By Prince Charles Dickson
After several days, on weeks, the lion had tried all he knew and the hunt was not getting any result, he sought the help of the goat and the dog, he told them he believed that together that they would be successful.
And they embarked on a fresh hunt, sooner than they had started, they got their reward as a team, and the lion instructed that the goat share it into three equal parts, and the goat did so with calculative precision, no mistakes whatsoever.
Before you could whisper proper, the lion pounced on the goat and the goat was meat. Having devoured the goat, the lion asked the dog to split their hunt into two, to which the dog refused, and said he was okay with the bones from the goat…
Last week, Mr. President met with the governors, this week this is my admonishment to them. In Nigeria, we have the lion, the goat and the dog, and with that in mind, let me rehearse what the issues are, what the entire 36 states governors will have to grapple with.
Already, several governors have sacked workers enacted by their predecessors, and with the pay-per-hour as you work that is being muted, we cannot run away from the fact that we are and will keep suffering major impediments to planning for creating jobs and promoting economic development in Nigeria.
These challenges can vary in their nature and impact, but here are some common impediments that the new kids on the block must intentionally handle.
Limited Infrastructure: Inadequate infrastructure, including power supply, transportation networks, and digital connectivity, have remained a constant in the problems that can hinder business activities, increased production costs, and limited investment opportunities.
The high unemployment figures are not just scary, but particularly among the youth population. So, looming is the social and economic instability, the #ENDSARS and palliative drama must not happen from any perspective, it is crucial to address this challenge to promote economic development across the board, and one of the ways is to start to dump the current feeding bottle fiscal federation for something that works.
Inadequate access to finance despite the best efforts of evolving fintechs, which on one hand there is the problem of access, and the almost near lack of affordable financing options and lack of capital for businesses, especially for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), has continued to restrict growth and expansion, hindering job creation and economic development.
Twenty-four years and though we are growing, weak governance and corruption, bureaucracy, and inefficiency in governance continue to deter investments, discourage business growth, and undermine economic development efforts. Are we ready beyond paper statements to strengthen transparency, accountability, and good governance practices essentially to promote a conducive business environment?
Like the lion, there is inconsistent policies and poor regulatory frameworks, after the goat has shared as instructed, we see frequent changes in policies, inconsistent regulations, and lack of clarity in business procedures, all creating uncertainty for investors and hinder long-term planning and investment decisions, thus we don’t know if the dog is loyal or the goat was only stupid…
One school of thought thinks we need all the universities being licensed, but another speaks of and to quality, Nigeria lacks adequate education and skills, gaps being created by brain drain on one hand and then the mismatch between the skills possessed by the workforce and the requirements of the job market remains a significant challenge. We suffer from access to quality education and training programs that align with market demands.
The buck falls on the table of the lion, but how wise the dog is will determine how we are able to tackle ongoing security challenges, such as insurgency, communal conflicts, and crime, which discourage investments, disrupt business activities, and impede economic development.
We have mouthed all sorts of slogan about agriculture as the new oil, lately it has been technology, but fact is that everyone remains stuck on the honeypot of oil, there is the locus standi of dependency on oil revenues, which exposes us all to the vulnerabilities associated with commodity price fluctuations.
Diversifying the economy into sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, technology, and services which can create job opportunities and enhance economic resilience is not just Mr. Tinubu’s job but that of our friend in Kebbi state who must figure out how to resuscitate the Arugungu fishing festival… how the marathon in Edo state can be a big international show, how tech hubs in Lagos and Jos can generate millions and more.
Even with conversation around agriculture, since the departure of Akinwumi Adesina for the African Development Bank, it seems we remain stuck with same old story of poor infrastructure for agricultural development, limited access to modern farming techniques, inadequate irrigation systems, post-harvest losses, and weak agricultural value chains hamper the growth of the agricultural sector, which ordinarily has significant potential for job creation and economic development.
With 200 million and still counting and no state having less than a million in terms of population, it is sad that there is still insufficient investment in social development, including healthcare, education, and social welfare programs, limiting human capital development and hindering the overall progress of the economy.
Our leaders across the board need to think through incentives that encourage and promote entrepreneurship, through training programs, mentorship, and access to funding that empower individuals to start their own businesses, thereby creating job opportunities.
This republic must intentionally invest in infrastructure, developing and improving infrastructure such as transportation, energy, and telecommunications must be decentralized so as to attract both domestic and foreign investments, stimulate economic activities, and create jobs.
Institutions like the National Directorate of Employment, SEMA and their likes must be overhauled, localized and supported, by providing support to SMEs, such as access to affordable credit, business development services, and market linkages, can help them grow and expand, leading to job creation, and the goat, and dog must find a way to stay alive and work with the lion in the room.
There must be a fixation in promoting innovation and technology from the base, embracing digital transformation, supporting innovation hubs, and promoting the adoption of technology that can drive economic development and create jobs in emerging sectors.
Improving Access to Finance: Enhancing financial inclusion and facilitating access to affordable financing options for individuals and businesses can stimulate entrepreneurship and job creation.
Most of the Public-Private Partnerships have been often criminal in nature, there must be intent to strengthen such Public-Private Partnerships with public cause driving them, collaborating with the private sector to implement development projects, share resources, and expertise can accelerate economic growth and job creation.
It’s important to note that these are general ideas, and specific plans and strategies would require comprehensive analysis, stakeholder involvement, and tailored approaches to address the unique challenges and opportunities in Nigeria’s economic landscape, so that the goat is sure of the instructions he is carrying out.
Addressing these impediments requires a comprehensive approach involving policy reforms, investment in infrastructure, education and skills development, enhanced governance, and targeted initiatives to support entrepreneurship, job creation, and economic diversification. It also requires collaboration among government, private sector stakeholders, civil society organizations, and development partners to overcome these challenges and foster sustainable economic development in Nigeria.
The lion, the goat, and the dog must go hunting, and must come home with meat, and the goat must be alive, if we are to get it right, politics of vendetta and revenge, party affiliations and religious parapoism are potholes that must be navigated—May Nigeria win!
Prince Charles Dickson, Ph.D. is the Team Leader of The Tattaaunawa Roundtable Initiative (TRICentre). He is a development & media practitioner, a researcher, policy analyst, public intellect and a teacher.