Stellenbosch, South Africa – Former Governor of Kaduna state, Nasir el-Rufai, has lauded the second term of former President Olusegun Obasanjo as the “most successful” period of economic growth, job creation, and reduced inflation rate in Nigeria. Speaking at the Africa In the World conference in Stellenbosch, South Africa, El-Rufai attributed Nigeria’s economic success during this period to integrated planning and fiscal responsibility.
President Obasanjo’s second term in office, spanning from 2003 to 2007, marked a significant period in Nigeria’s economic history. El-Rufai emphasized that during these years, the nation returned to “proper integrated planning,” which, combined with favorable circumstances, led to remarkable achievements.
El-Rufai stressed the importance of effective planning in fostering economic growth, noting that Nigeria’s Planning Commission, while existing, had not been as effective as desired. He also highlighted the relevance of planning committees in the development of most developing countries.
According to El-Rufai, “If you look at Nigeria’s economic trajectory, the most successful four to five-year period of economic growth, job creation, and reduced inflation was the period of the second term of President Obasanjo in 2003 to 2007, when for the first time, the country went back into proper integrated planning and we also got lucky.”
During this era, rising oil prices benefited Nigeria, but the nation did not squander the windfall. Prudent fiscal management led to the establishment of an excess crude account (ECA), where surpluses above a certain benchmark price of crude oil were deposited. This financial discipline enabled Nigeria to eliminate its foreign debt.
El-Rufai emphasized that in 2007, Nigeria’s fiscal health was at its peak, which shielded the nation from the global financial crisis of 2008. He explained, “Nothing was felt in Nigeria because Nigeria had a big savings account; we had huge reserves and we were able to absorb the shock without any internal problems unlike most countries.”
To achieve accelerated economic growth, El-Rufai underlined the importance of long-term and coordinated planning, as well as the inclusion of all stakeholders. His remarks serve as a reminder of the potential benefits of integrated planning and fiscal responsibility in a nation’s economic development.