To achieve an economy that thrives and rise above its current level of poverty, unemployment, insecurity and other socio-economic problems, Nigeria requires strong institutions anchored by visionary leaders, Asuwrinme Ighodalo, chairman, Sterling Bank plc, says.
There are linkages between strong institutions and flourishing economies, as institutions function efficiently to promote desirable and progressive attitude for growth, Ighodalo said while speaking at the 2019 Annual May Day Lecture of the Silver Knights in Ibadan, Oyo State.
Institutions in Nigeria lack a central nervous system and a cohesive national agenda to protect it, according to Ighodalo’s analysis.
“While there are significant differences in how the states I would refer to as ‘Turnaround Nations’ – China, Singapore and UAE – built and utilised institutions to support economic growth, what they all have in common is a compelling desire to catalyse and speed up change in their societies rather than to gradually evolve,” he said.
“They set out a clear national agenda for achieving specific goals and found ways to short circuit ‘institutional attributes’ and fashion for themselves a way of delivering radical change for which there was a dire need.”
Noting that Nigeria has neither the luxury of a fresh start nor the time for evolutionary development, he said the country primarily needed a few good men and women – passionate, progressive and possessed by genuine love for the country. They must identify a vision, around which consensus can be built, and evolve into custodians of that vision.
They must develop a national plan to execute the vision and strategically embed themselves into the political structure. They also must evolve a strong sanction structure that keeps the custodians in check, prevents selfish derailment, and ensures fidelity with the agenda. The custodians must understand their privilege and embrace with clarity the knowledge that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
He said: “A visionless nation is bound for destruction, at the worst, or drift, at best. Without vision, Lee Kuan Yew would have taken two steps forward and three steps back. If he prepared the population only for the low wage jobs they initially started with, and did not invest in consistently elevating the labour force, they would have been stifled by China when it eventually got its act together.”
Earlier in his remarks, Jide Owoeye, a professor, who is the club chief, observed that the major concern was about facing the great challenge of how to make Nigeria work.
According to Owoeye, a state characterised by fragility of its institutional structures may not fulfil its own side of the social contract.
“The problem of Nigeria, which we must reverse in the next four years, is that those with vision never become leaders and those who become leaders do not have a national vision. Strong institutions support a thriving economy but visionary leaders with a clear agenda design and create a thriving economy and a developed country,” he said.