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OPENING ADDRESS BY DR. (MRS.) IJE JIDENMA, F.IOD, PRESIDENT & CHAIRMAN OF GOVERNING COUNCIL,
INSTITUTE OF DIRECTORS NIGERIA AT THE INSTITUTE NATIONAL STAKEHOLDERS' FORUM ON INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA HELD ON THURSDAY,
14TH JULY 2022 AT THE CIVIC CENTRE, VICTORIA ISLAND, LAGOS& ZOOM PLATFORM
It gives me great pleasure to deliver this opening address and join the Chairman of the Research & Advocacy Committee of the Institute of Directors Nigeria to welcome you all to this Stakeholders' Forum on infrastructure, with the theme: "Infrastructure Development in Nigeria: A Necessity for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth".
First, I wish to specially commend the Research and Advocacy Committee of the Institute, led by Prof. Nat Ofo, F.IoD for organising this important and relevant programme to bring stakeholders together to discuss the important position of infrastructure in Nigeria's continued quest for economic and social development.
There is no doubt that one of the banes of our economic development has been poor infrastructure. The state of our infrastructure apart from adversely affecting our nation's economic development, has also badly affected the social environment of our country . It has also negatively affected the standard of living of Nigerians thereby affecting our overall psychological sense of well being.
In virtually all sectors; power, transportation, communication, aviation, education, health, etc., the absence of critical and needed infrastructure, has affected the deliverables and Nigerians have not enjoyed a robust system that could deliver the best of services to us.
This gap in infrastructural development has adversely affected Nigeria's growth trajectory. Though there have been many conversations around infrastructural development and several policies developed by government at all levels to address the gap, success has definitely not been achieved.
Despite numerous plans by successive government and regimes to address the infrastructure deficit in Nigeria, the combinations of paucity of funds, poor implementation, poor maintenance culture, corruption, weak fiscal regime and sometimes, policy summersaults , have worked together to ensure that we are unable to achieve our goals as far as infrastructural development is concerned.
Nigeria's infrastructure deficit is estimated at $100 billion annually, a figure that is 100 percent above our annual infrastructural budget in the past few years. According to the African Development Bank report, a country's infrastructure spend should be a minimum of 6% of GDP in order to attain a reasonable level of sustainable development. However, over the past decade, Nigeria's infrastructure spending has been less than 5 percent of GDP and much lower than the amount committed by other developing countries. With such gap, it has become difficult for the Nigerian government to adequately address the country's infrastructure needs.
While accepting that the Federal Government cannot continue to borrow endlessly, to fill the funding gap and that not all borrowings can be totally dedicated to infrastructure, there is no doubt a need for government to show more commitment to the judicious utilisation of available funds . We need to make our economy very competitive in order to attract investments, which will help improve the economy and ensure that government revenue is improved. A more robust infrastructure development will no doubt improve the business environment and attract the needed indigenous and foreign investment in the economy by the private sector.
The essence of this gathering is to promote conversations and share perspectives on building sustainable investments in infrastructure with a view to promote economic growth, create employment opportunities, and effectively reduce poverty in Nigeria.
Additionally, this event aims to enlighten the wider business community on the importance of sound corporate governance practices, leadership and management within the public and private sectors ( and even within the non -for profit space ) as a step towards ensuring the implementation of major reforms regarding infrastructure.
Distinguished Directors, Ladies and Gentlemen, today, we are privileged to have as our Keynote speaker, Dr. George Agykum Donkor, President of ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development; who is represented by Mr. MacDonald SayeGoanue, the Bank's Director of Research & Strategic Planning. We also have very experienced and distinguished moderators and panelists, who will do justice to the theme. I am confident that they would bring their experience to bear at this forum while proffering solutions that would not only help tackle the current infrastructure gap, but will also identify the needed strategic partnerships and cooperation required to unlock investments that wouldv promote the development of the economy. On behalf of the Governing Council of the Institute, I thank all of them , influential and decision makers , for joining us at this event and for accepting to play the various assigned roles.
Our Institute remains committed to the principles of good governance in all aspects of the corporate and business world. We are relentless in its advocacy in all the sectors for the development of a vibrant economy and an ethical society which provides a level playing ground for all. I would like to seize this opportunity to invite our participants who not yet members of the IoD Nigeria, to seize this opportunity to join the Institute Membership benefits are immense . With our vast network, iron sharpneth iron. We welcome you to join our crusade for the entrenchment of good corporate governance in Nigeria and the building of a pipeline of well trained and experienced Directors for our collective growth the advancement .
At this junction, I would like to specially acknowledge the Research and Advocacy Committee of the Institute under the able leadership of Prof Nat Ofo, F.IoD, as well the Management of the Secretariat for organizing this event . I also thank all of you your interest in this programme and for attending.
Thank you for listening.
Dr. (Mrs.) Ije Jidenma, F.IoD
President & Chairman of the Governing Council
Institute of Directors Nigeria
Thursday, 14 th July 2022.