The Director, Nanyang Technological Univeristy (NTU) and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) Center for African Studies, Nanyang Business School, Mr. Amit Jain, has warned that over 35 million Nigerians are likely to fall into the poverty bracket except the federal government urgently checkmates high inflation rate, remove trade barriers and provide critical infrastructure for economic growth and development.
Jain stated this at the public presentation of a 10-year roadmap for Nigeria by NTU-SBF centre for African studies in partnership with Tolaram and NTU, Singapore in Lagos.
According to him, since 2015, poverty has been on the high side as more Nigerians are slipping into poverty than climbing out of it, advising that unless something is done urgently, Nigeria might not be able to address the problem of extreme poverty for 35 million people by 2025.
“We have looked at some of the causes of this extreme poverty endemic in Nigeria which include inflation, population growth and climate change essentially explains why it remains so endemic. One of the best ways to address extreme poverty is to curb inflation, reduce trade barriers for many people to get job opportunities, educate the populace and improve their health to become a lot more productive,” he said.
He added, “The most effective way to fight poverty in the short term is to tackle inflation and the most effective way to tackle inflation is to drop the value of the naira and this can only be done if monetary policy is tightened.”
He however, stated that the roadmap aims to put Nigeria back on the path of sustainable growth and adhering to its recommendations would put the country’s economy among the top 20 economies of the world by 2030.
He stated that while the recommendations were achievable should there be the political will to make changes, he stressed that interlinked factors limiting economic growth and development must be addressed.
“Irrespective of business terrain, you cannot afford to overlook Nigeria as what happens here affects everyone. Given the country’s strength of population, fertile soil, enough water, sunshine, large coastline, vibrant democracy and a vibrant youthful population, some weaknesses such as debt, limited fiscal space, poverty, infrastructure challenges exist,” he said.
“However, while there are the threats of insecurity, corruption, unemployment, inequality and climate change, massive opportunities exist in agriculture, technology, services and Nigeria’s massive consumer demand,” he said.
Nigeria, he pointed out, needs to take proactive steps to put the country on the path of growth and reduce its inflation rate.
Jain said Nigeria must revamp crude oil production very quickly to create the fiscal room that Nigeria needs.
He stated that the country in the next two years must focus on economic stabilisation, structural reforms to revive growth; prioritise investment in health, education and social protection and avert negative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth to arrest poverty.
He added that within the next five years, Nigeria should prioritise reviving growth, enhancing investment climate, improving business confidence, targeting four per cent GDP growth rate and reviving employment.
“Within the next ten years, what the country can do is sustain growth with focus on governance, deliver public goods and aim for seven per cent GDP growth rate while expanding employment opportunities,” he added.
“What government can do to revert the current economic trend line and improve business climate is to really curb inflation, reduce trade barriers, curb oil theft and insecurity and vamp up agro processing,” he said.
Also speaking, a Nigerian Economist, Dr Adedoyin Salami, who was the Chief Economic Adviser to former President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, said Nigeria needs to consider how she begins to lay in the short term the foundation for middle term via re-establishing economic stabilisation over the next 12 months.
Salami stressed that education was where the country’s biggest investment must lie
“The country’s future prosperity is also dependent on her ability to build and sustain an agro economy which education can help achieve. If education is sorted, the speed at which our population is growing would come down and we can be more balanced to pursue the skill and enlightenment the country needs to grow,” he said.
On her part, the Chief Executive Officer, Main One Cable Company, Mrs Funke Opeke, called for government’s commitment to putting things in place to drive economic growth.
Opeke also advocated for concerted efforts to incentivise the private sector to deploy the infrastructure that drives digital technology growth in the country.
The Group Executive Director and Executive Vice Chairman (Africa), Tropical General Investments (TGI) Group, Mr Farouk Gumel, stressed that every solution for the country must have a humanitarian aspect to its implementation.
This, he stated, must be done regardless of the party or dispensation in place.
“Infrastructure in rural areas is weak and we must begin infrastructure inclusion to get to the grass root by starting to implement actionable plans right from the local government,” he said.