Nigeria: Governor Fayemi Advocates Inclusive Economic Development As Panacea for Nigeria’s Economic recovery
By RAZAQ BAMIDELE
Nigeria, April 19, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has given an insight into what to be done to move Nigeria out of her economic problem, saying, the sure road to economic recovery is inclusive economic development.
Fayemi made the assertion Thursday in Lagos when speaking on the topic: Fixing the economy: Less Politics, More Substance at the second annual lecture organised by the Publisher of The Freedom Online publication, Mr Akinadewo.
According to the Governor, to fix the economy, there is the need to identify the necessary conditions for inclusive economic development, which not only ensure macroeconomic growth indices improve, but also lifts people out of poverty and puts our citizens, especially young people in jobs.
“These conditions are clearly security, human capital development, infrastructure and a clear policy framework that encourages the investment of private capital,” Fayemi submitted.
He however regretted that with a general lack of investment in long term human capital and infrastructural development, by the 21st century, the Nigerian economy was teetering on the brink, pointing out that, the seriousness of the situation was masked by rising oil prices.
Going down the memory lane. Fayemi, revisited the history of the Nigerian economy from independence, saying according to a 1955 report published by the World Bank, then known as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Nigeria had a population of 32 million people, with most of its people engaged in agricultural activity.
“Even at the time, Nigeria had a thriving export economy led by cocoa, oil palm, palm kernels, groundnut and cotton.
“The industrial sector was active, led by the biggest establishment at the time, the sawmill and plywood factory at Sapele, that employed over 3,000 people.
“In addition to that plant, there were textile mills, rubber factories, bottling companies and other industrial establishments. Even at the time, though most of the people lived in rural communities, Nigeria had 18 towns with a population of over 50,000 inhabitants, led by Ibadan, with 460,000 people. These points are important, because it tells you Nigeria had some of the competitive advantages for industrialization; a large population and a large number of cities.
Fayemi is of the view that, the cost of not investing in infrastructure and human capital is usually painful, and in Nigeria’s case, is manifesting in an unemployment rate hovering above 40%.
“With two-thirds of our population under the age of 35, it is important to set the country on a path of sustainable economic development, if not for our sake, for generations after ours.
He remided the audience that, that was why the Federal Government developed the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), designed to drive economic growth by:
1-Ramping up oil production to 2.5 million barrels per day and reduce petroleum product importation by 60%;
2-Not reinventing the wheel, but building on existing national and sectoral development plans;
3-Collaborating with businesses to attract private investment in focus sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, solid minerals and services, a clear sign that the private sector is expected to be the engine of economic growth;
4-Merging the budget and planning functions into one ministry to ensure the required linkage between planning and funding exists;
5-And finally, a clear alignment with, and recognition of states, to ensure all parties are working towards a common objective.
According to Fayemi, the ERGP rightly identified human capital and competitiveness as critical factors that drive economic growth, pointing out that, no economy can develop without a healthy and competent workforce; therefore education and healthcare are critical social investments required to develop the economy.
“This is why we must continue to expand health insurance coverage and invest in healthcare facilities and professionals, to ensure we improve the quality of life in Nigeria, and as a result of this, develop a more productive workforce. We must also continue to invest in early school education to boost literacy, technical and vocational training to support our industrial needs, but most importantly, we must ensure our children have the right digital skills training, to make them competitive for the future of work.
“This is why programmes like the Home Grown School Feeding Programme, N-Power and the planned improvement in teaching methods, are necessary actions for developing a workforce that can excel when put in an increasingly competitive global workplace.
“However, all these requirements will not deliver the required outcomes, if we cannot guarantee the security of lives and property. The fact that we are able to gather today, to discuss steps towards sustainable economic development, is only possible because of the greatly improved security situation around the country. While the task of securing our country completely is not done, it is important to ensure we continue to place the required focus on this very necessary issue,” Fayemi restated.
The lecture was delivered on behalf of Fayemi by Mr. Akin Oyebode Jnr.
Present at the well-attended event were, former Governors of Ogun and Abia State, Otungba Gbenga Daniel and Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu of Ogun and Abia respectively, Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, President, Guide of Editors, Mrs Funke Egbemode, Captains of Industries, members of the academia, Online Publishers, Newspapers editors and a host of other dignitaries.