Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance, says Nigeria has had a very rough economic route over the past two years, but believes the worst is over.
Speaking at the just concluded Bloomberg, NSE (Nigerian Stock Exchange) forum, Adeosun said Nigeria has learnt hard lessons from its immediate past and is moving from the rough road to the path of sustainable development.
“I would like to start by quoting Tai Solarin, one of our most famous social activists and thinkers. In 1964, he wrote a famous piece, ‘may your road be rough’. Permit me, with all copyrights recognised, to quote from it,” she said.
“I am not cursing you; I am wishing you what I wish myself every year. I therefore repeat, may you have a hard time this year, may there be plenty of troubles for you this year! If you are not so sure what you should say back, why not just say, ‘Same to you’? I ask for no more. Our successes are conditioned by the amount of risk we are ready to take”.
“His paper continues as follows; ‘the big fish is never caught in shallow waters, you have to go into the open sea for it. The biggest businessmen make decisions with lightning speed and carry them out with equal celerity. They do not dare delay or dally; time would pass them by if they did. The biggest successes are preceded by the greatest of heart-burnings.”
She said the Buhari-led administration is benchmarking itself against Indonesia and Egypt, not oil rich nations like Saudi Arabia and is working to undo the mistakes of the past.
“I will not read the entire piece but in essence, it captures the well-known concept that the best progress is often borne out of the most adverse conditions. I think there is a universal acceptance of this concept and equal acceptance, that the past 2 years have been a ‘rough road’ in economic terms for Nigeria.
“I think there is now a consensus that the worst is over but we must now act with conviction to ensure that we do not repeat those mistakes that left us so vulnerable.
“The President Muhammadu Buhari led administration has an ambitious but fundamentally different vision for this economy. We believe that Nigeria is an ‘oil-plus’ economy. We will benchmark ourselves not against the Saudis’ with their 30 Million population and 10 Million barrels of oil, but rather, with the Indonesians with their 257 Million population and 800,000 barrels of oil or Egypt with their 91 Million population and 490,000 barrels of oil. This has been encapsulated in the recently released Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
“Nigeria has the potential to be regionally dominant however, central to realising that potential, are 3 key factors: best value in the deployment of Government resources with a focus on enabling infrastructure; partnership with the private sector in service delivery and extension of the ‘user-pays concept’; effective revenue mobilisation.”
Adeosun added that “just 14 Million tax payers out of an estimated 69.9 Million who are economically active,” stating that this administration is “doing more with less and we will continue to do so”.