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News Hour.com.ng – Prof. Pat Utomi, founder CVL/political economist, says the federal government needs to transition Nigeria from a focus on consumption to a production-oriented economy, both for local use and export, to enhance economic growth.
Mr Utomi gave the advice while delivering an address at the 21st CVL annual lecture and international leadership symposium on skills-driven entrepreneurship to mark his 68th birthday on Monday in Lagos.
He stated that Nigeria must begin to produce for export beyond the sale of crude oil, as no country can survive without creating wealth.
Mr Utomi also pointed out the detrimental effects of the removal of petrol subsidy and the rapid depreciation of the national currency relative to the dollar.
He attributed the worsening poverty levels in Nigeria to these factors and noted the urgency of addressing trade policy mismanagement, which had led to a collapse in the manufacturing sector.
According to him, the pervasive poverty which saw Nigeria overtake India in the Brookings Institution Study on poverty in the world has been made worse by the removal of subsidy on petrol.
“Unfortunately, public policy has encouraged the elite to focus on rent-seeking, government contracting and pure graft at the expense of production.
“Oil, with Dutch disease had inflicted much damage on the culture of production and the biggest challenge before the country is how to move quickly from consumption without purpose to production.
“The imperative of the rise of the spirit of enterprise needs to be interrogated and the experience needs of those who are proof it can be done, from their having done it, laid bare,” he said.
Mr Utomi expressed satisfaction with his decision to start business ventures and also support and mentor entrepreneurs, having been the pioneer entrepreneurship faculty at the Lagos Business School (LBS).
Also, a former presidential aspirant, Mohammed Hayatudeen of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), emphasised the nation’s potential for entrepreneurship, citing the vibrant population and growing digital infrastructure as key contributing factors.
He noted the rise of start-ups and innovative solutions in areas such as creative arts, fintech, agriculture, and renewable energy.
Mr Hayatudeen advocated for collaboration between the government, private sector, civil society, and educational institutions to create an environment conducive to successful entrepreneurship.
Nwakwo Adiele, management consultant/Atlanta PB area manager, in his keynote address, emphasised the importance of developing technical and communication skills and customer service to foster Nigeria’s growth.
He said the nation urgently needed to shift towards a more production-focused economy and the development of skills necessary for sustainable economic growth in Nigeria.
Dr Henrietta Onwuegbuzie, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at LBS, said that the rate of unemployment in the country was due to a shift from an era of entrepreneurship during the pre-colonial era to the advent of colonialism that encouraged job seeking.
Mrs Onwuegbuzie called for a change in the African educational curriculum, adding that the school system needed to be structured in a way that students earn to learn and not the other way round.
According to her, students should be trained to understand the principles of business, change of mindset and impact-driven empowerment.
The scholar stated that the current hardship and exodus of citizens outside the shore of the country is a potential business opportunity for entrepreneurs because entrepreneurs are problem solvers.