A professor of political economy and management expert, Pat Utomi, on Thursday said weak institutions had been a drag on the nation’s economic progress, stressing the need to get down to diversifying the base of the economy.
Utomi, who stated this while speaking on ‘Institutions, culture, and inclusive private sector rapid growth’ at The Platform in Lagos, said institutions set boundaries and help to reduce uncertainties. The forum was organised by Lagos-based Covenant Christian Centre.
While noting the imperative of quality policy choices, he said weak institutions could be an impediment to the implementation, a situation that had seen the country move “two steps forward and four steps backwards.”
A founding senior faculty member of the Lagos Business School-Pan Atlantic University, Utomi said, “We keep repeating our past experiences because our institutions are weak. Institution building is part of the critical challenge of nation-building.
“Human capital is critical for economic development. Unless people are well-educated and have the right skills, we will not be able to make progress. Developing human capital is very critical.
“Entrepreneurship is essential to wealth creation, and if we are going to grow out of the challenges that we face today, we will have to create value machines in the ways that our people think. Values shape human progress. Without the right values, you cannot make progress.”
Utomi, who noted that every part of the country had endowments that could be harnessed to make the country a high-growth economy, said, “Just look at the endowments of our country; why have we for 30 years talked repeatedly about diversifying the base of our economy and have done nothing about it.”
On his part, a former Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, stressed the need to end abject poverty and create employment opportunities for the people by unlocking the huge but untapped potential in e-Commerce, agriculture and other areas.
He said, “In e-Commerce, for instance, there is $10bn investment potential in this sector of the economy. The lack of focus and proper planning has over the years presented us with obstacles instead of gains.
“It should be known that unlocking the potential of logistics and other key issues will be the driver in the quest to fully benefit from e-Commerce.”
Adeniyi added that through the emergence of e-Commerce businesses, the sector had witnessed tremendous growth over the past three years and “it is expected to contribute about 10 per cent, valued at N2.5tn, to the Gross Domestic Product by 2018.”
On agriculture, Adeniyi said, “There are numerous investment opportunities in this sector. The untapped potential in the industry have left us struggling with limited gains when we can even get more from it. In the new Nigeria, this sector must be seen as a growth driver rather than otherwise.”
He noted that in the past, agriculture was the biggest sector of the Nigerian economy, but was currently contributing around 33 per cent to the GDP.
“We urgently need to scale investment in this industry by encouraging small and medium-scale farmers who have access to vast hectares of land. We need to look at how we can boost farm yields, move attention on production from small into larger value crops, and possibly reduce post-harvest and distribution losses with advance mechanism and policies,” he added.