By Peter Egwuatu
The Managing Director of World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has advised the federal government to concentrate on five key infrastructure that would spur growth and development of the economy.
The five key infrastructure are Power, Agriculture, Education, Transport and Health.Okonjo -Iweala who was the guest speaker at the Institute of Director (IoD)â€™s 2010 conference, weekend exclusively told Vanguard shortly after her speech that the federal government need to focus on these key infrastructure if the country must attract the needed investment that will create jobs for the youth.
According to her â€œ Focusing on the five infrastructure does not mean that others are not relevant. But given the scarce resources, government can start with three or five key infrastructure, monitor them to ensure that the objectives are achieved. After this they can begin to select another infrastructure and tackle them accordingly. If these infrastructure are put in place we hope that the vision 2020 can be achieved.â€
The World Bank boss further stated the need for the country to diversify the economy, saying â€œ Nigeriaâ€™s vast oil resources have been the main engine of growth of the economy for decades now. Nigerians today acknowledge that the oil sector alone cannot help Nigeria to develop rapidly and to achieve its 2020 objective of becoming a G-20 economy. Nigeria must tap all of its resources effectively and efficiently.
Commenting on Vision 2020, Okonjo-Iweala said, â€œ It is good for the country to have a dream . There is nothing wrong having a vision, with consistent policies to drive the economy. Nigeria can achieve the vision. The World Bank had projected aÂ 4 per cent growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for Nigeria but in the beginning of the year we saw the country growing at 6 per cent. It does not really matter whether we achieve the 13 per cent growth projected to make Nigeria attain vision 2020. If we grow steadily by 8 per cent or more it will be better for us provided there is a focus. We have not been having the kind of growth we needed to develop the country because of lack of vision.
While commenting on the need for Public Private Participation, the World Bank boss said government alone cannot provide the needed infrastructure to spur growth, stressing â€œ private sector need to partner with government to draw up curriculum that need to develop the educational system.
There is a fall in the standard of education. It is shocking to hear that 98 per cent of students who sat for NECO Exams failed, that is, they were not able to obtain the minimum five creditsÂ including English and Mathematics.â€
She said it is sad when teachers go on strike for many months while parents watch their children without protesting. According to her, â€œ If parents are really concerned in the education of their children they will go to the street and protest that they should go back to classroom while negotiation continues with the government. Probably it could be because many of the rich people send their children overseas to school that is why they are not bothered when teachers spend more than six months being on strike.â€
Speaking on Energy and Infrastructure at the 2010 IoD conference, Engr Mansur Ahmed, stated that lack of infrastructural provision has impacted negatively on the countryâ€™s economic growth and development .
According to him, â€œ In the 1960â€™s and 1970â€™s Nigeria, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea had similar GDP,DDP per capita etc, but today they had grown beyond us. This is because they invested in infrastructure which consequently attracted investments.â€
He emphasized that the cost in the provision of power in Nigeria is high and corporate bodies and even individuals cannot beer. â€œ There is need to have structural changes in the economy, diversify the economy and improve on technological innovationâ€ he added.