An economic and financial expert, Bismarck Rewane, has said Nigeria lacks the mental discipline to execute plans for the growth of the economy.
Rewane, who spoke alongside other financial experts including former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Charles Soludo, Anil Gupta, an expert on globalisation and emerging markets among others, said Nigeria’s economy can only get better with intellectual honesty and mental discipline.
Rewane, also the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, spoke yesterday, at The Platform, a programme by the Covenant Christian Centre, to mark Nigeria’s 59th Independence Day.
He said: “Nigeria does not lack economic ideas but lacks the mental discipline to execute the plans.
“What our economy needs is a mental discipline to learn from the mistakes of the past. Our vulnerability has increased because we have not learned from the mistakes of our past and that of other countries.”
Speaking on the theme, “Re-designing the Nigerian economy with new ideas,” he noted that in the Nigerian economy, the things outside our control are more than things within our control.
“The social contract between the rulers and the ruled is very important, as it’s so cheap to just talk than to act. What we have control over are our credibility and leadership. Social credibility over what we say is important because talk is cheap. Credibility does not come from what we say but what we do.
“The mental discipline is more important than physical discipline. The thought process that goes into conceptualising and executing a plan is very important.
“Nigerians are tired of being told one thing and then seeing another. If what you see is different from what you feel, then there is a problem of credibility.”
On his part, Prof. Soludo stressed the need for Nigeria to be innovative and competitive, to enable it to remain relevant among the comity of nations, in view of the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA).
“The implication (of the signing) is that insularity will no longer be an option; the name of the game of the future in an increasingly integrated world is, innovate, compete, or die,” Soludo said.
He noted that the world was already on the fourth industrial revolution with the digital economy, while Nigeria is still struggling with the basic stages of growth.
“While electric cars are fast replacing diesel and petrol cars, many of our people are still building petrol stations.
“The ordinary people who can’t explain what has hit them resort to all sorts of criminal activities to survive. Economic structuring will entail thinking through the alternative scenarios and mapping out to alternative possible proactive responses,” the former CBN boss added.
The economist argued that it would be difficult to have a competitive and prosperous post-oil economy in the future given the country’s growing population while calling for the improved legal institutional foundation which he said has been designed for the consumption of oil rent.
Soludo insisted that Nigeria must completely shift from depending on oil sales as a source of revenue, noting that the post-oil economy requires that stakeholders maximised their full potential.
He, however, said the responsibility was not for the Federal Government alone, but a collective effort from every citizen, who will focus more on wealth creation rather than sharing and consuming oil rent, thus paving the way for a new national business model.
“The link between law, constitution, institution and judiciary, and the economic transformations seems to be the weakest link in our design of national agenda,” the economist said.
For Dr Gupta, the importance of electricity in moving a nation forward is essential especially for a country like Nigeria.
Gupta also decried that “The electricity produced in Nigeria is very inadequate and obviously that is a segment of infrastructure where the government has almost always has played a major role.”
He said electricity is the lungs of the economy of a nation, without which progress will remain elusive.
“The seeming most important aspect is electricity. Roads, highways and other segments of infrastructure are important but electricity, I will put ahead of these.
“If we look at the Industrial revolution that made America and Europe rich, starting from the early 19th century its really that the lungs which give power to the body. It was steam engines first, and electricity next.”
Making reference to statistics and estimates, he said Nigeria will experience development if electricity is given proper and adequate attention while tasking the government to boost agricultural productivity to grow the nation.