Rejigging policies for growth, funding in varsities
For the country to experience the needed development in all spheres, it must not only create knowledge, it must rejig its policies in a way that will encourage investors and trigger economic development, experts have said.
The speakers who converged on Lagos for the biennial lecture series of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), frowned at the snail pace growth of Nigeria and challenged the government as well as key stakeholders to rise to the call, especially as world economies are intensifying their innovative strategies.
They cautioned that if nothing is done especially in the face of the swelling population, the future of the country and its citizens would be more austere.
They maintained that policy makers must sit with the private sector to chart policies that will help grow the economy and encourage huge investment in the education sector.
They also advised that the country must develop the concept that fit the Nigerian nation, rather than duplicating what works in other countries.
The guest lecturer, Prof. Ndubuisi Ekekwe, who spoke on “The pursuit of exponential development,” stated that for Nigeria to experience economic growth, it must be at the forefront of knowledge creation.
This he said could be achieved through heavy investment in university system yearly; fixing the healthcare system; tax code, agricultural sector, market friction, building database of pricing system to checkmate contracts and compare prices, among others.
Ekekwe, an alumnus of FUTO and Chairman of Famisco Group, said investing $10 billion yearly in the country’s university system would help build competencies and bring transformation in research and development.
He said: “$10 billion investment in our universities is actually realisable, if we really want to stimulate massive growth in terms of research and development as well as knowledge transfer, we need to pump a lot of capital in our universities but this money does not necessarily have to be provided by government. $10b you may think is a lot of money, but if people can trust government, you will realise that Nigerians are very rich.
“We need a smart tax system in this country, America has a policy that allows tax waiver. In America and Western Europe, there is clever tax system that stimulates rich people to give money to schools because the more money they give; they are offsetting their tax obligation in other places. Nigeria does not have that system because when a rich man donates money to school, he is Father Christmas. If there is such tax policy, people will inject capital into university system which will make universities competitive.”
Vice chancellor of FUTO, Prof. Francis Eze, who was represented by the deputy vice chancellor (Administration), Prof. Julius Orebiyi, said Nigeria must redouble its growth strategy through innovative and productive thinking, and quality education is key in all of this.
National president of the group, Ndubuisi Chijioke, remarked that the deficits in education, healthcare, infrastructure, housing, and security, among others are overwhelming when compared to where other countries are, adding that none of these countries will wait for Nigeria.
“The total effect of these deficits, sadly, is that Nigeria is recently perceived and rated as the world’s poverty capital. We certainly need exponential development to employ over 55 per cent of our youths that are currently unemployed; accelerate the growth of our economy and GDP growth rate from the paltry 1.94 per cent for a population that is growing at approximately 2.6 per cent; to tamper our inflation that has occupied double digits (currently 11 per cent) place in the last few years.
Chairman, Lagos chapter, Collins Opara, expressed hope that government and concerned stakeholders will make good use of the suggestions and issues raised at the event.
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