By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Frontline businessman and Chairman of Bresson AS, Mr Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, recently x-rayed Nigeria’s current socio-economic and political challenges, reasoning that with a collective steadfastness the nation is surely going to get out of the woods.
Speaking at a public lecture delivered on the auspices of the Post Graduate College, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, he argued that an agenda was clearly possible not just for the all-round development of the nation, but for a transformation for generations yet unborn.
At the event chaired by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, Mr Olawepo-Hashim agreed that though slight progress has been made since the advent of democracy in Nigeria in between 1999-2015, Nigeria still remains a “Underdeveloped” by regular classification, which makes the question of an “Agenda for all round National Development” topical and germane.
“With 62 percent of the population living below 2USD a day, and considered poor, with life expectancy of 51 years, and over 40 percent illiterate population, bedevilled with a parlous infrastructure such as poor electricity distribution, poor road networks, and dilapidated health infrastructure, the underdevelopment profile was in bad relief” he stated.
According to him, though by the sheer nature of superiority of democracy over autocracy, Nigeria made some little gains between 1999 and 2015. Such gains where almost completely wiped off by 2015 July-2016 when the nation’s economy started contracting leading to her worst economic recession in 25 years -2.4 percent.
Regardless, he told the predominantly academia audience that “I remain optimistic about Nigerian development trajectory when we tap and build on the energy, creativity, imagination and the industry of everyday Nigerian which is the most important asset that Nigeria possess beyond her Oil wealth and Natural resources”
And beyond that, he praised the nation’s resourceful diaspora community comprising scientists, intelligentsias, innovators, professionals, footballers, and Entrepreneurs who are adding golden pages to the Nigeria rising story.
“In 2013, foreign remittances picked as much as $21 billion to Nigeria, mostly coming from the Nigeria diaspora. The diaspora community will continue to form a major pillar in the architecture of Nigerian socio-economic development.”
Mr Olawepo-Hashim declared matter-of-factly: “The crisis of Nigeria underdevelopment as we have highlighted above can only be confronted and resolved with a bold agenda and plan aimed at changing the present economy structure of dependence-it must be revolutionary.”
Suggesting a range of solutions, he capped it with a call for the New Nigeria Economic Plan to transform the Nigeria Economy to a manufacturing Economy, from agrarian economy, and change it from an economy that is based on production of primary products. Currently, according to FBS record, manufacturing accounts for 9.43 percent of Nigeria GDP while it provides as low as 0.3 percent of employment.
He went further: “Transferring the economy to a manufacturing will entail a number of policy incentives, such as creating a fiscal environment and collaborative monetary policy that will allow promoters of manufacturing concerns to accessing finance at single digit rate, ensuring available power to reduce manufacturers’ energy costs.
“Ultimately, Nigeria needs to grow the manufacturing sector in such a way that it will account for 30-40 percent of her GDP and be a major employer of labour. China is already an example of how an agrarian economy can be transformed into a manufacturing economy.
“As at 2015, manufacturing accounts for 40 percent of GDP of China. As at 2005, the manufacturing sector was also responsible for 11% of total employment. In India, the Industrial Sector accounts for robust 25 percent of GDI.”
At the lecture were the Provost, Post Graduate College, Professor Gbenga Alebiowu, Chairman of the event Local Organising Committee, Professor P.A. Olomola, members of the Board of Post graduate School, and a host of distinguished personalities, professionals, and politicians in the entourage of Mr Olawepo-Hashim.
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