Dr Terhemba Wuam, an Associate Professor of Economic History with Kaduna State University (KASU), says Nigeria is too poor to meet its developmental challenges.
Wuam made the remarks on Monday in Kaduna at the opening of a National Conference with the theme, “The Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian Economy Since 1958”, organised by the university’s Department of History.
He noted that the country’s earnings was too low to meet people’s expectations in terms of growth and development, and wondered why those entrusted with leadership still steal from public treasury in spite of the nation’s poverty.
According to him, in comparison to the rest of the world, Nigeria is poor like the rest of Africa and does not have the money to warrant the level of theft from the public treasury.
“For example the GDP of the whole of Africa with 1.3 billion population is 2.2 trillion U.S. dollars, out of which Nigeria’s GDP with 191 population is 380 billion dollars, the largest economy in the continent.
“This is far below Brazil’s $2.14 trillion and India’s $2.85 trillion GDP.
“But because many Nigerians are ignorant of this, they think that Nigeria is very rich and that is why people steal.
“The reality is, we don’t really have the money, which is the more reason we should not embezzle the the little we have.
“When public officials divert resources, schools barely run, hospitals become empty shells and our roads and other public infrastructure degrade and become dilapidated.”
Wuam, who is the head of history department at the university, explained that the conference was an opportunity to brainstorm on the fundamental role of CBN to the Nigerian economy.
He also said that the conference present an opportunity for scholars, especially economic historians, social scientists and management scholars to deliberate on the role of money to the development of modern Nigeria.
Wuam added that the conference was first in the series of events to be held in the coming year under the auspices of “The Money and Development in Nigeria Programme.”
“The initiative was predicated on the important milestone of the CBN turning 60 in 2019.
“The programme offers us an opportunity to begin an exploratory intellectual journey on knowledge about money, investment, banking and how they propel growth in Nigeria, Africa and the developed world.
“We shall try to understand what money is and what it represent; who has it and who doesn’t; how nations acquire money and get rich.
“This is important because understanding money is important for national development,” he added
Also speaking, Dr Yasin Abubakar, Head of History Department, Usmanu Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, said that the conference would appraise the performance of the apex bank in the growth and development of the nation’s economy since 1958.
Abubakar, a core convener of the conference, added that the aim was to critically examine majors issues regarding CBN’s role in facilitating economic growth and regulating banking and monetary sectors of the country’s economy in the last 60 years.
According to him, the CBN Acts of 1958 mandates the apex bank to ensure monetary and price stability, issue legal tender currency, maintain external reserve, act as bankers bank and provide financial advice to the Federal Government.
Prof. Dan Chuku of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, in a keynote address said that for the Nigerian economy to experience geometric growth with a multiplier effect on the populace, the CBN should detach itself from partisanship and primordial sentiments.
Mrs Comfort Gaiya, assistant director at CBN thanked organisers of the conference, saying that it would enrich the knowledge of many that do not know much about the operations and role of CBN.