â€¢ Says African giant can fulfill her potential
Former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Walter Carrington, on Monday said abysmal economic performance and over-reliance on petrodollars formed the core reasons Nigeria had not been invited to join G-20, an international forum of the worldâ€™s largest advanced and emerging economies.
For Nigeria to get out of the woods, however, Carrington suggested that the leadership of the country â€œ should direct more of its oil revenue to growth-enhancing sectors like agriculture, energy and infrastructure among others.â€
He expressed grave concerns over Nigeriaâ€™s poor economic performance at a public lecture he delivered at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, yesterday under the chairmanship of former Chairman of Punch Newspapers, Chief Ajibola Ogunsola.
The lecture, which was titled: â€˜Nigeria and Africa in a Changing Worldâ€™, was organised by the Lagos State Office of Overseas Affairs and Investment. It was held alongside the public presentation of a book: â€˜Defend the Defenselessâ€™ which his wife, Dr. Arese Carrington just published.
At the lecture, Carrington said although its economy â€œis the 20th largest in the world and is expected to rise to ninth by 2050, Nigeria has not been invited to the G-20, which represents the worldâ€™s most advanced economies.
â€œSouth Africa, whose economy, is smaller and is not expected to grow as dramatically as Nigeriaâ€™s is however, a member. I continue to wonder whether the continuing domination of South Africaâ€™s economy by her white minority gives Western countries a comfort level that they do not feel when dealing with black controlled economies in the rest of Africa.
â€œSome 15 years ago, four of the worldâ€™s major emerging economies namely, Brazil, Russia, India and China, came together in a group that became known by the acronym BRIC.
â€œIn 2010, seeking an African member, they chose South Africa which became the S in the newly named BRICS. I look forward to the day when Nigeria becomes the N in a renamed group of 6 which will be known as the BRINCS.â€
He expressed optimism that Nigeria could realise its potential in the new world by taking full advantage of its population boom and creating an enabling environment for youths to be productive.
He explained that Cote Dâ€™Ivoire and Senegal had impressive growth rates than Nigeria last year due to their less reliance on oil. He said Nigeria must diversify its sources of export earnings and focus on agriculture, energy and infrastructure.
Carrington noted that Nigeria â€œcontinues to be frozen out of membership of confederation of nations which are thought to be the most important in the world. South Africa enjoys more respect internationally than Nigeria despite its size and resources.
â€œNigeriaâ€™s growth rate last year slowed to an anemic 1.6 per cent. He said the weak performance, according to a United Nations report, was a fallout of depressed oil prices, falling oil production, energy shortages and price hikes, scarcity of foreign exchange and depressed consumer demand.â€
He, however, said Cote Dâ€™Ivoire posted an impressive growth rate of eight per cent, while Senegal grew by 6.3 per cent, noting that even with power shortages and bad agricultural weather, these two Francophone countries were able to outshine Nigeria by far.
The former ambassador said: â€œFalling oil prices in 2016 underscored the necessity for oil revenue dependent economies like Nigeriaâ€™s, to diversify their sources of export earnings. If the signs that oil prices may recover prove to be accurate, it is incumbent upon countries like Nigeria to direct more of that revenue to growth-enhancing sectors like agriculture, energy and infrastructure.â€
Carrington said there â€œhas been a raft of optimistic predictions for Nigeriaâ€™s future partly because of the feeling that Nigeria, under its current leadership, is on the verge of turning around.â€