Deconstructing PMB’s Economic Recovery And Growth Plan

Last week Wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari  launched the long awaited economic recovery and growth plan. In this report, JONATHAN NDA- ISAIAH looks at the pros and cons of the plan as well as its impact on the nation’s economy in no distant future.
It is common knowledge that the country is in recession. The manner in which the story has been told in and around the country and even beyond is novelty. It is a negation of the biblical analogy, “Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph”.
In the news, at every gathering, in public places, including, Mosque, Church, taverns as well as in common places like the ‘Aboki kiosk’ and ‘mama put’ food joint, the story of how the country was neck deep in recession reverberated to the extent that one could hear it resound in a succession of echoes.
Some experts and analysts have blamed the economic downturn on the fall in oil prices and activities of militants in the Niger Delta, while others have maintained that it is as a result of the flip flop policies of the federal government.
What is, however, news at the moment is that the President Muhammadu Buhari- led administration is not resting on its oars to get the country out of recession. A ray of hope came from this direction last week when President Buhari officially launched the economic recovery and growth plan (ERGP) of his administration. Not a few Nigerians considered this a major step taken by the federal government to wriggle the country out of the economic morass it is enmeshed in.
After all the mudslinging and negative diatribe against the current administration by certain persons in the opposition divide who claim this government is zero per cent in terms of the economy, it is mesmerising to think that Buhari’s Economic Management Team led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has been burning the midnight candle all in an effort to map out a strategic plan on how to put the country back on sustainable growth.
The team came up with a plan called the economic recovery and growth plan (ERGP) which is designed to put the country on the path of sustainable growth in three years. Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, who unveiled the plan in February, said the plan is designed to be national in nature and that the government has received inputs from all segments of society and from the subnational governments and the time frame for the plan is 2017-2020.
He explained that some of the 34 key actions selected for immediate implementation are already yielding results, especially the reforms in agriculture and solid minerals. He said the government will focus on tackling constraints to growth, noting that, while the Nigerian growth faces various supply constraints, including fuel, power, foreign exchange and even business unfriendly regulation, this plan focuses on overcoming and resolving these input challenges.
The minister also pointed out that the government will leverage on the power of the private sector as economic recovery and transformative  growth cannot be achieved by the government alone. He said, “The ultimate beneficiary of more inclusive growth is the average Nigerian man and woman. Allow markets to function. We recognise the power of markets to drive optimal behaviour among market participants. The plan prioritise the use of the market as a means of resources allocation where possible and support a more business friendly economic environment.
“Uphold core values: The economic recovery and growth plan is rooted in the core values that define Nigerian society and are enshrined in the 1999 Constitution, notably discipline, integrity, dignity of Labour, social justice, religious tolerance, self reliance and patriotism”.
Udoma added that the plan which is a medium term plan is expected to drive Nigeria to a minimum GDP growth rate of 7 per cent within the plan period. According to him, the goal is to have an economy with low inflation, stable exchange rates and a diversified and inclusive growth. He listed  the immediate execution priorities of the recovery plan to include agriculture and food security, energy (power and petroleum), small business and industrialisation and stabilising  macroeconomic environment.
“There will be a major emphasis on implementation, monitoring and evaluation of this plan and plan to set up a specially staffed delivery unit  to drive implementation of the NERG plan”, the minister added.
Suffice it to say that the government has also made efforts to diversify the nation’s economy from oil. The agricultural policies of the federal government is already yielding dividends as the rice revolution is there for all to see.
During the launching of the plan last week, President Buhari vowed to fix the country ‘s ailing economy the way his administration has tackled corruption and insecurity. He explained that his administration inherited numerous challenges and his party’s  political campaign was based on a recognition of the difficult situation Nigeria was in and the need to bring positive and enduring change. He reiterated the commitment of his administration to fulfilling their  electoral promise to change the  way of doing things and to change Nigeria for good.
Buhari said, “We are committed to delivering on the three key areas that we promised – that is improving security, tackling corruption and revitalising the economy. Security in the North East, and other parts of Nigeria, is significantly better today than when we came in. With regards to our fight against corruption, as you all know, our law enforcement agencies are prosecuting very many cases of corruption. Our successes in these two areas are clear for all to see.
“I want to assure all Nigerians that we are approaching the solution to our economic challenges with the same will and commitment, we have demonstrated in the fight against corruption and in the fight against terrorism and militancy”.
The president noted that  the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan brings together all his administration’s sectoral plans for agriculture and food security, energy and transport infrastructure, industrialization and social investments together in a single document. According to him, it builds on the Strategic Implementation Plan and sets out an ambitious roadmap to return the economy to growth; and to achieve a 7% growth rate by 2020.
Keen observers of the polity are of the opinion that the plan is coming 23 months late as the government should have unveiled their economic plan immediately it came on board. The launching of the plan now, analysts say, amounts to putting the cart before the horse.The thinking is that a presidential aspirant would  have these policies and plans prepared and ready before contesting.
Recall that President Buhari’s government is hinged on three campaign promises- security, revamping the economy and the anti- corruption war. While the president has performed fairly well in the fight against insurgency and corruption the same cannot be said of the economy.
According to some pundits, the economy recovery growth plan is no different from the Vision 2020 and other economic plans of past administrations. Since the administration of Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria have always had a good economic plan and polices. The major problem is the implementation of the plans- the political will to carry out these plans to the letter.
It is instructive to note that Nigeria lacks the basic infrastructure and security for a stable economic growth as these are foundations and precursors for economic growth. 57 years later, Nigeria is still struggling to generate 5000 megawatts of electricity. The security indices in the last two years is not looking good either. Boko Haram insurgents in the North East are still launching some pockets of attacks, Fulani herdsmen are wrecking havoc in the North Central while, Niger Delta militants are holding sway in the south East.
Keen observers hold strongly that if all these are not tackled and the ease of doing business in the country improved, the economic plan may just be a mirage, as no building stands without a good foundation.

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