Dr Alim Abubakre, a Nigerian – British don at Sheffield Hallam University, has prescribed some strategies to make Nigeria retain its economic leadership in Africa’s era of global uncertainties.
Abubakre, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday, said his prescriptions are “seven quick wins for national prosperity and superlative comparative advantage post 62nd Independence Anniversary”.
He listed the strategies as Harnessing Diasporas and Increasing Exodus of Talent, Vertical Integration of Agriculture and Petroleum, and Building a National Brand.
Others are Harnessing Nigeria’s Youthful Population, Developing a Sustainable Energy Ecosystem, Taking Advantage of Africa’s Free Trade Agreement, and Harnessing Diversity as a strength.
Abubakre, who has engaged with over 4,000 executives globally and helped hundreds of organisations win, suggested that the seven areas could fast-track Nigeria’s sustainable development goal.
The founder of the British firm, TEXEM UK, said being a country endowed with huge potential, Nigeria could achieve prosperity by harnessing diasporans and attracting more investments from compatriots outside the country’s shores.
“Specifically, diasporans could be a source of talent and technology transfer.
“Technology advancement could be achieved if the country develops special schemes that encourage more Nigerians to return home, at least during their leave.
“This suggestion is practicable as some doctors overseas are already doing this for Nigeria, and South Korean and Chinese Engineers do it for their nations,” Abubakre said.
He said that actualising the suggestion would make their emigration from Nigeria not a brain drain but a brain gain, just like the Jewish diasporans.
“Also, since diasporans are plenipotentiaries overseas, they could also be a source of global soft power.
“They could help obtain the outcomes that Nigerians want in world politics if they are actively courted more and treated as strategic assets.
“With better connections with their home country and incentives for investment, it becomes easier to foster development and nation-building,” the don said.
Speaking on vertical integration, Abubakre said it should entail the Nigerian government and business leaders building more refineries to leverage petrochemicals’ developmental benefits, especially for the country.
He said that according to the International Energy Agency, petrochemicals are the largest source of demand for crude oil and will account for 50 per cent of crude oil demand by 2050.
Abubakre said petrochemicals are so vital that they could be a source of developing the renewable energy value chain.
“For example, petrochemicals could be used to manufacture components of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, thermal insulation and electric vehicles, which is greener, sustainable and will create jobs.
“The symbiosis between the petrochemical and agricultural value chain will drive energy and food security in Nigeria.
“It could spur the development of the agro-allied industries that could ensure an integrated manufacturing ecosystem,” he asserted.
Abubakre said that, arguably, Nigeria could create a meaningful economic impact and promote sustainable growth over the coming years if it builds a vibrant and trusted national brand globally.
He, however, said that first, the country must set its standards high and strive to build trust in Nigerian products and services, especially in agricultural products, fashion, arts and entertainment.
“Nigeria can borrow a leaf from Japan, whose Made in Japan goods and services are considered among the top 5 trusted brands globally,” Abubakre said.
Also, the don noted, “like the Japanese, the Nigerian government should invest in sensitisation programmes that encourage manufacturers to enshrine transparency, authenticity, continuous improvement, innovation and flexibility while producing and exporting their goods and services.
“Then, with an excellent national brand, the government and other business leaders can market their products and improve Nigeria’s balance of payment”.
He also said that with one of the largest youthful populations in the world, Nigeria has a tremendous economic asset that, if utilised well, could contribute to its economic growth.
Abubakre said that approximately 70 per cent of the country’s population is young, most of whom are under 30.
“Such a high percentage of youthfulness can be harnessed for nation-building, especially in the areas relating to art, entertainment, fashion and technology development, among others.
“From Facebook to WordPress, Subway to Dell, Microsoft to Yankee candles, these companies all have a common denominator; young people founded them.
“While Europe is ageing and arguably in decline, Nigeria could leverage its young demography’s drive, energy and technological capacity in unleashing innovation and optimising its global impact,” he said.
Abubakre advocated competitive grants to be offered to the youths while mentoring programmes should be extended to young entrepreneurs.
He said if all stakeholders consciously try to create a favourable environment for youths to thrive and blossom, they will channel their passion, talent and energy into building Nigeria, a superpower globally.
Abubakre urged the country to diversify its energy sources to more sustainable and abundant sources.
“This will spur industrial transformation that will reduce transactional costs and positively impact the productivity of Nigeria’s formal and informal sectors,” he said.
Dr Alim Abubakre is on the advisory board of the London Business School Africa Club and is the non-executive chair of These Executive Minds (TEXEM, www.texem.co.uk)-An organisation which he founded and has trained over 4,000 executives across multiple continents.
He is a Senior Lecturer in International Business at Sheffield Business School (An AACSB accredited Business School) at Sheffield Hallam University.
Sheffield Hallam was named the University of the Year for Teaching Quality by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020. (NAN)