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Directors’ conference spurs insightful dialogues on Nigeria’s economic transformation

Directors’ conference spurs insightful dialogues on Nigeria’s economic transformation

Industry leaders gathered at the Chartered Institute of Directors’ annual conference, focusing on ‘Driving Nigeria’s Economic Transformation and Diversification through Corporate Governance.’

The event also underscored the need for strategic partnerships, innovative policies, and robust corporate governance to unlock Nigeria’s economic potential in sectors such as maritime and agriculture.

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Speaking at the event, Lami Tumaka, Director Special Duties, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said that the Nigerian government was leading by setting up the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy to take advantage of the maritime space and advised directors from various private sectors to partner the government in harnessing the untapped potential in the water.

According to him, another aspect the ministry is working on is human resources, as over the years, the government has come up with the Nigerian Civil Development Programme (NCDP) programme, where it has trained about 2500 youths.
He also encouraged young people to join the marine and work in that space as there is a lot of untapped potential and money to be made from the sector.

‘’So, you can see that we need to do our own thing. If you go by the old saying that if you don’t buy the lottery tickets, you won’t win the lottery. So, if we don’t go into that space, maritime space now, we won’t take the advantage. Other great nations have taken the advantage long, long ago. The greatest nations of earth are maritime nations. There’s no great nation that is not a maritime nation. Name from them- the US; the water around Russia, India, China- while we were different. We need to take advantage of the maritime space.

‘’There are many opportunities there. From getting people to hire to bunkering. Bunkering is not an illegal thing, it is a legitimate business. Bunkering means providing goods and services for vessels who are coming from all over the world to be able to sustain themselves when they come to Nigeria,’ he said.

Also speaking at the conference, Muhammed Abu Ibrahim, executive secretary/chief executive officer National Agricultural Development Fund (NADF) said that to improve productivity in the Agricultural sector, purposeful action is required which calls for innovative and pragmatic policies and concerted effort towards effective funding, integration of technology and delivery of seamless corporate governance practices that will enhance food security, foster economic stability, strengthen the entire agricultural value chain, support job creation and empower low-income farmers and indeed, the large-scale ones too.

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According to him, Nigeria is blessed with abundant natural resources and a vibrant workforce and possesses immense potential for growth and development.

He however, noted that to unlock this potential and steer the economy towards sustainable growth, it was imperative to recognise the pivotal role that corporate governance plays in this journey.
He added that the importance to the nation’s economic progress and the role of corporate governance in driving Nigeria’s economic transformation and diversification, specifically from the perspective of agriculture as a driver of National Economic Transformation can thrive through corporate governance.

‘’The National Bureau of Statistics indicates that as at the second quarter of this year (2023), the Agricultural sector, while employing about 70% of the rural populace, contributed only 21.07% to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product. To improve productivity in the Agricultural sector, purposeful action is required. It calls for innovative and pragmatic policies and concerted effort towards effective funding, integration of technology and delivery of seamless corporate governance practices that will enhance food security, foster economic stability, strengthen the entire agricultural value chain, support job creation and empower our low-income farmers and indeed the large-scale ones too,” he said.

Ibrahim also noted that agric-tech companies in Nigeria with strong corporate governance practices have been able to attract foreign investments as the integration of technology in agriculture has become a game-changer.

According to him, leveraging innovations such as precision farming, IoT devices, mobile applications, mechanisation, and data analytics can revolutionise agricultural practices, leading to increased productivity and sustainable farming methods.

“To fully harness the potential in the agricultural space, a strong corporate governance framework is indispensable which will ensure the ethical use of data and promotion of responsible innovation that benefit all stakeholders.

‘’I remember the many funding rounds that brought in huge inflow of investment in the 2022 alone; Hello Tractor ($1m), Vendease ($3.2m), Releaf ($4.2m), AgriCorp ($17.5m), Thrive Agric ($58m) to mention a few. On the public sector side, MDAs like the NSIA, MOFI and the BPE (amongst others) have also shown how the institution of corporate governance can make public sector agencies thrive.

‘’For our economy to grow, we need to improve foreign exchange inflow in the short and long term through attracting foreign investments whether portfolio investments to our capital markets or direct investments to companies like the aforementioned,” he said.

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He highlighted some benefits of economic transformation and diversification through agriculture which includes, increased GDP contribution, employment opportunities and inclusion, foreign exchange earning, food security, rural development and poverty alleviation, industrialisation and value addition and environmental sustainability.