Professional planners have advised the Federal Government to invest in infrastructure and promote entrepreneurship in order to grow the economy and end the current drift that has made the present fearful and the future uncertain.
The planners, under the aegis of Institute of Planners, Nigeria (IPN), spoke at their two-day conference in Lagos recently, explaining that investing in infrastructure such as transportation, energy, housing, and communication will support economic activities, enhance productivity, attract investments, and improve the quality of life for the population.
They explained further that supporting entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can jumpstart economic growth, describing the SMEs as drivers of job creation, innovation, and economic dynamism. They also want the government to provide access to financing, business development services, and an enabling regulatory environment for the SMEs to thrive.
The keynote speaker, M.M. Zango, who spoke on the theme of the conference, ‘Tackling Nigeria’s Present Economic Challenges in Ensuring a Sustainable Growth Blueprint in an Evolving Economy: Planners Dilemma’, had highlighted some of the challenges holding Nigeria down.
Among many others, Zango spotlighted fragmentation of the Nigerian society as seen in the division of the country along ethnic, regional and religious lines, making the country lose focus and sense of collaboration, partnership and synergy. This has also made citizens hate and attack one another.
He also highlighted massive and widespread corruption and loss of patriotism, describing corruption as one of Nigeria’s biggest challenges having regard to its effect on other challenges. “There are many and varied facets and forms of corruption and Professor Peter U. Nwangwu put it succinctly when he said, “corruption is a potent cancer that has eaten Nigeria mercilessly to a state of stupor,” Zango said.
“It is so pervasive in the country that even the main anti-graft agency (the EFCC) is not spared; corruption remains a major obstacle to Nigeria’s economic development. It undermines public trust, diverts resources, and suffocates investment,” he added.
Nigerians have suffered various forms of insecurity inflicted on the country by insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, terrorism, religious and communal conflicts all of which, according to Zango, impact on economic activities and deter investments.
He noted that insecurity, in its various forms, is largely due to poverty which results from unemployment which, in turn, is a product of corruption—a dangerous vicious cycle that has left planners in dilemma.
Food insecurity which exists in both quantity and quality is another major challenge, Zango said, noting that Agric communities in the North have abandoned their farms or pay huge ransom to kidnappers which have led to the shortage of agricultural produce, leading to shortage of food supply. “This has a phenomenal impact on the economy,” he stressed.
“Among the many challenges threatening the very foundation and existence of Nigerian is government’s increasing reliance on internal and external borrowings to finance its operations. In the past years, various entities and individuals have decried this government’s appetite for borrowing.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that Nigerian government may spend nearly 100 percent of its revenue on debt servicing by 2026,” Zango lamented.
As means and ways of getting out of all these, the planners who insisted they would continue to plan in spite of the obvious challenges and impunity in government, recommended and advised further that government should diversify the economy.
According to them, government has to encourage the development of multiple sectors to reduce reliance on a single industry or commodity, adding that government should promote sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, services, and technology to create diverse sources of revenue, employment opportunities, and economic resilience.
The planners also advised the government to enhance education and skills development, hoping that investing in these programmes would empower the workforce with the necessary knowledge and skills just as it will produce a skilled labour force that can adapt to evolving economic demands and contribute to innovation and productivity.