At The Platform, Lumumba, Oyedele, others underscore how to develop Nigeria
One after the other, speakers at The Platform – a good governance conference hosted by Poju Oyemade, Senior Pastor of Covenant Christian Centre in Lagos, yesterday, bared their minds on ways to make Nigeria great indeed.
The day Nigeria become great is the day Africa becomes great, a former director of Kenya Anti-corruption Commission, Prof. Patrick Lumumba, said.
According to him, given the country’s almost 300 million population count, Nigeria is capable, in five years, of becoming a three-trillion GDP economy.
Lumumba, however, noted: “Africa has become a continent where, after every election, there is conflict because the pursuit of power is a cutthroat competition where our throats are actually cut.
“We have a problem in that direction and the sooner we resolve that, the safer we will be. Africa can rise and Africa will rise, but it is not going to rise by prayer and fasting.”
While stressing the importance of patriotism, Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms, Taiwo Oyedele, said no foreigner can develop Nigeria. “All the countries that were developed were developed by their people,” he said.
According to him, strong institutions and investments in manpower are vital to building a great country; therefore, government must pay attention to these areas. He also urged authorities to create enabling environment for businesses to thrive, saying this would discourage current Japa (emigration) inclinations.
Oyedele, nevertheless, added: “There is nothing wrong in leaving. Don’t get me wrong. But if you leave, don’t wish the rest of us bad. And while you are here and continue to be here, don’t wish us evil. If you have citizens who are actively working against their own country, there is no amount of prayers you pray: that country will not succeed.”
Oyedele also advised Nigerians to stop praying for the country’s refineries to work, saying they should, rather, channel energy into demanding their sale.
He quoted a report by a former Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, which said the refineries, if operational, would process crude oil at a loss.
On his part, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, said the country’s youth are its biggest assets, adding that with the right support, they can reshape the world.
“In Nigeria, 60 per cent of our 220 million people are under the age of 25, which means we have the ingredient that is actually going to power the world because these young people are digital natives. And if we give them the resources, they can actually become that engine that the world requires, to be able to thrive.”
A former Director General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Joe Abah, called on government not to overburden entrepreneurs with taxes.
“More people who make money must pay taxes but those taxes must be streamlined such that entrepreneurs are not unduly bothered and made to pay for the inefficiencies of the state itself,” he said.
Oyemade, in his keynote address, said the language of faith could be used as a tool for nation building.
He quoted former U.S President Barak Obama as saying because America is a religious country; people that brought its transformation used the language of faith.
He said: “When they were going to fight racism, they needed somebody who was a religious figure. The values of society that brings about progress and civilisation are rooted in faith towards God. Values like integrity, honesty, rule of law are expressions that were taken from the Scriptures.”
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