FORMER Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo, has said the collapse in the oil price is a blessing for Nigeria to start a new beginning and a clarion call to press the restart button and begin afresh.
Soludo, delivering a lecture at the fourth Progressive Governance Lecture Series of the Progressive Governors Forum, called for a coalition of economic policies that could deal with desperate socio-economic issues in a systematic and sustainable manner, for the country to get out of the present challenges.
Noting that Nigeria’s economy in terms of dollar had collapsed by about 50 per cent, he said no state could develop sustainably if the overall governance and economy were in crisis.
“Inclusive and sustainable growth cannot be achieved without conscious efforts to deconstruct the dynasties of poverty and maximise states and Nigeria’s comparative and competitive advantage,” he said.
The former CBN governor, in his lecture, entitled: “Building the Economy of States: Challenges of Developing Inclusively Sustainable Growth,” said the country at the moment was dealing with political, economic and social shocks, adding that growth in the country and states would not be inclusive if the dynasties of poverty were not broken and comparative and competitive advantages maximised.
“We are facing unprecedented and tremendous political and economical challenges with global and local dynamics.
“Regardless of these challenges, opportunities and possibilities abound if we address some fundamental issues. The key to achieving this is to have a development plan that is anchored on realising inclusive and sustainable growth,” he said.
Proferring solutions, he recommended the restructuring of the economy from consumption-driven to production-based and consistency in micro economic policies.
He asked the government to encouraging fiscal federalism in ways that allowed states to have greater control of their resources and the evolution of a master plan for mass export-oriented industrialisation that answers the economic questions and realities of today.
He charged the ruling party states to develop a peer review mechanism to track, measure and share knowledge and experience, in order to achieve shared values that would distinguish APC states from others.
“There is the need for communication strategy that effectively communicates change in a forward looking and inspiring manner for the citizenry. This is important for building consensus for development, and there should be a coordinating mechanism for developing the 2017 budget,” Soludo said.
He maintained that though agriculture could provide the way out of the present crisis, it was not enough to sustain the nation’s growth and development.
Soludo noted that commercial agriculture must be supported by ensuring that the teeming youths had opportunity to acquire education, while health facilities should be developed.
Also speaking at the event held at the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Hall, Kaduna, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said the economic crisis facing the country is not insurmountable, as, according to him, the country had the capacity to be a great nation.
Osinbajo, in his keynote address, said no country in Africa had the human and material resources like Nigeria, stressing that “but the challenge is for Nigerians to make a difference.
“Without us taking responsibility for our problems, little could be done. We have a few years to transform this country and I believe those of us seated here are the ones that can make the difference.”
The vice-president, therefore, noted that though some of these problems would take some months and even years, but time had come for us to make things done.
Speaking in the same vein, the host governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, said the country was passing through an unprecedented economic crisis, which could be attributed to both the past and present circumstances.
“So, we need a fundamental shift from what we are doing. I believe the guest speaker will help us to have solutions to these problems,” he said.