The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has underscored the centrality of economic diversification and ethical leadership at all levels of government as panacea to the current economic crises in Nigeria.
Danbatta stated this when he delivered a paper titled: ‘Ethical Leadership as an Instrument for National Sustainability in the Post-Oil Nigerian Economy. A Public Sector Perspective’, during a two-day hybrid Annual Directors Conference (ADC) organised by the Institute of Directors (IoD) Nigeria recently.
Danbatta emphasised that the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) or the digital age would continue to promise greater revenue-earning potential to the country.
Danbatta, who discussed Nigeria’s economic shift to oil revenue following discovery of oil in the 1970s, leading to the relegation of agriculture, which was hitherto the source of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings, said the federal government realised that Nigeria cannot be solely dependent on oil earnings anymore, hence the decision to explore ways of diversifying the economy.
Economic diversification, according to Danbatta, remained the process of shifting an economy away from a single income source toward multiple sources from a growing range of sectors and markets.
He said this is with a view to increasing productivity, creating jobs and providing the basis for sustained economic growth.
The EVC said: “Though the federal government has made several attempts at economic diversification, such attempts have had little impact as majority of them have folded up, whilst others are finding it difficult to survive.”
He noted that the situation was further compounded by the recent economic recession and the COVID-19 pandemic, which adversely affected the global economy, including Nigeria.
Danbatta stated that countries and societies have evolved by finding new ways of doing things to ensure economic sustainability, which has led to the first, second and third industrial revolutions.
“Currently, countries are exploiting the fourth industrial revolution in order to diversify their economies. The fourth industrial revolution, which has also been referred to as 4IR or Industry 4.0, describes the age of intelligence and encompasses technologies like high-speed mobile internet, Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation, the use of big data analytics and cloud computing,” Danbatta said.
While highlighting the major constraints facing Nigeria with regards to the fourth industrial revolution to include inadequacy of digital skills, infrastructure deficit and enabling environment, the commission boss emphasised that the 4IR is the information and digital economy age, which, if properly enhanced and exploited, could unleash a new phase of massive revenue generation and wealth creation for Nigeria in the post-oil era.
“This is because while natural resources such as oil, gas among others are finite, data and information are infinite. Furthermore, the possibilities provided by the 4IR are limitless and can generate employment for Nigeria’s teeming youth population. Therefore, in order to achieve economic growth using the 4IR, there is the need for ethical leadership,” he said.
The IoD Nigeria Annual Directors’ Conference is the Institute’s flagship event, which is attended by captains of industry and directors in both the private and public sectors of the Nigerian economy.