The executive Vice Chairman/ CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Danbatta, has said it is about time the Federal Government takes the issue of diversifying the economy seriously.
This, he said, is with a view to increasing productivity, creating jobs and providing the basis for sustained economic growth as Nigeria cannot be solely dependent on oil earnings anymore.
Danbatta said this while delivering a lecture with the Theme: “Ethical leadership as an instrument for national sustainability in the post-oil Nigerian economy. A public sector perspective”, at the 2020 Hybrid (online/onsite) Annual Directors Conference (ADC), organised by the Institute of Directors on November 3 and 4.
The NCC boss noted that the country made several attempts at economic diversification in the past by setting up manufacturing and other industries such as the Ajaokuta steel rolling mills, tyre, textiles, fertilizer and manufacturing companies. He however, regretted that the attempts had little impact as the majority of them have folded up, while others are finding it difficult to survive.
He said: “The situation has been compounded by the economic recession experienced recently and the global COVID-19 pandemic that broke out in Wuhan, China in December, 2019, while adversely affecting the global economy. “Over the years, countries and societies have evolved by finding new ways of doing things to ensure economic sustainability.
“This led to the first, second and third industrial revolutions. Currently countries are exploiting the fourth industrial revolution in order to diversify their economies. “The fourth industrial revolution, which has also been referred to as 4IR or Industry 4.0, describes the age of intelligence and encompasses technologies like high-speed mobile Internet, Artificial Intelligence, automation, the use of big data analytics and cloud computing.
“However, the major constraint in Nigeria facing the 4IR is the inadequacy of digital skills, infrastructure deficit, enabling environment and inadequate infrastructure.” He said that the 4IR is the information and digital economy age, which if properly enhanced and exploited, can serve as a major revenue earner for the country in the post-oil era. “This is because while natural resources such as oil and gas, are finite, data and information are infinite.
“Furthermore, the possibilities provided by the 4IR are limitless and can generate employment for Nigeria’s teeming youth population. “Therefore, in order to achieve economic growth using the 4IR there is the need for ethical leadership,” he added.
Danbatta noted that the National Sustainability Committee chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, developed a National Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP).
The plan, he said, is aimed at overcoming the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, enhancing oil and non-oil revenues, creation of a financial stimulus package for the Nigerian economy, support for MSMEs and the creation of jobs amongst others.
“The Federal Government in its bid to ensure economic growth and sustainability must collaborate with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) to discuss issues and challenges facing the development of Nigeria with a view to developing and harmonizing ideas towards diversification and sustaining the economy.
“Ethical leaders possess attributes that enable them to function effectively. These attributes include honesty, integrity, accountability, empathy, humility, resilience, vision, influence and positivity,” he further said.