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NIGERIA, LOSING ITS MOST VALUABLE ASSET

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Olasunkanmi Arowolo contends that the country must address issues of leadership and policy to chart the way forward

Countries of the world have their varying most valuable assets. Among the league of countries with the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the United States of America leads the group with $19.485 trillion (about $60,000 per person in the US) – a share of world GDP of 24.08%. This is followed by China and Japan with $12.238 trillion (about $38,000 per person in the US) and $4.872 trillion (about $15,000 per person in the US) – a share of 15.12% and 6.02% respectively. In the rank, Nigeria – in the 30th position has a record of $376 billion (about $1,200 per person in the US) GDP – a 0.46% share of World GDP. From this, Nigeria’s GDP per capital potential should be $1880 (NGN 781,140.00). These countries share similar most valuable assets but are experiencing different realities.

The Lancet Commissions report published in March 2022 describes Nigeria as ‘both a wealthy country and a very poor one’ with over 40% of her population in poverty and more – five to six people falling into poverty every minute at a current escape rate of minus 2.9 people per minute.

Available data shows that Nigeria is on the verge of becoming a global force. It has significant intellectual, cultural, and social capital, as well as substantial financial resources. It is the most populous country in west Africa, with more than half of the region’s population, and the continent’s largest gross domestic product. Now, you may ask why are all these assets not working for Nigeria’s country’s overall development?

Indeed, like the United States of America, China, and Japan, which thrive on their most valuable asset – human capital – to prosper, Nigeria has the same. Yet, the country is facing development challenges that will encourage and keep the country’s natural abilities.

It is worth noting that Nigerian immigrants in the United States of America contribute significantly to the country’s GDP, allowing the country to thrive and its currency to gain international value. According to the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, about 54 percent of Nigerians are employed in high-skilled capacities in various sectors of the US economy, including science, business, management, and the arts, excluding 39 percent of Nigerians born in the United States. According to a report published in 2018 by the New American Economy Research Fund, Nigerian immigrants earn over $14 billion and pay over $4 billion in taxes. We can only imagine the impact that the same monetary value would have on Nigeria’s economy when such highly skilled Nigerians were employed and retained in the country.

Nigeria’s population of more than 200 million people is expected to quadruple by 2050, reaching 733 million by 2100, making it the world’s third most populated country after China and India. What this implies is that the country has the potential to have even more human capital that would compete favourably globally if managed right.

Owing to the absence of enabling environment, insecurity and/or hostile security service providers, Nigeria’s most valuable assets are gradually being eroded by international opportunities – brain drain.

What measures will the country take to safeguard its most valuable asset? The country’s leadership practices should be carefully analysed and evaluated to answer this question. The nation’s constitutional structure and system of governance, as well as its pragmatic structure and system of governance, should be evaluated to reflect the nation’s reality, particularly with sensitive regard to the nation’s multicultural orientation by region, states, and local communities.

After we have solved the leadership challenge, we may move on to establishing a national planned development framework. This framework is a well-thought-out road map that should guide all new development ideas and strategies. This is a path toed by developed countries like the United States and the United Kingdom. I would refer to and describe the policy document as a “constitution” for development, as it should be a very authoritative and encompassing strategy.

Although, Nigeria has found itself in a very difficultly complex situation; it is not a mission impossible to come out strongly. I have identified and recommended two things in this article: leadership and policy. These two are fundamental issues that need to be addressed before we can rightfully chart the way forward for our dear country, Nigeria. There are assurances that when these steps are taken, Nigerians can have better working environment – attracting top talents, developing, rewarding, and retaining talents for the economic and social benefits of the country. This would subsequently result to improved overall quality of life; hence, we would have enough convincing evidence to make our most valuable assets stay and function for a better Nigeria.

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