – date).
  6. Yar’Adua’s 7-Point Agenda was pivotal in addressing infrastructural development and poverty reduction in Nigeria (2007 – 2010);
  7. Jonathan’s administration and the Transformation agenda; Physical Infrastructure (Power, Transport, Aviation, Roads), Social Infrastructure (Health, Education and ICT, Housing, Water), and the Real sector (Agriculture, Manufacturing, Trade, and Industry). Also, was the Nigeria Incentive- Based Risk Sharing Systems for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) (2010-2014); and
  8. Buhari’s Green Alternative: Agriculture Promotion Policy, 2016-2020 (2011 to date). To achieve the above policies, Eneh (2009) maintained that “the Federal Government sought to ensure that all the activities of the line ministries and agencies are effectively co-ordinated”. However, the government  need to ensure Policy continuity, and the existence of appropriate institutional framework and Sustainability of all programs. Therefore, eight internationally recognized cluster areas of intervention were identified and earmarked for exploitation. These are agriculture, employment, micro/small/ medium enterprises (MSMEs), health, population and gender, public infrastructure and utilities, etc.

The core policy of the Federal Government to eradicate poverty in Nigeria under the main sectors listed above has been integrated and harmonized into four multi-sectoral schemes, namely Youth Empowerment Scheme, Rural Infrastructural Development Scheme, Social Welfare Services Scheme, and the Natural Resources Development and Conservation Scheme (Eneh, 2009).  The poverty eradication initiative of The Federal Government was centered on empowering Nigerians, particularly the unemployed, women and youth through training/retraining and MSMEs; developing infrastructure, particularly in the rural areas; providing adequate social and welfare services, and a sustainable development of mineral and other resources (Ebigbo, 2008). Ebigbo (2008) recalled that in 2004, “the Federal Government introduced the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (NEEDS), the State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (SEEDS and the Local Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (LEEDS)”. Eneh (2009) added that “NEEDS is a comprehensive medium-term growth and development program based on some core principles and designed to serve as Nigeria’s home-grown version of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), which has taken into consideration not only the fiscal operations of government, but also some political, socio-cultural and other country-specific considerations towards evolving an effective and enduring poverty alleviation initiative”. The NEEDS framework was anchored on the belief that people constituted the beginning and the end of any credible and legitimate public policy or process. Thus, given that overall economic growth by itself may not necessarily ensure poverty reduction at the desired pace, NEEDS would direct specific steps to facilitate individual economic empowerment, particularly among the poor and other vulnerable groups. Hence, NEEDS identifies five priority action areas: wealth creation, employment generation, poverty alleviation, corruption elimination, and general value re-origination. “NEEDS

In order that the poor rural dwellers can achieve these basic needs, there should be proper targeting of the poor as a target group.

targeted at least 2% annual growth of per capital consumption, the creation of about 7 million jobs from 2004 to 2007, access to safe drinking water to at least 70% of the population (urban and rural), and at least 65% adult literacy rate by 2007”(Ebigbo, 2008). He added that, “_ e three pillars of NEEDS are reforming government institutions, growing the private sector, and social charter (or human empowerment)” (Ebigbo, 2008). _ e prevalence of poverty in Nigeria leaves much to be desired and therefore, the need for a strategic framework for sustainable development.

CAUSES OF POVERTY IN NIGERIA

There are so many reasons for poverty in Nigeria. In case of rural poverty, the causes may depend on the area in which people lived and the environment which determines the possibilities of escape from poverty. In the ancient time for instance, physical strength is a measure of wealth or poverty. Today, poverty is basically caused by many socioeconomic conditions. Among these are access to loan, malnutrition and poor rural health, lack of functional education, lack of rural infrastructures, inadequate resources, lack of skill acquisition or capacity enhancement, environment, large family size, culture and religious practices and poor living condition:

  1. Lack of access to loan: due to lack of loan, most poor farmers are not capable of farming on a scale that matches their labour resources. There is a dire shortage of working capital. Rural banking is a recent phenomenon with few community banks. The loan system is so difficult because most rural people don’t have what the banks need. Besides, the procedure is also difficult and bank managers only use prebendalism as a means to grant access to loan. This shortage limits the productiveness of farming in general. High-interest rate and lack of collateral required by financial institutions are some of the factors responsible for lack of access to loan by rural dwellers and it affects their possibility of growing out of the poverty cycle.
  2. Malnutrition and poor rural health: poor people in Nigeria lack access to nutritious foods or lack the ability to afford them. They are faced several health issues as they lack basic health amenities and competent medical practitioners. this has lead to high level of infant mortality and low level of life expectancy in rural areas. Poor nutrition causes deaths among children under five. Most are as a result of vulnerability to diseases such as kwashiorkor, marasmus, etc. this deepens the scourge of poverty among the already vulnerable population.
  3. . Lack of functional education: education is necessary for Poverty alleviation. Basic education creates awareness that is necessary to eradicate poverty by engaging in useful or productive ventures of life. Many of the poor are uneducated.  the few educated ones do not have functional education or access to other forms of informal training that should enhance their skills for self employment and reliance. Uneducated rural dwellers  find it difficult to apply modern farming tools and plan effectively. the lack of productive and functional education with useful skills is indicative of the endless trap of poverty in rural areas.
  4. . Lack of rural infrastructures: Rural infrastructures support the productive capacity of rural areas and lack of it pose a challenge to production activities in rural areas. Infrastructures such as access roads, health, electricity, housing, potable water, among others are unevenly distributed in most rural areas in Nigeria.
  5. . Inadequate resources: land in the rural areas is communally owned and is limited in supply because of pressure on resources. As already indicated, securing loan is difficult, and large family and extended family system tend to have influence in the planning and expenditure of limited resources. In most cases, most rural people spend their resources on marriages or dead ceremonies with little or nothing left for purposes of business investment.
  6. Lack of skill acquisition or capacity enhancement: in many rural areas labour is unskilled or semi skillful. This causes unemployment. Where the people are trained to acquire skill, they may lack the necessary enhancement or empowerment to be functionally engaged. For instance, they may be trained as local drivers with driving licenses but no vehicles. It is therefore essential to empower these people with motor cycles or tricycles (KekeNAPEP) vehicles for wealth creation

The principal objective of targeting is to identify those households, families or groups that need help and transfer money or resources to them for their livelihood improvement

  1. Environment: This includes terrain, season, nature of the soil etc., which usually determine the possibilities to be utilized. Where these possibilities fail to exist, poverty becomes prevalent in such environment.
  2. . Large family size: large family size is common among rural areas in Nigeria. the extended family system is predominant. Although large family size is high in rural Nigeria, agricultural productivity is low, and this affects income and saving capacity for investment. Nearly all the food produced by the household is consumed because productivity is low and family size large. Consequently, there is low household income, little savings, and increased poverty.
  3. Culture and religious practices: in most part of the country, the role of women and their access to land and other productive resources are limited. These unfavourable cultural and religious practices contribute to poverty by keeping agricultural production low.
  4. Poor living condition: Most rural households are unable to satisfy their basic social needs. The inadequacy of income to support a minimum standard of living results to poor living condition among the poor. Lack of access to regular means of livelihood exacerbates the conditions of the poor people in the rural areas

STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

In view of the magnitude and dimensions of poverty in the rural areas, it is necessary to establish a framework that will serve as a plan of action needed to achieve the purpose of improving the livelihood of the poor rural dwellers.  This proposed strategic framework as a driving factor will include: job creation, integrated rural development, provision of basic needs, and targeting. Job Creation:  The aim of this strategy is to provide jobs to the poor households and give opportunity to those who are not gainfully employed to augment their income so as to meet their basic needs. The process involves skill acquisition, capacity enhancement schemes through microcredit programs and establishment of adequate vocational training centers.  This will empower the people and prepare them for self-employment. this means that budgetary allocation must also be adequate to cater for these needs. Where budgetary allocations are not adequate, there will be risk of dumping the rural people who in the face of frustration may resort to farming without assets. Integrated Rural Development Program: This strategy must view the rural areas as domains for poverty reduction. A large part of the population lives in the rural areas where basic needs and amenities are lacking. Since poverty is pervasive in the rural areas, this strategy laid emphasis on the provision of basic needs to the poor.

These include health care, housing, portable water supply, education, food and employment. It recognizes “community based initiates such as community-based organizations and community development associations” (Ndiyo, 2008). The strategy addresses spatial growth as a single entity in which case neglecting one aspect causes harm to other aspects. Therefore, land use and socioeconomic planning must be given the attention it deserves (Mudenda, 2006). However, there is need to create awareness through workshops, seminars, village announcer, and other local media so that effective participation in poverty reduction programmes can be achieved. Basic Needs Strategy: the rural people are poor and can hardly afford good shelter, health care, education and adequate environmental sanitation. In most cases movement from one village to the other is by foot or by the use of bicycle for the traditionally “rich people”. This strategy therefore calls for the provision of essential needs like rural

Basic education creates awareness that is necessary to eradicate poverty by engaging in useful or productive ventures of life.

mass transit, food, housing, health care, sanitation,, education, portable water and environmental protection. In order that the poor rural dwellers can achieve these basic needs, there should be proper targeting of the poor as a target group.  This is because in most cases the provision of these basic needs are done on the basis of prebendal politics which only favor those in power to the neglect of communities that lack people in government. Also in order that the poor rural dwellers can sustain these projects, they should be fully integrated in the planning and management of the programs. This will create hospitality and ensure the protection of the projects without being vandalized. This strategy requires a bottom up approach which gives households or unsatisfied communities opportunity to air their views in the choice of project site. Targeting: Essentially, to eradicate leakages which may occur due to improper identification of the target group, targeting as a sustainable development strategy calls for proper identification of those who are actually affected by the scourge of poverty. This will help in transferring goods and services to them to cushion the plague of poverty. This strategy is important because most often than not, people in high positions of government hijack the poverty reduction program and use prebendalism in the distribution of resources which mostly favor their families, tribal kinsmen, closed relatives or party supporters. Targeting may also require public expenditure or sectorial spending on health and educationally related matters. The principal objective of targeting is to identify those households, families or groups that need help and transfer money or resources to them for their livelihood improvement. Useful targeting indicators include age, sickness, disability, household size and occupation.

CHALLENGES OF RURAL POVERTY REDUCTION

Rural poverty reduction in Nigeria suffers some set back which makes antipoverty strategies difficult to achieve. There are as follows;

  • Lack of uniform poverty reduction agenda among stakeholders (federal, state and local governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGO) and international donors).  Thus, among the federal and state ministries, agencies or parastatals that are established to be of service in poverty reduction, there is the problem of coordination, collaboration and improper target setting.
  • Beneficiaries are most often sidelined and don’t participate in the poverty reduction program formulation and implementation exercise.  This attitude creates lukewarmness among the beneficiaries who may develop lethargic feelings in identifying with the projects.
  • Absence of proper identification of the target group.  this creates leakages which gives the field officers opportunity to divert resources to those who are not directly affected by poverty. In some cases, support for electoral campaign or number of votes cast for a politician is used as yardstick for determining the choice of beneficiaries. This activity is antithetic to poverty reduction in rural areas.
  • Overlapping functions of some of the ministries, agencies or parastatals that are involved in rural poverty reduction result in the duplication of resources and effort.
  • Corruption, problem of accountability and transparency among program managers constitute a serious challenge. In most cases, beneficiaries are short-changed. Thus, because of the need for social structure which “guarantees” social security, the program managers in the choice of beneficiaries usually prefer their family members, tribal affiliation or close friends on the grounds that “if you do not help your family, they are actually going to curse you”. (Anna Persson, et al, 2012 cited in Eteng and Omenka, 2016).

PRECEPTS FOR POVERTY REDUCTION

There are certain principles for poverty reduction in rural Nigeria.  These include:

  • Bottom-up approach:  This involves grassroots participation in the policy implementation and program evaluation, monitoring and control. It requires strengthening the linkages between rural communities and the owners of the poverty program (federal, state, local government and donor agencies) in agriculture, industry and the development of appropriate technology in the rural areas.
  • . Capacity acquisition: this may be in the form of skill acquisition, vocational program or training, job creation,  financial empowerment through rural banking where the people can easily access credit facilities
  • Provision of infrastructure: These involve the provision of amenities like portable water supply, roads, housing, electricity, basic education, health centres and rural mass transit to ease the stress of life. Social welfare schemes like child right protection, gender equality and the protection of women rights and access to Land Use should be guaranteed by law. _ is is because in some communities women have no right in the property of their deceased husbands and are treated as “second class citizens”.
  • Inter-agency cooperation: At present, what we experience as agencies involved in poverty reduction are over-lapping in functions. This gives room for leakages and duplication of resources. It is necessary to have all agencies properly coordinated and controlled through a legal or institutional framework that can clearly separate their roles and ease conflict.
  • Targeting: Targeting should be properly done without the value or preference of the program managers which usually influence the choice of beneficiaries. Targeting should be directed towards the disabled, poor families, unemployed youths, children, sick people and the aged.

VAIDS is a time limited opportunity for taxpayers to regularize their tax status relating to previous tax period in this case for the past 6 years.

CONCLUSION

Rural poverty in Nigeria is a serious challenge that attracts the attention of the international communities because of its attendant conditions of deprivation and agony in a country often regarded as the wealthiest in the Sub Saharan Africa. The scourge of poverty led to the government to introduce several poverty reduction program that have failed to meet the expectations of the people. The poor in the rural areas are humiliated, depressed and become inferior with little or no solution to their problem, hence, poverty still persist with afflictions and pains. Therefore, to cushion this poverty condition, a number of sustainable development strategies were listed by this study. Although there are challenges in reducing poverty in the rural areas, yet a bottom-up approach which gives opportunity for the participation of the rural communities in the location of projects, program implementation and monitoring is imperative as a precept for rural poverty reduction. This approach gives hope to the rural communities and confirms the statement attributed to Ndiyo (2008) as follows:

The paradox of synergy is that the more we put our resources into action for the service of others, and the less we think about how we will be rewarded in return, the greater the benefits that we have and share with others.

 

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19 YEARS OF DEMOCRATIC RULE: How Has The Economy Fared?

… during the 2nd and 3rd national  development plan period of the military era, the Nigerian economy was rated as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa… Unfortunately, the economy only grew but did not develop because the investment in infrastructure was not sustained in the subsequent years.

I have noted time without number in some of my previous articles that appeared both in this magazine and in some other publications that a government is in once specifically for the purpose of managing the economy. I do not think that there is any political party that would want to be in power and would produce a manifesto that discusses how a section of the country could be destroyed or how crime and security could be promoted. No! I do not think there is any political party that would have such philosophy. All political parties do.  therefore, package manifestoes that discuss how resources could be allocated in the economy to maximize social welfare.

The main purpose of democracy is therefore, about choosing a government through the electoral process that would efficiently harness the resources of the society to maximize the wellbeing of the citizenry. Even a purely capitalist democracy, such as the US, Germany etc, where the private sector assumes greater responsibilities in the economy, the government still has fairly wider responsibilities of providing those facilities that could support the private sector to drive the economy and accelerate its growth and development. But a government that is obtuse and lacks the foresight to grow the economy such as those in underdeveloped countries would, while shrinking its responsibilities of growing the economy, satisfy and console itself with the ability, that it is the private sector that does everything in the economy.

 “Something must happen for something to happen” is a well-known aphorism in the circle of Pentecostal Churches. An economy is driven by the activities of the government in providing a Conducive environment and climate for the private sector to thrive in the first place. It is often said, however, that what happens in the economy is determined from the private sector. Agreed!  This is so because majority of the economic activities would also depend on the extent the economy has been equipped or funded by the government. The public sector must, therefore, be very robust in the way it soothes the economy with investments. Quite surely, an economy that has a tenuous public as a result of insufficient investment in infrastructure would not have the private sector that can drive it. Unfortunately, the private sector cannot on its own invest in infrastructure because the public consumption of infrastructure does not generate the profit that could keep the investor in business.

The issue of infrastructure is so important that one of the parameters of assessing the growth of an economy is the rate of accumulation of infrastructure, otherwise called social overhead capital. For instance, between 1970 and 1980, which is during the 2nd and 3rd national development plan period of the military era, the Nigerian economy was rated as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.  that was because the nation had witnessed massive investments in infrastructure during the period. Unfortunately, the economy only grew but did not

…in Nigeria, infrastructural facilities are poor which increases the cost of manufacturing in the country. Home production is, therefore, low and the economy is not growing. We are now importing every imaginable thing we consume ad  this is telling on our foreign reserves and by extension on the naira exchange rate.

Develop because the investment in infrastructure was not sustained in the Subsequent years. The big question that should now bug the mind of every right thinking Nigerian is: “How has the economy fared since the advent of democracy in 1999? It is widely acknowledged that there is a general decay in infrastructure which is aggravated by the slow rate of net investment in this important sector? Accordingly, there is pervading public outcry in the country over the poor road network; ill-equipped public hospitals and educational institutions; a malfunctioning public transport system, which is the direct result of the poor state of roads and rail network Without a well-pronounced government commitment in this sector, the economy would continue to falter. The high rate of turnover of business from the country has been attributed to the poor state of infrastructure in the country. So many multinational companies that were hitherto the darling of the Nigerian economy have relocated from Nigeria to either Ghana or Cote D’voire. It is not because those countries have better topographies or geographical climate nor do they have a better trained labor force than Nigeria to warrant such immigration of business into their economies. The fact remains that in Nigeria, infrastructural facilities are poor which increases the cost of manufacturing in the country. Home production is, therefore, low and the economy is not growing. We are now importing every imaginable thing we consume and this is telling on our foreign reserves and by extension on the naira exchange rate.

However, our foreign reserves have risen from $29 billion in 2015 to $46.7 billion in 2018. Yet this does not translate to improvement in social welfare in the domestic economy.  That is, the high reserve does not translate to growth in production in the domestic economy because the macroeconomic environment at home is not conducive to allow the high foreign reserves to be used in funding production in the domestic economy. In a properly managed economy, this fabulous reserve would have been used in funding the real sector of the domestic economy by improving infrastructure and also subsidize lending to the manufacturing sector. But these are not done Rather, the CBN has continued to keep the monetary policy rate (MPR) – the rate of lending to commercial banks – at more than 10% to avoid inflation.  This increases the cost of fund and further stifles the manufacturing sector. The foreign sector of our economy is strong quite all right, but the domestic sector is weak. The most we can do is to fritter away these reserves in importing consumer goods that we should ordinarily have produced at home. Part of the reserves are also repatriated to pay the jumbo salaries of public office holders and to fund the bureaucracy, which added to the high inflationary pressure already existing in the domestic economy .

Inflation now stands at 13.34% as at the time of going to press. Could somebody have believed a few years ago, that a salary package of N20,000.00 would not take a Nigerian worker home? It is for the reason of providing the incentives for the private sector to thrive and drive the Cross River State economy that Governor of Cross River State, Senator (Prof.) Ben Ayade’s policy thrust  which is geared towards development of infrastructure should be applauded.

The state chief executive is so obsessed with this philosophy that he now moves around the major industrialized nations of the world to scout for worthy partners for the development of sublime infrastructure in Cross River State. Kudos to His Excellency for his development philosophy. I do not count too much on the establishment of public corporations as I do for the development of infrastructure. This is because although public corporations would generate employment and income for the citizenry and tax to the government, they can be abused or run aground by unscrupulous public officials. The aim of establishing them would then have been defeated. This does not apply in the case of infrastructure which play catalyst role in the economy and their operation cannot be abused. At the same time, they are inveterate assets of the economy. Surely, by the time the super high way, the deep-sea port and other projects still in the pipeline are ready, the Cross River State economy would have begun to be driven by the private sector and growth metamorphose into development.

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Nigeria’s Economic Recovery And Growth Plan (ERGP), 2017 – 2020: Structural Outlook And Implementation Challenges

INTRODUCTION

It is an established fact that Nigeria is the giant of Africa. However, like most developing countries, Nigeria is faced with several development challenges. The most recent is economic recession, accession by a “significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in a real Gross Domestic Product (GDP), real income, employment, industrial products and wholesale – retail sales” (National Bureau of Economic Research, 2017). The current administration recognizes that the economy is likely to remain on a path of steady and steep decline if nothing is done to change the trajectory; therefore, the vision of the ERGP is for sustained inclusive growth. There is an urgent need as a nation to drive a structural economic transformation with an emphasis on improving both public and private sectors efficiency. It aims at increasing national productivity and achieving sustainable diversification of production, to significantly grow the economy and achieve maximum welfare for the citizens, beginning with food and energy security (Anyanwu, 2017).

The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), a Medium Term Plan for 2017 – 2020, builds on the Social Investment Programme (SIP) and has been developed for the purpose of restoring economic growth while leveraging the ingenuity and resilience of the Nigerian people – the nation’s most priceless assets. Consistent with the aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the ERGP initiatives address three dimensions of economic, social and environmental sustainability issues.

It is the structural changes and economic hardship occasion by economic recession that informed ERGP in Nigeria. Recession refers to a slowing in economic growth of a country. Azoaka (2017) explained that economic recession being witnessed by Nigeria in recent times stems from the turmoil in global commodity markets, witnessed in the second half of 2014 which brought their full weight to bear on the Nigerian economy in 2015. Oil prices fell 66.8% from $114/ barrel recorded in June 2014, to $38.0 by December 2015. Prices fell even further in 2016, to $32.6 as at 3rd February, 2016. Beyond commodity markets, recent developments in the global economy created a trifecta of headwinds that the nation has to contend with (NBS, 2017). Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (2017) went further to amplify the cause of this trend by affirming that the return of Iran to the global economy implies substantially larger crude oil supplies are to hit the global market in the near term, and thus the current consensus that oil prices are likely to remain “lower of longer”. The issue of lower commodity prices has been further compounded by the United States Federal Reserve (FED) raising key interest rates, after several years of a very accommodative monetary policy as a result of the global recession which began circa 2008.

In December 2015, the FED raised the Federal Funds Rate by a quarter-point. Furthermore, the economy of the Euro Area, a key importer of Nigerian exports is still on the mend. According to recent statistics from the European Commission the Euro Area is expected to grow by 2.0% in 2016, up from 1.9% in 2015. Accordingly, the government had used the 2016 budget as an opportunity to reset and redirect the macroeconomic dynamics of the country. The attempt to consolidate expenditure using the Treasury Single Account to plug leakages (even if this is only at the federal level) is a welcome first step. It was expected that the proposed 1.6 trillion which was invested in capital projects and other initiatives in particular in Power, Works and Housing were likely to bode well for the economy (NBS, 2017). In addition, the establishment of the Efficiency Unit to identify and surgically eliminate inefficiencies without hampering productivity is also another development (EU, 2016).

STRUCTURAL OUTLOOK FOR THE PLAN

By 2020, Nigeria will have made significant progress towards achieving structural economic change and having a more diversified and inclusive economy. According to Anyanwu (2017), the Plan is expected to deliver on the following key outcomes: Stable Macroeconomic Environment: The inflation rate is projected to trend downwards from the current level of almost 19 per cent to single digits by 2020. It is also projected that the exchange rate will stabilize as the monetary, fiscal and trade policies are fully aligned. This outcome will be achieved through policies that seek to remove uncertainty in the exchange rate and restore investors’ confidence in the market.

Restoration of Growth: Real GDP is projected to grow by 4.6 percent on average over the Plan period, from an estimated contraction of 1.51 percent recorded in 2016. Real GDP growth is projected to improve significantly to 2.19 per cent in 2017, reaching 7 per cent at the end of the Plan period in 2020. The strong recovery and expansion of crude oil and natural gas production will result as challenges in the oil-producing areas are overcome and investment in the sector increases.

Crude oil output is forecast to rise from about 1.8 mbpd in 2016 to 2.2 mbpd in 2017 and 2.5 mbpd by 2020. Relentless focus on electricity and gas will also drive growth and expansion in all other sectors.

AGRICULTURAL TRANSFORMATION AND FOOD SECURITY: Agriculture will continue to be a stable driver of GDP growth, with an average growth rate of 6.9 per cent over the Plan period. The Agricultural sector will boost growth by expanding crop production and the fisheries, livestock and forestry sub-sectors as well as developing the value chain. Investment in agriculture will drive food security by achieving self-sufficiency in tomato paste (in 2017), rice (in 2018) and wheat (in 2020). Thus, by 2020, Nigeria is projected to become a net exporter of key agricultural products, such as rice, cashew nuts, groundnuts, cassava and vegetable oil.

POWER AND PETROLEUM PRODUCTS SUFFICIENCY: The ERGP aims to achieve 10 Gigawatt (GW) of operational capacity by 2020 and to improve the energy mix, including through greater use of renewable energy. The country is projected to become a net exporter of refined petroleum products by 2020.

IMPROVED STOCK OF TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE: By placing transportation infrastructure as one of its key execution priorities, effective implementation of this Plan is projected to significantly improve the transportation network (road, rail and port) in Nigeria by 2020. Given the scale of investment required to deliver this outcome, strong partnership with the private sector is expected to result in completion of strategic rail networks connecting major economic centres across the country, as well as improved federal road networks, inland waterways and airports.

INDUSTRIALIZED ECONOMY: Strong recovery and growth in the manufacturing, SMEs and services sectors are also anticipated, particularly in agro-processing, and food and beverage manufacturing. Ongoing strategies to improve the ease of doing business will boost all manufacturing sector activities. Overall, the ERGP estimates an average annual growth of 8.5 per cent in manufacturing, rising from -5.8 per cent in 2016 to 10.6 percent by 2020.

JOB CREATION AND YOUTH EMPOWERMENT: The implementation of the Plan is projected to reduce unemployment from 13.9 percent as of Q3 2016 to 11.23 per cent by 2020. This translates to the creation of over 15 million jobs during the Plan horizon or an average of 3.7 million jobs per annum. The focus of the job creation efforts will be youth employment, and ensuring that the youths are the priority beneficiaries.

IMPROVED FOREIGN EXCHANGE INFLOWS: The reduction in the importation of petroleum products resulting from improvement in local refining capacity following the implementation of the ERGP is projected to reduce demand for foreign exchange. The economic diversification focus of the Plan is also projected to translate into enhanced inflows of foreign exchange from the non-oil sector.

On the whole, Nigeria is expected to witness stability in exchange rate and the entire macroeconomic environment. The country will also witness a major improvement in economic performance which should result in the following, amongst others:

  • Reduction in importation of food items and refined petroleum products,
  • Improved power supply,
  • Higher quality transport infrastructure,
  • Expansion in the level of industrial production,
  • Improved competitiveness,
  • Greater availability of foreign exchange,
  • Job creation, reduction in poverty and
  • Greater inclusiveness in the spread of the benefits of economic growth.

Unlike previous government policies and plans, the ERGP outlines a proposed delivery strategy which, amongst other things, establishes clear accountability, sets targets, allocates resources to established priority areas, creates enabling policy and regulatory environments, monitors and drives progress and ensures effective communication. Whilst Nigerians continue to wait on the implementation of the Plan, it remains to be seen if the ERGP can deliver on its promise given its relatively ambitious timeline and the many other challenges to overcome. What appears to be clear however is that the ERGP, if successfully implemented, would have tremendous effect in almost every sector of the Nigerian economy while leveraging on science, technology and innovation. Although the timeline for achieving most of its priority objectives appear ambitious, the Plan undoubtedly presents significant trade and investment opportunities for both local and international investors and businesses at a time when this is sorely needed (Templars, 2017).

These challenges according to Sanusi, (2010) have remained largely unresolved owing to the myriad of problems:

  • MACROECONOMIC CHALLENGES: The Nigerian macro economy is still characterized by structural rigidities, dualism and the false paradigm model. Generally, the sectors of the economy are in silos to the extent that the primary sector does not relate meaningfully with the secondary sector and the same for the secondary and the tertiary sectors. Agricultural produce end up as final consumer goods as only a small quantity is processed or used as raw materials for local manufacturing industries. Also, the products of the extractive industries are exported in their raw forms without local value addition. Given the higher incomes in the oil and gas sub-sector of the extractive industry, attention is concentrated there to the almost total neglect of the mainstream economy. Consequently, the economy is broken into the very rich (relying on the oil and gas industry) and the very poor (relying on the mainstream economy) with almost a complete vacuum in-between these two. The false paradigm model also plays out in the economy in the sense that while the few very wealthy group clamour for relevance in the context of ‘expert’ advise, the very poor suffer from ignorance, disease and malnutrition. Thus, there is no structural change and, hence, the attitudinal changes expected of economic transformation are absent.
  • INFRASTRUCTURAL CHALLENGES: One of the main challenges’ facing the economy is poor economic and social infrastructure: bad roads, erratic power supply, limited access to portable water and basic healthcare, and much more. Building a vibrant economy or restoring growth to a sluggish economy takes resources. To ensure long-term growth and prosperity, Nigeria must use its resources wisely, invest in advanced technology and rebuild the infrastructure without which the economy will not gain from the ‘power of productivity’. A nation enjoys higher standards of living if the workers can produce large quantities of goods and services for local consumption and extra for export. The deficiencies in the economy lead to low productivity, poor quality products and non competitiveness in the global marketplace.
  • POOR INSTITUTIONS AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE: Another important challenge to sustainable economic growth in Nigeria is lack of effective institutions and good governance. These factors have been hindering various efforts and reforms of the government to stimulate economic growth for sustainable development in Nigeria. The prevalence of weak institutions and poor corporate governance as well as poor ethical standards in most public and private organizations, hinder the attainment of the goals of economic policies in the country. Poor corporate governance has adversely affected the quality of institutions to the extent that public and private institutions are used for selfish interests, thereby, making regulation and law enforcement ineffective.
  • CORRUPTION CHALLENGES: Although corruption is a global scourge, Nigeria appears to suffer particularly from it. Everyone appears to believe that the nation has a ‘culture of corruption’. Over the years, Nigeria has earned huge sums of money from crude oil, which appears to have largely gone down the sinkhole created by corruption. In an article, “Oil giant that runs on grease of politics,” Nigeria was described as a rich nation floating on oil wealth “but almost none of it flows to the people” (San Francisco Chronicle, March 11, 2007). Corruption has denied Nigerians the value of the petro-dollar that has accrued to the country over the years. The failure of infrastructure, political and ethical standards as well as moral and educational standards can easily be traced to corruption.
  • LOW QUALITY OF EDUCATION: Education is an important factor in economic growth and development. But the nation’s educational system has been facing myriad of challenges, which prevent the country from achieving its economic objectives. The problems include inadequate funding and planning and management, inadequate infrastructure, irrelevance of curricula to industrial needs, and inadequate commitment on the part of students and teachers, among others. All these have combined to hinder the production of a high quality work force to propel the economy (UNESS for Nigeria: 2006-2015). As Dike (2006) noted, the state of a nation’s educational sector, among other things, determines the economic health of the nation.
  • THE DUTCH DISEASE: Since the oil price boom of the early 1970s, the country abandoned the agricultural and industrial sectors of the economy to the old and weak. Both the public and private sectors of the economy concentrate their efforts in the oil and gas industry to the extent that the mainstream economy is denied funding, requisite investment and even managerial capabilities. Thus, the mainstream economy has become uncompetitive globally while the country has turned into a trading outpost for foreign companies. This has hindered the much-needed transformation of the economy in the last four decades.
  • POOR INVESTMENT CLIMATE: The consequence of all that have been said above is the poor investment climate in the economy that has rendered the economy uncompetitive. In the absence of adequate infrastructure (power, roads, water, etc.) the cost of doing business in the country remain high, forcing to neighboring countries even companies that had existed in Nigeria for upwards of four decades.

Conclusion and Policy Recommendations

The ERGP has several development opportunities for Nigeria. Diversifying and strengthening the Nigerian economy is the first and most considered option in achieving the objectives of the growth plan. There are potentials in the oil and gas sectors, agriculture and manufacturing, telecommunications and tourism, among others. In support to the position of Anyanwu (2017), the growth prospects and economic recovery can be achieved and sustained if:

  • The economy is diversified from the primary products and away from crude oil and natural gas; to other sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, solid mineral, services, tourism and trade. The downstream petroleum sub-sector is deregulated and encouraged the setting up of private refineries;
  • Efforts are sustained to maintain peace in Niger Delta to boost crude oil and gas output;
  • Electricity supply is increased to 15,000-25,000 MWh between now and 2020, to boost manufacturing capacity utilization and activities in other critical sectors;
  • Other key economic and social infrastructures are improved to facilitate the performances of other sectors.
  • Agricultural output is increased barring adverse weather conditions, with continued implementation of various government programmes, especially preserving, processing and marketing activities; to add value to agricultural output.
  • The banking sector reforms and efforts to resolve liquidity challenges are sustained to channel credit massively to the real sector of the economy.
  • The growth in the services sector is sustained, by increasing the local contents of the industry and by expanding the tele-density of the country.
  • The balance of trade is persistently positive, as it has been in the last five years.
  • External reserves can be substantially built up to boost the credit worthiness of the economy and attract foreign investment.
  • Government sustains the current reforms in the various sectors of the economy to achieve rapid growth and development.
  • The existing democratic governance is sustained, rule of law, justice, fairness and equity and inclusive growth are given priorities they deserve in Nigeria.
  • Strengthen law enforcement institutions and sustain fight of corruption.
  • Put in place definite effort to reduce cost of governance and restructure government expenditure pattern in favour of capital expenditure.
  • Motivate the SMEs and enhance good governance.
  • Full implementation of the Budget 2017 to achieve sustainable development.

Compiled by
Dr Bassey Anam
Institute of Public Policy &
Administration, University of Calabar
Email: drbasseyaname@gmail.com.
Tel: +234 7067021763

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EXIT FROM RECESSION: The Doubts and the Facts

“This simply implies that investment, employment and expenditure, and by extension, the GDP have grown by 0.55%. However, this statistical information was greeted by doubts and altercations by stakeholders.”

Nigerians are still in a quandary on how to describe the major economic problem that befell their nation from the second quarter (Q2) of 2016. This seemingly inscrutable phenomenon was still being misconstrued by Nigerians as recession going by the various comments they make about the economic problem on the pages of newspapers. But from the telescopic view of the economist, the catastrophe has the features of stagflation.

In a recession, there are general declines in prices, consumers’ spending, investment and employment. Businesses would be accumulating large stocks of unsold goods in their warehouses because of the drought of consumers’ spending, which would then depress prices in the economy. In other words, in economic recession, there are general recessions in every legitimate economic activity including even government spending. But in Nigeria, this was not the situation; rather we have cases where high inflation was moving in pari-pasu with high unemployment and depressed producers and consumers’ spending. Whatever was the case, however, news has it that the economy has exited the “recession” that it plunged into from the second quarter (Q2) of 2016 at a pace of 0.55% growth. This simply implies that investment, employment and expenditure, and by extension, the GDP have grown by 0.55%.

However, this statistical information was greeted by doubts and altercations by stakeholders. The argument was that if the economy has actually stepped out of recession by even as little as 0.55% growth of the GDP, the development would have been tangibly felt by the citizenry on their living standard. The proponents of this view reasoned that if the economy has attained a 0.55% growth in production, Nigerians would have been able to buy more goods and services with the same amount of money that they were hitherto shopping with; in that, a 0.55% growth in production would have meant more goods and services to bid for, which would have improved real income. But from the look of things, this has not been the case which then casts doubts on the authenticity of the data. However, it is a fact that the prices of some consumer goods have nose-dived. For instance, the price of family size (140gr) toothpaste that went up to N350 from N120 when the stagflation began, has now dropped to N300.

If we are to use the price of this item as the basis for evaluating the exit of the economy from the stagflation, it could be posited that production of consumer goods has risen which has decrease inflation of the consumer price index down by 14.29%. Real income would also have risen by this same percentage. If we should believe that this is the case across other items in the consumer price index, then a 14.29% improvement in real income should be something to celebrate about in a deeply stagflated economy riddled by high inflationary pressures. There is also a report that there was an improvement in business climate in the economy which came in the second and third quarters of 2017. The dailies published few days ago that there has been a substantial improvement in the purchase of insurance policies in the country in the second and third quarters of 2017 which surpassed that of the corresponding periods in 2016. These are clear indications that the economy is gradually coming out of the “recession”. The terms “inflation” and “stagflation” are used interchangeably here for clarity. When we are referring to changes in price, we would say that the economy is coming out of “stagflation”; and when we are referring to changes in consumer spending, we would say that the economy is out of “recession”.

By any standard, a GDP growth rate of 0.55% in a deeply receding economy, where the situation was so deplorable that the banking system had to carry as large as 47% non-performing loans in its investment portfolio, should be something to cheer. It should, actually, create in us a sanguine hope of the future prospects of the economy.

Two factors may be responsible for the low impact of the growth of the GDP on the living standard of Nigerians. The approach adopted in evaluating the GDP may have given a misleading account of the GDP growth; or cost-push inflation may have set in, in the course of increasing productivity. The GDP has two sides of measure: the income side and the product side. One side would naturally give a misleading account. The other side, however, always gives a more accurate account of the GDP as a measure of welfare. The income side measures the GDP from the values of such items as personal income, corporate income, government spending and taxes, while the product side measures the GDP from sales, inventory and shipment. Both sides do not normally agree; the discrepancy between them being the personal and corporate savings which are leakages from the national income stream and would not reflect on the income side of the GDP account.

GDP measured from the income side may give a misleading account because income (salaries, wages, interests and dividends) could be adjusted by fiat in the course of the period of review as a matter of national policy even as productivity has not increased; or inflation would have set in during the period which could distort the growth rate of the GDP. The Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS) may have calculated the GDP from the income side which may be the reason why the impact of the 0.55% growth is not felt by the citizenry. The GDP may after all not attain the growth rate being brandished.

Secondly, the 0.55% growth of the GDP may not have impacted positively on prices, because the increase in production may have unleashed cost-push inflation in the economy since the country still depends so much on foreign exchange for production in the domestic economy. Any slight increases in production in the domestic economy would exacerbate the demand for foreign exchange which could cause the naira to depreciate, thereby creating high prices for goods and services in the domestic economy. This development would never allow prices to reflect the increase in national productivity.

In summary, it is my candid opinion that the 0.55% growth recorded by the economy and announced by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) may be correct. There is an observed growth in economic activities in some states which have actually embarked on aggressive investment in agriculture and manufacturing as a way of diversifying their economies and getting ready for the imminent restructuring of the country which may follow the path of fiscal federalism and resource control. This may account for the 0.55% GDP growth announced by the NBS. Some states are however still procrastinating and dozing on the drawing boards whereas a few others have signed meaningful Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) that are expected to produce tangible results in the near future.

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