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NESG 2018: Stakeholders Discus How To Move Nigeria From Poverty To Prosperity



The organisers of the 2018 edition of the Nigerian Economic Summit, organised by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) believe Nigeria can move from poverty to prosperity if government and institutions could work in the fight for economic growth and against poverty. BAYO AMODU and BUKOLA IDOWU write on what to expect at the summit taking place in Abuja this week.

With Nigeria counted amongst nations where the world’s poorest would be found in years to come, stakeholders in the economy have continued to stress the need for government to work towards ensuring that the prophecy of doom does not materialise.

This has formed the basis of the theme of the 2018 edition of the Nigerian Economic Summit, organised by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), the private sector think-tank and policy advocacy group of the country. The summit is focused on how to make governance and institutions work in the fight for economic growth and against poverty.

The summit is focused on not only making governance and institutions work , but would also be looking at ways to bring in the much- needed private sector investment that is to spur growth of the Nigerian economy.

The federal government requires $245 billion to fund the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) out of which about $196 billion private sector investments are needed.

Economic growth, improvements in macroeconomic stability, increase in external reserves and a better business environment should make Nigeria an attractive investment destination. Investments remain a key driver of economic growth. With the size of the Nigerian economy growing in recent years, traditional patterns and trends in investing have evolved.

The challenge is to ensure that the right investment strategy is in place and that regulatory framework keep up to reflect the diversification in the economy: the growing shifts towards a digital economy, the rise of the services sector and the spread of evolution of agriculture and manufacturing in response to a growing population and global market.

According to the chairman of the NESG, Mr. Asue Ighodalo, there is the need to remove barriers to investments and create a strong financial system to deploy a robust strategy that would attract $196 billion of private sector investments by 2020.

Themed:  “Poverty to Prosperity: Making Governance and Institutions Work,” the summit is expected to present a unique opportunity for discussion among leaders and citizens to set an agenda for Nigerians to deepen civic engagement that would tackle service delivery deficits and factor conditions that impede policy implementation.

Some of the summit’s objectives would be to underscore the link between good governance and economic growth and development, highlight the current state of governance and the challenges in delivering public services to the citizens, map key governance indicators on human development outcomes and set an agenda that emphasizes citizens’ dividend as a measure of good governance.

Leveraging on key components of the famous Mo Ibrahim Index for African Governance (IIAG), the summit is established on five pillars which would also serve as the sub-themes for the five plenaries at NES 24.

One of the sub-theme is Corruption and Rule of Law, which would focus on the detriments of corruption on the economy and the need for improvements on access to justice, guaranteeing speedy conclusion of litigations, preventing the diversion of public funds, enforcing public sector accountability and commencement of comprehensive reform of police services.

One of the plenary sessions would also address Effective Public Institutions. Discussions in this plenary session is expected to narrow in on the importance of operational public institutions for good governance. Topics that would be dissected under this sub-theme include; Delivery Capacity, Bureaucracy and Red Tape, Incentives Systems, Accountability of Public Officials, Protection of Lives and Investments in Technology.

Another plenary would also look at Sustainable Economic Opportunities. This is to emphasize the requirement of good governance and discussions would focus on effective execution and implementation of policies in creating sustainable economic opportunities.  Topics that would be addressed in this light include; investment climate, competition, rural business climate, entrepreneurship and innovation, infrastructure and access of finance.

Addressing Human Development and Participation, another plenary session would focus on the importance of developing human capabilities and opportunities and its effect on the overall state of the nation. Discussions under this sub-theme is expected to center around welfare services, education quality, basic health services, poverty reduction priorities, educational access and provisions, narrowing income gaps.

Citizens’ Rights would likewise be a major discussion during the summit as it accentuates the requirements of citizen’s active participation directly or indirectly in the governmental process for effective/good governance. Discussants in the plenary session would be discussing Freedom of Expression, Online Public Services, Human Rights Violations, Civil Liberties, Access to Information, Civil Society Participation. Ultimately, the summit would articulate a work plan with specific timelines for all stakeholders, especially the government, private sector, civil society and citizens, to unlock the identified binding constraints to good governance in Nigeria.

In addition to the main plenaries, there would be breakout sessions (to be facilitated by the NESG Policy Commissions), which would adopt a workshop approach in discussing the specific governance issues relating to service delivery in their focus sectors.

The summit would also feature a Startups Pitching Event to connect new ventures seeking to raise funds with potential investors

President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to give the opening address at the summit, while Prof. Peter Lewis; director, Africa & Middle East Programme, John Hopkins University, USA and author, Growing Apart: Politics and Economic Change in Indonesia and Nigeria, would deliver the keynote address.