Former Emir of Kano, Mallam Muhammadu Sanusi, yesterday advocated for strict enforcement of family planning in the country. Speaking at the second day of the 2021 Ehingbeti Lagos Economic Summit, the former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor said government cannot keep-up with the pace of social infrastructural requirement if the people continue to give birth to children they cannot educate and feed.
"The idea that people can marry any number of wives they want without any kind of regulation to the number of children they can produce, without being able to feed and educate them is something that is completely antithetical even to Islamic law.
"I don't know why, but there is a mindset against implementing the appropriate regulations in Islam, which is that; you do not build families you cannot maintain and you cannot abandon this responsibility.
"We can continue preaching and we can tell the government to spend more money on education, but if people are going to produce 20, 30 children, without being able to educate them, I maintain that the government cannot keep up with that pace," he said.
According to Sanusi, beyond spending money and beyond the budget, the idea of education awareness, regulation and the mindset of people ought to be addressed
Sanusi urged Nigerians to understand that the family structure, child spacing, family planning and child rights are social issues that need to be addressed because these are critical to human capital outcomes.
He also urged the federal government to look into raising awareness on child nutrition beyond the current school feeding programme.
"One thing we need to look at is that by the time these children get to school, it is too late. We've got to think of nutrition before they get to school and that is extremely important for that programme to be expanded to deal with that.
"Very often at that level, it is not so much spending money on providing food as much as investing in education and awareness, engagement through antenatal care, through conversations for people to understand what exactly they need to give their children," he said.
Also speaking at the event, the Lagos State Commissioner for Economic and Budget Planning who is also a Co-chair of the summit, Mr. Samuel Egube explained that Ehingbeti was, "about Lagos and not the state government. It is about the state to take certain actions and it is also to encourage the private sector to take actions."
He added: "This has created an ecosystem for both the public and private sector to partner and add value. The idea is not only about what the state government should do. Of course, there is a lot it should do, but what the private sector should do should also be discussed. Ehingbeti is a platform for both the state government and private sector to collaborate to achieve a common good."
Commenting on strategy that must be leveraged to lay the foundation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the state, during one of the panel sessions, Partner/Head of Advisory, KPMG, Mr. Joseph Tegbe said: "Fiscal tax incentives and tax waivers are important for technological innovators. Really, research and development incentives for technological innovation have not fully implemented in this country.
"This is something we need to look at especially for young startups that are leveraging creative technology and unleashing innovation. Tax waivers even for local technological manufacturers are extremely important.
"One thing that is also very critical is government consistency. We can put waivers in place, incentives in place; but if you implement tax and incentives in the first or two years, and there is a reversal of policy. That will mean three step forward six steps backward".
"There is nothing more detrimental to policy than inconsistency. There should be clarity in policy, and once there is clarity, then you can hold all parties to their responsibilities".
On her part, Alice Tomdio of Paystack, said there should be a massive drive to get young people involved at an early age, "If we want to transform Lagos, the idea starts from school. If you make people see this is viable, possible and there is value in working with software companies.
"It means a change in social attitudes and change in culture and teaches people that startups are good. There is a need to create awareness on building, creating and working in startups to change," she added.
In her contribution, the Managing Director, Flying Doctors Nigeria, Dr. Ola Orekunrin, was of the opinion that the nation had placed too much emphasis on tertiary education without allowing industries to drive its educational sector.
"We need more industry participation to drive our educational systems. We should have a more flexible transition to work for secondary school exit, and closer relationship with industry.
"We put too much emphasis on tertiary institutions in the first place, there should be some programme that allows people to learn in the evening, while working during the days," she maintained.