The Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) has suggested that Nigeria needs to achieve a paradigm shift in governance and policy design to sustain and accelerate economic growth in 2022.
Chief Executive Officer of the NESG, Mr Laoye Jaiyeola, who made the suggestion in the group’s Macroeconomic Outlook for 2022, said that the year presented opportunities to initiate critical reforms to achieve the shift.
He warned that failure by the Federal Government to embark on the reforms could exacerbate challenges that the country encountered in 2021.
“In the NESG Macroeconomic Outlook for 2022, we highlight the need for reforms that will sustain the recovery of output and ensure improved social inclusion in Nigeria.
“We believe that the role of government is to ensure that reforms translate to a friendly business environment and better welfare conditions for households,’’ he said.
Jaiyeola said Nigeria was rapidly consolidating its recovery from the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting, however, that the recovery had not been all-inclusive.
“Pre-COVID-19 narrative of poor inclusiveness and macroeconomic instability still persists.
“In spite of a GDP growth of 3.2 per cent in the first three quarters of 2021, data from the National Bureau of Statistics show that average prices of goods and services were high.
“Trade balance remained in deficit and foreign investment inflow was constrained.
“The World Bank estimated that an additional eight million Nigerians fell into poverty between 2020 and 2021 due to lower purchasing power,’’ he added.
The NESG boss also said although Nigeria had enormous potentials, job creation across sectors was lagging, resulting in an increase in unemployed individuals.
“While there is considerable improvement in some areas, such as the mobilisation of non-oil revenue in the last few years, one thing is clear: Nigeria cannot afford to continue with its business-as-usual approach in policymaking and execution,’’ he stressed.
He added that widespread insecurity across the country emphasised the need for policy formulation and implementation that impacted all strata of society.
“The heightened insecurity and social vices in several parts of the country is proof that when some segments of the population are left behind, it will offset the few gains made prior to COVID-19.
“It will also deprive the country of much-needed investments that would ensure sustainable growth and development, ‘’ he said.
According to Jaiyeola, the challenges associated with insecurity, rising prices, unemployment, and lower investments intensified the need for reforms that will lead the country to substantial economic progress and improved social inclusion.
He added that such reforms would ensure that businesses and citizens constituted the core of government’s policies and actions.
He specifically called for deregulation of the country’s oil sector to boost investments and also save huge government revenue expended on fuel importation.
“Certainly, the challenges facing the country are daunting. Still, the year 2022 presents a unique opportunity for Nigeria to initiate tough economic reforms that will propel sustainable economic growth and inclusive development.
“Long-standing issues of deregulation of the downstream sector, foreign exchange scarcity and lower investments in key sectors must be given the utmost attention in 2022.
“The deregulation of the downstream oil and gas sector, for example, is needed at this critical time when massive investments are required to fix deteriorating refineries.
“This will address the predicament of huge importation of refined petroleum products that deprive the country of the foreign exchange required to meet other important obligations,’’ he said.
He commended the Federal Government for launching the National Development Plan (NDP), 2021-2025.
He warned, however, that implementation of the plan would be crucial in determining its success.
“The NDP sets targets, priority areas, and action steps to be implemented in the five years.
“Success or failure of the plan will largely hinge on the level of implementation and coordination among government agencies, domestication of the plan by the state governments, and private sector’s commitment.
“More importantly, government is expected to be a key driving force in creating a business-friendly environment, ensuring macroeconomic stability and mobilising investments across board.
“With just over a year left in office, the current administration must intensify the pace of reforms.
“This is especially given the impact of the twin challenges of poverty and unemployment on security and social cohesion, ‘’ he said. .
Jaiyeola advised that in order to secure the future of Nigeria, government should recognise the “urgency of now’’.
“Economic and social reforms that will create jobs and improve the lives of Nigerians should be non-negotiable in 2022,’’ Jaiyeola stressed.