Buhari Seeks Policy Of Inclusivity And Collective Prosperity 

…Says Nigeria’s Prosperity In Hands Of Few

Joseph Bakare

President Muhammadu Buhari have sympathized with millions of Nigerians currently depressed by poverty and largely living miserable lives, as he discloses that the country’s wealth distribution gap is so wide and thinly concentrated in the hands of few.

Concerned Buhari yesterday openly lamented that a significant proportion of the nation’s prosperity is concentrated in the hands of a few people, causing the migratory and security trends in the country.

At the opening of the 25th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES25) in Abuja, Buhari underscored the importance of collective prosperity, asserting that “a prosperous society is one where the majority of its citizens have an acceptable standard of living.

In recent weeks, I have been to Niger Republic to attend the ECOWAS summit, Japan with fellow African leaders to attend the Tokyo International Conference on African Development and the United Nations General Assembly in New York as well as South Africa on a State visit to exchange ideas on the common themes we share as the two largest economies in Africa and what was very clear at these meetings, and numerous others I have been privileged to attend over the years, is the increased consensus by leaders that to address population growth, security and corruption matters in developing economies, our policies and programs must focus on promoting inclusivity and collective prosperity.

“This shift implies that the concept of having competitive free markets that focus on wealth creation alone will be replaced by those that propagate the creation of inclusive markets which provide citizens with opportunities that will lead to peaceful and prosperous lives.” he said.

According to him, Recently, in a book about the financial crisis written by three leading US policy makers who are advocates and true believers in the power of free markets, the authors also highlighted the need for the invisible hand of the market to work side by side with the visible hand of government to protect businesses and create opportunities for citizens.

Our economic policies in the last four years focussed on the need to uplift the poor and the disadvantaged and encourage inclusivity.” Buhari noted.

He said that this year’s economic summit focuses on what Nigeria would be in the year 2050 when many studies estimate our population will rise to over 400 million people, adding, “As a government, our view is to equip our citizens with the means to seize any opportunities that may arise. This means we continue investments in education, health care, infrastructure, security and strengthen and entrench the rule of law.”

The president assured that his administration would very much look forward to continued collaboration with the private sector in designing and implementing developmental projects that will keep Nigeria on track for sustained, inclusive and prosperity driven growth.

Today, many mistake prosperity for wealth. They are not necessarily the same.”

The president also used the occasion to affirm that in addressing population growth, security and corruption matters in developing economies, policies and programmes must focus on promoting inclusivity and collective prosperity.

“Nigeria is a country with close to 200 million people living in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). A significant proportion of Nigeria’s prosperity today is concentrated in the hands of a few people living primarily in four or five states and the FCT. Some of the most prosperous Nigerians are here in this room.

“This leaves the remaining 31 states with close to 150 million people in a state of expectancy and hope for better opportunity to thrive. This, in the most basic form, drives the migratory and security trends we are seeing today both in Nigeria and across the region,” he said.

Buhari, who noted that experts and analysts often explain economic trends by making references to indicators of wealth, that is money or other assets, said that “in recent years, global events had shown that when a society and its leaders are driven and motivated by these alone, the ultimate outcome is a divided state of severe inequalities.”

‘’I am informed that this year’s summit has identified key job-creating sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, ICT, creative industry and the extractive industry as focus sectors.

‘’I am also told that your deliberations will focus on unlocking capital through our financial services sector to actualize the opportunities in these sectors.

‘’In your deliberations, I would request that your proposals are productive, inventive and innovative keeping in mind that Nigeria’s unique challenges can only be solved by made-in-Nigeria solutions,’’ he said.

Referring to the 2019 general elections, the president said Nigeria had shown the world that it was capable of electing leaders in a peaceful and orderly manner.

On the focus of this year’s economic summit, which is discussing what Nigeria will be in 2050 when the country’s population is expected to have risen to over 400 million people, the president said: ‘’As a government, our view is to equip our citizens with the means to seize any opportunities that may arise. This means we continue investments in education, health care, infrastructure, security and strengthen and entrench the rule of law.’’

Buhari commended organisers and stakeholders for sustaining the platform established since 1993 to deliberate on key issues on national development.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, said Nigeria’s future required huge financial investments in multi-faceted physical and social areas by the federal, state and local governments to be able to provide quality, useful, accessible and affordable education, healthcare, transportation, housing, electricity, and water.

She added that the country must be in a position to provide digital connectivity and innovation and rise above the tide of disruption that the fourth industrial revolution will bring.

According to her, there is an urgent need to design policies that will not only address the rising population but ensure paradigm shift to a competitive private sector-led economic growth and development. “The agenda for the summit is to provide strategic and innovative ways of getting the maximum benefits from the expected demographic dividends.”

The Founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Atedo Peterside, who spoke at the summit dinner yesterday, said for Nigeria to achieve the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of six per cent and above, there was the need to correct the structural dysfunction that frightens local and foreign investors away.

According to Peterside, the Nigerian economy is still largely stagnant and so anaemic, and that the GDP growth rates which fall below the approximate three per cent growth rate do not cause for celebration. With the high inflation rate in the 11 per cent range, which the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) appears to have accepted as being the norm, investors now fear stagflation.

He said that whatever gains Nigeria achieved in income per capita in the last two decades were slowly being wiped out, as falling annual per capita income has become the norm every year since 2015. “The fore-runner of GDP growth is the investment/GDP ratio. If there are little or no investments today, then there will be little or no growth in a couple of year’s time.”

The bank chief noted that the double-digit growth of 2002 came on the back of the very high investment/GDP ratio of 35 per cent recorded in 2000, which was the first full year following the restoration of democracy.

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