Some gains were undoubtedly achieved durin the period of Structural Adjustment Programm (SAP). However, the programme brought about number of problems, some of which were unbea able for the populace. Actually, SAP was intende to be a long-term programme which would gradua ly restructure the economy and set it on the path ( stability and sustainable growth. Unfortunately, th operators of the programme lacked commitment t its long-term achievable goals. The programm was hastily implemented and this brought abol endemic inflation, shortage of foreign exchange increased unemployment, low capacity utilisatior fiscal deficit and an overall degeneration of th poverty situation in the country. This made a immediate review of the policy imperative.
The dual exchange rate regime was introduced in 1995 as an attempt to redress the continued depreciation of the domestic currency. The essence was to achieve a stable and realistic value for the Naira. As a follow up action, the Central Bank of Nigeria, in 1996, intervened in the operations of the autonomous market to ensure that it was adequately funded. Between 1994 and 1998, real GDP grew steadily from MI 01.0 billion to M113.0 billion. The annual growth rates were 1.3 per cent in 1994, 2.2 per cent in 1995, 3.3 per cent in 1996, 3.8 per cent in 1997 and 2.4 per cent in 1998. Given the esti mated population growth rate of 2.83 per cent, the GDP growth rate of 2.4 per cent in 1998 implied that the average Nigerian citizen was worse off in terms of well-being than in 1997. In terms of per capita income, there was fluctuation in this index of wel fare between 1994 and 1998.
Perhaps, a contributing factor to this dismal picture was the con tractionary monetary and fiscal policy measures adopted by government, due in part to IMF and World Bank initiatives for reduced public expendi ture in the economy. In 1994, the value of output per head of the population was about MI,053. It reduced to MI,047.0 in 1995, rising marginally to about MI,051.0 in 1996. The figures for 1997 and 1998 were MI ,081.3 and MI ,078.4, respectively. During the period of guided deregulation, and despite efforts by government and the private sec tor to redress the situation, there was still high unemployment. The published unemployment rates were of 3.2 per cent in 1994, 3.8 per cent in 1996, 2.6 per cent in 1997 and 14 per cent in 1998. The general consensus among economists and various social commentators was, however, that the rates of unemployment was far higher than the true ones published. The Nigerian economy was not able to create enough employment opportunities for citizens who were able and willing to work. Moreover, an adequate environment was not creat ed for self employment.
The result was increased discomfort suffered by many Nigerians as indicated by the discomfort indices in Table 4.2.4. The inflationary situation during this period was chequered. The rate of inflation rose from 57.0 per cent in 1994 to 72.8 per cent in 1995, but fell to 29 per cent in 1996. It reduced drastically to 8.5 percent in 1997, but rose marginally to 9.5 per cent in 1998. Prices were therefore generally unstable during the period of guided deregulation. The improvements recorded in 1997 and 1998 might have been due to the demand management strate gy of government, whereby demand was sup pressed through the payment of poverty wages and salaries, and due to reduction in government spending generally. However, if the economic for tunes of Nigeria must improve, then the perennial problems of the exchange rates, inflation, unem ployment, corruption and low capacity utilisation must be tackled.
The Nigerian economy appears to have per formed well during the 1960s as shown by GDP growth rates, rates of inflation and unemployment rates. During the period, agriculture was the main stay of the economy despite fluctuations in export prices. The oil boom period witnessed remarkable growth rates. Yet, the boom had no impact on the real sector since the industrial sector remained rel atively weak. The windfall from oil appeared not to have been utilised in shoring up the industrial sec tor. Therefore, when the recession of the 1980s set in, the economy found itself unable to absorb the shocks from declining oil prices. The subsequent economic reform programme, even after 12 years, still had serious problems.
Nigeria's economy remained such that real wages could not meet basic requirements. Social services deteriorated at an alarming rate and the real sector was not linked to the so-called boom in the financial sector. The recovery was yet to emerge, even by the end of the period under review. Nonetheless, given the country's solid resource base, the commitment of its new political and lead ership class and given the appropriate policy mix, the economy may, in the near future, experience meaningful growth and development which can guarantee a high standard of living for the citizens. The present democratic dispensation certainly offers some hope, if only the economy is properly managed.