By Michael Eboh
Economic Experts and private sector leaders, Monday, emphasised the need for the Federal Government to take urgent steps towards promoting inclusiveness and addressing the widespread inequality in the country.
The experts and private sector leaders, who were panelists at the ongoing Nigerian Economic Summit, in Abuja, are Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chairman of the Dangote Group; Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank Group and Professor Doyin Salami, Chairman of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council.
The 2019 summit has at its theme: ‘Nigeria 2050: Shifting Gears.’
In his submission, Dangote, who was represented by Mr. Mansur Ahmed, Executive Director of the Dangote Group, noted that in view of the country’s rising population, Nigeria would be at a disadvantage if it does not promote inclusiveness.
He said, “Nigeria cannot afford not to be an inclusive economic state. Inclusive must be at the heart of our economic project. We must create competitive edge for sectors to grow with enabling policies just as have been done in cement revolution in the country.”
“In few years to come, we are going to set up a university that would seek to close the educational gaps that our university has failed to do, in order to prepare our young population for the economy of the future.”
Also speaking, Ibukun Awosika, Chairman of the first Bank Group, cautioned that Nigeria’s election cycles from now till 2050 should be properly planned to ensure that it does not disrupt the nationally articulated plan for the future.
She added that there was an urgent need for the federal and state governments to declare an emergency in the education sector and develop policies that would answer questions of where we want our future to be.
She said, “We want to compete and train our kids; for the education of the future leaders would give us a sense of direction. Again, competitive education for the future is key. Furthermore, we must re-define our education for the future and tailor it towards what the industry of the future requires.
“Even though we have missed the road, we could have a deliberate plan. For instance, you could convert biological science students to fill the nursing gaps, to address concerns of maternal and child health.
“What of about two million teachers gap? We coud get our graduates to do a programme focusing on education for the future that covers that gap.”
In his own submission, Professor Doyin Salami, who heads the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, urged the government to create a path for the private sector that would stimulate the growth of investment in the country.
He said, “We need to be very clear on what Nigeria need to compete and set the journey towards. We must do bold and audacious things. We cannot leave the table of the giants by doing things in small measure.”
“We must be bold, we must take on the giants at their own game. The private sector must be seen thriving on a defined path with the encouragement of the public sector.”
“Government must stimulate investment, risking-taking to attract the needed capital that drives growth. We must find private sector elements that are willing to take risks to make huge investments and be able to trigger the major accumulation of the capital investments that are required to drive us to that economy of the future.
“We must take inspirations from those we seem to compete with. In 1990, the per capital income of Nigeria was double that of China. Today, the Chinese have five times income per head of Nigeria. That tells you the kind of transformation the Chinese have done; it is not impossible with us.”
He added that if Nigeria intends to grow its per capita income, innovation and transformation was going to be key.
Salami said, “If we are going to do it, we must ask ourselves, in which areas, do we want to take the battle to those countries with which we must compete. That journey of being competitive is set on a transformative ideas. Anything different does not set us on the right path.”