Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says Nigeria will transform to major driver of global growth with its pool of vibrant, energetic youths and government’s repositioning policies.
The minister said this in a keynote address he delivered at the 2018 “Africa Together Conference” at the University of Cambridge in the UK on Saturday, June 16.
A text of the minister’s address was made available to newsmen on Sunday in Abuja by his Special Adviser, Mr Segun Adeyemi.
The minister was speaking on the global projection of Africa’s population which is said to double by 2050.
According to him, the anticipated development would not be a threat to the continent and the member states if proper things are done.
Mohammed specifically said that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was implementing the right policies to maximise the projection for national development.
“To some, this is a ticking time bomb. What if there is no opportunity? What will youths without jobs do, mobilise, destabilise?
“True in Africa, urbanisation has not correlated with poverty reduction as it has in other regions.
“However, where some see looming clouds, I see a concentration of energy,’’ he said.
The minister added: “The number of people reaching working age will be larger than the rest of the world combined by 2035. And they will be young.
“This great pool of vibrant and energetic labour has the potential to transform the continent’s development.
“If there is one country that is emblematic of this, it is perhaps Nigeria. Indeed, it will be largest contributor to this surge.
“We shall move from being the 7th largest nation on earth to the 3rd. And among the ten largest nations on earth, Nigeria will be the fastest growing,’’ he said.
The minister said the Buhari administration was steadily transforming Nigeria through innovative measures that were yielding positive results and repositioning the country for greatness.
He listed investment in people, changing the business environment and building national infrastructure as some of the areas in which the administration had made an impact.
According to him, by focusing on education and skills acquisition, the administration is addressing the need to create opportunities for the country’s teeming youth population.
To address the challenge of school enrolment and high number of out-of- school children, he said 8.2 million are being fed daily free meals in 45,000 schools.
He said the Home-Grown School Feeding programme had yielded other results, including the employment of more than 80,000 cooks and a ready-made market for food crop farmers.
The minister said skills shortages in the labour pool were being addressed through several measures, including the four-pronged N-Power programme.
He said the administration was also changing the business environment for good, focusing especially on removing the red tape that makes it cumbersome for business and stifles innovation.
The minister noted that the challenge of access to credit was also being frontally addressed by making it possible for MSMEs to register their movable assets, such as vehicles and equipment for collateral, to raise loans and finance.
Mohammed told his audience that the two most critical impediments against business, decent transport connections and a reliable power supply, were also being tackled.
“For instance, Nigeria earmarks 30 per cent of its annual national budgets for capital expenditure.
“That means 2.7 trillion Naira has gone toward our infrastructure in the last two years – unprecedented in our history,’’ he said.
By Rotimi Ijikanmi