The last few months have been tough for Nigerians. The 3 month absence of President Yar'Adua led to a political vacuum and constitutional crisis. A promised target of increased electricity supply was not achieved. A Nigerian based in the UK tried to blow up a plane creating diplomatic problems and difficulties for Nigerians. Yet, despite these and many other issues, the nation's economy managed to grow in 2009.
GROWTH IN 2009
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria's economy grew by 6.9% and most of that growth was a result of expansions in the nation's non-oil industries. The Agriculture sector, for instance, contributed 45.35% to the national economy in the third quarter alone. Nigeria's non-oil sectors expanded by 8.61% while oil and gas contracted by 1.23%. The contraction in the oil sector is no surprise given the impact of violence and insecurity in the oil producing Niger Delta region. Despite the trying global economic times, in the 4th quarter of 2009, the economy grew by 8.23% as compared to 7.07% in the previous quarter.
The growth Nigeria experienced in 2009 is definitely a positive thing for the nation, overall. Considering that in November 2009, a senior economist from the World Bank predicted that Nigeria's economy could grow by two digits in 2010, one can only expect even more GDP growth in 2010 and years to come. However, to achieve this, Nigeria will need to maintain a strict economic strategy that will ensure improvement.
ECONOMIC PROGRESS FOR THE PEOPLE
But most importantly, the economic gains will have to translate into clear financial benefit for most Nigerians. Currently, statistics show that a majority of citizens live under $2 a day, 23mn of the nation's youth are unemployable, and unemployment stands at 28.57%. These factors coupled with the epileptic power supply, fuel shortages, insecurity (confessed to by a top Police officer) and other pressing issues only makes the need to 'spread the wealth' imperative. A nation with a a majority living in poverty with little access to opportunities to improve their financial standing simply creates resentment that will further social instability and limit potential economic growth and foreign investment. Already, the activities of MEND and other militants in the Niger Delta resulted in a pull back by oil majors and other investors. The lack of consistent electricity has equally contributed to the fact that over 800 industrial firms have closed over the last few years. And, the corruption in the system ensures that money stays in the hands of a limited few, ensuring that poverty remains a vicious cycle contributing to tribal and religious distrust and massacres in places like Jos.
Consequently, the economic progress being made by the Nigerian economy must be felt by citizens in the months and years to come. When this happens, the increases in GDP will go from being just another statistic, to being something tangible for citizens.
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