A former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, has listed aggressive savings and economic diversification towards manufacturing and investment in developmental education as steps that must be taken for Nigeria to achieve economic prosperity.
According to him, these are the factors that made the difference between Nigeria and prosperous countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, China, South Korea and Thailand, which, like Nigeria, had also been faced with problems of corruption, military regime, militancy and terrorism.
Obi gave a keynote address on Thursday at the first Annual Conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, which held in Ikeja, Lagos.
He spoke on the theme, “Sustaining growth through diversification of the economy.”
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The ex-governor noted that though Nigeria had higher Gross Domestic Product and foreign reserves than each of Malaysia, Indonesia, China, South Korea and Thailand back in the 1980s, all the five countries had today overtaken Nigeria.
He said, “What did they do? Research has shown that these countries embarked on aggressive savings. We didn’t save for yesterday and we are not saving for tomorrow. What did they do? They diversified their economy, those of them that had similar raw materials like us, into knowledge-based export products. They supported manufacturing companies; they invested in infrastructure and invested in education.
“Aggressive savings and investment in education are what we require today to bring about a turnaround in our economy. With aggressive savings, you will have the resources to bring about micro-economic stability in your country, defend your currency, be able to attract foreign direct and portfolio investments and unlock the resources to invest in your deteriorated infrastructure.”
Obi argued that contrary to the view that Nigeria had a mono-product economy, the country’s economy was already fairly diversified, only that particular attention must be paid towards diversifying the economy “towards manufacturing and creating value-added export-earning products.”
He decried the poor saving culture in the country, wondering why the London-Paris loan refund was being shared among states, rather than being saved.
Also speaking at the event, the Convener of the New Intelligence Group, Prof. Akin Onigbinde, said Nigeria could not achieve any economic growth until the issue of restructuring was addressed.
He said, “For me, restructuring is the first principle before we can talk about any economic growth.
“No matter what any governor does to secure investment in terms of exploration, the bureaucracy and the process of the Exclusive Legislative List will prevent anything from getting done there. That is what I call the first principle and until we sort that out, any attempt to talk about sustaining the economy will be in futility.”
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, who chaired the occasion, lamented the cyber attack on President Muhammadu Buhari on account of his ill health.
“We have seen people who have said downright hateful things (about Buhari). People who have forgotten our collective humanity and have forgotten that between January, when the President took ill, and now, many purportedly healthy people have passed on,” Adesina said.