Experts have impressed on members of the civil society the need to gird up their loins and be ready to contribute their quota to the socioeconomic transformation of the country.
Giving this charge at the weekend was Professor Mike Obadan, a professor of Economics. He spoke in Lagos as a guest lecturer on the occasion of the 25th Annual Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO) Development Forum.
In his paper tagged: ‘Towards Sustainable Socio-economic Transformation of Nigeria: Options for Non-State Intervention,’ Prof. Obadan who is currently a Non-Executive Director of the Board of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), while justifying the theme of the lecture as very pertinent considering that since the post-independence period, successive Nigerian governments have expressed the desire for socio-economic transformation of the country.
He however regretted that sadly, no meaningful headway has been made in such transformation aimed at delivering respectable and sustainable economic growth rates, economic diversification based on industrialisation, balanced development, stable macro-economy with full employment, poverty eradication and human development. “As at today, nearly six decades after Nigeria had attained political independence, the economy still suffers structural weaknesses and lack of meaningful diversification through its heavy dependence on commodity production and export with little value addition and few backward and forward linkages to the other sectors of the economy.”
On the role of citizens’ groups or civil society organisations towards economic development, he said they assumed prominence in the socio-economic and political transformation of Nigeria during the struggle for return of the country to democratic governance from military rule in the 1980s and 1990s, especially during the campaign against the military regimes of Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha.
“The return of the country to democratic governance in 1999 led to further proliferation of NSAs. But this did not lead to their greater acceptance by the state. Mutual distrust continued to fester between the state and NSAs, thus tending to constrain the extent of the latter’s involvement in socio-economic transformation activities.”
While enumerating some of the major citizens’ group, he said professional associations like the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), and Nigerian Medical Association (NMA); Nigerian Economic Society, including trade unions, like the Nigerian Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, as well as the organised private sector groups which include Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Nigerian Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) al have their roles spelt for them in the scheme of things.
Speaking earlier, in his welcome address, the founder of LAPO, Dr. Godwin Ehigiamusoe said, “There can be no socio-economic transformation in Nigeria and indeed in any developing nation without the active participation of non-state actors such as business leaders, scholars, labour, and civil society organisations.”
Going down memory lane, he said, “Since its inception in the early 1980s, LAPO has remained focused on addressing the challenges of poverty with a number of mutually reinforcing, semi-autonomous institutions. These institutions include LAPO Microfinance Bank Limited, a leader in micro, small and medium enterprise financing in Sub-Saharan Africa, Micro-Investment Support Services (MISS), a pioneer in micro-leasing business in Nigeria; LAPO Institute, a centre for research and training in Microfinance and Enterprise Development and LAPO Microfinance Company, Sierra-Leone. Our staff strength stands at 9,159 with millions of clients accessing our range of financial, health and social empowerment products and services.”
Echoing similar sentiments, Dr. Osarenren Emokpae Chairman, Board of Directors, said, it behooves the non-state actors to remain committed to the ideals and ideas of socioeconomic development in the interest of the country.
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