NIGERIANS shouldn’t cheer the recent news from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that it will replace South Africa again as the biggest economy on the continent. For years, South Africa had been the economic power house of Africa before we overtook it two year ago. However, due to the recession we are experiencing, we lost that position a couple of months, but the recent report by the IMF that Nigeria is poised to overtake South Africa again should not be celebrated. We may be the continent’s economic giant on paper, but we know we still can’t match the former apartheid enclave in all ramifications.
It is unfortunate that South Africa too is feeling the brunt of the global economic meltdown. In fact, the economy of that country is dwindling fast as a result of widespread corruption, unfulfilled government promises to the people, falling prices of commodities, among others. One thing we must know about South Africa is that it does not rely on a single resource as Nigeria relies only on oil for survival.
So the fall in oil price has drastically affected Nigeria so much that the economy has virtually been shut down.
Even while we celebrated when our economy overtook South Africa’s two years ago, I didn’t believe that this development reflected in the lives of ordinary citizens. While Nigeria is struggling to generate 5,000mw of electricity, South Africa generates over 45,000mw. The country can be likened to any other country in Western Europe, with Cape Town even beating many other cities in Europe in terms of beauty and infrastructure.
In the case of Nigeria, while we had our ego massaged after being named Africa’s biggest economy, our citizens did not feel the impact of such.
In fact, if the truth must be told, we are just being over-ambitious comparing ourselves with South Africa when countries like Ghana, Togo, Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, among other West African countries even have better living indices than us.
It is high time our leaders returned to the vision of our founding fathers who believed we could use our human and natural resources to lead the way for other black nations of the world to follow.
It is, therefore, a shame that we have not been able to be counted as a country that is desirous of real economic growth.
Our over-dependence on crude oil has made our people lazy, and this has been fuelling corruption in the country.
I, therefore, want to advise the government of President Muhammadu Buhari not to be distracted by wanting the country to be Africa’s biggest economy. It should, however, be more concerned about how to make the country more comfortable for its citizens to live in.
This new IMF report should, therefore, not change the focus of government.
- James Linus,
Jos, Plateau State.