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UK envoy: Nigeria should ignore IMF’s downgrading of status - THE NATION

APRIL 24, 2024

A former Director of the British Council in Nigeria, Mr David Roberts, has urged Nigeria to reject the recent report by the International Monetary Fund that projects that the country would drop from the first to the fourth largest economy in Africa.

The Fund in its recent World Economic Outlook as reported by Bloomberg, estimated Nigeria’s gross domestic product at $253 billion behind South Africa, $373 billion; Egypt, $348 billion; and Algeria, $267 billion, adding that South Africa will remain the largest until 2027 when Egypt will overtake it.

But in a statement,  the former British envoy said the country should rely more on data from its statistics rather than foreign agencies because the domestically gathered information is likely to be more accurate.

According to him, Nigeria became the largest economy in Africa in 2014 on the strength of data gathered by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

He said: “In 2014 when Nigeria became the largest economy in Africa, it was not because of the calculations of the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. It was because Nigeria’s economy had been rebased and recalculated by the National Bureau of Statistics. Were it not for the NBS, the world would have continued to perceive Nigeria as Africa’s third-largest economy.”

Saying he lived in Nigeria for a decade, he urged Nigerians to overcome their belief that Western Bretton Woods institutions are always right about them.

“That is certainly not true,” Roberts said firmly, explaining, “If Nigeria became the biggest economy on the strength of the NBS data, why would Nigeria allow itself to be downgraded and labelled the fourth largest economy in Africa this year by the IMF? Does the IMF know Nigeria better than the NBS?”

He stressed that evidence abound that the Breton Wood institution’s projections were not always correct. “Did this same IMF not project a GDP growth of 3% for Nigeria, which Nigeria overshot by delivering a 3.4% quarterly growth?”

He asked Nigerians to look back to the words of the late Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed, which he said on January 11, 1976, when that charismatic leader said, “Africa has come of age.”

Asking Nigeria to assert itself, Robert argued that, “Nigeria is not some Pacific Island nation, dependent on aid. Several Western countries now depend on Nigeria for healthcare professionals and other service providers.”

According to him, “Your economy is growing at 3.4%. Fuel importation is down by 57%. Local refining is up by 12% and will explode when the Dangote and Port Harcourt Refineries fully kick off. You are no longer spending $1.5 billion a month floating the Naira.”

The former envoy said as long as these policies continued, Nigeria’s economy could move up, advising that Nigerians should rely more on the NBS statistics and projections, pointing out that the Goldenberg scandal and the IMF’s poor record at forecasting recessions prove that the NBS has more integrity on Nigeria’s economy than the IMF.


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