Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and culturally diverse federation of 36 autonomous states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Presently a lower middle-income and Africa’s largest economy and most populous country, Nigeria faces daunting development challenges.
In spite of being the economic powerhouse of Africa, Nigeria has pockets of systemic and structural socio-economic vulnerabilities which require the fostering of economy-wide productive capacities and structural economic transformation.
Thus, to counter its developmental challenges, President Muhammadu Buhari, this week, launched a new long-term national development plan, the Nigeria Agenda 2050.
The intention of the Nigeria Agenda 2050 is to ensure that the country attains a per capita GDP of $33,328 per annum and placed itself among the top middle-income economies in the world by 2050.
According to the President, Nigeria plans to develop a dynamic, industrialised and knowledge-based economy that will generate an inclusive and sustainable pattern for the country and its people.
The development challenges Nigeria faces call for a new policy approach and the formulation and implementation of new-generation development policies centred on the fostering of productive capacities. This should signal a shift away from short-term, sector and project-specific interventions.
There is an urgent need to refocus policy interventions and national development strategies towards fostering domestic productive capacities, which will enable structural transformation and economic diversification.
Doing so will ensure that the country participates in value-added segments of the global economy, rather than serves as a commodity supplier.
Building domestic economy-wide productive capacities requires special attention to be paid to building institutions which will govern the rules of economic conduct. This is needed to make it attractive for businesses to invest, develop and operate.
For this, improvements in the quality of human capital are also necessary and only possible through the implementation of an adequate education policy able to cater for the needs of the market and one which anticipates changes and shifts in the assortment of the output of the national economy.
Finally, as the President launched the Nigeria Agenda 2050, there is a need for the present and subsequent administrations in the country to focus on infrastructure development, especially transport, energy and ICT, in order to facilitate economic interactions.
Indeed, the challenges of making Nigeria a top middle-income economy by 2050 are significant, yet the opportunities available and the success within reach.
No doubt, ensuring that the country enjoys its tremendous potential requires reforms in some areas including, first and foremost, the need to create more fiscal space through domestic revenue mobilisation, and investments in health, education and infrastructure which the country truly needs.
Secondly, having good reform in the energy sector is paramount. The cost of doing business is very high on account of the inefficiencies of the energy sector. The cost of the highly inefficient and hurtful use of generators in the country needs to be addressed quickly. Clearly, getting policies to make sure that Nigeria resolves this case once and for all is also paramount.
Happily, investors are beginning to recognize Nigeria’s more competitive climate. For example, big agribusinesses such as Dangote, Top Feeds and Olam have increased their domestic investments, as have opportunistic personal investors from Nigeria’s moneyed class. But there is more room in Nigeria for broad-based economic growth.
Nigeria is a country of more than 200 million people with strong markets ripe for investment in the areas of palm oil, rice, wheat, starch, poultry and aquaculture, especially with imported foodstuffs now more expensive.
Investment initiatives similar to that in East Africa can succeed in Nigeria, given supportive economic policies. In this regard, the launch of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council which works to remove bureaucratic constraints and make Nigeria a progressively easier place to start and grow a business is, certainly, a welcome step.
A call for social component of battling insecurity strategy
President Muhammadu Buhari said that his administration has improved the level of security upgraded military hardware, built facilities, trained and equipped staff and officers and created a welfare system that caters for more than 50,000 children of fallen heroes.
Speaking at a ceremony attended by two former leaders of the country, Yakubu Gowon and Goodluck Jonathan, the President said he instituted the recruitment of 60,000 soldiers into the Armed Forces and thousands have graduated from the Nigerian Defense Academy (NDA), Kaduna, and other security institutions.
At the event, the President presented 81 new, symbolic flags to the various units of the Nigerian Army and said: “…the nation’s security situation was greatly challenged by the activities of violent non-state actors. Today, I am pleased to specially note that the situation has tremendously improved and I wish to also proudly highlight that we have made remarkable progress in the fight against insurgents, militants oil bunkers, kidnappers, and other criminal elements in the country.”
Though the Buhari-led administration has transformed the military in many ways, a lot needs to be done to develop a modern-day military and end insurgency and illegal use of arms by miscreants.
The insecurity in Nigeria becomes increasingly high with each passing day. Insecurity and terrorism have been major challenges for the Nigerian government lately, each of which leads to the loss of life and the destruction of property.
Nigeria is among the world’s most terrorist countries. The rate at which evil is growing in Nigeria and the ruthless manner in which the lives of innocent people are being wasted are worrying. Citizens are burdened daily with emotional and psychological trauma as a result of the death of their loved ones who had fallen victims.
Agreed, the military has been doing its best in an attempt to conquer security challenges in the country, but the lingering crisis is an indication that the methods being used have not been effective.
This calls for the implementation of better ideas in order to win the war against terrorism in the country. They must seek ways to come up with new ideas and if necessary involve their foreign counterparts who may proffer better solutions on how to conquer insurgency in the country.
However, it is the opinion of many that the focus needs to change regarding crisis response in Nigeria. In the past, the focus has been almost entirely on a military response.
According to those agitating for change in focus, this strategy has not been a workable plan, partly because the military operates above the law. The strategy to battling insecurity in Nigeria must have a social component, they say.
After all, it is unarguable that inaccessibility to opportunities, economic problems and desertification of major water bodies all combined to drive farmers and fishermen from the North-east and into the heart of the conflict just as many unemployed youths in other parts of the country have resorted to using illegal arms.
It is unarguable, too, that the increasing incidents of violent attacks are symptoms of weak, marginal or exploitative government systems in the country. The inability of many state governments to provide public services and meet the basic needs of the masses also created a group of frustrated people who easily turn violent.
There is, therefore, a need to capitalise on demographic dividends by investing in health, education and livelihoods, especially for our young people.
There is, also, the urgent need to draw up a national development plan that requires the involvement of the three levels of government and the presence of development projects in important sectors of national life all at the same time.
The country’s economic productivity and opportunities for its citizens need to be improved. The challenges posed by insecurity in Nigeria can be solved, largely, by accelerating development in the country.