The recent #EndSARS protest in Nigeria may go down in history as the loudest wakeup call since the civil war, for the country to be restructured.
The President/CEO, World Stage Limited, Mr Segun Adeleye, who said this in his welcome address at the virtual WorldStage Economic Summit 2020 with the theme, ‘New Reality: Consolidating Economic Diversification’ on November 10, 2020 added that the youth agitation being subdued should not be construed as a failure, but a success, a wakeup call that things cannot continue as usual with no job, poor infrastructure and insensitivity on the part of the political leaders who are portrayed to be living in opulence with the lion share of the national cake.
At the summit where top government officials including the Minister Of Transportation, Rt. Hon Rotimi Ameachi; Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu; Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) joined experts to deliberate on how to fast track the diversification of the nation’s economy, the WorldStage boss said, “Like every change, the end cannot be envisaged. The #EndSARS protest could have gone far, upstage the status quo and destroy all what we have built over the years, for us to start all over again in pains to the unknown.”
Adeleye quoted from his 2019 WES speech where he advised the government in collaboration with the private sector to set up innovation hubs in all the 774 local government areas for hundreds of young internet fraudsters popularly called Yahoo-Yahoo boys, to make decent living rather than being ‘proudly’ prosecuted daily by the EFCC.
“What we have now after the #EndSARS is a fair deal. It’s a clear signal that the current structure of economic exclusion is unsustainable and dangerous. There may never be a second chance. The only sustainable way to pacify the youths and other stakeholders is to extend the boundary of opportunities to all,” Adeleye said.
Asking that great lessons should be leant from #EndSARS and COVID- 19 pandemic, he said “the big lesson for us is that life is not about striving to change the world, but making contributions at every opportunity we individually have, because we don’t control what tomorrow will bring, but we can shape it by our actions today.
“While we held the WorldStage Economic Summit 2019 on Wednesday November 13, 2019 at the prestigious Nigerian Stock Exchange event centre, when we discussed ‘Getting Nigeria Ready for the Challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ little did we know then that the world would have changed one year after.”
At the summit which was supported by Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the WorldStage boss said the COVID- 19 pandemic had humbled the world and further exposed the vulnerability of the human species in spite the advancement in science and technology.
“There are question marks about what should be our priorities? There is the striking lesson about how the least things could be the most important,” he said.
He said the lessons from the changing world inspired the theme of the WES 2020, considering that with the non-oil sector contributing 91.07% to Nigeria’s total GDP in Q2-2020 compared with 8.93% from crude oil, “the economy is not as undiversified as it looks. The anomaly is in the reality that the oil sector is responsible for 95% of foreign exchange earnings.”
He said the new reality of diversification should inspire the non-oil sector to become competitive, create jobs, attract foreign investment, break into the global market and generate commensurate foreign exchange to strengthen the Naira.
Adeleye identified the highest point in the Nigerian economy since WES 2019 as probably on 7th August, 2020 when President Muhammadu Buhari signed the new Companies and Allied Matter Act (CAMA 2020) into law, asking whether it was a coincidence that President Buhari also signed the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 7th of July 2019.
“We are aware that the CAMA 2020 introduces new provisions to reflect modern commercial realities as well as reduce compliance costs and regulatory hurdles for businesses in Nigeria. This is the foundation for diversification,” he said.
“We expect that government at all levels will now go out to improve on ease of doing business, encourage new businesses to spring up, undertake deliberate exploration/expansion of local and international market for expected huge agricultural and other outputs. This is the sure way to create jobs and keep the youths busy.”