By Temitayo Ayetoto
Agriculture and small-scale enterprises in Nigeria need enabling policies for them to thrive and help the government achieve its desire to achieve inclusive growth.
Nigeria’s central government in Abuja, therefore, should be leading the push to formulate such policies that would help both areas of the economy to thrive, says Ben Aigbokhan, a professor of economics and immediate past president of the Nigerian Economic Society.
Aigbokhan spoke against the background of the recently released Q4 2017 gross domestic product numbers, which he said showed that the economy was picking up.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in a report, ‘Nigerian GDP Report for Fourth Quarter 2017 and Full Year’’, indicated that the economy recorded an annual growth rate of 0.83 percent in 2017.
According to the NBS, the 2017 growth rate of 0.83 percent was higher than the -1.58 percent recorded in 2016, with a 2.42 percent difference.
The report also noted that the nation’s GDP grew by 1.92 percent (year-on-year) in real terms in the fourth quarter of 2017. But for the growth to be inclusive, the expert said it needed to reflect the generation of employment and income.
“So far as jobs and income are not generated, especially for the low-income groups, we cannot say the growth is inclusive. The government needs to focus on manufacturing, driven by small-scale enterprises, so that the growth can be more inclusive. For example, the Anchor Borrowers’ programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is a way of creating credits for farmers which will also make the growth inclusive,’’ he said.
He further noted that the sectorial breakdown would also show the sectors that had been contributing to the growth.
The NBS report stated that GDP in the quarter was driven by growth in crop production, crude production, and natural gas, metal ores, construction, transportation and storage, trade, electricity, and gas production.
Crop production had an appreciable growth of 4.58 percent in the period under review, compared to 3.19 percent in the third quarter of 2017, and 4.36 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Crude production, on the other hand, grew by 8.38 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, compared to 25.89 percent in the third quarter of 2017 and a contraction of -17.70 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Metal Ore grew by 31.86 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, compared to 10.70 percent in the third quarter of 2017, and 7.03 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, while construction grew by 4.14 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to a contraction of -0.46 percent in the third quarter of 2017.