May 1st 2019, The Platform – a bi-annual national social political conversation – was home to some of Nigeria’s big league speakers and achievers who attempted to share the challenge and way forward to some of the nation’s biggest problems.
TheScoop curated three out of the big ideas shared by speakers at the event. We covered speeches by First Bank board chair, Ibukun Awosika; ThisDay Newspapers editorial board chair, Olusegun Adeniyi; and managing partner of Sahel Capital, Ndidi Nwuneli. See the ideas and quotes below.
Ibukun Awosika’s big idea: Nigeria as a human capital exporter.
- “Our easily and obviously celebrated asset is our population. We are so many. By 2050, we are going to be the third largest country in the world, after China and India. We are probably going to be around 400 million people. It’s good for numbers, but it’s not the population that is the real asset; it is how we handle that population and turn it into a real asset.
- “All we have to do is decide that our population is going to be an asset. Nigerians are migrating. We are many. There are many nations that need people, so we can turn migration to a policy. We can turn our population into income-earning asset.
- “We can be deliberate about identifying the parts of the world that need specific skills and because we have a lot of young minds, we can retrain and prepare them for those skills. We can have government-to-government negotiations, or private sector-led to work, repatriating income to several parts of Nigeria. Our people can be a source of foreign exchange for us as a nation.
- “Let’s say our people are sought after; but to make them sought after for other nations, what must they know? What must they have? What must they do? How do we prepare processes that allow them to be trained? I know an African nation that is looking for 6,000 teachers. Nothing stops someone in that sector from building programmes or investing in finding 6,000 unemployed graduates, preparing them with teaching methodology.”
Ndidi Nwuneli’s big idea: Family run small farms to end hunger.
- “Data reveals that Nigeria is facing a hunger crisis. Nigeria is naturally endowed for agricultural excellence but only 40% of our 84 million hectares arable land is currently cultivated.
- “We cannot move Nigeria forward unless we address the problem of food and hunger because hunger kills more than AIDs, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
- “In Nigeria, our budgetary allocation to agriculture is just 2.2 per cent while countries like Rwanda and Ethiopia allocate nine per cent and 12 per cent of their budget respectively to agriculture.
- ” We can reduce household income and expenditure on food from 56 per cent to 30 per cent by ensuring that each Nigerian family starts growing their foods, having home gardens like we have in Spain.
- “We need to invest in community gardens to address food and nutrition challenges as well as re-orientate the public on the need to buy made in Nigeria foods.”
Segun Adeniyi’s big idea: Stop sharing Oil Revenue.
- “The reality is that we are in a situation in which what we earn as a nation mostly from oil rent is not enough to meet recurrent expenditure. With the new minimum wage, things can only get worse for many of the states and maybe even the federal government that is now heavily indebted
- “We can migrate from an unconditional grants scheme to a competitive, conditional matching grants whereby oil and all natural resource rents are used exclusively for building bridges to the future.
- “Earnings from oil will serve only for capital expenditure in human and physical infrastructure. That, of course, will necessitate an amendment of the constitution to enshrine fiscal responsibility. This will entail that all federating units must, within the specified timeframe, start meeting all their recurrent expenditures from internally generated revenue.
- “In the context of Nigeria, we can argue that if we decide to restructure to make better use of our resources and the talents of our people while cutting off waste, it would be a sensible proactive choice. If on the other hand we continue along the road we are travelling, a few years down the line, the choice may no longer be ours to make and the consequences could be devastating.”