Failures by the federal and state governments to take proactive steps to eradicate poverty, create the enabling business environment, enhance internally generated revenue and improve the quality of education have been identified as the major causes of the nation’s many woes.
Those who spoke at the ongoing Nigeria Economic Summit #NES27, said unless national and sub-national governments take deliberate and focused steps to transform the country, Nigeria will be left far behind, not just by the world but also by several emergent bright spots in Africa. They added that Nigerians will continue to wallow in poverty, hunger, insecurity and division.
“We can no longer afford to dream and theorise about the right policies, projects and programmes that will prepare us for the fourth industrial revolution, or gaze in admiration or envy at other countries as they leave us far behind,” chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Mr Asue Ighodalo said.
Ighodalo challenged President Muhammadu Buhari and state governors to eradicate poverty in their states, open-up the rural areas, provide extension services to farmers, provide them with storage facilities and route to markets, improve the quality of education of their children, improve healthcare facilities and enhance internally generated revenue.
In defence, Buhari said the federal government has empowered over 1.1 million businesses through the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Survival Fund which was launched to support businesses ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The president who said the outbreak of Covid-19 has had far reaching implications on businesses in Nigeria, said the federal government was responding to challenges and opportunities through its economic sustainability plan that was introduced to tackle Covid-19, rescue businesses and sustain growth and investment in human and social capital.
“The results are beginning to show especially in the area of GDP growth which appreciated by 5.01, and inflation which has been on a downward trend.
Buhari who was represented by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said the summit serves as a commitment between public and private sectors towards Nigeria’s economic growth in the past 27 years.
He said the outcome of the summits has contributed to economic policies and projects while providing an opportunity to preview the development of the economy and make frantic efforts for the future.
Earlier, the NESG chairman acknowledged that the impact of the pandemic worsened Nigeria’s vulnerabilities to external shocks, due to the structural weaknesses of the economy, its heavy reliance on imported goods and continuous dependence on crude oil as a major source of revenue.
The 27th Nigerian Economic Summit, continues from where it stopped last year, with the theme, Securing Our Future: The Fierce Urgency of Now.
The NESG chairman said like never before, the NESG is compelled to call on the collective will, capacity, resources and commitment of all leaders in the governing class, in business and in civil society to rise to the occasion of the times.
Minister of finance, budget and national planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said government recognises the need for increased domestic resource mobilisation as evidenced by the implementation of the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative (SRGI), an important intervention which she said was already yielding positive results in stimulating non-oil revenue growth.
“This future we all crave will be achieved by the dedication and hard work of all stakeholders, with leadership at the federal, state and local government levels and in collaboration with the corporate sector,” she said in her opening remarks.
Ahmed said for Nigeria to achieve the desired economic growth, investments and policy changes must be implemented in a sustainable and inclusive manner, ensuring that the needs of the present do not compromise the prosperity of future generations. “In developing interventions, the wellbeing of present and future citizens of Nigeria must be guaranteed,” she said.
“The urgency to reopen our economy differently and attractively; the urgency to resolve our security problems; the urgency to ensure macroeconomic stability; the urgency to accelerate our digital and technological capacities; the urgency of seizing the competitive African Market space created by the commencement of the African Continental Free Trade Area; the urgency to not just grow tax revenues, but to grow our non-oil export earnings; the urgency to attract and acquire fourth industrial revolution technologies, and the urgency to create innovative and transformative solutions to social problems and to climate change issues,” Ighodalo said.