NIGERIA’S resources is preponderantly in oil and gas. There are some unexploited mineral resources however. With a population of about 170 million people, Nigeria has a bright future. We have a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $339 billion, and a per capita GDP of $2,300. Since 2011, our budgets have ranged between $21.8 billion and $30 billion annually. Our exports are $48.5 billion and imports $35 billion by 2013. According to the World Almanac and Book of Facts for 2013, our annual GDP growth is 6.1 per cent and 60 per cent of Nigerians are literate.
What is inclusive growth? As I see it, inclusive growth means comprehensive growth which encloses the rich, the poor and the middle class. Which is why the management of our resources must be built on our strengths of big population and ethical values. But the pitfalls here are unemployment and lack of skills in information and communication technology. Thus, we should maximize our potentials through a Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) which shall comprise experts in various fields with membership of up to twenty. However, membership of its executive and decision making board should not be more than eleven.
The mandate of the CEA shall be to ensure full or optimum employment for Nigerians. Consequently to achieve its mandate, it shall industrialise Nigeria within 20 years through the establishment of import substitution industries and small and medium scale enterprises.
In advising the president, the CEA shall identify our lapses, supervise the implementation and financing of SMEs and import substitution industries. The import substitution industries should be administered by the National Full Employment Plan (NAFEP). Our Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) should continue to develop SMEs in Nigeria. For the Boko Haram ravaged states of North Eastern Nigeria, the Federal Government should establish the Federal Reconciliation Administration (FERA) to resettle the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and rebuild the schools, roads and houses of the North East zone.
Both NAFEP and FERA shall identify the urgent needs of the people and satisfy them. Generally, our urgent needs are electricity, infrastructure repairs, deregulation of state ownership of airports, refineries, railways and the universities. In regulating education, federal government shall not establish universities, it can only pay for tuition and sports in our primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions.
An interest free, collateral free development loan, perhaps named for Buhari should be instituted as a Central Bank product available in every financial institution in Nigeria. This will curb the establishment of such banks as infrastructure, industry and shipping banks.
With the assistance of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Islamic Development Bank, we can now develop the manufacturing, import substitution industries and our industrial infrastructure as promised recently by the new management of AfDB. However, certain issues are germane to Nigerian development. One, our bloated civil services; we should have 720,000 core civil servants at the peak, meaning 2,000 people per each of the 360 federal constituencies. The remainder should be pensioned, trained and financed for self-employment and sent away. In the same way, we should upgrade the number of our policemen to 720,000 but our 800,000 soldiers are adequate. They should be equipped with modern weapons including drones.
For the change agenda of the Buhari administration, the secret of change is to focus all of our energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new society of our dream. Which is why, in managing our present resources, we should concentrate on providing new institutions to eradicate illiteracy which: on World Literacy Day last September, UNESCO disclosed is 56 per cent of Nigeria’s adult population, the largest in the world.
Therefore, since literacy is an arbiter of development, the Federal Government must allocate 26 per cent of our annual budget to education in accordance with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO’s) recommendations. Also, we must make laws protecting citizens from being ejected from school on account of incapacity to pay school fees.
We should march forward with the change agenda, realizing that adequate electricity is crucial to development with the new institutions including a privately owned Solid Mineral Development Company where government owns 30 per cent.
Running Nigeria in line with the transparency mantra of this administration, we shall be congratulating ourselves for a remarkable recovery from a battered economy to a new prosperity in two years. The foregoing notwithstanding, the President should appoint a Council of Presidential Advisers whose duty shall be to monitor, supervise and streamline all the projects in the country in accordance with the change agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari.