A professor of political economy, Pat Utomi, says Nigeria can only attain its much-desired growth and development if it joins the comity of producing nations in the world.
Utomi made the submission on Wednesday in Ibadan, during the seventh edition of a Capacity Development Summit, held at Ibadan Business School.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the summit entitled `Excelling in Emerging Economies’ was convened by Pastor Idowu Ogedengbe, a Resident Pastor of House on the Rock, Harvest House, Ibadan.
Utomi warned that pragmatic efforts must be taken to ensure Nigeria becomes a producing nation, saying a nation that does not produce is dead.
“It’s all about production, output. We are still relying too much on crude oil prices to determine the direction of our economy and that is not good.
“There is very little we can do to control the direction of pricing of crude oil,’’ he said.
He said that the nation was ahead of China in manufacturing 40 years ago, but the reverse was the case now, saying the country had today, remained a consuming nation, producing only crude oil.
According to him, “We live in trying times, very difficult times, and we must be change agents. If we don’t have impacts, if we don’t change the society, a couple of things will be lost.’’
Utomi expressed deep-seated fear that there might be no Nigeria on any map very soon, decrying the level of inequalities in the country.
He recalled that in the 1960s, there were more local governments in Southern Nigeria than Northern Nigeria, when regional system of government was in operation.
The don said it was the military regime that increased the local governments to 774, out of which over 500 of them are in Northern Nigeria.
“Inequality does not give you progress. It invariably brings you to a certain blowing point, which is where Nigeria is. This country is a time bomb waiting to explode. How do you deal with inequalities?
“One of the dangers of what has happened to us in Nigeria is that over the years we have focused on revenues and how to share revenues.
“Revenues, no matter how you share them, will not make anybody rich. The only thing that makes people rich is production. If you don’t produce, you are dead,’’ he said.
Utomi said that Economic Growth Recovery Plan (ERGP) was lovely, but not a national strategy for development, saying it was a strategy premium model, that enables effectiveness in implementing some things.
According to him, “the major problem of Nigeria’s economy is that I am not sure of where the Nigerian economy desires to go. There isn’t a national strategy that I can say.
“So, if you develop a tactical thing which is the EGRP that says, what we should do with this and that sector, where everybody is making their own policy.
“Where are we going? Do we want to be the leading producer of product X in the world in 25 years? I don’t see a policy that is saying that to me.
“But, this might just be somebody from the outside looking in. May be those who know have not communicated it in a way someone like me, with limited capacity, can understand, ” he said.
He said that there are many advantages to paying a minimum wage, saying it all comes down to government’s output and every worker’s productivity.
“For example, when Obasanjo was running in 1998, a small group of us was working on policy with him. One of the things we told him is that as soon as you get there, you must increase workers’ wages.
“If you increase wages, you can stimulate consumption and such will lead to more investment in productive sectors, while growth takes place.
“You must do standard gauge railway in Lagos and Port Harcourt. Borrow the money, get whatever support, put hundreds of thousands of people to work, to earn income and spend it.
“But when you increase workers’ wages with no output improvement, no productivity improvement, it really does stoke inflation. People need to be paid living wage.
“How do you get those you have paid a better salary to produce? I’m not sure the system has done a lot of work around this. These are more germane, than whether workers are paid N30,000 or N5,000,’’ he said.
Utomi said that it was difficult to anticipate recession, wondering if output quarter on quarter, would keep suffering at this stage.
He described recession as an indicator, adding that what was important was how much the nation placed emphasis on production.
NAN reports that some other panelists at the event were Dr Dotun Saseyi, Dr Kemi George and Chief Wale Okunniyi.
The trio in their various submissions challenged the youths to develop themselves mentally, seek knowledge and associate with people of like minds, towards influencing the society positively.