Tuesday, April 28, 2020 / 4:06 PM / Bukola Akinyele for WebTV / Header
Image Credit: The Whistler NG
Founder, Centre for Values and Leadership (CVL), Professor Patrick Utomi was of the view that the ongoing COVID-19 crises was an opportunity for Nigeria to reset its development plan and strategies with a view to attaining measurable developmental milestones. Speaking on WebTV's breakfast Coronanomics program, the political economist noted that pandemics in the course of human history have always provided opportunities for fresh beginnings.
Utomi stated that COVID-19 offered Nigeria an opportunity to adopt a national cohesive development plan and drive a policy that leverages on its factor endowment to emerge as a globally competitive economy.
Speaking on the lockdown experience, Utomi said that Pandemics have shaped human history in many ways including redesigning the production contours of several economies. The lockdown, according to Utomi, will bring about a shift in how people work and will accelerate the adoption of 4th industrial revolution (4IR) technology such as Artificial Intelligence.
In reviewing fiscal measures during the lockdown period he said, the need for intervention fiscal measures was something Nigeria should have anticipated which represents the tragedy of the delayed response of leadership. Nigeria has recently experienced Ebola and Lassa fever amongst other health epidemics which should have reminded us that epidemics (and perhaps pandemics) are always lurking. He said, at a global level it is incredible to realise that Nigeria failed to recognise the importance of healthcare sector as a pivotal part of collective socioeconomic existence.
According to Utomi, most modern development and human progress has been denominated by two factors; namely, education and healthcare. Nigeria's healthcare sector, according to the academic, is a management disaster and a national tragedy.
He was of the view that, the majority of the population would find it difficult to survive a season like this and there was need for planning to take care of the vulnerable in society. He noted that the planning has not been the best and could lead to social combustion.
He said, an economist, Zaheel Zakriya predicted that the pandemic will likely lead to revolution in some countries like Nigeria. Prof Utomi was of the view that the government needs a proper system of sensitizing people about the disease and the programmes of government to contain and overcome the health and economic consequences of the malaise.
According to Utomi, there are 100million people in the country living below the extreme poverty line. He made a proposal that Nigeria could find the money to redress the COVID-19 problem by shutting down the National Assembly (NASS) for one year, cut the executive branch expenditure by 60% and take the resources they consume and keep the poor at home for 2-3months. He advocated that the Nigerian government take more drastic measures in respect of palliatives for the weakest and poorest members of society.
Prof. Utomi highlighted the following as the challenges the country faced currently:
The professor noted five top areas that needed attention at the present time: