The Chairman of THISDAY’s Editorial Board, Mr. Segun Adeniyi, has declared that Nigeria is living on borrowed time.

This is coming as the Chairman of First Bank, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, said Nigeria can build a policy around migration, and export experts to get adequate remittances in foreign exchange.

Speaking yesterday in Lagos on ‘The Platform,’ an annual conference organised by Covenant Christian Centre, the former presidential spokesman raised the alarm that crude oil earnings are not enough to meet recurrent expenditure, warning that things may get worse for many states in the country.

“The reality is that we are in a situation in which what we earn as a nation mostly from oil rent is not enough to meet recurrent expenditure. With the new minimum wage, things can only get worse for many of the states and maybe even the federal government that is now heavily indebted,” he said.

“That there will be a convulsion at some point is no longer in doubt. What will trigger it is what one may not be able to put his finger on.

“Therefore, it’s either we have a conversation about the future of our country in an orderly manner or it is forced upon us under circumstances in which we may have little or no control. We are already living on borrowed time.”

He compared Nigeria’s situation to that of a family who depended on income earned from a cow, stressing that the country might not achieve economic diversification if it does not get to “a critical level of constructive dissatisfaction with the status quo”.

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According to him, restructuring is now used as a weapon of blackmail.

“There are those who are fixated on the number of local governments in Kano as opposed to the number in Lagos or that some people are ‘productive’ just because oil is buried under their soil.

“There are also those who are obsessed about creating parity among some ethnic nationalities as well as those who, like my friend, Louis Odion would say, enjoy presiding over the seating arrangement in a sinking Titanic on a perilous sea even when it should be glaring to the discerning that the current structure is unsustainable.

 

“The restructuring that most of us advocate is not about north or south, east or west nor is it about the distribution of rent. It is about how we can harness the potential of our country for the greater good of our people.”

He said that Nigeria has to migrate to a place where oil earnings are used exclusively for capital expenditure in human and physical infrastructure.

Also speaking at The Platform, the Chairman of First Bank, Awosika, yesterday said Nigeria can build a policy around migration, and export experts to get adequate remittances in foreign exchange.

She argued that Nigeria’s population can be an asset or liability, depending on the path the nation chooses.

“How can we turn our population into an asset? We have bright minds, which is why Nigerians proffer solutions in other environments where they are nurtured,” she said.

“All we need to do is decide our population is going to be an asset. And from now, based on the goals we have identified for ourselves, we are deliberate about investing in nurturing that youthful population to deploy what is required for that vision to be actualised.

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“Nigerians are migrating, good! We are many, as we say, there are many nations that need people; so, we can turn migration into a policy; we can turn our population into income-earning assets.”

She said the country can train young Nigerians to suit the needs of the world and make unimaginable income from the export.

“We can be deliberate about identifying the parts of the world that needs specific skills, and because we have a lot of young minds, we can retrain them, prepare them for those skills,” she added.

“We can have government-to-government negotiations, or private sector-led to work, repatriating income to several parts of Nigeria. Our people can be a source of foreign exchange for us as a nation.

“There are countries who work on models that are not different from that. When you have a lot of people and you do not have the abilities, people are not accidentally getting up to go to Canada, to go to anywhere, no!

“Let’s say our people are sought after; but to make them sought after for other nations, what must they know? What must they have? What must they do?

“How do we prepare processes that allow them to be trained? I know an African nation that is looking for 6,000 teachers.

“Nothing stops someone in that sector from building programmes or investing in finding 6,000 unemployed graduates, preparing them with teaching methodology.

“Teaching them about living in that country, telling them about how to be great ambassadors of Nigeria, wherever they go, and going to make a deal with that nation – to say we can provide you with these teachers on contract – five years, 10 years, three years, and they move.

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“If you go to Dubai, most of the hotels have Kenyan in the industry. Why? They were deliberate about setting up hospitality schools, to train people to be exported into countries that need manpower for hospitality.

“We know how to greet people, we know how to be hospitable, we know how to embrace people, we have the natural culture to be right in hospitality, if our people are trained as assets for that industry.

“Our population can be a liability if we do not have specific deliberate agenda for developing them,” she explained.