By Emmanuel Elebeke
The 26th edition of the Nigerian Economic Summit (NES#26) has ended with participants from both public and private sectors calling for a stronger partnership to restore the weak Nigerian back on the path of growth.
The participants promised to mobilize available resources to ensure the speedy recovery of the economy.
Speaking at the closing session, the Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who was flanked by her counterpart in the Youth and Sports Ministry, Sunday Dare, and leadership of the NESG pledged to do all within their powers to ensure the implementation of all recommendations made at the summit.
The minister while responding to questions on the current recession ravaging the economy reaffirmed her earlier commitment that government would deploy everything in its arsenal to ensure the exit of the country’s economy from the current recession by the first quarter of 2021.
According to Ahmed, the decline in the economy was not as bad as initially expected, because of the pre-emptive stimulus measures adopted by the government, saying that there was a renewed commitment to sustain the interventions to pull the economy out of recession earlier than anticipated.
For her, the major lessons from the summit were the need for all sectors of the economy to commit to “building strong partnerships for a resilient economy.
She emphasized the need for partnership between private and public sectors as well as citizens to realize the objective of the summit.
‘‘We need to re-establish the social contract between the government and the people, while the government needs to listen and consult more with the people to build a solid consensus on issues of national development,” she added.
On his part, the Minister of Youths Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, said the role of youth in nation-building cannot be overemphasized, hence, the introduction of several intervention measures by the government to cushion the effects of COVID-19 and END SARS protest.
Dare also expressed the government’s commitment to partner with the Nigerian youth towards harnessing their potentials.
‘‘It was in recognition of the fact that no country has ever been able to combat youth unemployment without placing between 58 and 61 percent of its youth population on the path of entrepreneurship, that the N75 billion Youth Investment Fund was established.
‘‘The idea of the investment fund was to provide massive funding in credit to finance investments in the ideas generated by the Nigerian youth, to turn them into creators of wealth and employers of labour, as well as people who run successful enterprises.
“We started with the focal group of 27 groups picked based on their respective credentials and specialization after studying their resumes and considering those with the right capacity for assistance.
“For two weeks, the selected groups worked to produce a preliminary report, before a technical group, made up of the Permanent Secretaries and Directors from Ministries, the Central Bank of Nigeria, was constituted. Later, there was the steering committee consisting of ministers and the CBN governor reappraising the recommendations of the other committees,” said Dare.
According to him, the response to the programme appears over-subscribed at the moment, as over 3.5 million applications had been received, against about 1.5 million that was expected.
He, however, informed that the programme would continue by January next year with other youth without degrees and diplomas brought in for inclusiveness.
In his remarks, the Chairperson of NESG, Asue Ighodalo, said underscored the need for partnership to build a resilient economy.
He expressed delight for the participation, especially by the federal and sub-national governments, which he said gave a firm commitment to partner with each other toward the development of the country.
“As a country that is going to be 400 million people very soon, we really need to start thinking of moving ourselves much faster. We need to build a national consensus and resolve to take the country to the next level. We need to grow faster than the rate our population is growing.
“With a government that is committed to getting the economy out of recession, Nigerians have the responsibility to give their maximum support. The NESG is committed to giving whatever assistance and support the government needs to achieve this goal,” Ighodalo said.
In the same vein, the CEO of NESG, Laoye Jaiyeola, said one major take away from the summit was the acknowledgment by participants in all the sessions that Nigerian youth matter and should be given listening ears and taken into confidence in the process of national development.
Mr. Jaiyeola also expressed joy that the summit also agreed that players in the private and public sectors would continually engage each other on ways to better the country’s economy.
He disclosed that the format of the NESG annual start-up pitching event would change to a forum where producers and users would come together under one roof to identify problems and try to proffer solutions.
The NESG boss said: ‘‘about 55 groups, covering finance, renewable energy, governance, and agriculture have been identified. Of this number, he said 72 percent decided to form a formal partnership to solve the problems they have identified, in the spirit of building partnerships for a resilient Nigeria.
“There is a need to come together in partnership to revive the economy. Neither the government nor the private sector alone can do it. Civil society alone can’t do it. All segments of the economy need to come together to pool our resources to do it. Although it will take time and patience, we must be consistent at implementing the plans on a sustainable basis.’’