By Adesina Wahab
Former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on Thursday called on Nigerians to truthfully acknowledge the fact that all are responsible for the parlous state of the nation’s social, economic and political sectors and be bold enough to come together to correct same.
He stated this while delivering the 25th convocation lecture of the Lagos State University, LASU, titled ‘Global trends: Nigeria and its place in the world, do we love ourselves enough?’
He was represented on the occasion by the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr Obafemi Hamzat.
Taking a cursory look at developments in the social, economic and political sectors of the county, he opined that being ranked as the seventh most populous nation on Earth, her ranking as the 131st globally in GDP per capita, was not cheery news.
“Let us not fool ourselves. History is patient yet not forever lenient regarding negligent folly.
“There comes a time when there is no time. Our nation approaches such a moment.
“We have boasted of enormous potential for decades, consoling our discomfort by saying that potential will be realised tomorrow.
“But something disappointing seems to happen when tomorrow becomes today.
“Years and decades have passed, yet greatness remains elusive. If greatness came merely by speaking of it, we would be among the greatest nation in human history.
“Instead, Nigeria remains locked in place. We remain an economy unjustly designed to export raw materials and import increasingly expensive finished products.
“The name of the raw materials might have changed from cocoa and groundnut to oil and gas. The dire effects of this uneven economic arrangement remain the same.
“We must be truthful enough to acknowledge this lapse, bold enough to correct it, and tolerant enough not to endlessly vilify each other for causing it. We are all both cause and hopefully solution. Let us join hands. We must reform this nation,” he said.
While comparing economic developments in the country with some other nations, Tinubu said the country had been segregated into two unequal economic spheres.
“One, populated by a select few who flourish in the financial, corporate and virtual worlds. This group will be able to buy and do anything they want. The other will be the crowded house of the majority who work hard but earn very little given their strenuous effort. They will struggle but not gain. Toil not to triumph but merely survive. This unfairness has gone too long. We must end it,” he noted.
On high youth unemployment in Nigeria, he opined that with youth under-employment and unemployment projected to reach 60 per cent, urgent steps should be taken to redress the situation by increasing the nation’s annual economic growth.
“Sadly, Nigeria has never experienced double-digit growth for any sustained period. Nigeria and South Korea had per capita incomes of roughly $800 in 1950. By 2008, Nigeria’s per capita incomes doubled. Meanwhile, South Korea’s ballooned by over 2000 per cent,” he added.
On the need to quickly pay attention to agriculture, Tinubu raised the alarm that climate change and desertification were rapidly depleting arable land in the country.
“For many northern states, the percentage of land under attack exceeds 30 per cent. We face a harmful dynamic. More people are forced off the land due to deforestation, desertification and low rural incomes. Some of them crowd into other rural areas competing for limited resources with existing inhabitants,” he said.
Proffering solutions to the challenges, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, said youth urban employment, agriculture, real estate reform, education and economy and infrastructure among others should be the focus of the government.
Tinubu later donated a Centre for Leadership and Development worth one billion to the university.