Experts Harp on Knowledge-driven Economy

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Peter Obi

Oluchi Chibuzor
In order to reverse the damage caused by the Covid-19 across all sectors of the Nigerian economy, stakeholders at the fourth People Expertise and Excellence Foundation (PEEF) virtual conference have reiterated the need for the country to focus on building a knowledge-driven economy.

This, according to them, would make the nation align to global economies that have turned around their fortunes through strategic leadership and deployment of professional skills of its citizenry.
Speaking at the event with the theme, “Strategic Leadership for Economic Rejuvenation,” a former Vice Presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, said the current challenge experienced by Nigeria was as a result of cumulative problems added to the fallout of the pandemic.

He, however, said the stimulus package put out by federal government for a population of about 200 million was grossly inadequate as compared to other nations of Nigeria’s size.
He added: “Every nation that we are comparable to have been able to come up with a stimulus package between four to 10 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“India is doing $300 billion, which is about 10 percent of their GDP; Indonesia with 255 million people is coming up with $65 billion; Vietnam $26 billion for 100 million population; Philippine is doing $20 billion; and Bangladesh $15 billion.

“In Nigeria, where we are supposed to be the largest economy, our total package is N2.3 trillion. This in monetary terms means total package amounting to $5.5 billion.
“South Africa alone is coming with about $26 billion and in fact, for their SME they are setting aside $5.5 billion, for new job creation it is about $2 billion and for protection of job they are doing $5.5 billion.”

Speaking about building a post Covid-19 economy, Obi said: “This is time to change and everybody now has to be productive and the government must now have to turn around the economy from being a consumption-driven to been productive one.
“We now need to formulate articulated fiscal and monetary policies that would be rigorously implemented and monitored.

“With Covid-19, the situation brought all these huge problems to the fore and showed clearly the cumulative effect of leadership failure over the years in our nation where we have not invested in critical development areas like education, health, infrastructure and Small, Medium and Enterprises (SMEs).”

Earlier, in his opening remarks, the BOT Chairman, PEEF, Abdullahi Bukar, said there was need to, “draw up plans that maximise local content in goods and services and develop meaningful trade relationships, internally, regionally and with our friends all over the world, by creating a strong economy where we will be importing labour instead of exporting it, we will be exporting products, not commodities.”

“This will not happen in a day, but we must conceive and articulate the keystrokes quickly and set out a road map that is sustainable. Many countries have done this. Why not us? The most important point is to yes,” he added.

On his part, former Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bayo Ojo, said in trying to rejuvenate the economy, Nigeria needs to revitalise the banking sector to enable it to lend to the real sector of the economy for growth and development.

He advised the CBN to continue to stabilise the exchange rate while creating the right markets and pricing mechanism for farmers’ produce to motivate them and to enable them to get value for their labour.

“We must place emphasis on knowledge economy and stop the rent-based and consumption-driven economy that we have been operating and get us focused strategically on wealth creation through the promotion of innovative ideas that will attract private capital to drive our economic development agenda,” he said.

For the nation to develop its productive base, Prof. Pat Utomi, in his contribution, said: “Nigeria should develop its economy where it has comparative advantage as was done by modern economies such as Singapore, Malaysia and Brazil.”