Presentation by Atiku Abubakar, GCON, former Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria and Presentation by Atiku Abubakar, GCON, former Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria and Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, at the Nigeria Economic Summit Group Presidential Dialogue on the Economy, at the Summit House, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Monday 16th January, 2023.
I sincerely thank the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, in particular the Chief Executive Officer, ’Laoye Jaiyeola, for inviting me to speak about my plans for reviving and growing our economy if Nigerians, in the coming elections, choose me to lead this country.
Many of the challenges facing our dear country are connected to poor economic performance and its consequences for our people. It is critical, therefore, that we get the economy right.
I have been a private business man for a long time and have also been a public servant at the highest level of decision-making and implementation. Thus, I feel comfortable among captains of industry and public sector economists and practitioners. And I am uniquely positioned to understand the economic challenges facing the country and what we must do to get our economy growing, provide jobs, incomes and wealth for our people and thereby reducing hunger, unemployment and related social problems, including insecurity.
When we create economic opportunities for our people it will have significant positive impact on social cohesion and national security.
Increased jobs and income opportunities will reduce the likelihood of our youth being involved in crime, violence and conflict motivated by the manipulation of religious or ethnic differences.
Our country is in transition as the APC leaves the stage and, with your support and goodwill, the PDP takes over in May this year. Therefore, you have a responsibility to take stock of the assets (if there are any) and liabilities (which will be massive) of the APC administration.
You also have a solemn responsibility to interrogate those who aspire to govern this country. You must assess their understanding of the environment, their policy priorities, and their strategies for dealing with a plethora of local and national issues.
We can only proffer accurate and workable solutions if we start with proper diagnosis. Elegant slogans, social media insults and misleading statistics are not a substitute for sober diagnosis and analysis of where we are, how we got here and what we must do to get our country back on its feet and take our rightful place in the comity of nations.
This is election season. So, you will see and hear from snake-oil salespeople, false prophets and purveyors of false hope and misleading statistics. There is, therefore, need for caution.
We must also remember that we cannot trust the doctor that poisoned and continues to poison the patient to be the one who provides the curative treatment. The stakes are too high, so we must get it right. This may well be our last chance to do so.
The Nigerian economy is barely growing. Per capita income, a measure of citizens’ well-being, has progressively fallen since 2015 because of declining output and a fast-growing population. Our people are worse-off today than they were in 2015.
The oil and gas sector, which is the country’s main foreign exchange earner has declined for most of the period since 2014. For many economic sectors and for the ordinary citizens it still feels like we are in a recession.
Under the current administration our people are not working. More than 23 million people are out of jobs. In just 5 years between 2015 and 2020, the number of fully employed people dropped by 54%, from 68 million to 31 million people. This is frightening in a country of 200 million people.
And the majority of the unemployed are young men and women, who lack not only the means to survive but any hope for the future. The number of unemployed youths increased by 9 million from 4 million in 2015 to 13 million in 2020.
High youth unemployment and limited employment opportunities