The former governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke, has stated that lack of political will and inadequate implementation of strategies in pursuit of set visions in Nigeria were factors affecting national development.
Duke spoke recently at the October edition of “The Big Ideas Podium” held at the African Heritage Institution, Enugu.
The former governor who was a guest speaker at the occasion explained that the problem Nigeria has in her national development is not with regard to lack of vision, but the inability of governments to exercise their political will and strategies in equal measure.
According to him, Nigeria’s vision both in the past and present such as Housing for All by the Year 2000, Vision 2010; Vision 2020; Vision 20:2020 were good ambitions, but hollow in execution because neither does the will exists and where there was one the strategy for implementation tends to be faulty.
Speaking on the theme, “Ending Poverty – Using What We Have to Get What We Want”, Duke observed that there was inflation in Nigeria, too much money in circulation with many poor people while a very few have too much. He explained that “if the amount of money in circulation were properly distributed and more people were income-earning, there would certainly be a deflation and desperate need to reflate the economy”.
He lamented that the country’s entire economy is premised on maintaining an exchange rate mechanism that encourages imports, adding that it was unattractive for exports and manufacturing. Government, he noted, “adjudges its ability to manage the economy on how low it can keep the exchange rate, rather than how many jobs are created in the real sectors of the economy”.
Proffering ways to eradicate poverty, he said that Nigeria needs to design an economy that translates to growth of about 15% annually, consecutively for 10 years in the real sector to be commensurate with the projected population.
He added that rather than operate a rent-seeking economy, Nigeria should strive to create a bottom-up economy, noting that in a bottom-up economy the citizens are gainfully employed and government generates revenue largely through taxation.
He argued that gas-flaring in Nigeria could be used to fuel the country’s economic growth, catalyze productivity, increase GDP, increase employment and make goods made in Nigeria globally competitive. He added that it will also encourage agro industry which in turn will stimulate agricultural production. Duke also canvassed affordable credit in Nigeria’s finance sector which has long been stuck in high interest rate and short-tenured financing.
The former governor’s views were echoed by Professor Stella Okunna, dean of social sciences faculty at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. Professor Okunna who is also a former chief of staff and commissioner for information in Anambra State, declared that having economic vision without the requisite commitment to implement same amounts to nought.
For the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, ending poverty in Nigeria should involve unleashing Nigeria’s full potential to create an economy that can grow to 15 percent on annual basis. “We must have strategy for exporting human capital; we need good leaders and structure that will provide the right answers to our problems,” he said.
Earlier, in a welcome address, the executive-director of African Heritage Institution, Professor Ufo Okeke-Uzodike, lamented that Nigeria’s unimpressive economic performance had resulted in its drop from the continent’s top 10. He said it’s curious that Nigeria is poor whereas its nationals excel in diverse fields abroad. “Nigeria has doctors who practice abroad and are doing well, but back home the life expectancy rate is poor, at an average of 53.4 percent,” he said, citing absence of peace, bad leadership, greed and disregard for the rule of law as factors that hamper its development.