Obi, Nnaji, others seek investment in knowledge economy

Some eminent Nigerians have taken a critical look of the country, declaring that the economy would have fared better if a bulk of the resources deployed in the ongoing anti-corruption crusade were invested in knowledge and production.

They stated that Nigeria was fast becoming the poorest, crime-prone and most insecure nation where investments could thrive, stressing that government must change approach to recover the economy in the interest of the citizens.

The vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi, First Republic Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, former chairman of Diamond Bank, Dr. Pascal Dozie, and erstwhile Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, stated in Enugu that misplaced priorities had negatively impacted economic development nationwide.

At the third South East Regional Economic Development Corporation (SEREDEC) summit yesterday in the Coal City, the stakeholders canvassed a shift from oil to a knowledge-based economy, insisting that it was critical to deepening development and reducing the prevalent crime rate in the country.

The event was supported by the UKaid, PERL and Ford Foundation.

Obi noted that Nigeria had not made any significant economic progress in the past three years, lamenting that recoveries had not matched the billions of naira committed so far to the fight against graft.

He said: “I have always said that fighting corruption is not an economic policy. It is a disaster when we try to make it one. You can’t have a thriving supermarket, shut it down and start chasing some people because they have come and stole some goods.

“By the time you come back, most goods must have expired and you must have lost some customers. That is what we have done in Nigeria. Because we have shut down our shop, we have lost more on where our GDP was since this government came into power chasing people who have stolen money. What we have received from what was stolen is not up to 10 per cent of what we have got legitimately. It becomes imperative that we move in the right direction.”

The former governor of Anambra State stated that the reliance on oil had not impacted on the country, adding: “Nigeria in the last three years has come down from a GDP of $520 billion to less than $400 billion.

According to Obi, government must rejig tactics, especially the treatment of local investors, to encourage their foreign counterparts.

To the South East, he stated that the governments in the zone must unite and integrate available talents and energy to chart a new path for the country.

Lamenting the frittering away of the sacrifices of the nation’s founding fathers by politicians, Amaechi, challenged the leadership in the region to come up with a blueprint for its economic development, adding that it is by so doing that it could get political power instead of the continued cry of marginalisation.

On his part, Dozie regretted that inept leadership had hindered economic development, stressing that a country that does not respect time would always find it difficult to make progress. He charged Nigerians on positive ideas.

Nnaji, who doubles as the chairman of SEREDEC, said lack of employment opportunities had significantly contributed to agitations and youth restiveness.

Addressing economic development, according to him, would stem the security challenges faced by the nation.

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