The Goddy Jidenma Foundation held its 5th Public Lecture series on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at the main auditorium of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos to discuss the theme “The Challenge of Economic Growth in Nigeria.” The event was well attended by relevant stakeholders from various sectors of the economy.
The Chairman of the occasion, Mallam Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, OON, Vice Chairman/CEO, Alpine Investments ltd & former Chairman, the Nigerian Economic summit group, gave the opening remarks. He lauded the initiative and emphasized the importance of the event, urging all stakeholders to participate actively in the discourse.
The distinguished guest lecturer, Prof. Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, OON, Founder & President of the Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation (IGET) and former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, took to the podium to deliver his keynote speech. He explained economic growth as a rise in the quantity of goods and services produced in a particular country as well as an increase in GDP.
According to Moghalu “Economic development, on the other hand, is more holistic as it looks at factors like healthcare, infrastructure and the general standard of living”. He said “You can have economic growth without commensurate economic development and that is predominantly what obtains here in Nigeria,” The economist espoused further that economic transformation occurs when a country’s economy begins to shift from an agrarian based economy to a manufacturing/service based economy. It is a process that is built on the back of strategic thinking.
Speaking further, he listed a lack of inclusive growth as one of the major challenges plaguing Nigeria. “We need economic development and growth that is broad based but also founded on the productivity of labour. Diversification of the economy is an essential component of economic transformation. China remains a prime example of countries that have managed to achieve economic transformation, lifting millions of its citizens from below poverty lines to the middle class. This clearly shows us that innovation is the bedrock of the economic development in a country.”
He decried the failure of fiscal policy in Nigeria. According to him, fiscal policy in Nigeria for the past 50 years has been focused not on the efficient and effective generation and spending of tax revenue, but on rents from crude oil which has usurped normal tax policy in imports. To tackle the myriad of challenges plaguing Nigeria, he recommended that Nigeria must establish an economic philosophy from which its economic vision will be derived and set out a vision that will drive economic policy and management. He suggested that the current economic management should be overhauled.
Furthermore, from 2019, he proposed that the Federal Government of Nigeria should establish a concrete economic diversification plan with a well thought-out path to a post-oil future for Nigeria based on the emerging global trends. He harped on the urgent need to create millions of jobs in Nigeria within a four to five year period and establish a stronger public-private partnership to support job creation. He also submitted that the Nigerian tax authorities should follow the ownership trail of Nigeria’s estimated 140 million mobile telephone lines to bring operators in the informal economy into the tax net.
He called on the Federal Government to cease all new foreign borrowing and highlighted the need for the Nigerian Government to establish a hedging arrangement to manage risks of oil price volatility. His final recommendation was for the Government to institute smart protectionism, which he believed would engender more rapid economic growth, development, and ultimately – transformation.