Despite security challenge posed by the Boko Haram sect and other issues, Nigeria's economy recorded an unprecedented growth as it is said to be the third fastest growing economy in the world.
Briefing State House correspondents after yesterday's Federal Executive Council Meeting, Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, who was joined by the Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, said the growth in the economy was a clear indication that "there is a lot of confidence in the Nigerian economy."
Ngama, who presented a report on the country's presentation during the recently concluded Islamic Development Bank Congress in Khartoum, Sudan noted that the growth noticed in the non-oil sector was particularly impressive, adding that government would continue to work on improving the economy.
He stated: "Today in council, I presented a report on the presentation made at the 37th Annual General Meeting of the Islamic Development Bank, IDB. The bank has 56 member countries and at annual general meeting, each country is expected to present a report on the economic development in the country. The aim is to educate ourselves about what is happening in our countries.
In the case of Nigeria, our report was actually the best. For the year, for the quarter which ended on 31st December, 2011, only about 46 countries have actually submitted their data and Nigeria was third in terms of GDP growth. We recorded a GDP growth of 7.68 per cent in real terms and this is largely due to growth in the non-oil sector.
"The previous year, 2010, the GDP growth was 8.4 per cent but last year, it dropped to 7.68 per cent because we had a negative growth in the oil sector. So, it means that the non-oil sector is actually resilient and strong enough to carry the economy forward with or without the oil sector.
"This actually placed us as the third fastest growing economy in the world, the first being Mongolia with 14. 9 per cent real growth rate, then China with 8.4 per cent real GDP growth rate followed by Nigeria with 7.68 per cent.
"But the more important story out of it is that as a nation, we have our Vision 202020, we have the objective of having one of the world strongest economies by year 2020.
All the other countries, apart from China, that are ahead of Nigeria are growing at a slower rate than Nigeria. When those ahead of you are growing slower, it means that in the next eight years, we will achieve our objective of being one of the strongest economies in the world. As at last December, our total GDP was more that N10 trillion and that is a growth that is unprecedented despite our challenges."
Explaining how this growth has impacted on the lives of the ordinary Nigerian people, the minister said the "standard of living has improved in Nigeria as a result of this growth. As at December, 2011, our income per capita grew from $1200 to $1400 and this actually moved us from low income countries to middle lower income countries per World Bank classification."
Other decisions taken by the council at its meeting, according to the Minister of Information, were the directive by President Goodluck Jonathan to all Ministries, Agencies and Departments to list items that they would be procuring this year and sort out those that should be sourced locally. Council also requested the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to begin the process of producing new voters' cards.
Maku said the "the President directed that all procurements must first focus on made in Nigeria goods, that all items that are produced locally must first be considered in the public procurement exercise at least at the federal level. This is to encourage local producers and to also encourage the creation of jobs within the economy for the unemployed and school leavers.
"The President noted in council today (yesterday) that in spite of this directive, MDAs were yet to fully implement it. So he asked all MDAs as we prepare for the 2012 budget year, to list in our procurement plans those things that should be procured locally. This is to ensure that we encourage local producers and also encourage domestic economic growth.
"He also directed the Minister of Trade and Investment to prepare a plan for those items, good and services, which we have the local capacity to produce but which we are lagging behind. This will enable the government, through the economic management team, to sort out those items that we must deliberately set out to encourage local producers to produce within the country."
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