Nigeria must move rapidly into producing regional hubs for economic prosperity–Utomi

Renowned political economist, Professor Pat Utomi, has said that Nigeria must urgently move to the production of a regional hub and revitalise manufacturing for economic development.

He said coordinating trading and manufacturing on a regional basis based on targeted value chains, piggy-backing on the factor endowment of the region that provides a latent comparative advantage in which industrial policy helps would reduce investment risk.

Utomi stated this, yesterday, during the 62nd Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL) Leaders Without Title (LWT) Tribute Colloquium, in honour of the Chairman, Odu’a Investment Company Limited, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru, in Lagos.

The LWT leadership tribute colloquium is designed to celebrate extraordinary leaders who have made a significant impact in their respective sectors.

Speaking on the theme, ‘Interstate Commerce and Economic Growth’, Utomi, said the Odu’a Group, represents not only an interstate commerce model but also a leg into the concept of development corridor.
Drawing on the endowments of the Southwest region, he gave instances of taking the Lagos-Ibadan corridor and designing production anchored on value chains that could accelerate the pace of development for prosperous interstate commerce.

According to him, “This may mean that instead of sinking fortunes into reclaiming the Atlantic for developing Lagos, we can locate a near city around Ogere, in Ogun State, from which trains can take workers into Lagos and Ibadan in not more than 20 minutes. This will compare favourably with four hours of morning traffic from Sangotedo in the Lekki corridor and or from Ipaja to Lagos.”

Chairman of the colloquium, Dr. Micheal Olawale-Cole, said Nigeria, endowed with vast natural resources, however, was marked by several challenges, of which one aspect is the role of interstate commerce, which holds the potential to unlock unprecedented opportunities and drive the country’s economic growth.

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He said the dynamic and interconnected network of economic activities via interstate commerce was the lifeblood of the nation’s economy.

Olawale-Cole, who is the President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries (LCCI), cited infrastructural deficit, growing regulatory barriers and insecurity as challenges hindering the country from unleashing the full potential of interstate commerce.

For Nigeria to realise its full economic potential, he said it needed to harness the power of interstate commerce, remove barriers and invest in the infrastructure and policies that would enable the vital economic engine to thrive.

According to him, interstate commerce is not just a transaction of goods but an exchange of prosperity, opportunities and growth.

Among the discussants on the theme of the colloquium, Chairman, Capital Bancorp Plc, Tola Mobolurin, said Odu’a should be at the forefront when discussions on regional economic integration and benefits on the economy are raised.

This, he said, was because there is a presence of shared heritage, culture and language, urging the group to ensure it facilitates it, otherwise, it would lose its potential.

He added that Nigeria must build agriculture and industries that would create hubs along the value chain.

Earlier, Ashiru, whose colloquium was held in his honour, said with the huge revenue states could generate on interstate commerce, there was no reason for them to depend on FAAC allocation to sustain their states.

He challenged that leaders should be held accountable even as he advised that states should focus on areas where they would have a competitive edge.

Proffering agriculture as the way to go in Nigeria, he added that the country has no business being an independent economy.

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