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Nigeria: losing its most valuable asset

Countries of the world have their varying most valuable assets. Among the league of countries with the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the United States…

Countries of the world have their varying most valuable assets. Among the league of countries with the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the United States of America leads the group with $19.485 trillion (about $60,000 per person in the US). This is followed by China and Japan with $12.238 trillion (about $38,000 per person in the US) and $4.872 trillion (about $15,000 per person in the US) – a share of 15.12% and 6.02% respectively. Nigeria is in the 30th position with a record of $376 billion (about $1,200 per person in the US) GDP.

The Lancet Commission’s report published in March 2022 describes Nigeria as ‘both a wealthy country and a very poor one’ with over 40 per cent of its population in poverty and more – five to six people falling into poverty every minute at a current escape rate of minus 2.9 people per minute.

Available data shows that Nigeria is on the verge of becoming a global force. It has significant intellectual, cultural, and social capital, as well as substantial financial resources.

Indeed, like the United States of America, China, and Japan, which thrive on their most valuable asset – human capital – to prosper, Nigeria has the same. Yet, the country is facing development challenges that will encourage and keep the country’s natural abilities.

It is worth noting that Nigerian immigrants in the United States of America contribute significantly to the country’s GDP. According to the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, about 54 per cent of Nigerians are employed in high-skilled capacities in various sectors of the US economy. According to a report published in 2018 by the New American Economy Research Fund, Nigerian immigrants earn over $14 billion and pay over $4 billion in taxes.

Owing to the absence of enabling environment, insecurity and/or hostile security service providers, Nigeria’s most valuable assets are gradually being eroded by international opportunities – brain drain.

To address this issue, the country’s leadership practices should be carefully analysed and evaluated. The nation’s constitutional structure and system of governance, as well as its pragmatic structure and system of governance, should be evaluated to reflect the nation’s reality, particularly with (sensitive) regard to the nation’s multicultural orientation by regions, states, and local communities.

We should move on to establish a national planned development framework. This framework is a well-thought-out road map that should guide all new development ideas and strategies. This is a path towed by developed countries like the United States and the United Kingdom. I would refer to and describe the policy document as a “constitution” for development, as it should be a very authoritative and encompassing strategy.

Although Nigeria has found itself in a very complex situation; it is not a mission impossible to come out strongly. I have identified and recommended two things in this article: leadership and policy. These two are fundamental issues that need to be addressed before we can rightfully chart the way forward for our dear country, Nigeria. There are assurances that when these steps are taken, Nigerians can have a better working environment -attracting top talents, developing, rewarding, and retaining talents for the economic and social benefits of the country. This would subsequently result in improved overall quality of life; hence, we would have enough convincing evidence to make our most valuable assets stay and function for a better Nigeria.

Olasunkanmi Arowolo is an Assistant Lecturer at the School of Communication, Lagos State University