Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, at the All Progressives Congress Governors Forum‘s Fourth Progressive Governance Lecture series, says Nigeria has what it takes to be great again in spite of its current socio-economic challenges.
He added that such must, however, come with positive change of attitudes by Nigerians.
The lecture, which took place at the Umar Musa Yar’Adua Indoor Sports Hall, Kaduna State, on Thursday had as its theme, ‘Building the Economy of States: Challenge of Developing Inclusively Sustainable Growth.’
The Vice-President, who was the chairman of the event, also noted that the desired positive change could not take place except the nation’s leaders took seriously the onerous task to ensure the transformation of the country.
Osinbajo said he believed that there was no country on the continent that had the enormous resources (human and material) that Nigeria was endowed with, adding that Nigerians were the ones to make the difference.
The-Vice President said, “We have what it takes to make a big difference. We have the capacity in this country to become a great nation. I don’t believe there is any country, especially on the African continent, that has the resources, men and material, that we have.
“But a lot will depend on us, the public servants – whether elected or appointed. We are the ones that can make a difference in this country.
“If we, as public servants, see ourselves as being responsible for transforming our society; we see ourselves as being the hope that the country and the continent need, perhaps, the change is really possible. But, without us taking responsibility, very little can happen.”
Osinbajo further noted that Nigeria, as a nation, did not lack ideas or shortage of intentions, but the ability and capacity to see something through and complete it.
He added that the challenges confronting many states were not self-inflicted, saying “some are historical; they are legacy challenges, but then, we are required to come to the table with fresh ideas to solve the problems.”
He said, “For me, one of the greatest frustrations of the government is that there are so many great ideas, but we face difficulties of completing things.
“We are called upon at this time to make a difference and I believe the time calls for creativity and innovation, but more importantly, the time calls for depending on one another and looking up to one another for solutions.”
The Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, said the country was facing socio-economic challenges as a result of past and present circumstances.
He said the worst job in Nigeria presently was to be a state governor, adding that there was a need for a paradigm shift from the ways things were being done in the past to new ones.
“We are left to redeem inherited problems. We don’t have a hand in it, but we have a duty to solve them,” el-Rufai said.
On his part, the Chairman of the APC Governors Forum and Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, lamented the suffering in the land, but noted that despite the fall in the price of crude oil, the governors were committed to the desired change for the country.
He said the overall objectives of the governance lecture series were to find a common ground on which to develop, and promote global best practices on major challenges.
The AGF chairman also stressed the need for his colleagues to look inwards since the crude oil price had plummeted.
Okorocha said, “With the crude oil revenue plummeting to the lowest level, allocation to states from the federation account has diminished by 60 per cent.
“Now is the time to think outside the box and make innovative, yet pragmatic, choices to steer our country and her citizens from seeing gloom to the bloom that we promised at the last general elections. The task is onerous, but not impossible.”
A former Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Soludo, who was the guest speaker at the lecture, said despite the challenges confronting the nation, there was still hope for Nigeria.
Soludo noted that the collapse in the crude oil price was a blessing in disguise for Nigeria to start afresh.
The former CBN boss, in his paper entitled, ‘A fragile State with a Failing Economy: Making Progressive Work for Nigeria,’ argued that there was no state that could develop sustainably if the overall governance and economy were in crisis.
“Nigeria is facing unprecedented political and economical challenges with global and local dynamics. Regardless of these challenges, opportunities and possibilities abound if we address some fundamental issues. We must have a development plan that is anchored on realising inclusive and sustainable growth,” he said.