Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Abuja | 9 June 2018 | 852 times
A frontline politician and businessman, Mr Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has said that a great future lies ahead of Nigeria if it embraces devolution and restructuring.
The former member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, that Nigeria could overcome its current socio-economic and political challenges with collective steadfastness.
He was speaking at a Public Lecture he delivered on the auspices of the Post Graduate College, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, which featured the topic: “Agenda for all round National Development,” where he argued that an all-round development of the nation and its transformation was possible with devolution of powers and restructuring.
While speaking at the event chaired by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, Olawepo-Hashim declared that even though slight progress has been made since the advent of democracy in Nigeria in between 1999-2015, Nigeria remains “Underdeveloped” by regular classifications.
He said that the situation makes the question of an “Agenda for all round National Development” topical and germane at this time.
According to him, though restructuring is what a number of people do not want to discuss at this time, it has become obvious that the nation would develop faster when power devolution is achieved.
Olawepo-Hashim stated that when Nigeria had only one oil well in Oloibiri, Bayelsa state, it was possible for one Federal officer to look through the files and deal with the issues but according to him, today, there are thousands of wells with thousands of investors seeking to make investments.
He further said: “With 62 per cent of the population living below 2USD a day, and considered poor, with life expectancy of 51 years, and over 40 per cent illiterate population, bedeviled with a parlous infrastructure such as poor electricity distribution, poor road networks, and dilapidated health infrastructure, the underdevelopment profile was in bad relief.”
According to Olawepo-Hashim, though by the sheer nature of superiority of democracy over autocracy, Nigeria made some little gains between 1999 and 2015, such gains were almost completely wiped off between July 2015 and July 2016, when the nation’s economy started contracting to lead to her worst economic recession in 25 years at -2.4 per cent.
He further told a predominantly academic audience that he was optimistic about Nigeria’s development adding that what is needed is to tap and build on the energy, creativity, imagination and the industry of everyday Nigerian adding that such qualities remain which “the most important asset that Nigeria possess beyond her Oil wealth and Natural resources.”
Olawepo-Hashim stated: “In 2013, foreign remittances peaked as much as 21 billion dollars to Nigeria, mostly coming from the Nigerian Diaspora. The diaspora community will continue to form a major pillar in the architecture of Nigerian Socio-economic development.
“The crisis of Nigeria underdevelopment as we have highlighted above can only be confronted and resolved with a bold agenda and plan aimed at changing the present economic structure of dependence-it must be revolutionary,” he said.
While suggesting some solutions to the developmental challenges, Olawepo-Hashim called for the New Nigeria Economic Plan, which he said is capable of transforming Nigeria to a manufacturing Economy from agrarian economy.
He said the plan would also change Nigeria from an economy that is based on production of primary products.
He stated that currently, according to NBS record, manufacturing accounts for 9.43 percent of Nigeria’s GDP while it provides as low as 0.3 per cent of employment.
He submitted: “Transferring the economy to a manufacturing will entail a number of policy incentives, such as creating a fiscal environment and collaborative monetary policy that will allow promoters of manufacturing concerns to accessing finance at single-digit rate, ensuring available power to reduce manufacturers’ energy costs.
“Ultimately, Nigeria needs to grow the manufacturing sector in such a way that it will account for 30-40 per cent of her GDP and be a major employer of labour. China is already an example of how an agrarian economy can be transformed into a manufacturing economy. As of 2015, manufacturing accounts for 40 per cent of GDP of China. As at 2005, the manufacturing sector was also responsible for 11% of total employment. In India, the Industrial Sector accounts for robust 25 per cent of GDI.”
At the lecture were the Provost, Post Graduate College, Professor Gbenga Alebiowu, Chairman of the event Local Organising Committee, Professor P.A. Olomola, members of the Board of Postgraduate School, and a host of distinguished personalities, professionals, and politicians in the entourage of Mr. Olawepo-Hashim.
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