Former Anambra Governor, Peter Obi, on Thursday urged government at all levels to increase support for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises so as to curb unemployment in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Obi spoke at the 7th Anniversary Lecture of News Express, a media outfit in Lagos.
The theme of the lecture was: “Getting Nigeria Out of the Wood – A New Thinking”.
He said that the problem of Nigeria was not only corruption but lack of innovative leaders capable of implementing ideas and policies that would get the country back on track.
According to him, providing support for MSMEs through easier access to credit facilities will spur the manufacturing sector and increase its current less than 10 per cent contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
He said: “We have 98 million people who can be empowered to contribute their quota to the economy which will shore up our revenue generation and widen the tax base.
“We need to ensure that we bring people out of poverty and encouraging MSMEs will help us achieve that.”
Obi said the unemployment crisis was responsible for increasing social ills such as kidnapping, armed robbery and terrorism, adding that these would reduce if people were positively engaged.
The former governor urged Nigerians to hold their elected officials accountable at all times, noting that they should be courageous to demand answers on how their resources were being utilised.
Also, Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa (SAN), said poor leadership and not corruption was the bane of Nigeria’s underdevelopment.
According to him, when leaders flagrantly violates court orders, rule of law and due process, investors will be discouraged from coming into such countries.
He said Nigeria had been spending so much on security at the expense of infrastructure development, health care and education which were crucial to improving the lives of the people.
On her part, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, a human rights activist, said the Hate Speech Bill currently before the Senate would only increase corruption in Nigeria by preventing people from speaking up.
Okei-Odumakin said the lawmakers should rather focus on bills that would curb corruption and entrench good governance in Nigeria instead of working to stifle dissenting voices.
She said: “It is a shame that the sixth largest producer of oil in the world is now the secretariat of poverty.
“Corruption is doing damage to us collectively as a country. The collapse of our infrastructure, widespread poverty and moral decadence we see today are directly linked to corruption.
“Even the corrupt people are also victims of the consequences of corruption as they now live in a virtual prison against assault from the criminals hatched by corruption.”
The activist said getting Nigeria out of the woods required a collective responsibility from every citizen and motivating the anti-corruption agencies to perform their statutory responsibilities.
Earlier in his address of welcome, Isaac Umanna, Publisher of News Express, noted that theme of the lecture was very apt due to the urgency of the situation.
Umanna said the publication would continue to improve and uphold the tenets of journalism as part of its contribution to nation building.