GDP and Nigeria’s economic transformation (1)

(By Jonathan Ekperusi)

There is much hullabaloo greeting the rebasing Nigeria’s GDP to become the biggest economy in Africa. Whilst Nigeria’s GDP has risen, the appropriate economic intervention policies that should ripen the rising GDP into the social well-being of Nigerians are clearly lacking. This accounts for the deficiency in infrastructure, power/energy, industrialisation, and unemployment. At the heart of the problem is repeated policy summersault traceable to political kleptomania. Despite the various poverty eradication and reduction policies undertaken by the federal and state governments, Nigeria may not meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the year 2015.

 SINCE the evolution of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the 1940s, the global economy has never been the same. The Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) pursue their goals of economic unification, trade liberalisation and currency stabilisation in an esoteric manner. Africa’s plight under the policies and programmes of the BWIs reveals a kind of neocolonialism masked under the pretext of economic support. From Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) initiatives to the current Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), it is the same paradigm. The several economic prescriptions from the BWIs and their harsh conditionalities made Africa the guinea pig of the global North.

   There is a strong basis to believe that the Bretton Woods Institutions, and the African political class, are liable for the underdevelopment in Africa. Under-development in Africa is traceable to the deliberate orchestration of economic instability by the Bretton Woods group of institutions with the collaboration of a thieving clan of do-or-die politicians. Like other African economies, Nigeria suffers from experimental economic theories, strategies and prescriptions from the BWIs. Nigeria’s political class and the intelligentsia have allowed the manipulative and exploitative tendencies of the BWIs in her economy, spearheaded by Bretton Woods technocrats. The Bretton Woods inspired economic prescriptions of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala have created a confusing economic trajectory for Nigeria. Buoyed by her World Bank exposure, the same Okonjo-Iweala who strongly pushed for Nigeria’s exit from the Paris Club of creditors is now leading Nigeria on a borrowing spree despite the country’s current handsome petrodollar receipts. The ineptitude and inertia of the citizenry has served to embolden the thieving class of kleptomaniac politicians to foist poverty and underdevelopment on the people.

   Economic development implies a movement away from a state of underdevelopment. It involves a qualitative change in what or how goods and services are produced through shifts in resource use, production methods, workforce skills, technology, information or financial arrangements. Economic development is synonymous with national development, which involves the provision of tangible services and social amenities that enhance the value of life and ultimately encourage enhanced long-term productivity of the people, thereby increasing the financial capacity of a State and her citizens through their active involvement in international trade. We need to understand that economic development differs from economic growth. Whereas economic development is a policy intervention endeavour which is aimed at the economic and social well-being of people, economic growth is a phenomenon of market productivity and rise in gross domestic product (GDP). As Nobel laureate, Amartya Sen explains, economic growth is one aspect of the process of economic development. That tells why poor countries sometimes experience economic growth with little or no economic development.

    There is much hullabaloo greeting the rebasing Nigeria’s GDP to become the biggest economy in Africa. Whilst Nigeria’s GDP has risen, the appropriate economic intervention policies that should ripen the rising GDP into the social well-being of Nigerians are clearly lacking. This accounts for the deficiency in infrastructure, power/energy, industrialisation, and unemployment. At the heart of the problem is repeated policy summersault traceable to political kleptomania. Despite the various poverty eradication and reduction policies undertaken by the federal and state governments, Nigeria may not meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the year 2015.

   The relationship between human development and economic development may be explained in three ways. First, increase in average income ought to lead to improvement in health and nutrition (Capability Expansion through Economic Growth). Second, social outcomes could be improved by reducing income poverty (Capability Expansion through Poverty Reduction). Lastly, social outcomes may be improved with the provision of essential services such as education, healthcare, and mass housing (Capability Expansion through Social Services).

   There are certain basic building blocks that need to be in place for growth and development to occur. For instance, there is the need to address issues about property rights, which has resulted in recurrent inter-communal clashes and social displacements in Nigeria. Where this is not addressed, only a small part of the economic sector may be able to participate in economic growth.         Without including property rights in the equation, the informal sector may continue to remain outside the mainstream economy, being thereby effectively excluded and remaining without the same opportunities as the formal sector.

   Different countries use various methods to measure economic development. The measures reflect different aspects of economic development. Gross National Product (GNP), based on a system of national income, was first introduced in the United States in 1947. In 1948, the United Nations adopted a Systems of National Accounts (SNAs) that facilitated international and inter-temporal comparisons, and generated a competitive preoccupation with economic growth. GNP was ultimately supplanted by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as an overall measure of national income.

   In 1990, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) formulated the concept of ‘human development’ by introducing an economic development measurement tool known as the Human Development Index (HDI). The UNDP’s initiative rapidly changed attitudes towards development, and challenged the dominant view according to which per capita GNP or GDP should be taken as the main indicators of a country’s level of welfare and/or economic development. The HDI challenged the view that the pursuit of growth as measured by GNP or GDP per capita should be the ultimate goal of economic activity, and the best strategy for economic development.

   GNP is the sum of all consumption, investment and government spending by a country’s nationals, regardless of where they occurred within the country. GNP is the market value of all products and services produced in one year by labour and property supplied by the residents of a country. Unlike GDP which defines production based on its geographical location, GNP allocates production based on ownership. Basically, GNP is the total value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a particular year, plus income earned by its citizens, including income of those resident abroad, minus the income of non-residents located in that country. GNP measures the value of goods and services that the country’s citizens produced regardless of their location. GNP is a measure of the economic condition of a country, under the assumption that a higher GNP leads to a higher quality of living, all other things being equal.

   While GNP measures the output generated by a country’s enterprises (whether physically located domestically or abroad), GDP measures the total output produced within a country’s borders, whether produced by that country’s own local firms or by foreign firms. GDP refers to all consumption, investment and government spending within a country, plus exports minus imports, regardless of the citizenship of the consumer or investor. GDP is the market value of all officially recognised final goods and services produced within a country in a given period of time. GDP per capita is an indicator of a country’s standard of living. GDP per capita is however not a measure of personal income. GDP per capita exactly equals the gross domestic income (GDI) per capita.

• To be continued.

• Ekperusi is the managing partner, Excellence Solicitors, Effurun-Warri, Delta State.

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