Doyin Salami, a foremost economist who was chief economic adviser to former President Muhammadu Buhari, has said Nigeria’s future prosperity is dependent on its ability to sustain an agro-industrial economy.
Salami said this at the public presentation of a 10-year roadmap for Nigeria by NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies in partnership with Tolaram and Nanyang Technology University, Singapore, on Monday in Lagos.
“Education is where Nigeria’s biggest investment must lie; Nigeria’s future prosperity is dependent on its ability to sustain an agro-industrial economy,” Salami said.
President Bola Tinubu recently welcomed an investment of $520 million in specialised agro-processing zones by the African Development Bank, saying the agro-industrial project strengthens an area of the country’s competitive advantage.
Salami said if Nigeria’s population is growing at the current rate, the country’s agriculture sector should not be doing half of the population growth.
Data from The World Count shows that the population of Nigeria is expected to increase from 206 million people in 2020 to 263 million in 2030, 401 million in 2050, and a massive 733 million in 2050.
“We can’t underestimate the population,” Salami said, adding that it would be difficult to stabilise the economy at the current population growth rate.
“If we can solve education, the speed at which our population will grow may come down. With education, you can delay the commencement of population for about five years,” he said. “If the growing population will be positive for Nigeria, it needs to see and take advantage of the opportunities.”
Funke Opeke, founder and CEO of MainOne, said the current administration has taken bold steps but the rest of the plan has not been fully spelled out.
She said that with high inflation in the country, there is a need to boost agriculture, transportation and electricity.
Farouk Gumel, executive director and vice chairman of Africa at Tropical General Investments Group, said Nigeria has all the policies but how to implement them to touch people is where there is a disconnect.
“Our solution has to have a humanitarian angle to it,” he said, pointing out that infrastructure in rural areas is weak, and farm bandits are in the rural areas.
“Go to the grassroots area to implement actionable plans; everyone has a role to play,” he said.
Amit Jain, author/director, NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies, said Nigeria is in a state of economic crisis with foreign reserves shrinking, adding that fuel subsidy was removed abruptly, perhaps not done too carefully.
“Nigeria needs to curb inflation by reducing the value of the naira, using multiple exchange rates, and ending fuel subsidy which they have already done. The Nigerian government should stay on reducing inflation, the exchange rate should go hand in hand with monetary policy,” Jain said.