AFRICMIL Roundtable On Equitable Growth And Social Inclusion Stakeholders Call For Review Of Policymaking Processes

President Bola Tinubu has been urged by stakeholders to take socio-economic policies under review and adoption so that they can meet the unique problems that Nigerians are currently facing. They asked the government to establish an open government partnership so that people may have a say in creating social and economic systems that work for them.

They made the call in Abuja at a roundtable organized by the African Centre Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), in collaboration with the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action), the Centre for Public Policy and Research (CPPR), and the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ).

The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation sponsored the roundtable, whose theme was “New Economic Policymaking for Equitable Growth and Social Inclusion,” intending to foster discussion about the nation’s poor economic situation, particularly about the elimination of fuel subsidies, rising unemployment, and deepening poverty.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Sam Amadi, Director, of Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts, said formulating and making economic decisions should be open for citizen participation as the policies, in the long run, will impact their well-being.

He pointed out that the sudden removal of the subsidy was not only unwise but also caused enormous misery for Nigerians, impacting every area of the nation’s economic growth. According to Amadi, the issue of what is being subsidized should be taken into account in light of the factors that influence a nation’s economy.

He made the argument that roads, which serve as means of transportation, and petrol, which is required by the great majority of businesses, should both receive subsidies to increase and improve productivity. According to him, the government’s strict policies have left the majority in poverty and many people without jobs.

Amadi, an associate professor of law, noted: “We should focus economic development policy around the wellbeing of Nigerian citizens given that the real good economists as three questions: One, what’s happening to poverty, is it reducing or increasing? Two, what happens to employment? Are these policies going to increase employment of Nigerians or are they going to decrease employment?” Three, how inclusive of citizens are the policies made for them?”

Three panelists participated in the roundtable discussion of his paper. Dr. Emmanuel Shehu, Director of the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ), recommended the government take the health of the nation’s substantial human resource component into consideration and solely work towards increasing their potential for an enhanced economy.

He said, “Another fallout is the human factor, the human resource remains top, and it’s obvious that the economic policies do not consider this factor.”

Given that palliatives had no discernible impact on the general population, he urged the government to reevaluate the matter. In addition, he urged the government to evaluate the minimum wage and embrace policies that will help the vast majority rather than just a select few.

Comrade Hauwa Mustapha, policy analyst and social advocate, said Nigeria is yet to break the chain of dependence on Western dictates of what policies to operate.

She said, “Despite the series of development plans and economic reform policies post-independence, our reality today is a development path that is bedeviled by the fact that though we changed flags and got our national anthem, we did not break the chain of economic dependence and slavery. This has been the bane of our development plans. Specifically, our economic policies, though aiming for growth, always leave an outcome that bears no correlation between available resources and the poverty statistics.”

Comrade Ene Obi, the immediate Country Director of Action Aid, brought up the issue of the government’s attitude towards gender inclusion, pointing out that the right decisions cannot be made on behalf of people who face unique challenges but are not permitted to decide what works for them.

Earlier in his welcome address, Dr Chido Onumah, Coordinator, AFRICMIL, said the event was put together given the alarming rate of unemployment and poverty that have severely depressed the capacity of youths to function optimally.

He said, “Nigeria today faces many economic and social headwinds.

The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation’s Country Director, Comrade Agela Odah, praised AFRICMIL for setting up the debate and stressed the importance of it in her goodwill letter. According to her, it is essential to encourage citizens, particularly young people, to have a say in how the nation is governed to the degree that policies have an impact on the well-being of society.

Goodwill messages were also delivered by IIJ, Social Action, and CPPR.

Amara Michael, a student of the IIJ who participated in the event was glad that her understanding of how economic issues of the country evolved has been broadened. She wished for more robust engagements.

With 33.3 percent of its employable population unable to find work to support their families, the nation has the highest unemployment rate in the world. The country has a youth bulge, meaning that many of its residents are young people who are unable to find employment to support themselves.

According to the National Bureau for Statistics (NBS), 45% of Nigerians experience severe income poverty. 143 million Nigerians live in extreme poverty and lack access to basic services like sanitation and education.

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