Nigeria needs competent leaders, right policy to grow economy, reduce poverty – Experts
…as NECA mulls policy document to engage incoming administration
Economic experts have insisted on competent leadership, right policies and committed implementation of policies to grow the economy in and reduce endemic poverty among its citizens.
The experts spoke at the National Economic Dialogue, organised by the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), in Lagos, with the theme “Promoting a novel approach to policy design, implementation and monitoring in 2023.”
Among the speakers at the event were Bongo Adi, an associate professor of economics at the Lagos Business School (LBS), Muda Yusuf, CEO, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise; Taiwo Oyedele, fiscal policy partner and Africa tax leader; Ogho Okiti, managing director, BusinssDay Media Limited, and Josh Bamfo.
They were of the view that real growth and development may continue to elude Africa’s biggest economy, unless competent leaders are elected, just as they stressed the need for the government, as a matter of policy, to promote the involvement of the private sector in policy formulation.
The experts, who decried the high level of poverty in the economy, pointed out the need to tackle deep-seated corruption in the system and implement business-friendly policies that encourage foreign and local investments, so as to generate employment for the unemployed.
They particularly identified slow policies, inequality, and bad politics as key challenges facing the country, which they agreed that the expected new administration in 2023 must devote its time to address.
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According to Muda Yusuf, it should be expected that a new administration in 2023 would appoint competent people to drive the affairs of government, and develop the political will to sanction cases of corruption where and when they are detected.
“Corruption thrives in a society where there are no consequences for such action. Policies also make it thrive. We must have a system that prevents corruption, not the one that changes currency when the money has been stolen.”
On his part,the keynote speaker, who is a Professor of Economics at Lagos Business School, Prof. Bongo Adi lamented the high level of poverty and inequality in the country.
According to him, No country can transit from poverty without a diversified economy and with the high level of poverty, it will be difficult for the nation to eradicate poverty.
According to Adi, who delivered the lead paper titled “Rethinking developmental state paradigm”, said there is an urgent need for Nigeria to move from manufacturing to the knowledge and service sectors driven by innovation, expansion of human capabilities, and spread of information with investment in education, health, and legal infrastructure.
On his part, Okiti, particularly lamented slow policy implementation and the effect of what he called “bad politics” on the economy, a development which he believed has kept Nigeria in the same spot for decades.
“We have built some consensus over the years but we haven’t been able to push through consensus to make positive impacts on the economy and polity. Our policy adjustment is slow because politics is not right. Okiti cited the sector which he said hasn’t impacted positively on the people, because of overconcentration of powers at the centre.
On his part, Oyedele said much may not change in 2023, unless policies are properly designed and aligned to grow the economy and provide the environment for business growth.
“For example, you can’t claim to be fighting corruption daily yet introducing policies that increase poverty,” he said.
He, however, called on NECA to build institutional capacity and strengthen advocacy for the private sector to have a voice in economic decisions within government.
In his submission, Adewale Smart Oyerinde, the director- general of NECA, hinted that a policy document would be put in place for effective advocacy to guide the incoming administration in 2023.