In today’s growing economy, plausible achievements have been recorded in Nigeria’s reform programs; regardless of the translation of “achieved economic growth” on the livelihood of the citizenry, the growth indices puts the country on the track of sound economic rebirth. Over the short while, the financial sector had received attention with various reforms and strategies aimed at positioning the nation on a sound foot to growth.
No doubt, a sustainable growth can best be achieved with a sound and virile financial institutions, the quest to give agriculture a nearer interest is a well deserve consolidation for the “rescued” financial sector. Having noted Nigeria’s potentials of low-carbon profiles and rich natural assets, the development of a green economy would make the financial system more environmentally sustainable because of the less dependent on fossil fuel-based technologies.
With agriculture as the plateau for economic growth, the development of a green economy will aid the nation in its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) drive towards reducing poverty and enhance its social development targets that have a 2015 deadline. A green economy is an economy or economic development model based on sustainable development. Considering the ecosystem and environmental risks that affects growth, a synergy that will protect the environment, and in turn, yield return will help the nation with a double digit growth, provide employment, and strengthen commercial ventures – especially agriculture – which will variably reduce dependence on oil and reduce emission. Although “committed” developing countries fear that the new discourse could be used to justify unilateral trade protection measures, merely strengthening inequalities between rich and poor nations and hindering their development, not much had been heard from the Nigerian government and the economic team on their strategy to identify a model that will fit the Nigerian economy, twenty years after the Rio Earth Summit.
However, a plausible initiative doesn’t come without its ills; the green economy could be used by developed nations for trade protectionism purposes and justifying unilateral trade measures against the products of developing countries; for instance, imposing a “carbon tariff” or “border adjustment tax” on products from countries which do not impose a CO2 cap on their industry – Nigeria is prone to this. To gainfully blend the green economy with our agricultural prospects, there should be a drastic approach in reducing carbon waste and emission, the invention and use of alternate energy with low or near zero emission and wastes, and as well, ensure even redistribution of wealth to enhance its practicability. What is more? An investment in energy transformation plants for wastes and near wastes products will be a plus to a healthy nation.
Far before the advent of the Rio Earth Summit twenty years ago, Nigeria had had a green revolution policy in the late 70s aimed at sustaining structural growth. The nation’s wealth prior to independence, that placed the country’s currency in a comfortable exchange above the Dollar, had been agriculture which yielded good returns from exports on which the country rely upon for its budgetary spending. However, the discovery and sole dependence on oil led to structural constraints, leading to fragile agriculture, limited access to other energy sources and low economic diversification. Since the oil boom era to date, Nigeria had not significantly reduced poverty and achieving higher rates of development; the country had embarked more investments and policies that undervalued the importance of the economic sectors most relevant to the livelihoods of the average poor.
Although the green economy model is believed to be a panacea to sustainable and better livelihood, the country must ensure the existence of specific enabling conditions. These enabling conditions consist of the backdrop of national regulations, policies, subsidies and incentives, and international market and legal infrastructure and trade and aid protocols. At present, Nigeria’s enabling conditions are heavily weighted towards, and encourage, the prevailing usual economy, which, inter alia, depends excessively on fossil fuel energy. In a complementary role, the law makers could also support this initiative through the creation of laws that will guarantee rural employment and a social protection and livelihood security scheme for the rural poor that invests in the preservation and restoration of natural capital. Because by increasing investment in natural assets that are used by the poor to earn their livelihoods, the shift towards a green economy enhances livelihoods in many low-income areas. With the encouraging rural population in Nigeria, the system could create an average of 750 thousand workday employments and benefiting the more than 72 million rural Nigerians. A careful implementation must be considered to ensure that 84% of this investment goes into water conservation, irrigation and land development.
A shallow assessment into today’s Nigerian economy indicate poverty as a bile to growth; although statistics has shown that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had grown favourably by 7.72% in the second quarter of 2011, importunate poverty is the most visible form of social inequity, leading to unequal access to education, healthcare, credit facilities, fear, and near zero of public safety for lives. A key feature of a green economy is that it seeks to provide diverse opportunities for economic development and poverty alleviation without liquidating or eroding a country’s natural assets. Notwithstanding the benefits to be derived from this scheme, a virile condition for its practicability will be an environment devoid of civil unrest and crime. It requires that the nation put at bay measures to extinguish crime and insecurity, and rekindle the lost economic trust of its citizenry.
As the nation continues to strive towards attaining sustainable development with a green economy, there is a proactive necessity to improve the health requisite of the rural populace. Two major criteria for improve health of the rural populace will be clean water and sanitation; study had shown that: in many developing countries, one of the biggest opportunities to speed transition to a green economy is to invest in the provision of clean water and sanitation services to the poor. When sanitation services are inadequate, the costs of water-borne disease are high; coupled with the non-availability of health care delivery services in the rural areas, the objectives of the green economy will be left in shambles. A global study had shown that water, a basic necessity for sustaining life, goes undelivered to many of the world’s poor. Today, it is alleged that over 93% of the rural people lack access to clean drinking water do not have access to adequate sanitation services.
While the implementation of the 2011 budget does not reflect its projection, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), through its communiqué of September 2011, believed that the economy had fared well with favourable growth in its non-oil sector – with an all time high of 8.82%, against the oil sector with 1.81% in the second quarter of 2011. If these indices are a true representation of CBN’s assessment, a green investment with plausible concentration on agriculture, buildings, forestry, and transport sectors would see job growth in the short, medium, and long term exceeding their comparable business as usual scenarios. Having noted the improved decrease in inflationary trends, a shift to a green economy also means a shift in employment which, at a minimum, will create an estimated 12 million jobs in the rural areas; this in turn, could positively boost the Food Composite Index and increase revenue generation for states and local governments.
Perhaps a green economy will results in improved human w
ell-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities, the need to identify strategies that will curtail the negative feedback on employment from probable consequences such as the impacts of climate-related disasters on agriculture or coastal environment, backed by a virile fiscal and monetary policies are requisites that could strengthen Nigeria’s economic odyssey in achieving its Millennium Development Goals.
Salim Salihu Muhammed