Nigeria Assures Investors Of Business Environment Improvement

Yemi-Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

The Nigerian government has reassured local manufacturers, business owners and foreign investors that the present administration remains focused on improving the business environment.

It expresses strong belief that such environment will accelerate Nigeria’s economic growth and job creation through active private sector participation in the economy.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo gave the assurance at a forum on Job Creation, Skills and Employment at the ongoing 22nd Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja.

Professor Osinbajo said that the present administration was seriously tackling issues relating to local production, employment generation and all that would be needed to re-energise the economy that is in recession.

“We are talking practically to everyone, talking to big investors, talking to big businesses, small businesses, to youth groups that are interested in technology, talking to farmers, talking to market women and men. There is a great deal of enthusiasm. Everybody knows that this country has tremendous potential and there is so much that can be done.

“We are engaging every one of our agencies that are responsible for facilitating trade, facilitating business, they have to be up to scratch, they’ve got to encourage business. It is our business to make sure that we promote enterprise because the way to create employment is not by direct employment by government, it is by private sector being encouraged to create these opportunities, so that is our focus.

“I want to assure everyone that the government is very focused on improving the environment for doing business, increase the opportunities so that we can employ the vast majority of our young people who need employment, encourage big businesses, encourage small businesses, encourage cottage industries, that is our focus and it will remain our focus,” the Vice President stated.

A spokesman for the Vice President, Laolu Akande, said Professor Osinbajo pointed out that though there might be challenges with the present duty waivers and tax regimes, the Federal Government was working hard to correct the wrongs with the view to encouraging the growth of small businesses and attracting foreign investments.

The Vice President said government’s emphasis on agriculture and agro-businesses was premised on its agenda on diversification and self-reliance in food production for domestic consumption.

Professor Osinbajo said the enormity of the challenge with tax holidays and waivers could not be addressed by a ‘one size, fits-all’ tax holidays initiative, stressing that there were areas that the government would revisit and revise.

He said the Presidential Enabling Business Council, a special initiative of the Federal Government established by the President, in collaboration with the private sector, was looking at incentives and issues related to waivers.

The Vice President, who had spoken extensively on the administration’s economic policies on Day 1 of the Nigerian Economic Summit, also emphasised what government was doing to support funding of small businesses.

“There are complications around funding and that is why in the short term, intervention funds are what we think might work.

“We are looking at intervention funds in agriculture. We have the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme. We are resuscitating the Bank of Agriculture, and recapitalising it.

“We expect that the Bank of Agriculture and a few other banks will be able to provide some cheap funds for agriculture, we are already seeing that in the anchor borrowers’ programme.

“We also think that intervention fund in setting up areas like health, before we are able to get the overall monetary environment right, is necessary,” the Vice President told the gathering.

Earlier at the opening of the summit on Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria had no other choice at the moment than to diversify its economy to break its reliance on oil.

He said: “I am so delighted that you have chosen as your theme Made-in-Nigeria, which lies at the heart of so many of the efforts we are making to lead us through these troubled times and to lay a firm foundation for the future.

“We need to diversify the economy so that we never again have to rely on one commodity to survive as a country, so that we can produce the food we eat, make our own textiles, produce most of the things we use and create the right environment for our young people to be able to innovate and create jobs through technology”.

The President added that there was apparently no other way to steer Nigeria out of its present economic predicament without building a strong economic foundation on Made-in-Nigeria goods and services.

Nigerian Economic Summit: SGF Tasks Public, Private Sector On Security

Economic SummitThe Federal Government has promised to ensure security of lives and property in the north east but called for the support of both public and private sectors in the rebuilding process and creation of employment to re-engage the youth.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal, who gave the assurance at the closing of the Nigerian Economic Summit, said that there can be no development without peace in the country.

He said that 90% of the budget of north-eastern states was presently spent on security alone, which required that the area be given appropriate support from all quarters to restore peace in the region and the country as a whole.

Discussions to round up the 3-day economic summit were centred on security and peace in Nigeria and how to bridge the gaps in current strategies, mitigation measures and improving early warning signals, all towards facilitating a sustainable business environment.

Key among the resolutions was that development and peace are interlinked and that Nigeria must begin to make provisions for life beyond the restoration of peace to ensure it is sustained.

They emphasised the need to invest in the youth who are believed to be the greatest challenge in the current security crisis.

The nature of governance over the years, as well as the state of the country’s economy are said to have a big influence on the sort of insecurity plaguing the country.

Several issues raised at the Economic Summit, spanning all sectors of the economy, are all geared towards giving Nigeria a competitive advantage through sustained and inclusive growth.

For this to happen, tough choices must be made to change the norm in many areas and key among the changes are obsolete legislation, investment in education, effectiveness of public institutions, infrastructure deficit and job creation.

Government To Introduce Zero Based Budget System

yemi osinbajo on Zero Based Budget SystemThe Federal Government has announced plans to introduce a zero based budget system as a step towards fighting corruption and blocking leakages in the public service.

Addressing participants at the Nigerian Economic Summit on Wednesday, Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo said that the initiative would require ministries, departments and agencies to justify their budgetary allocations for each year.

With over 500 federal agencies in the country, a great chunk of the nation’s budget goes into payment of workers wages, but the new administration said that it has come up with a system to ensure that unnecessary items are not listed in the budgets of federal institutions except for projects with direct impact on the economy.

Prof. Osinbajo said that although, the process would be rigorous and stressful, it would ensure transparency and accountability.

Economic experts gathered for a second day at the National Economic Summit to discuss how to reform the nation’s public sector through transparency and accountability.

Recommendations from countries that have done well in the areas of stamping out corruption in their public service were discussed. According to former Prime Minister of Georgia, Nika Gilauri, a key step to achieving same result in Nigeria should be in the areas of staff motivation and capacity building.

Others were of the view that fighting corruption in the public service can only be achieved through the collaboration of the private sector who could serve as whistle blowers when shady deals are discovered.

Although, tackling corruption in the public service would require concerted efforts by government and a new orientation by the nation’s workforce, the consensus was that a more transparent public service is achievable if the right policies are in place.

Osinbajo Talks Social Intervention At Economic Summit

yemi osinbajoNigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has said that for the country to move up the global ladder, social reforms and investment that assure inclusive growth for majority of Nigerians are compulsory.

Professor Osinbajo told captains of industry and economists at the Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja on Tuesday that while insecurity is a big distraction that must be tackled with grassroots education and job creation for the majority of the youths, social investment and intervention must be given to the population of the poor in the country.

“There is no way it can work, that you would have the number of the poor that we have and you would not do some kind of social protection.

“On the average, under a million people in this country die every year from poverty related ailment. What type of social interventions can we really do and are affordable”, Prof. Osinbajo questioned.

Economics experts expressed concern over Nigeria’s persistent economic downturn to the effect that small African countries such as Uganda with only 41 million population, rank higher than Nigeria in the global competitiveness index.

They said that Nigeria has reached a point where it must make tough choices that would achieve competitiveness, inclusive growth and sustainability.

The Nigerian Economic Summit is the first in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. It is also the first summit to have an all-inclusive agenda which focused on how to achieve competitiveness and inclusive growth in a sustainable way, in a non-oil economy.

The Chairman of Nigerian Economic Summit, Mr Kyari Bukar, said that the continued down-turn evident on different global indexes, is serious cause for worry, necessitating an urgent boost in economic competitiveness.

Of the policy options open to Nigeria, the optimistic scenario was said to be most in line with the agenda of the present administration which experts said required strong collaboration and determination to work.

Nigerian Economic Summit Expands Public Sector Membership

Bassey-AkpanyungThe Nigerian Economic Summit has expanded its public sector membership to 12, ahead of the 2015 summit.

The Executive Secretary of the National Planning Commission, Mr Bassey Akpanyung, told a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday that the inclusion of the government agencies was made to deepen the success of the 2015 Nigerian Economic Summit.

He said that Departments and Ministries such as the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nigeria Governors Forum Secretariat and the office of the Inspector General of Police have been included in the summit.

Others are the National Planning Commission, the office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President, the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President, the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Civil Service of the Federation among others.

The inclusion is coming ahead of the 2015 Nigerian Economic Summit.

Apart from expanding its membership, the executive secretary also believes that this year’s summit will help government to effectively implement its economic policy thrust.

On the implementation of last year’s summit recommendations, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Economic Summit, Mr Laoye Jaiyeola, said that the implementation had been stalled by the 2015 general elections.

The Nigerian Economic Summit is an annual event that has pulled experts together since its inauguration in 1993.

One of its objectives is to provide a platform for public and private sectors dialogue toward finding solutions to national economic issues.

Nigerian Education Will Not Be Business As Usual – Nnatuanya

Sunrise NnatuanyaThe Co-Founder of Every Nigerian Child Project, Ifechukwu Nnatuanya has expressed confidence that all recommendations made at the just concluded Nigerian Economic Summit (NES) would be well implemented.

Speaking on Channels Television, having being a participant at the Summit which focused on developing the country’s education sector, Mr Nnatuanya said, “If anyone thinks it’s going to be business as usual, they’re going to be wrong.”

He spoke about some of the recommendations and the series of initiatives that were on-going and which he was also part of as he joined the Sunrise Daily team on a post-mortem of the summit.

On the general quality of Nigerian graduates as discussed at the just concluded summit, Nnatuanya noted that the submission that the quality was low was a blanket statement which is usually inevitable in a conference like the NES. He noted that the major challenge was that measuring such records is difficult in Nigeria as most statistics available are estimates.

He made reference to examples of students from public schools that have shown great intellectual capacity comparable to those found in private schools as proof that there are exceptions when drawing conclusions about the quality of graduates from Nigerian schools.

There are fears that the recommendations of the summit, when presented to the Federal Executive Council would be made to go through the usual set up of committees, thereby creating a possible set-back in their implementation.

He emphasized an initial statement that it would not be business as usual as many more people were involved in the education sector through the discussions at the summit and several issues had been brought to public knowledge, which mandates all Nigerians to follow up on the activities of the Government towards their implementation.

Nnatuanya spoke extensively about the Citizen-led assessment programme which his group has been working on. It is, according to him, a system that would ensure that more Nigerians get involved with improving the standard of education in Nigeria.

This is a project that started in Pakistan and has been successfully exported to other countries, including countries in Africa, which has given them the confidence that it would work in Nigeria.

The improvement of the Nigerian curriculum also came to the fore and Nnatuanya maintained that a major solution is for the universities to have 70% autonomy in developing their own curriculum. He explained that while some institutions would want to focus on Science and Technology, some would have great strength in the social sciences.

He stated that it would be easier for these schools to teach what they design rather than the current situation where the universities are told what to teach without a consideration of the strength of such schools.

Mr Nnatuanya, who is a product of the Federal Government College in Lagos, decried how much the standard had fallen in the unity schools since his time decades ago, but he stated, “Change takes time, change can be difficult but we are on the path to change in the education sector.”

Although Nnatuanya had mainly emphasized the involvement of Nigerian citizens, he was not going to ignore the role of the private sector, which he referred to as being “very huge”. He noted that all the reforms would be better driven with the full support of players in the business world, especially in ensuring accountability and helping universities in ensuring that the graduates truly have the skill set their qualifications demand.

FEC Will Work On NES Summit Recommendations – Sambo

Nnamadi SamboThe Vice President of Nigeria, Architect Nnamadi Sambo on Thursday assured participants at the just concluded Nigerian Economic Summit on Education that the Federal Government will work on the recommendations put forward by the organisers of the summit.

Speaking to Channels Television shortly after declaring the Summit closed, Vice-President Sambo said the Group was expected to present a report to the Federal Executive Council, at its next meeting.

“We are inviting the Summit to formally make a presentation to the Federal Executive Council, usually that’s what we do, and then we will pick the recommendations and send them to the relevant MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies) for implementation,” he said.

The Nigerian Economic Summit, which held in Abuja from Tuesday to Thursday, had several plenary sessions where guest speakers and panelists spoke on topics centred on the development of the education in Nigeria, as a tool for economic empowerment.

Several government agencies and officials,  key players in the education sector, other invited guests were present at the event.

Education Is Everybody’s Business – Ezekwesili

Sunrise EzekwesiliFormer Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, believes that education has to be the business of everybody, as it is an investment rather than just a business.

While canvassing for a partnership between the Government and the private sector towards moving the Nigerian education sector forward, she noted that there were different levels of enormous returns that could be earned from investing in education.

Dr Ezekwesili recalled her time as the Minister of education, revealing how bad the state of the system was within the federal ministry. She referred to her project as “Crisis”, stating that quite early she “knew there was no way Government could solve the problem (alone).”

Speaking passionately on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily live from Abuja, venue of the Nigerian Economic Summit, which had been focusing on developing the Nigerian education sector, Dr Ezekwesili said “Education is a system” and it should not be handled like an element of politics but a major part of nation building.

While speaking about the current state of the sector in comparison to her time as Minister, she said that her investigations revealed that the results in the sector were nothing to smile about, emphasizing that the country’s investment had not produced the result commensurate with it.

She admitted, “We were not in a good place when I was there, and you reflect to 7 years after and it’s declined even further. Do we need any more indicators to discuss these issues?”

Speaking about the way forward, Dr Ezekwesili said that there was need to keep a track of what the Nigerian youths were doing with an emphasis on the available academic facilities in the country. She explained that this involved asking what students who are not in the universities or polytechnics were doing with their lives and creating alternatives to the existing academic system the country operates.

She spoke about the establishment of the Vocational Enterprise Institution and Innovation Enterprise Institution. These according to her, are schools set up mainly to train people with skills to drive innovation and ideas as the new paradigm in Nigerian education.

She said that the rationale behind this was to build a partnership that has the authority of industry practitioners as a means to earn the trust of Nigerian youths. She also said that this was to drive the value of innovation, productivity and self-employment.

In further describing how these would work, she revealed that celebrity filmmakers and veteran actresses, Hilda Dokubo and Joke Silva had been accredited to set up such Innovation Enterprise Institutions in their fields, because of the belief that they would be better trusted to offer practical knowledge and real inspiration in their schools rather than the usual government establishments.

She explained that a complete education package should be a combination of the ‘Mechanical’, which is about the skilled knowledge; the ‘Affective’ which entails the moral values; and the Cognitive, which refers to the quality of reasoning that should be deposited in students by the teachers.

The quality of teachers in Nigerian schools then came to the fore as she spoke about the need to retrain the teachers at a shared cost between the government and the private sector. She decried the presence of Grade 2 teachers still in the system without any upgrade in their knowledge as ridiculous in the current age, noting that many kids now knew better than their teachers.

She, however, said that this should be an initiative of the government. Emphasizing such regulatory part of the sector as being solely a role of the government, she said that the investment intervention would be more productive when the system had been made receptive to development.

Dr Ezekwesili also cited the quality of policy driven discussions that the young anchors of Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily  engage in as one of the key features that would add value to the development of Nigerian education. While commending the team, she admitted that the country had not had this high level of policy driven debates for a very long time, a situation she believed had contributed to the decline.

She also urged the current government to wake up to the situation, as she said that the government was missing out on an important part of its role.

 

Obsolete Education System Needs Urgent Transformation – Rudmik

Tom-RudmikThe Nigerian government has been asked to embrace the ways of transforming the education system that has become obsolete and in need of change.

Discussing the ways of transforming the education system on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, on Wednesday, the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Profound Learning Institute, Tom Rudmik, suggested a two-step process.

He said that the first process would be to identify the parts that should be fixed which are more of the surface level while the second would be complete transformation of system which is more difficult and involves the transformation of what is obsolete.

“One is to identify the parts that have to be fixed. Fix what is obvious. You have major issues for surface level in Nigeria around illiteracy and that needs to be fixed,” Tubmik said.

Using the transformation of the old means of transportation from the horse and buggy to the automobile, he said that education had become an obsolete system, as it was designed for the industrial age to equip students or create a workforce for the factories where students would conform, comply and meet standard.

He pointed out that the world has changed and that the education perspective had equally changed.

“The world now, from education perspective, is changing with the primary competitive advantages found in our abilities to innovate to create and to design. The traditional model of education actually diminishes those important capabilities that are required to be competitive,” he said.

Different Learning Model

Rudmik spoke on the side-line of the Nigerian Economic Summit holding in Abuja and he stressed that the summit was about global competitiveness, which had become a major challenge.

He stressed that trying to catch up with the western world would not create the competitiveness that was sought.

“Countries like US, Canada and Singapore are looking at their education system because “it is obsolete and needs transformation”.

“The two processes should be looked at as duo-pranged process. You cannot ignore some of the obvious problems. You need to bring initiatives to begin to address some of the obvious problems.

“When it comes to system transformation, it is a lot more difficult task. There are so many changes that needed to take place in the thinking of people. It requires a different kind of leadership,” he said.

Using the analogy of the caterpillar metamorphosis to butterfly, he explained that “the caterpillar has imaginal cells that gives it the ability to become a butterfly”, emphasising that school teachers’ ability to see the future should be expounded.

According to him, the transformation process would not be a system-wide process aimed at changing everything because a system-wide process was not possible.

He also stated that the transformation process would be based on the law of network which stipulates that “if you reach the tipping point, which is around 10 per cent, then you have the power within the network to cause transformation to occur”.

He said: “We did a 10 per cent adoption rate to affect the entire system.

“We have observed that things can happen much more rapidly using the social media. Giving some of the new tools in the new systems media; it is possible to see a social change within the education system.

“We can demonstrate within three to five years that a different kind of learning model is possible and how quickly that is adopted, time will tell.

Change Education

He explained that the process of transforming the education system would start from finding imaginal leaders that had the fundamental desire to be part of making a difference in their world, pointing out that the world system was adverse to transformation.

“They are designed to maintain themselves and balance with feedback reinforcing loops. The governments do not have the abilities to go out and be radical with their message because it won’t get them re-elected. The system itself is designed to maintain the statuesque. So, all they do is just try to mainly improve that caterpillar. There should be bold leaders that will say we need radical changes. They should be in schools and government. It requires a lot of courage to make an obsolete system more efficient,” he said.

Rudmik also stressed that “there is a God-given ability in humans to become imaginal, to become leaders that see the future and be able to pull it back. It is innate in every human being.

“The challenge is that in education, the system of conform and comply actually diminishes the neurological pathways that are required for creative thinking. Studies have shown, in the neuroscience area that the longer you stay in school the less creative capacity that a human being has”.

He suggested a long term process that involved change in education by going away from testing answers only to creating conditions in which students become creators and designers of the future.

According to him, the short term answer is that the capabilities in the human to see the future should be developed, suggesting the development of learning adventure projects where the teacher sets a condition for the student to become a designer or to create solutions to future challenges.

He also stressed that only by having a practical knowledge of what the future would be like that an individual could create solutions to the challenges that may arise in the future.