Against the backdrop of Nigeria adapting to the reality of a diversified economy, the Worldstage Economy Summit themed New Reality; Consolidating Economic Diversity, was organised to address the problems Nigeria faces as it tries to diversify its economy and how to provide sustainable solutions. At the centre of the various speeches and lectures was the emphasis on the exploration of young talent and their intellectual capacity.
Ayodele Shittu of the Department of Economics, University of Lagos, in his keynote address said that given Nigeria’s contribution of Africa’s youthful population, it was experiencing slow growth because their power has not been fully harnessed. He said, “The youths are resilient, energetic, creative and powerful and willing to take risks. Unfortunately, we have not been able to harness this power.”
He further stated that the refusal to effectively manage the intellectual energy of the youth resulted in the #EndSARS protests. He stated that although progress in the area of Nigeria economic diversification was slow, it was existent and should be commended. He also stated that the production base of the country had to be increased to see sustainable results.
In his presentation, he stressed that importance had to be paid to the non-oil sector especially the industrial and services sector as they experienced a decline when compared to agriculture in 2019.
Segun Adeleye, president of the summit, in his welcome speech also touched on the subject of the youths and internet fraud, explaining that these occurrences showed the resilience of young people in exploring opportunities.
“EndSARS was a wake-up call that things cannot continue as usual. Like every change, the end cannot be envisaged. The EFCC notoriously announcing the arrest of fraudsters frequently shows that young people are continually exploring opportunities though in a negative way. The only sustainable way to pacify the youths is to extend economic opportunity to all. We encourage all levels of government to explore diversification and establishment of small businesses,” he said.
Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology, also emphasised the role of the youths in Nigeria’s economic diversification especially in technical intelligence as well as science. The minister who was represented by Eteama Henry said if this was done thoroughly then in the next 10 to 15 years the landscape of unemployment would change positively.