By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Chairman, Oilserv Group, Dr Emeka Okwuosa has said that Nigeria needs to invest over three trillion dollars in infrastructure over the next 20 years for positive impact in various sectors of the economy,
Okwuosa was quoted in a statement on Sunday to have said while delivering paper titled, “Infrastructural Development: A Key to Economic Growth and Development In Nigeria” at the 48th convocation of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
In the statement signed by the media consultant of Oilserve, Dr Ngozi Anyaegbunam, he said the investment would also help to optimise the collective contributions from operators in various sectors.
According to him, the World Bank ranks Nigeria lowly as viable destinations for doing business pointing to the poor state of its infrastructure.
“The 2017 World Economic Forum (WEF) Report ranks Nigeria, out of 137 countries, as follows: Roads Quality: 127th, Airport Quality: 125th, Electricity Supply: 132nd, education system: 120th, Math & Science: 118th, Innovation: 112th.
“How do we respond to these negative and retrogressive occurrences? Nigeria needs to invest over USD 3 trillion in infrastructure over the next 20 years,” he said.
Okuwosa said: Where can we source for this funding? It is evident that government alone can not provide these resources.
The Oilserv boss said that Federal Government must without delay, leverage the private sector capital in a variety of ways such as creating special purpose vehicles for financing creations and drive.
He urged the government to also develop public-private partnerships, and investment funds with a variety of guaranty plans and arrangements.
He said that government key role could be to create and sustain an enabling environment by deploying instruments like the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority with its arm.
Okwuosa said that the National Sovereign Wealth Fund should act as a catalyst for the provision of funding needed for development.
The government and the private sector must, as a matter of urgency respond to these deficiencies in the economy by accelerating infrastructure development.
“By this, I specifically refer to power, roads, rail, ports and telecommunication (especially broadband technologies).
“Also equally important and in alignment, is the development and implementation of the legal and regulatory frameworks and environment and all other related processes that will enhance the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
“Today, the total value of Nigeria’s infrastructural stock (road, rail, power, airports, waterways, telecoms, and seaports) represent only 35 per cent of Gross Domestic Products (GDP).
“ In consideration and comparison to other peer emerging markets countries whose average is 70 per cent of GDP, Nigeria is way below expectation for an appreciable development for economic growth and prosperity,’’ Okwuosa added.
He said that the massive underinvestment in infrastructural development had been the result or bane to achieving the nation’s vision of becoming a top 20 economy by the year 2020.
The Oilserv helmsman said that in reality, the present infrastructural deficit in Nigeria would continue to adversely impact on its economic growth.
According to him, the purpose of the lecture is to expose the reasons why this potential has remained relatively unachieved.
This, he said was apart from the widely held opinion that Nigeria had the potential to become a major power and player in the global economy by virtue of its human and natural resources endowments.
“ It gives me great pleasure and a true sense of commitment and patriotism to be invited to give this lecture.
“This, particularly on a subject of very critical value to an audience in an institution that has contributed immensely to the human capacity development of our nation.
“Also, to me an entrepreneur and a builder of infrastructure.
“ It gives me the privilege to share my experiences with some of the Nigerian finest academics, university administrators, graduates, students and indeed the entire university community.
“I am honoured and sincerely thank the Senate, board and management of this foremost institution for the opportunity to be the 48th Convocation Lecture at University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
“Since inception, the university has shown leadership in knowledge acquisition and dissemination as well as being a very positive force for development of our society,’’ he said.
He said the subject of the lecture fits befittingly to the aspirations and inclinations of our developmental needs, adding that philosophically, his understanding of infrastructural development using social science variables and parameters.
Okwuosa said that those included and encompass several key phrases namely; the rights of making laws; regulating and preserving of property, employing the force of the community to build vision and commitment to public good.
“These variables are regarded as critical to good governance which elements are key to economic growth and development of successful nations,” he added
“I am an unrepentant entrepreneur and strongly believe in human capacity development. From my experience in working for an international multinational oil and gas service company in twelve different countries to establishment of six companies spanning oil & gas industry, mining and agriculture.
“I have continued to build structures through Sir Chukwuemeka Okwuosa Foundation which includes :
– Scholarship programs for students from primary school to university level.
– Skill acquisition programs (Technical Training Programs for operators, welders, fitters, etc.; Graduate Training Programs for young graduates).
– Development of Secondary School for girls (Dame Irene Okwuosa Memorial Convent, Oraifite, Anambra State).
– Sponsorship of Nano Technology Program in UNN.
– Development/building of Dame Irene Okwuosa Medical
Center/Hospital in Oraifite, Anambra State.
– Building of Roads/Erosion Control systems in Oraifite, Anambra State.
In conclusion, Okwuosa said: my lecture while examining the gloomy state of our economy and acknowledging the pitfalls, is optimistic in believing that once we deploy the vision and objectives enumerated in this lecture, we will be able to restore economic growth.
“To achieve this, we must focus on achieving macroeconomic stability and economic diversification. The variance of this stability can only be achieved by undertaking fiscal stimulus measures that ensure monetary stability by improving our external balance of trade with particular focus on the key sectors that drive and enable economic growth.
The revival of these key sectors that I have consistently
mentioned in this lecture, will increase investment in other sectors, reduce the ever incessant need for expenditure of foreign exchange for intermediate
goods, raw materials and services.
“This incentive and action will improve our macroeconomic conditions, restore economic growth and development and bring about structural change and infrastructural development in Nigeria.
Encouragement of entrepreneurship initiatives by laying solid foundation for our students and encouraging our young graduates to venture into such initiatives will go a long way in infrastructural development of our country, Nigeria, he added.