The Chief Executive Officer of the Time Economics, an economics consulting firm, Dr. Ogho Okiti has advised policy makers in the country to push for “deeper form of reform that would transform education, infrastructure and governance’ in other to transform the Nigerian economy.
This, the economists, who spoke at the 2017 Nigeria Economic Outlook Conference that took place in Lagos yesterday, would be the only path to guarantee sustainable economic growth.
Okiti pointed out that the historical lesson learnt from the present situation in Nigeria was that oil prices drove economic growth in the past.
“Another lesson is that wholesale reforms are not sufficient. President Obasanjo started some of those reforms and it continued under late president Yar’Adua and president Jonathan also did some reforms. But these reforms are wholesale reforms, they are helicopter reforms and are not sufficient enough to drive long term growth and productivity in the long-term and of course, long term increase in prosperity and reduction of poverty. That is why in a matter of two years that oil prices started declining, we started seeing the effect on the Nigerian economy,” he added.
However, in his presentation, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture Lending (NIRSAL) Aliyu Abdulhameed, argued that the solution to the problem with the Nigerian economy is agriculture.
“As far as we are concerned, the past is dead and the future now. No need to be looking back and think you are going forward. The agriculture sector employs between 70 and 80 per cent of Nigeria’s population. The rural economy is denominated by agriculture, but not agriculture as it ought to be,” the NIRSAL boss said.
He stressed the need for Nigerians to start seeing agriculture as a business, which according to him is the spirit of NIRSAL. “We intend to grow our capital base in a short while to about $3 billion. The whole idea behind this is that you can only talk business when you stand on capital that your voice can be heard. Government creates policies, but government cannot do agric-business. Our job is to work is to create agriculture that makes sense to businesses. So, we need to get the economy right by focusing on agriculture,” he added.
He noted that Nigeria has the natural resources perfect to develop the agriculture sector, these he listed to include land, weather, water and human resources. Abdulhameed said comparative advantage needed to be converted to competitive advantage.
“When you enter competitive advantage that means you have to submit yourself to the realm of business. Therefore, agriculture needs to submit itself to the discipline of finance, economics and the discipline of business. The only country that has the capacity to feed Africa is Nigeria and this is the moment,” he added.