President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday identified the factors responsible for the high growth figures, rising poverty and unemployment rate in Nigeria.
Buhari offered the explanation while declaring open the 24th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES) in Abuja with the theme: “From Poverty to Prosperity: Making Governance and Institutions Work.’’
Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Buhari said that the summit had proved resilient in promoting dialogue and collaboration between the government and the private sector.
Buhari said that absolute poverty, defined as the number of those who could not afford the bare essentials – food, shelter and clothing – had been the biggest economic challenge for Nigeria in the past three decades.
The President said that the biggest drain on Nigeria’s resources was grand corruption, which he described as stealing of large sums of the public resource by public officials in collaboration with private individuals
He said that the problem of poverty and the attendant deficits in human development indices were significant because Nigeria’s population continued to grow at about three per cent annually.
Buhari posited that Nigeria would become the world’s third most populous country by 2050.
According to him, over 60 per cent of the projected population will be young people with about 1.4 million entering the job market yearly.
Buhari, however, explained the paradox of high growth figures amid rising poverty and unemployment figures.
“The first is that high oil revenues do not necessarily translate to jobs. The high revenues can only translate to jobs and better living standards if the revenues are invested in diversification of the economy, infrastructure, education, healthcare, and social protection for those who cannot work.
“The question of course is what happens to the revenues? The most important drain on our resources is grand corruption; the stealing of large sums of the public resource by public officials in collaboration with private individuals.
“The second reason that explains the paradox of high growth figures and rising poverty and unemployment figures flows from the first, namely: the poor investment in infrastructure and the non-creation of an enabling environment for business.
“The third is the lack of commitment to diversification of the economy; which would in turn provide multiple streams of revenue; this is both an issue at the National and sub-national levels.
“The fourth reason that explains the paradox of high growth figures and rising poverty and unemployment figures is the low investment over the years in the businesses at the bottom of the pyramid,’’ he said. NAN)