Today marks the 59th Independence Anniversary of the Federal Republic of Nigeria after many years of British colonial rule. Like most post colonial societies, the process of nation building has witnessed several landmarks including military coups, a civil war and our current democratic dispensation that has recorded 20 years of unbroken civilian democracy and great national developmental strides. The Embassy wishes to use this opportunity to express profound appreciation to the government and people of Romania for the warm hospitality, cooperation and support we have enjoyed over the years.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and home to over 198 million people and most under 30 years of age. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs predicts that by 2050, Nigerian population will be 411 million, the third most populated country in the world. Nigeria achieved lower-middle-income status in 2014 and is Africa’s largest economy,a key regional player in West Africa, with a population accounting for about 47% of West Africa’s population. Nigeria is a federation that consists of 36 States and a Federal capital territory in Abuja. It is a multi-ethnic and culturally diverse society with an abundance of resources. It is Africa’s biggest oil exporter, and also has the largest natural gas reserves on the continent.
Between 2006 and 2016, Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an average rate of 5.7% per year, as volatile oil prices drove growth to a high of 8% in 2006 and to a low of -1.5% in 2016. While Nigeria’s economy has performed much better in recent years than it did during previous boom-bust oil-price cycles, such as in the late 1970s or mid-1980s, oil prices continue to dominate the country’s growth pattern. Nigeria accounts for nearly 20% of continental GDP and about 75% of the West Africa economy.
Nigeria emerged from recession in 2017, with a growth rate of 0.8%, driven mainly by the oil sector. Growth was higher in 2018 (at 1.9%) and more broad-based; however, it still fell below the population growth rate, government projections and pre-recession levels. The oil and gas sector reverted to contraction from the second quarter of the year and the non-oil economy was thus the main driver of growth in 2018. While agriculture slowed down significantly due to communal clashes and climate change, non-oil, non-agricultural growth, which remained negative up to the third quarter of 2017 strengthened through 2018 – but remained weak – with services (primarily information and communications technology) resuming as the key driver.
Economic growth is expected to hover just above 2% in 2019 and over the medium term. The oil sector is likely to stagnate in the face of regulatory uncertainty, limiting investments in the sector. Agriculture may remain affected by clashes and climate and weather events; and the non-oil-non-agriculture will likely continue to struggle in the face of sluggish demand and constrained private sector credit growth.
The Federal government is putting focus on macroeconomic and structural reform priorities articulated in the country’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP 2017-2020) by the renewed government administration and acceleration of their implementation could immediately promote needed economic resilience and can be expected to strengthen growth further than current projections.The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017–2020 prioritizes agriculture and food security and sets out the Government’s commitment to funding social safety nets through 2020. The associated 2019 Budget of Recovery and Growth funds a countrywide social investment programme that focuses on job creation, home-grown school feeding and cash transfers to vulnerable populations.
The growing importance of services has bolstered growth in the economy. The sector accounts for about half of GDP, dwarfing the 10% from oil and 22% from agriculture. Real GDP growth was an estimated 1.9% in 2018, reflecting a recovery in services and industry – particularly mining, quarrying, and manufacturing. The recovery benefited from greater availability of foreign exchange. Growth in agriculture was lacklustre, due partly to clashes between farmers and herders coupled with flooding in key middle-belt regions and continued insurgency in the Northeast.
Nigeria recently held national elections in February 2019, for the sixth consecutive time since its return to democracy in 1999. The incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari won the elections in a free and fair atmosphere and was sworn in for a second term on May 29, 2019. His Excellency the President, identified fighting corruption, increasing security, tackling unemployment, diversifying the economy, enhancing climate resilience and boosting the living standards of Nigerians as the main policy priorities his government seeks to continue to pursue in his second term.
In his inauguration speech for second term on 12th June, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari stated that “the principal thrust of the new administration is to consolidate on the achievements of the last four years, correct the lapses inevitable in all human endeavors and tackle the new challenges the country is faced with and chart a bold plan for transforming Nigeria. This task of lifting Nigerians out of poverty is by no means unattainable. China has done it. India has done it. Indonesia has done it. Nigeria can do it. These are all countries characterized by huge burdens of population. China and Indonesia succeeded under authoritarian regimes. India succeeded in a democratic setting. We can do it. With leadership and a sense of purpose, we can lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years”.
The Federal government has made giant strides with institutional and governance reforms, including implementation of the Integrated Financial Management and Information System and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System. The enactment of the Secured Transactions in Movable Assets Act 2017 has institutionalized and widened coverage of collateral to stimulate lending to small and medium enterprises. Although Nigeria has a relatively low debt-to-GDP ratio, there is need for fiscal prudence to avoid a debt trap, especially as global interest rates start to rise. Therefore, contraction of new external debt should balance spending needs with capacity to improve the economy’s competitiveness and stimulate growth.
The establishment of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to coordinate the management and supervision of humanitarian efforts across the country particularly in the North Eastern region of Nigeria that has been devastated by nearly a decade of Boko Haram insurgency and other humanitarian disasters with millions of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) across the country. The present administration with the cooperation of the joint task force comprising of the Military support of the neighbouring countries (Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin Republic) and the support from global community has been able to tackle the activities of the deadly group which has drastically reduced further attacks by the group.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Romania with opening of Romanian diplomatic mission in Lagos in 1966 and the Nigerian Embassy in Bucharest in 1974, both countries have enjoyed cordial Diplomatic, Political and Economic relations and have exchanged visits at the highest levels. Nigeria and Romania have also enjoyed excellent relations at the United Nations and other International fora, with both countries showing deep commitment to the ideals of the United Nations and common believe in the pursuit of global peace and prosperity of all nations.
Going forward, we expect a more robust and strategic engagement with the government of Romania in the areas of education, trade and economy, technology transfer, political dialogue, sports and culture etc, on the platform of a Nigeria/Romania Joint Commission that has become urgent and imperative.
The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Bucharest uses the auspicious occasion of the 59th Independence Anniversary to felicitate with the Federal Government of Nigeria, our compatriots at home and the diaspora including Nigerian students and businessmen in Romania, the Romanian Government and its people.
WE WISH YOU ALL PROSPEROUS AND PROGRESSIVE YEARS AHEAD!
H.E. Mrs. Jane Ada Ndem , Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Romania, with concurrent accreditation to Bulgaria and Slovenia.