‘How Nigeria can bridge industrialisation gap with its youth population’

 Waheed Olagunju

Waheed Olagunju

Harnessing the power of population growth; diversifying export earnings, creation of an enabling environment and investing in human capacity development are measures through which Nigeria can bridge its industrialisation gap and grow its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), stakeholders have said.

According to the stakeholders during a public policy forum lecture organised by Business Hallmark in Lagos, recently, Nigeria has the capacity to be ranked among top economies if it takes advantage of its youth population and engage in value addition.

Specifically, one of the stakeholders, acting Managing Director of the Bank of Industry (BoI), Waheed Olagunju, explained that the double digit unemployment rate in the country remains artificial; noting that if serious and urgent attention is paid to value addition on the nation’s abundant natural endowments, there will be little or no manpower available to operate in the economy.

Indeed, the development finance institution (DFI) emphasised the need for Nigeria to be more productive going forward, maintaining that the nation’s huge population can be deployed to achieve this feat.

Olagunju said: “In the 70s when industry capacity utilisation was almost 80 per cent, Nigeria had to depend on expatriates to work in some of our industries and I believe we can still redeem that era. After the civil war, our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was growing at about 11.1 per cent per annum because there were no dislocations and we were still dependent on our natural endowments.

“In the 1970s, some of our economic indices were superior to most of the developed economies of the world today. Given the nation’s abundant natural endowments, I am of the view that the unemployment in Nigeria is artificial. If we are to add value to our agricultural products and our solid minerals that are of commercial quantity, we will not have enough manpower to operate in the economy.”

He added that with an average population growth rate of three per cent every year, Nigeria must reflect the growth rate to its GDP, pointing that the wider the positive gap between population growth rate and GDP, the higher the quality of lives and the higher the per capita income.

“Now that we are in recession, we are reporting a GDP of less than three per cent and the nation is growing at three per cent which means that there is a deficit and if we go on at this rate, the more unproductive we will become,” he added.

He stated that most developed economies of the world got to where they are because they were disciplined, stressing that the nation’s core values have been eroded while urging for the need to invest massively in human capacity development to become a highly productive economy.

He emphasised the need for state governments to play their roles in implementing policies that will promote the ease of doing business and create an enabling environment for investors to operate.

Also the Attorney General, Ogun State, Dr. Olumide Ayeni representing the Governor, Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, said the forum tagged “Restituting the past for a greater Nigeria” is apt and timely to put Nigeria on a sustainable path of economic development.

He said during the oil boom, the past administrations did not invest heavily on capital projects, stating that since the discovery of oil, the agricultural sector of the economy was abandoned.

He said no development desiring nation depends on one source of revenue for economic development, saying that most of the countries with which Nigeria was ranked in the 80s have diversified their economies and become global economic giants.

The Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Stock Exchange, Oscar Onyema, said countries across the world have moved on from where they were, noting that some of the emerging economies compared with Nigeria are not only miles away but are part of the global giants.

“In order for us to have a sustainable growth over a long period of time and to catch up with the rest of the world, we must harness the power of our population growth; diversify our export earnings, pivot towards an export led economy and invest in human capacity development.He also called on the federal government to facilitate and strengthen the financial system to improve financial services and ensure an all inclusive financial growth.



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