*Says Conditional Cash Transfer, other social investment plans can energize economy
African countries require a paradigm shift away from trickle-down economics because significant portions of the populations are extremely poor necessitating some attention to social investment, according to President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a speech delivered earlier today by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, on behalf of the President at the 67th Foundation Day Anniversary and 2015 Convocation of the University of Ibadan, he explained that “Conditional cash transfers to the poorest segments, universal primary healthcare schemes, school feeding programs can energize local economics and create important multipliers in the economy.”
The President who is the Visitor to the university, observed that in Africa, “we are constantly reminded that we are the last frontier for socio-economic development,” adding however that extreme poverty, and attendant depressing literacy, infant and maternal mortality statistics are daily reminders of how poorly the political, business and intellectual elite “in our nations have responded to the major issues of development so far.”
Speaking about Nigerian federal government specifically, the president stated that “the major focus of our economic policy is the ordinary man, especially youths. The focus of every policy is job-creation. The question that decides the priority of our policies is how many jobs will this create.”
He disclosed that the country’s next budget “will focus on the rapid development of critical infrastructure, roads, rail transport, the power sector and technology. We cannot bring about the much needed economic growth and prosperity without putting in place the necessary infrastructure.”
He added that the “diversification of our economy is for us not mere rhetoric. We are determined to develop agriculture and the agro-allied value chain.” Besides, the president noted that the promotion of entrepreneurship is crucial and we are cleaning up the process of providing capital to Small to Medium Scale Enterprises.”
Inspiring confidence, President Buhari declared that “despite the sharp drop in oil earning and the downturn in the global economy, we are convinced that the future of Nigeria is very bright indeed.”
The President also threw a number of challenges to the university congregation event which witnessed the installation of the 7th Chancellor for the University of Ibadan, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto conducted by the Vice President, Prof. Osinbajo as the representative of the President as Visitor.
Focussing on the economic indices, President Buhari noted that “we are confronted with the phenomenon of GDP growth while unemployment figures rose.” And then he asked rhetorically, “for the intellectual elite, my question is what are the great ideas on economic policy that will ensure that while we are building the industrial and technological base for the future, we are able to address the questions of extreme poverty of the largest numbers of our people?
Continuing he said “what is the economic model that will ensure inclusive growth,” asserting that the times call for an “uncommon creativity.”
According to him, examples from even well-developed western economies like the US have shown that “the monster called the economy cannot be allowed to prowl the streets with its free-market struts without the leash of a trainer. So we must ask ourselves some tough questions.”
In another instance, the president challenged the intellectuals in the continent to come up with the counter narrative that will overcome those of terrorists and violent extremists. According to him, “how do we at an intellectual and philosophical level challenge the morbid ideologies that inform the terrorist movements all over the world?
The President then reassured that his government is committed to responsible and responsive governance. According to him, the zero-tolerance level for corruption “is firm and without exception,” stressing that “we will insist that both the public and private sectors must be held to the highest standards of transparency, accountability in dealing with the Nigerian people.”
Dignitaries at the UI convocation event where the new Chancellor, Sultan of Sokoto, and the longest serving Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Ayo Banjo, were awarded honorary doctorate degrees included the Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.