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Nigeria has lost passion for fighting for what is right – Awoyemi



Nigeria has lost passion for fighting for what is right - Awoyemi

Mr. Femi Awoyemi, founder and chairman of Proshare, has regretted that the current generation of Nigerians have lost the passion for fighting for what is right.

Awoyemi stated this during the question and answer session at the Prince Emeka Obasi Inaugural Memorial Lecture held at Muson Centre, Onikan Lagos on Thursday, May 2, 2024.

The event had Kayode Fayemi, former Ekiti State governor as lecturer; Donald Duke, former governor of Cross River State as the chairman, and Alex Otti, governor of Abia State as the special guest of honour.

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Meanwhile, Awoyemi, Prof Anthony Kila, Senator Shehu Sani and Prof Pat Utomi were the panelists.

Speaking to the country’s economic and developmental challenges, Awoyemi said one of the major problems confronting the country is that population is growing much faster than the economy, noting that there’s not way you are not going to have a problem when ‘people are just procreating like rabbits.’

Awoyemi said the assumption that the political structure is equal to the economic structure is erroneous in the Nigerian context, because according to him, there’s no correlation between the two.

“I think we should be very careful when we talk about structure, because there’s an assumption being made that the political structure equals the economic structure. That’s an Ideal, and that’s what obtains in places like France. They have been able to make sure that there’s a direct correlation between the political structure and economic policies, which influences their foreign policy. In Nigeria, that is not the case for two reasons,” he said.

“First of all, when we conflate the issue of democracy, we talk about it in such a manner that we fail to understand that Nigeria operates the American presidential system, but adopts the British style civil service. Therein lies the basis of poor accountability.

“So, we started creating rings around it. If there’s no water, you go and dig a borehole and the government abdicates that responsibility. If there’s insecurity, you go and form vigilantes and the government will start licensing you. That’s how we have degraded the whole ability and responsibility of the state.”

On the economy, Awoyemi said the government don’t seem to understand core is trade and so when the Central Bank of Nigeria which is in charge of monetary policy talk about doing its best but the fiscal side is not responding, it speaks to how ignorance has become a national pastime.

“When we talk about Nigeria’s economy, we get so easily exited. Somebody can tell you that because the stock market is doing well, it’s an evidence that the government is doing well. Since when did we begin to use the stock market to measure the performance of government? There’s no synergy between the performance of the economy and the stock market to start with. The factors of the economy are not reflected in the stock market,” he said.

“But the more annoying thing is that you say your monetary policy is actually working for you. I say no, you need the fiscal side, and that’s where ignorance becomes the national pastime. Because we don’t understand that what we describe as fiscal is about four components together. The first thing on the fiscal side is trade and investment. In everything we’ve been doing in this economy, have you ever seen any major position on trade? And you know whether your trade is working because then have to view your HS code because that would tell you everything, then your tariff structure. So, trade is your number one on the fiscal side. Number two is your foreign policy. Everything must work in tandem. It’s not to say that the fiscal side is not reacting, what is it on the fiscal side? The fiscal side is about development,” he said.

Awoyemi pointed out that unlike the past when young people stood up to fight for a better Nigeria as was the case during the military era, the new generation has lost the passion for fighting for what is right.

“You can choose to be an incurable pessimist or you can choose to be a cautious optimist. For everyone above 50, you know that you only worry about tomorrow as you reflect on your past. But those who are 20 and 30, you have the responsibility to do what the (Shehu) Sanis and the (Kayode) Fayemis did then. So, you understand that the real problem you have is that this nation has lost the passion for fighting for what is right. Because if they did it during the military regime, why can’t you do it in the civilian administration?”

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