After two days of discussions and interactions between private and public sector players on economic development issues, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) said its impact can be felt through its contributions to government policies in the last 24 years of its existence.
Chairman of the NESG, Asue Ighodalo, told reporters at the end of the 24th Nigeria Economic Summit tagged NES24 in Abuja and themed "Poverty to Prosperity: Making Governance & Institutions Work,' that the economic think-tank made useful recommendations that helped shape, influence investor friendly economic policies.
"Also, we mobilised the private sector to work with government as partners on economic development. We (Nigeria) could not have come out of economic recession if we did not have the policies that government implemented with the support of the NESG," he said.
"The summit was not all about recommendations to government on what to do, but also demonstration of commitment by the private sector on what they would do to contribute to the growth of the project called Nigeria."
Mr Ighodalo said the summit, which began in February 1993 to promote private sector dialogue with government on issues on the economy, has over the years contributed significantly to successive government's policies, whether under military or civilian administration.
He urged Nigerians to continue to work together to support efforts to move the country rapidly from the third world to first world status in the near future.
The Co-Chair (Private Sector Technical sub-committee) of the summit, Nana Udeh, who presented a review of activities during the summit, said out of a total six plenary sessions, five dealt with the sub-themes, namely corruption and rule of law; effective public institutions; sustainable economic opportunities; citizens' rights and participation and human development.
Other sessions on the sub-themes were on infrastructure, investments, production, youth and education, business and growth as well as talent economy as well as sports.
Highlights of some of the recommendations during this year's summit, Mr Udeh said, included the need for the federal government to implement an e-learning programme at elementary learning levels in the country.
Besides, he said, the summit also commended the work of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF) and its partnership with the private sector in delivering a reformed public service.
He said participants in the summit urged government to deepen and expand the intervention of HCSF for the country to have an entrepreneurial public management delivery system.
During the Summit, the HCSF, Winifred Oyo-Ita, said in one of the sessions that when she assumed office in January 2016, she had met a crop of very disillusioned set of people who had no hope or motivation to put in their best in implementation of government policies.
To turn the situation around, she said the present administration decided to give full support to full reforms to restore confidence among the people in the civil service.
Through the Federal Civil Strategy Implementation Plan (2016 - 2020), an internally generated reform, she said the civil service and all the unions were involved to establish an effective, efficient, productive, incorruptible and citizens-centred public service.
"We wanted to develop an institutionalised and ethical civil service, to change the culture and mind-set of civil servants; to develop and enterprise minded civil service, since the greater part of the inefficiencies was because everything was being done manually," she said.
We needed to digitalise the civil service operations and change the orientation of the service and allow people develop entrepreneurial or commercial orientation in the service. We had to improve the incentive or benefit package of the civil servant, in terms of monetary and non-monetary incentives.
Since 1999, the HCSF noted, there have been about 47 reforms in the public service and ten in civil service, including monetisation, pension reforms, IPPIS, tenure policy and performance management.
She said the impact government wants to see as identified in the international civil service effectiveness index include integrity, openness, capability, inclusiveness, staff engagement and innovation.
On infrastructure, Mr Udeh said participants in the session on infrastructure resolved that government funding based on oil revenues and borrowings alone cannot bridge the gap on infrastructure.
He said the proposed considerations to some additional funding options, including drawing from the sovereign wealth funds and pension funds too close the gap.
As a first step, he said, the private sector also committed to putting together a working group to explore alternative financing options on the country's infrastructure.
Mr Udeh said a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed with the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) during the summit on the development of a pool of skills and educational development to cater for the country's needs.
Under the MoU, the NESG would be collaborating with NUC to develop a 25 year plan for the universities, taking into consideration the market for which the graduates from the country's universities are being prepared.
"Who are the graduates bring prepared for? What kind of economy is the country hoping to build 25 years from now? What kind of work and what kind of skills would be required to run that economy?" he noted.
He said the NESG would sit with NUC and pilot public-private work not only in curriculum development, but also to create a university for themselves through the teachers.
The collaboration with NUC follows a similar MoU signed in 2017 between the NESG and the Nigerian Governors' Forum to create the NESG-NGF economic roundtable.
The roundtable was to work with the sub-nationals to promote economic cooperation in clusters capable of taking advantage of economic corridors to create jobs in logistics, agriculture, storage and others.
The NESG Green Book, containing the summary of recommendations at the summit, is expected to be published on November 8.