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Nigeria wealthy but poor in leadership —Analysts

By Sade Adewale & Michael Ofulue

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Dearth of good leaders and corruption are the bane of Nigeria’s sloppy and sluggish economic growth, public opinion has shown.

The leadership vacuum is also responsible for the scandalous mismanagement of the nation’s resources turning her from a rich country into a beggar one.

The leadership failure has also caused high level of backwardness in all critical sectors in Africa’s most populous nation.

This is contrary to the notion that Nigeria is poor and that the country’s wealth is over estimated as recently claimed by a Presidential spokesman.

It would be recalled that the Presidency recently described Nigeria as a “very poor” country, and that her wealth overestimated, given its low per capita income, compared to other African nations.

The Presidency through the Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to the President Bola Tinubu, Mr Bayo Onanuga, said, “Nigeria is a very very poor country, to be honest. I think our wealth is overestimated”.

But speaking on the status of Nigeria, some stakeholders and public affairs analysts argued that the country is not poor in any way, going by its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), abundant and quality human and material resources.

Former Majority Leader, Ondo State House of Assembly, Ifedayo Akinsoyinu, explained that Nigeria is rich due to her Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which is put at $477 billion.

According to him, Nigeria is the richest country in Africa.

“If we consider the GDP Purchasing Power Parity, Nigeria is a poor country. While South Africa’s GDP/PPP stands at $16,211, that of Nigeria is $5893.44”, Akinsoyinu added.

According to him, Nigeria doesn’t even feature among the 100 richest countries of the world. Luxemburg tops the list, with $143,304,(GDP/PPP, per Capita) while South Africa with $16,211,came last, as the 100th richest country.

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He stressed, “Our wealth is not over estimated. We should not forget that all our tapped and untapped resources are part of our national wealth, so Nigeria may not be a super rich country, but she is fairly rich”..

The former legislator further noted that, “Nigeria finds it difficult to translate her large population to wealth because of bad leadership. For example, as of 2023, it was reported that over 40 per cent of Nigerians were unemployed. Another problem is corruption.

“The little national assets we have are being plundered daily by corrupt officials. Only recently, it was reported that the signature of former President of Nigeria, Mohammed Buhari, was forged to withdraw $6m from our foreign reserve. As we talk, credible source says we don’t have more than $3.3b left in the account.

“One other factor is that Nigeria is a largely import- driven economy; by now, Nigeria should be running an export- driven economy, with the large population deployed in manufacturing, production and agriculture.

“So, with all these factors, the large population that should be a source of economic prosperity to us, has become our albatross.”

The Executive Director, Centre for Responsive Governance, Dr Ayo Ayodeji, said there is no basis for anyone to associate Nigeria with poverty, adding that the country’s problem is bad governance.

“Nigeria is one of the most blessed countries of the world in terms of quality of human resources, arable land for cultivation, land and sea in right proportions, sea goods and resources in abundance, rain and Sunshine almost proportionate, mineral resources of all sorts and of highest quality.

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“How do one then regard Nigeria as being poor? Just how? Our advantage in terms of population should, itself, be a source of wealth but rather than galvanise all these, we are very poor in choice of leadership which often brings us to our bleeding point,” Ayodeji said.

He posited that there is no reason for anyone to associate Nigeria with poverty, rather what is killing the country is bad leadership which has both in the past and present failed to addressed the issues that have to do with economy.

“Our economic policies have failed due to corruption on those saddled with the responsibility of harnessing our human and natural resources given to us by God. Nigeria has not gotten the right leadership, we have leaders that are playing politics with human life by weaponizing the poor masses they pledged to protect .

“It is unacceptable for anyone to believe that Nigeria is a poor country when compare with other nations in Africa and other developing nations around the world. There is absolute no reason for anyone to tag Nigeria as a poor nation. What we have is failed leadership.

“Until we get our leadership right, the quest for good governance that will take us away from being perceived as a poor nation will be unrealistic dreams,” he added.

Former Head of Department of Mass Communications, Rufus Giwa Polythenic, Owo, Dr Raman Abubakri, hinted that If our leaders can’t contain corruption, Nigeria will remain wrongly listed as a poor country.

He said a situation where few stole what belong to many in a developing nation, it will be very difficult for such country to grow, adding that efforts must be geared towards tackling all manners of corrupt practices and bring offenders to justice.

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While saying the country can become one of the leading countries of the world if it gets its leadership right, Abubakri pointed out  that harnessing all God- given potential with sincere leadership, the country will be a great one, and there wouldn’t be reason for anybody to be poor.

Speaking with our correspondent, Osun State Chairman Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Comrade Olowu Emmanuel, said the citizens struggle with economic challenges that contribute to perceptions of poverty despite  the country’s possession of abundant wealth.

“Nigeria is therefore rated poor among developed nations taking into consideration, poverty, the per capita income of her citizens, loans taken without discrimination by the government at all levels.

“The greatest cause of underdevelopment in Nigeria is corruption across board, which is hindering ability to translate potential into tangible wealth for the citizenry.

“The overestimation of Nigeria’s wealth often stems from its oil reserves, yet the benefits are not equally distributed, exacerbating socio-economic disparities, which are as a result of IMF and World Bank policies that the leaders of the country embraced.

“The IMF and World Bank policies encourage importation against exportation which results in the exportation of Nigeria’s crude oil and the importation of refined products.

“This destroyed Nigeria which invariably has destroyed the Nigeria petrol- chemical industry which could give a hundred thousand jobs in one year. Conclusively, the country is not poor, but it is materialistic, and intellectually poor,” Emmanuel stressed.

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