• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Oxford professor says elite consensus, others key to Nigeria’s development

Oxford professor says elite consensus, others key to Nigeria’s development

For Nigeria to join its peers on the development ladder, the country needs to have visionary leadership, elite consensus, and accountability.

Stefan Dercon, professor of Economic Policy and director of the Centre for Study of African Economies at the University of Oxford, said this in Lagos on Tuesday during a programme tagged, ‘Aig-Imoukhuede Foundation in conversation with Stefan Dercon’.

Dercon, while reviewing his newly published book: ‘Gambling on Development: Why Some Countries Win and Others Lose’, said the lack of elite consensus on Nigeria’s development plan was part of the problem that had held the country back.

The scholar identified continuity, accountability, peace and proper policy implementation as crucial for a nation’s prosperity in the 21st century.

He said: “Politics can be a form of continuity rather than distorting everything. It is not about democracy; it is about how you use it. Every country that needs to succeed needs to be accountable; they need other forms of accountability systems.

“Elite bargaining would only happen when people keep believing; that is when they would act like that. The elite understand that every country that embarks on development must know that a new set of elite would emerge.”

According to him, the progress made by developed countries was not as a result of magic but a conscious effort to do what is right.

He also pointed out that having a development plan goes beyond politics, but is dependent on the sense of continuity despite change in leadership. “There must be credible politics for development,” he said.

Dercon said successful nations had made some mistakes to get to where they are, adding that there was nothing wrong with making mistakes but realising the mistakes and taking corrections.

“Make mistakes, admit, learn, be accountable,” he said, adding that those who are not delivering should yield space for others to do it.

Citing examples of several countries that had made significant economic prosperity in recent decades, Dercon identified visionary leadership and long-term planning as qualities such countries and leaders possess.

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He stressed that sub-Saharan African countries such as Ghana and Ethiopia had halved extreme poverty, while Nigeria has seen it double and would lead charts in 2030.

He also said that there was a need for Nigeria’s leaders to be pragmatic in policy implementation and planning, stressing that democracy alone does not lead to economic prosperity, but leaders must identify a development model that should be implemented judiciously.

In his opening remarks, Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s former president, emphasised that there was a need for elite consensus in Nigeria on how to bridge the development gap and put the country on the path of prosperity.

Obasanjo, who chaired the event, said it was obvious the elite have a role to play in charting a development path for the country, saying the lack of unity among the nation’s leaders was a source of concern.

He said it was obvious that development in most nations was planned, while adding that there was a need for Nigeria to reassess its long-term development plans.

The former president called for unity of purpose among the elite to move the country forward.

He said: “The lack of unity among the elite is an issue at this point. There is a need for consensus among critical mass of the elite; it is very important.

“We are not blaming anyone; we are looking at what is best for Nigeria at this point. The elite has a role to play, no matter how you define the elite; we don’t need all of them agreeing on every point.”

The event was moderated by Attahiru Jega, former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission; and Ifueko-Omoigui-Okairu, former chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service.