Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has said Nigeria’s economic growth recorded during the regime of the last president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, was not accomplished through any act of good economic policies by the administration.
Fashola alleged that the 7.5 to 8 per cent annual economic growth then happened because of high crude oil prices, adding that there was no coherent economic theory adopted by the last government to ensure such growth.
Speaking in Lagos, he said although the Nigerian economy had experienced some growth in the last few years, it was wrong for anyone to claim credit for the growth or for it to be attributed to any overt act or economic policy of government
According to him, the growth happened in spite of the lack of coherent economic theory.
“The emerging distortions about how the Nigerian economy grew in the last few years, and some claims of benefits or credit for that growth, let me be clear that nothing can be further from the truth than any person seeking to claim any substantial credit for that period of about 7.5 to 8 per cent growth.
“The globally accepted drivers of growth are infrastructure and sound economic policies. Where are the completed power plants, the completed rails and road projects and bridges, steel plants and related infrastructure? The evidence that abounded, which was reported at the time, were thousands of uncompleted projects at the best or abandoned projects at the worst,” he said in a statement from his Senior Special Adviser on Communications, Mr. Hakeem Bello, in Abuja.
Fashola further stated: “They are the roads and power projects that were not budgeted for or funded, that resulted in the lack of payment to contractors since 2013 and massive job layoffs. These are not indices of growth; at least not in a sustainable way.”
He added that the growth that was recorded came from income from sale of crude oil and the attendant price hikes.
The minister equally alleged that although all oil producing countries enjoyed the boom while it lasted, some invested in infrastructure and were now coping well with the current harsh global economic situation while those who did not invest wisely were struggling to cope with the harsh situation.
He also took on Jonathan’s government on its local content policy in the oil industry, saying, while it was fair and true to concede the attempt of economic policies to drive local content in the oil industry, the evidence on the ground pointed largely to a foreign domination in the technological and productive areas of the nation’s oil industry while services had accommodated local content participation.
“In effect, foreign content controls the production, and by extension the growth, while allowing local content to take some of the byproducts of the benefit,” he said, adding that the real area of local growth had been in the entertainment industry which, according to him happened in spite of any coherent government policy by sheer entrepreneurship of the operators.