Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
Foremost Economist and a former Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Prof Osita Ogbu has said that the nation’s poverty level will continue to remain high until there’s a proper transition from oil to manufacturing.
Ogbu, who spoke at a one day Dialogue on the federal government’s 2018 budget proposal and what it contains for the south east zone, which took place at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, lamented the absence of a deliberate policy to tackle poverty in the country.
“You can grow all you like, driven by oil, poverty will remain there. You need to move people to the area their productivity will improve; its improved productivity that leads to improved income and that takes you out of poverty.
“This sequence is observed all over the world, for you to get out of poverty, the growth of industry is required and there’s no substitute,” he said.
Ogbu who is also the Director of the Institute for Development Studies of the University of Nigeria, also asked Nigerians not to expect so much as a result of the nation’s exit from recession, insisting that the impact could only be felt after a consistent growth of the economy.
“Getting out of recession is not equivalent to blossoming economy; it simply means that rather than negative growth, there’s a slight improvement. For you to feel the impact of a growing economy, that growth must not only be above the population, it must also be consistent over the years.
“It’s not a one or two years thing, it must be consistent. Remember, China grew at 10 per cent for several years. The source of the growth is also important,” he said.
After also lamenting the status of the South East in the budget proposal, Ogbu challenged governors of the zone to unite and rescue the area from infrastructure deficit.
He also called for the revitalisation of the coal industry in order to help address the problem of power generation in the zone.