A timely roundtable


By Mike Adeyemi

Our public life is raven by significant social and political disagreements. From issues like health care and economic reforms, to debates over restructuring, society and the nature of marriage, our common life as a people suffers from the strains of conflict. These disagreements cannot simply be relegated to the private sphere, their resolution is crucial to the common good, to the set of conditions that we, as a people, work together to provide for one another and ourselves, so that we may all flourish as human beings.
On this premise, the management of National Pilot newspaper in its wisdom and as a socially responsible media house, known for its investigative jounalism stepped a notch higher by coming up with a public event to bring to fore issues of national importance.  The imperativeness of this public discourse to me is majorly to show that the media as a purveyor of information can collaborate with professionals in various fields to better inform the public on germane issues.
It is highly commendable that the newspaper organisation deemed it necessary to come up with the initiative to address issue such as the restructuring, which has been on the front burner of national discourse. Suffice to say that, the timing of the roundtable is apt, considering the fact that the country is pathologically in comatose as some pending issues are militating against its unity. I must salute the ingenuity of the MD/Editor- in -Chief of National Pilot, Alhaji Billy Adedamola in convening the event  at a time when our nation is in dire need of surgical  reforms.
The sterling performance of the resource persons speaks volume of the caliber of people invited to discuss the issues which are crucial to the development of the country. Little wonder the plan to transmit outcome of the discourse to policy makers.
However, the debate on restructuring has attracted varied opinions with some positing that it is the only panacea to the nationality problem facing the nation. Although a school of thought believes that the solution to the major challenge of the country is for government to formulate economic policies that will revamp and jumpstart the nation’s ailing economy.
Nonetheless, Nigeria has in recent time inundated with calls for political restructuring by interest groups across geopolitical zones. A move described by many as uncalled for, and recently jettisoned by the federal lawmakers in the ongoing fourth amendment of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The National Assembly has been severely criticised by the advocates of restructuring for its action or inaction, saying they (lawmakers) have failed Nigerians in their heavy responsibility when it matters the most. They maintained that restructuring would enable the country create fewer and more viable federating units for rapid economic growth and development, whilst those who are reluctant to it (restructuring) have commended the lawmakers for refusing to grant the agitators what they said was an immodest request.
Yet, there is another group that is of the view that what the country needs at the moment is not political restructuring, but economic restructuring. In their views, economic restructuring will lead to diversification, thereby ensuring multiple streams of revenue and eventually breaking loose the jinx of mono-cultural identity of the country.
Speaking in this light, the Emir of Shonga, Alhaji (Dr) Haliru Yahaya called on Nigerians to focus more on attitudinal change rather than restructuring the country. The monarch made this empathic call at the venue while moderating the public discourse.  He said, “Rather than the clamour for restructuring in the country, emphasis should be on the Federal Government to constitute a think-tank, as the president of America has over 40 economic advisers.”
Whichever way one is made to appreciate the issue of restructuring, vis-à-vis the prevailing economic realities, i.e. the fall in prices of crude oil in the international market and the move by some countries to get rid of gas-powered vehicles in favor of electric cars and so on, one still wonders whether it is worth a serious thought that the country’s economy should be restructured. This has become necessary given the fact that oil is fast losing value in the global market and the nation’s economy will be in grave peril, if nothing is done urgently. The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari must be above board in this respect.
An erudite economic analyst at the event, Prof.  Isaac Taiwo, in his lecture entitled, “Understanding the fundamental of the Nigerian economy,” said the country was in recession because it had failed to build a strong private economy over the years and also failed to create an economy based on industries. In his submission, the nation’s development lies in agriculture and the manufacturing sectors. To this end, he stated that ore than anything else, the country must think beyond oil, develop other sectors like solid minerals, tourism, and agriculture, in order to stave off the looming threat of oil revenue loss and realize its full economic potential.
It should be clearly stated that the country was plunged into the ongoing economic recession in 2016, as a result of the loss of about 60 per cent of the nation’s revenue in the first quarter of the previous year, due to the violent activities of militants in the Niger Delta. The pertinent question now is “What will happen if crude oil which is the backbone of the nation’s economy goes out of demand at the international market,” thus, accounting for 100 per cent of revenue loss?
Speaking further, Prof. Taiwo said, “Human development in Nigeria is improving, but remain low by international standard by 0.5 to 0.527 indexes.  It is only Nigeria and Angola that are under the low development indices in Africa. Literacy rates is about 60 per cent of Nigeria population, with poverty rate more than two-third of Nigerians  living below poverty rates. This shows that Nigeria is lacking in all development indices.”
Nigeria, according to him, is short of entrepreneurs that is about 25 per cent. The indicator in terms of product initiative is zero. If Nigeria is to move forward he proffers two solutions. (I) Bridge gap in human Capital (ii) Gap in Entrepreneur.
Nigeria is yet to transit from primary products and it only about 25 per cent of Nigeria products are manufactured domestically. “The dichotomies between formal and informal sectors of the economy need to be addressed,” the don noted.
“Rural population is growing in absolute terms and these people accounts for 60 per cent of Nigerian population. Therefore, the government should do more to rural area.
“So also, production process need to be looked at including productivity variables.  The comparative GDP yield is low, as hectogram per hectares in Nigeria came 67th out of 103 on Cassava, Cocoa, and 42 out of 59. That shows productivity is low.”
In conclusion, I will suggest that the Kwara State Government should borrow a leaf and from the management and staff of National Pilot newspaper and come up with a similar initiative as a way of taking the state to a higher pedestal. The government can also form synergy with the media organisation for proper implementation of all the referendum.

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