By Ugo Aliogo
The Managing Director, FirstBank of Nigeria Limited, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan has stressed the importance of infrastructural development in driving inclusive growth, investment and poverty reduction in Nigeria.
According to him, with about 50 per cent of the country’s population living in rural areas, achieving equitable and inclusive economic growth would require a keen focus on the rural economy.
Adeduntan disclosed this recently at the University of Ibadan Alumni Association Annual Lecture with the theme: ‘Stimulating the development of the Nigerian economy through inclusive growth.’
He noted that globally, the rural economy holds strong potential for sustainable economic growth, employment generation and the promotion of decent living standards.
The First Bank CEO pointed out that significant opportunities exist to accelerate economic development and inclusive growth through deliberate government policy interventions and private sector actions.
He said the federal government needs to execute some inclusive growth initiatives that worked for other economies which have recorded significant economic development.
Adeduntan, however, said the government must be commended for taking bold and decisive actions on a number of economic issues including the liberalisation of downstream sector; adoption of cost reflective electricity tariff, among others.
According to him, “There is need for massive investment in social infrastructure – education, health, security. There is also need to accelerate investments in physical infrastructure; to convert the country to a bubbling and veritable construction yard. “There should be deliberate focus on vocational education to create a strong base of blue collar jobs – technicians, plumbers, bricklayers, welders, tilers, and others to support the construction activities.
“Given that financial institutions are at the epicenter of financial development that is required for growth to be inclusive, financial institutions have critical roles to play in driving inclusive growth. At FirstBank, we are implementing several support initiatives that are driving financial inclusion and human capital development.
“At FirstBank, we are implementing several support initiatives that are driving financial inclusion and human capital development. FirstBank’s financial inclusion programme is anchored around its agent banking proposition and network which is branded as Firstmonie.”