ADEBAYO, A. ADEKUNLE
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
YUSUF M.0 (MRS)
DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS
MICHAEL OTEDOLA COLLEGE OF PRIMARY EDUCATION, NOFORIJA, P.M.B. 1028, EPE,
ASPECTS OF ECONOMIC REFORMS IN THE NIGERIAN FOURTH REPUBLIC
In Nigeria, the return to democratic rule in 1999 led to a myriad of programmes and strategies that were aimed at refocusing the face of the economy so as to resolve the difficulties which years of military rule had placed on it. This reform was, conceptualized principally in the form of a medium term development strategy called the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) within which framework a number of specific reform measures were implemented in different sectors of the economy. This paper provides a broad overview of some of these reform measures clearly indicating the historical setting which necessitated them, the basic features of the reforms and the perceived merits and shortcomings. Recommendations were also proffered on how to better reposition them for greater impacts.
The Nigerian economy is often described as a paradox. The nation is rich yet the people are poor. Despite an abundance of natural resources including crude oil, agriculturally fertile land and a significant level of human capital, the poverty level of about 67% of the population remains one of the highest in the world. Since the 1980s, the nation had battled with a problem of poor economic performance and a very low level of human development. In recognition of this fact and based on the perception that the economy required a major restructuring, a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) was embarked upon beginning from 1986. The SAP was designed as a package of economic recovery policies meant to adjust the structural landscape of the nation's economy, pull her out of economic stagnation, place her on the path of self reliant economic growth and ensure sustainable human development. However, there is now a general consensus among analysts and policy makers that despite some initial gains, SAP compounded rather than alleviate the deficiencies inherent in the nation's economy. The major impacts of the programme were in the forms of rapid increase in the price level and high rate of inflation; massive unemployment; deterioration in infrastructure, health care and education; distress in the banking sector; low capacity utilization and collapse of the industrial sector; reckless public spending and attendant huge government deficits; corruption, large expansion in the nation's external debt, and a general loss of confidence in the economy (Adebayo, 2004; Anyiwe, 1994; Okoh, 1994; Olashore, 1991). Thus, with the return to democratic rule in 1999, one of the cardinal agenda of the democratic government was the re-engineering of the nation's economy in order to reposition it for improved performance and sustained development. To this end, a medium term development strategy dubbed the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) was formulated as an overall framework for economic readjustment along with other structural, fiscal and monetary reforms. The NEEDS had four principal objectives namely; poverty reduction, wealth creation, economic growth and value re-orientation in Nigeria. In achieving these stated goals of NEEDS a number of broad policy instruments were instituted including reforms in various sectors of the economy especially the financial and the public sectors. It is within this context that this paper is situated, the paper provides an overview of the economic reform programmes embarked upon following the return to democratic governance in 1999. It appraised the benefits of these reforms as well as their possible shortcomings. Appropriate recommendations were also...