ICPSP Calls For a Change in Nigeria's Socio-Economic Structure

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Monday, August 10, 2020 / 11:15 AM / Bukola Akinyele for WebTV / Header Image Credit: ICPSP

 

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The Institute for Corporate and Public Sector Professionals (ICPSP) over the weekend called for a repositioning of Nigeria's socio-economic structure to address the rising tide of poverty and improve investments in Healthcare, Technology and Education.

 

This was part of the submissions at the 2020 conference of the ICPSP which had as its central theme "Lessons From COVID-19 Sharing Ideas With Experts".

 

The keynote speaker Professor Babatunde Yusuf, the Dean, Faculty of Management Sciences, Lagos State University, LASU  in his presentation identified the following as major challenges Nigeria was grappling with before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic;

  • Corruption
  • Economic Issues (Employment)
  • Crime and Terrorism (specifically Boko Haram insurgency, Banditry)
  • Education and University systems
  • Infrastructure Deficit
  • Gender-based discrimination
  • The massive spike in Unemployment
  • A large number of people in the informal sector not earning daily wage between lockdown and recession
  • The huge food security challenge
  • Fiscal crisis at both Federal and State level and
  • Depletion of external reserves

 

Professor Yusuf decried the level at which corruption had plagued the nation stating that it had become the root of Nigeria's socio-economic challenges. He noted that abuse of power was observed in almost all the arms of government in the federation.

 

In terms of the economic impact of COVID 19 on Nigeria, the scholar highlighted the following developments in the country;

  • A current economic downturn in the country
  • Low consumption rate
  • Reduction in the earnings of the country per year, which is affecting the citizens of the country negatively
  • In terms of GDP in Nigeria, the rate of growth has been sluggish in recent years
  • The year-on-year total GDP growth rate which decreased by 0.14% from 2.01% in Q1,2019 to 1.87% in Q1,2020
  • The World Bank estimates of a downturn of about -5% for Nigeria in 2020 due to COVID 19
  • Oil price collapse
  • Increasing poverty levels

 

He also observed that this affected Nigeria's foreign trade as the pandemic brought massive disruptions to global trade.

 

The University Dean pointed out that manufacturers who relied on imported inputs in Nigeria, faced production challenges and reduced importation of food and pharmaceutical products; thereby putting a heavy burden on households and the healthcare system. He said Nigeria lost  80% of its exports as crude oil prices fell.

 

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Speaking on the way forward for the nation, Professor Yusuf urged the government to take the following steps of supporting the healthcare system, providing incentives and safety to the most vulnerable, reducing the cost of governance & improve transparency at all levels, prioritize massive investment in infrastructure through the local and international bond market, investments in a localized ICT industry and fast-track the restructuring of the economy towards agric development.

 

The lead speaker at the conference Mr. Olanrewaju Sharafa, the Principal Lecturer & Head of Division Adult Learning, Research & Enterprise, Tower College of Further & Higher Education, London, the United Kingdom in his presentation said Nigeria and Africa must give top priority to the prevention of extreme poverty post-COVID 19.

 

He cited Professor Stephen Devereux of the University of Sussex who argued that nations with a strong commitment to "social protection"' are more likely to experience poverty reduction.

 

Giving further insight into the matter, Mr. Sharafa defined "social protection" as policies and programs designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability.

 

He called for increased scrutiny of the government's palliative spending during and after COVID 19 across the  African continent

 

The scholar believed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was the right response to the great challenges of the 21st century.

 

This according to him was due to the loss of trust in institutions of all kind, and, in some countries, the loss of faith in governance.

 

He was of the view that the conference had the mandate of charting a pathway for the nation, covering four dimensions of the SDGs namely;

  • Economic- Helping the low-income Africa Nations achieve the SDGs
  • Social - The Importance of inclusion and equity
  • Environmental-  Tackling climate change and
  • Governance - The centrality of strong institutions

 

Speaking further he advocated reforms in the judiciary and criminal enforcements to strengthen the fight against corruption in Nigeria and across Africa.

 

For the dream he had for Africa and the legacy he would like to leave behind Mr. Sharafa coined the three-letter word "PEG" which encompassed his advocacy for an Africa emancipated from the shackles of poverty, experiential quality "education" which would not be a privilege but a right and a continent where good "governance", transparency and accountability underpin activities both in the private and public sector.

 

The conference featured three-panel sessions which discussed extensively key areas like Education, Professionalism and Health (Panel 1), Economic recovery, SMEs and ICT (Panel 2)  and the Role of the Third Sector during and after the COVID 19 pandemic (Panel 3).

 

A panel of discussants Dr. Oluseyi Olanrewaju, Chief Agnes Funmilayo Sessi and Dr. Folasade Airebamen in the first-panel session chaired by Mr. Taiwo Moshood Folaranmi discussed extensively and agreed on the following;

  • Nigeria needs to increase investments in Broadband technology to deepen e-learning in the country
  • Nigeria needs to increase investment in Healthcare infrastructure, research and technology
  • Nigeria needs to address the issue of brain-drain of its healthcare professionals
  • Nigeria needs to give top priority to enhancing digital skills in the nation
  • Nigeria must take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution
  • Professionals, Businesses and Organizations should explore leveraging technical and creative skills

 

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For the second panel chaired by Dr. John Biyi Oyetade with Dr. Sofayo Toyese, Dr. Jackie Jiaqi Chai (Malaysia), Dr. Ojodu Hameed  and Mr. Michael Alaatise discussed extensively and agreed on the following;

  • The process for SMEs accessing intervention funds should free of bureaucratic bottlenecks
  • Eligibility for SMEs accessing the interventions from the government should be revisited to improve the barriers of entry
  • The FG should invest in infrastructure projects that are self-liquidated
  • Nigeria should invest in value chain production to drive a productive economy
  • The need to improve the value system of governance in the country with transparency and accountability
  • The need to review Nigeria's electoral system with prospects for constitutional review.
  • From the southeast Asia perspective, there is a need to invest more in infrastructure and strengthen the support for SMEs.

 

The last panel session which looked at the "The Role of the Third Sector during and after the Pandemic" was chaired by Dr. Aminu Suraju, with Mr. Adewole Ezekiel, Hajiya Saliha Abdul-Azeez, Alfa Rilwan Adisa and Mr. Ishola Luqmon Oyetunde as discussants. They highlighted the following as key issues;

  • There is a need for a regulatory environment that encourages the activities of the Third Sector
  • The Third sector should be creative and innovative and look beyond support and aid from international organizations
  • Financial management and corporate governance should be a top priority to the Third sector in Nigeria
  • The Third sector organizations should increase the level of networking and cooperation to boost their activities

 

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