A former Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Soludo, has said the rich in the country will also suffer if high poverty and unemployment rates are not tackled.
Soludo said this on Tuesday in Lagos while delivering a presentation on economic restructuring at a programme, tagged ‘The Platform’, organised by Covenant Christian Centre.
He lamented that the country had not been able to diversify away from oil and gas over the years despite efforts by successive governments.
“The alternative future that we see is one without oil and where exhaustible natural resources play very little role. The future will be driven by people – our youths – and technology,” he said.
Soludo, who was recently appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as a member of the new Economic Advisory Council, said the next, bigger-than-oil export earner for Nigeria would potentially be its human capital.
He said, “Nigeria earns almost as much from oil as it earns from remittances from the diaspora. But we cannot export illiterates in a world driven by the digital revolution. The easiest way to waste the future is to continue to churn out millions of semi-illiterates, largely unemployable citizens, most of whom see criminality as the only way to escape poverty trap or drug as the opium for solace.
“With an urbanisation rate of over five per cent, the conflagration that might ensue when hundreds of millions surge to the cities but can’t find jobs, housing, water, and food can only be imagined. Soon, I believe, the rich won’t be able to sleep because the poor, homeless and angry are awake.”
According to the ex-CBN boss, the county can have a smart population policy that encourages people to have a number of children that they can train and then also ensures that we have a reliable population census, using biometrics rather than political population figures.
“Whatever the case, the challenge is how to deliberately optimise the potential of the huge youthful population to be highly productive at home and competitive or exportable abroad,” Soludo added.