National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has said the country’s economy is still weak despite exiting recession.
The APC chieftain spoke in Kaduna, on Saturday, while delivering a speech as the chairman of the 2021 Sardauna Memorial Lecture held in honour of one of Nigeria’s founding fathers, the late Sir Ahmadu Bello.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) had in February announced that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product recorded a slight growth of 0.11 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020.
According to the NBS, the development showed that the country had exited recession.
But speaking on the topic “Reduction of the Cost of Governance for Inclusive Growth and Youth Development in Northern Nigeria in a Post-COVID-19 Era,” Tinubu said there is still more to be done.
The former governor of Lagos said in spite of measures put in place by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, the country’s economy still remains weak with “too much unemployment”.
He said: “In the midst of our local challenges came the COVID-19 pandemic, with its debilitating impact on the global and domestic economies. Nigeria, like many other countries, has not been spared the impact of the pandemic.
“Commendably, however, President Muhammadu Buhari has been carefully steering the country through the pandemic such that the negative impact on us and the economy has not been as harsh as it might have been. The economy’s relapse into recession has ended but we must admit the economy remains weak with too much unemployment and resources left idle.”
The ex-governor also stressed the need to cut down on wasteful spending among government officials to ensure Nigerians benefit from the economy.
Tinubu said, “Fiscal wisdom but not necessarily austerity is required for an economy like ours in a time like this, to ensure equitable wealth redistribution and meaningful use of resources.
“The years have shown that the private sector is much too weak to spur the growth we need. If the private sector could manage this feat, it would have already done so. Where the private sector is too weak or unable, the government must fill the void.
“This means government must not be afraid to embark on an active fiscal policy to create jobs, build infrastructure and develop our industrial sector as well as continue to improve agriculture.
“This means government must spend money but spend it on those things that bring the requisite economic returns for the nation.”
Addressing the rising tension in Nigeria, Tinubu said the country cannot tackle criminality and youth restiveness without creating job opportunities for them.
He added: “While states and local government must shape their budgets to fit their revenues, the federal government can and should spend more to create more jobs for the youth in both the north and south which is key to eradicating restiveness and sundry criminality among the youth.”
“Urban populations are growing but urban jobs are not. Here, government must implement a national industrial policy to encourage key industries to begin to employ this growing urban work force.”