A notable political economist, Prof. Pat Utomi, on Wednesday maintained that the gruelling economic recession in the country was self-inflicted, noting that wrong policy choices led to the hardships facing Nigerians.
A former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Soludo, also said although the economy would technically be out of recession soon, Nigerians would continue to suffer the consequences of the economic decline for a while.
The duo spoke at a seminar on entrepreneurship organised by a not-for-profit organisation, Uche Ahubelem Centre for Human Development, in Lagos.
Utomi said, “Our recession is self-inflicted. I am one of the persons that have always insisted that our recession is self-inflicted. We need to re-programme ourselves as a country. God loves us as a country. The recession is, therefore, an opportunity to do a rethinking.”
He said that just as the case in many African countries, slow economic growth in Nigeria could be linked to wrong policy choices, inadequate human capital and weak institutions.
Utomi lamented that a recent investment report rated Nigeria as the least place to do business in Africa, wondering how this happened despite the country’s enormous population and entrepreneurs.
The seminar, tagged, ‘Succeeding in recession’, had other notable economists and speakers in attendance.
Utomi, who is the founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership, however, advised the audience at the seminar, mostly youths and entrepreneurs, never to allow the economic recession to prevent them from engaging in meaningful ventures that would enhance job creation.
Challenging the participants, the expert gave local and foreign examples of entrepreneurs who started small and became household names both in Nigeria and globally.
He posited that the recession was an opportunity for Nigeria to rediscover itself.
Soludo, in his remarks, maintained that Nigerians might not be out of the problems created by the recession immediately and advised entrepreneurs and unemployed youths to work harder to overcome the challenges posed by the recession.
“Nigeria will be out of recession soon, technically. When you achieve 0.01 growth, you are out of recession. But the scars of the recession will remain with us for a while,” Soludo said.
The former CBN governor advised Nigerians, both individuals and businesses, to adopt measures and strategies that would help them to overcome the effects of the recession.
Soludo gave seven keys entrepreneurs and unemployed youths could use to unlock doors of opportunities in a recession.
He itemised ways the participants could succeed not only in recession but in a world of continuous disruption occasioned by technology and growing population, among other factors.
He added, “Oil is gradually becoming a history. In the next couple of decades, changing technology and growing population will change the business and economic landscape.”
Other eminent speakers at the seminar are the Chief Executive Officer, Reality Point Limited, Mr. Debo Adejana; a mind, emotions and behavioural coach, Mr. Lanre Olusola; the CEO, Advantage Health Africa, Abimbola Adebakin; the CEO, Thistle Praxis Consulting Limited, Ini Abimbola; and the CEO, Brickwall Group, Mr. Uche Ahubelem, who is also the host of the event.
Olusola spoke about 13 mistakes people could make in times of recession, challenging the entrepreneurs and youths to embark on a journey of self-discovery.
Adebakin, who spoke on the topic, ‘Growing your business during recession’, stressed the need for small business owners to create value with their products.
Describing the recession as an opportunity to expand business, she advised participants to explore existing and new opportunities to expand their businesses.
Adejana, in his presentation, told the participants that the only way they could benefit from the recession was to have a change of mind, mindset and attitude.
He stressed the need for the SMEs to move out of their comfort zones.
Abimbola noted that many Nigerian youths were lazy, adding that the development was partly responsible for the teeming population of unemployed youths in the country.
She challenged the youths to take the bull by the horn by taking practical steps in order to become successful in life instead of giving excuses for their failures.
Ahubelem said the programme was organised to develop and mentor the youths, noting that the human capital was crucial to the country’s quest to become a global player.