Former Emir of Kano and one-time Managing Director of First Bank, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has lamented that the nation’s economy has not been diversified, over 60 years after the discovery of oil in Nigeria. Malam Sanusi spoke on the second day of the Kaduna Economic and Investment summit (KADINVEST) 5.0 on Tuesday.
While comparing Nigeria and Malaysia, Sanusi said that the latter has transformed from an exporter of primary products to manufacturing over a 30-year period, from 1970 to 2000, adding that its ‘’ GDP/capita increased from $310 to $4,045 within that period.’’ The renowned Economist said that Nigeria has generated an increase in wealth from $345 in 1985 to $2,655 in 2015 GDP/capita but ‘’without any structural transformation in what the country actually produced.’’
The former Governor of CBN pointed out that the export of crude petroleum and oils obtained from bituminous materials contributed almost the same increase in wealth in Nigeria within 30 years. Sanusi, who quoted the 2016 edition of Atlas of Economic Complexity, said that crude oil and allied products generated 89.67% in 1985 and 77.05% in 2015, over a 30-year period in Nigeria.
According to him, the economy is growing but it has not been diversified and this explains the high rate of poverty and a high level of inequality in the country. He said that the difference between African countries and those in Asia is that they have diversified from primary to secondary and tertiary sectors of the global economy.
‘’The major difference is that they have moved on but we have not,’’ he lamented. Sanusi pointed out that Malaysia has the same factors that Nigeria has been using an excuse for having not developed, adding that both countries are multi-ethnic and have fought wars. He lamented that Nigeria is still a consumer nation instead of being a producer, by seizing on the investments that the government has done in technology. ‘’Africa’s failure has been in not leveraging on the underlying infrastructure—towers and undersea cables—to catalyse the development of other and new industries,’’ he said. ‘’If you use your smartphone which is made in China and order shoes from France and they are delivered to you at home, what have you actually gained? You are just a consumer,’’ he added.
The ex CBN Governor argued that the same phone can be put to productive use when it is used to shoot a Nollywood movie and the film clip is distributed. He advised governments to invest in Human Capital and should aim to create enabling environment for investments, instead of borrowing to finance development. The former Governor of the Apex Bank also said that ‘’while everyone looks to the federal government for solutions, the truth is that its role in the economy is small—both in absolute and relative terms.’’ Sanusi praised Kaduna state government for not just increasing its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) but providing infrastructure and creating the enabling environment for both domestic and foreign investments to thrive.
The former Emir recalled that the success of Nigeria’s pre-oil economy was based on the dynamism of its trading sector and the diversity of its export base. He said that the diversity of the nation’s export in the pre-oil economy in Nigeria, ‘’ meant that it was less vulnerable to a term of trade shock driven by anyone export in particular.’’