By G9ija

Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba says Nigeria may experience another negative growth in the third quarter of the year 2020.

Agba stated this on Tuesday in Abuja while declaring open a three-day capacity building workshop organised for Technical Working Group Anchors and Heads of secretariat constituted towards the development of the Medium Term National Development Plans (2021 – 2025 & 2026 – 2030) and Long Term (2021 – 2050) National Development Plans.

“Is it likely that the growth in the third quarter will be negative or positive?, I think it is likely going to be negative considering the fact that the lockdown has just been lifted,” Agba said.

“But if we put on all our efforts, if we do what we have to do as Nigerians, then there will be room for recovery, it takes a joint effort, not only of goverment, but all Nigerians to take our country serious, play our roles in order to ensure that we have quick recovery.

“This is the first time we are having a negative GDP growth in a quarter in the last three years, we have had a consecutive 12 quarters positive growth, we are not in a recession yet, we can only say we are in a recession if we have another quarter of negative growth.

“The economy is now being relieved because we are easing the lockdown and economic activities is going up, we have 2.3 trillion as stimulus package of which N500billion of it is in the revised 2020 budget, while the others are facilities and programmes that the government has created to the financial institutions to help ensure that even if we are to go into recession we will have a good recovery.

“On the figure released by the NBS on the second quarter of the year, First quarter, GDP was 1.8, with the coronavirus pandemic and with the lockdown that took place in the economy, we have envisaged that there was going to be a negative GDP, before second quarter, and what was projected -7.3 percent, what NBS released yesterday -6.7 percent showed that we did better than we envisaged. Many Nigerians are not proud of us and the work we are doing, we always try to knock ourselves down.”

Agba revealed that the history of development planning in Nigeria indicates a general lack of coordination and harmonization of programmes and policies. This, he said has also not benefited from a bottom-up approach with negative effects on implementation.

According to the minister, the government is desirous of changing the fortune of Nigerians and the future of generations yet unborn, adding that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari desires that the nation periodically draw comprehensive plans through which the welfare of citizens can be enhanced economically, socially and politically among others.

He disclosed that the ministry has commenced preparatory work on the new National Development Plans with the constitution of 26 Technical Working Groups (TWGs) to work on the strategic themes for the development of credible plans.

Explaining, he said, “These TWGs are expected to be supported by active and knowledgeable anchors and secretariat officials.

“The new plans being articulated are expected to address developmental challenges in all aspects of the country’s national life within the agreed timeframe.

“The planning process is also inclusive and participatory with the full involvement of the Sub-National governments (States and Local Governments), the Organised Private Sector, the major political parties, the National Assembly, youth and women organizations, the physically challenged, and other relevant stakeholders.

“This way, we would have a truly Nigerian National Development Plan and not a federal government plan.”

In order to have a very robust outcome, Agba stated, “It was thought wise to build the capacity of the major drivers of the process as the roles of the TWGs Anchors and Heads of Secretariat are critical towards the development of the plans, especially in liaising with other stakeholders such as coordinators and deputy coordinators drawn from state and non-state actors.”

Also speaking, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) Country Representative, Dr. Vladimir Kreck noted that the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have continued to unfold the future of a prosperous Nigeria which looks grimmer than ever, with the harsh consequences of the lockdown and the near-total shutdown of the global oil economy

Kreck disclosed that the foundation designed to support Nigeria in the upcoming challenge to develop a comprehensive Government strategy that holds solutions to the manifold social and economic problems Covid-19 has brought.

He added that the foundation has not only included a review of past National Development Plans and an introduction to understanding the macroeconomic framework for the creation of a Mid-Term National Development Plan, but also technical lectures on
the development planning process, the institutional arrangements for an effective plan implementation as well as a number of introductions to effective management approaches.