Nigeria: Osinbajo, Governors Raise Alarm Over Population Explosion, 'Tiny' Economy

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the 36 state governors yesterday raised alarm over population explosion and the size of the country's economy.

They spoke during a valedictory meeting the National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by Osinbajo at the State House, Abuja.

"In the next few years our population will double with the attendant challenges of jobs, education, health care, security and infrastructure. Destiny and future of the Nigerian masses rest on the elite group.

"The privilege of executive leadership at this level is the one only few of us will ever have. When I say few of us, it is few of us in our nation I have said at a previous forum, 36 governors and their deputies, one President and one Vice President we will be 74 in all men and women of a nation of 200 million.

"It is on this elite group that the destiny and future of all our people rest.

"Many of us have led our states for these many years, no one needs to advise us on the importance of unity, on importance of tempering utterances with wisdom, with moderation and conserve expressing concern for those who are the usual victims of the conflicts that are caused by hate speech, the conflicts that are caused by careless and reckless statements," he said.

The vice president said the ordinary Nigerian has no problems with his brothers and sisters of different tribes and religions, they share the same issues, they just want a decent existence, they want food on the table, they want good shelter and security of lives and livelihoods.

"Unfortunately and frequently our political elite sometimes out of advancing political agendas or simply seeking relevance recklessly stoke the fires of ethnicity and religious conflicts. We as leaders have a duty to keep the peace and welfare of our states, we must not only we rise above the temptation to take advantage of our country's fault lines, we must definitely condemn and restrain those who do so.

Outgoing chairman of the Nigeria Governors' Forum (NGF) and Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari said unless Nigeria's population is looked at, the country is sitting on a time bomb.

"I think even Niger Republic that is not up to the size of Kano State, they have their plan on population, they know the number of people they have, the dead, new born and all that," he said.

Also speaking, a former governor of Osun state, Rauf Aregbesola said the country's economy was tiny compared to the population.

"I don't need to expatiate on the size of the economy but it is worth to say that if Cuba could have a revenue of $50 billion per annum, Nigeria has no business with the size of revenue it has. How many people are in Cuba? 12 million people, the size of Kwara State in Nigeria.

"So, that will tell us how small our economy is. But Cuba is a good example of the smallness of our economy and how inappropriate it is to address the issues staring us in the face.

"Nigeria is a very poor nation. The way the leadership of nation carries itself, shows that we are affluent and we are not."

In his speech, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha said: "It looks as if there is more emphasis on paper work than the actual work. I want to appeal that this issue be addressed even for the incoming governors, so governors can govern freely and not be busy putting papers together rather than doing their work."

Also speaking, Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai said most of the resolutions of NEC are not being implemented.

"I think one of the lessons we should learn from the last four years of experience is to have a team that will ensure ... implementations of these resolutions," he said.

Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state said the fraternity, the sense of brotherhood that pervades this forum means a lot to the Nigerian nation.

"As I have always said I'd rather be a small fish in a big pond than be a big fish in a small pond. I am proudly Nigerian, and incidentally in this forum we have formed a sense of brotherhood.

Daily Trust reports that the NEC in its tenure from 2015 to 2019, held 38 meetings and passed 173 resolutions. Nineteen of the resolutions are on agriculture, 14 solid minerals, 36 on investment, industrialisation and enabling money policies, eight on infrastructure and services, 16 on investing in people, 32 on revenue generation and fiscal stability, eight in survival of states and 40 on security.

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