• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Divergent assessments greet Nigeria at 54

Nigerians from various sectors of the economy yesterday gave variegated assessments of the status of the country at 54.

Those who spoke with our correspondents are Ayo Opadokun, former leader of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), human rights activist and lawyer; Bimbola Ashiru, commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Ogun State; Lekan Ewenla, managing director, Ultimate Health Maintenance Organisation; Osahon Enabulele, vice president, Commonwealth Medical Association, and Adeyemi Isaac, an educationist. 

Ayo Opadokun said Nigeria has remained a toddler at 54, as according to him, the country has scored negatives in all departments of her life.

“I will say that Nigeria has scored negative in the sense that a man of 50 and above who has failed to establish himself can be best described as a toddler. It is a great let down to the divine responsibility God has given to Nigeria. The country is supposed to provide leadership to the black race, but it has not been able to do so,” he said.

According to him, Nigeria has continued to manifest astonishing contradictions.

“Here is a country that keeps importing the things it can manufacture. Nigeria imports over three quarter of its domestic use. Although Nigeria is the 8th producer and exporter of crude oil in the world, the wealth does not positively impact on the lives of the people.

“Look at the health sector, while our leaders know how to take care of themselves in Europe, America, India and in Saudi Arabia; sometimes they ferry themselves in air ambulances, but the poor masses do not have access to proper healthcare.

In 1999, we had about ten petitions after the election; four years later we had 506 petitions; four years later we had 1,642 petitions, and four years later we had 1,840 petitions.

“ It has been degenerating instead of improving,” Opadokun further assessed.”

Commenting on the award of national honours by the Federal Government, former NADECO chief, said sanctity had been vulgarised, alleging that what should have been a revered honour has been reduced to political patronage.

Bimbola Ashiru, commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Ogun State, said: “Nigeria is more of an emerging economy and people are now willing to do business in the country. All we need to do is maintain the tempo. People are beginning to see that the country is flexible in terms of natural resources and so there are more individuals who are willing to invest.  There is also a transition from the focus on oil and gas to agriculture which shows that things are getting better with time.

“In spite of all of that, there is no doubt that we are recording higher foreign capital influx as a result of the attraction from international investments. So we are doing relatively well.”

Adeyemi Isaac, an educationist, said for Nigeria to compete effectively in the 21st Century, even as she celebrates her 54th anniversary, there is the need to key into the knowledge economy which is currently lacking.

“There must be a reorientation and a remodeling of our curricular, training of required manpower and research. It is the quality and level of research we deploy that will determine the quality of education we need. This should be the focus of government going forward,” Isaac said.

Lekan Ewenla, managing director, Ultimate Health Maintenance Organisation, said: “At 54, Nigeria needs focused leadership and key issues such as proper review of the Nigerian constitution needs to be done in line with approved legal framework. Also, all the issues that emanated from the National Conference should be addressed before the 2015 elections and purposeful drive in leadership that is quick to address the numerous challenges in the country is key. In this way, the addressed challenges can be turned into opportunities to be harnessed effectively.”

In his observation, Osahon Enabulele, vice president, Commonwealth Medical Association, Nigeria’s health care system is still largely deficient ,with government at all levels yet to decisively address most of the basic challenges confronting the health sector.

“At 54, Nigeria’s health care system is still being undermined by the poor political commitment to health and the health care needs of

Nigerians, by Nigeria’s top political and public office holders. The health sector is also still blighted by poor budgeting for health at Federal, State and Local Government levels.

This has not been helped by the absence of constitutional justifiable health rights for Nigerians and the frequent recourse to foreign medical care by Nigeria’s top political and public office holders, a situation that has led to the burgeoning phenomenon of outbound Medical Tourism with the attendant huge capital flight of over $800million to other countries,” he said.

Zebulon Agomuo, Rita Ohai, Kelechi Ewuzie & Alex Chiejine