Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said the problem of extreme poverty in Nigeria was keeping him awake every night. Osinbajo disclosed this at a dinner and interactive session with Faculty Members, Harvard Business School, HBS, Tuesday in Lagos.
The vice president featured alongside Srikant Datar, Professor of Business Administration (HBS), and Bayo Ogunlesi, a Nigerian investment banker, at a question and answer session moderated by Hakeem Bello-Osagie, Chairman of Metis Capital Partners.
Osinbajo said: “I think what keeps me up at night has to do with extreme poverty; the issue is that the largest number of those who vote for us are the very poor.
“The promises that government makes to them is that their lives will be better and obviously they are looking at their lives being better in the shortest possible time.
“I will like to see Nigeria being an industrialised nation in the next 10 years; a very strong middle class and most people living above the poverty line.”
Osinbajo said a lot of government policies were taking into account people at the bottom of the pyramid with a focus on agriculture and getting credit facilities to farmers to achieve self-sufficiency.
He said many farmers in the country had been lifted out of poverty by this administration.
According to him, a lot of attention had also been given to Social Intervention Programmes, SIPs, which factored the provision of cheap credit to petty traders at the bottom of the pyramid.
The vice president told HBS that Nigeria was open to business with its various potentials and urged Nigerian investors abroad to look homewards.
“If you are going to do business anywhere in Africa, it has to be Nigeria. This is where you have the energy; you have the drive.
“We are already seeing that kind of activity; business people will always be driven by profit. Talent will always go in the direction where it is best rewarded; one can’t afford to be sentimental about that.
On his part, Datar said he was particularly proud of Osinbajo as an academic in governance, adding that academics provide enabling environment for good governance.
He pledged HBS’s support in providing needed support for human capital development in Nigeria and proffering solutions to tackling Nigeria’s infrastructure challenges.
Speaking, Ogunlesi said the era of depending on government for infrastructure was gone, adding that the Federal Government has no business running infrastructure in Nigeria, especially the airports.