How Murtala/Obasanjo Foisted Economic Stagnation on Nigeria – Asiodu
Federal Minister of Petroleum, Chief Philip Asiodu, has given details as to
how the military regime of Murtala Muhammed and Olusegun Obasanjo had set
Nigeria on the path of economic stagnation and infrastructural degradation
Asiodu in his presentation at the presidential dinner organised for
graduating participants of Senior Executive Course 34 of the National
Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS) at the weekend in Abuja,
said Nigeria’s path to economic indiscipline and disregard for planning was
actually encouraged by Murtala/Obasanjo regime when it abandoned the 1975 to
80 national economic plan.
In his capacity as the guest speaker at the event organised in honour of 66
participants of the NIPPS Course 34, Asiodu explained that such economic
decisions of the regime had deviated Nigeria’s path to economic development
from that of its Asian counterparts who were practically at par with her in
the early 1970s.
He said the choice of the regime to get rid of the 1975 to 80 national
economic plans was a great tragedy to the country, adding that the principle
and discipline of planning was abandoned for other unconventional measures.
“Retired officials like myself can only recall with great pain and regret the
third national development plan 1975 to 1980 which was launched in April
1975, that is 37 years ago. That plan was meant to lay the basis for economic
diversification and industrialisation with priority to be given to modernised
agriculture and agro-allied industries and value-added projects in the oil
and gas sector like export refineries, petrochemical and fertiliser plants
for the local market and for export.
“The great tragedy is that the Murtala-Obasanjo administration, which
replaced the overthrown Gowon administration effectively abandoned the 1975
to 80 plan with its great promise of creating the basis for economic
diversification and industrialisation and also abandoned indeed, the
principle and discipline of planning,” he said.
Asiodu further explained: “The traumatic massive purge of about 10,000
officials countrywide over a period of four months had destroyed the
competent, professional, bold, non-partisan, fearless, prestigious and
merit-driven civil service inherited from the British colonial administration
which might have been able to influence the new administration to keep to the
plan and its constraining discipline.
The stage was then set for the economic stagnation and degradation of
infrastructure, educational, health and other sectors over the next three
decades despite the fairly high level of oil revenues compared with the
pre-civil war and pre-independence situation.
“This is when Nigeria’s economic development path diverged from that of the
Asian Tigers with whom we were practically at par in the early 1970s.
“We may recall the impressive average annual growth rate of six percent
achieved under the first plan 1962-66, later extended to 1968 and after the
civil war, the average annual growth rate of 11.75 percent from 1970-75.”
The former minister warned that the country stands to contend with serious
economic challenges in a more difficult setting going by her continuous
disregard for proper economic planning and discipline, adding that the
country’s economic plan in Vision 2020 would amount to nothing without detailed