Chris Steven, Abuja
Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, on Friday said the nation should create a system which allows her best trained people who have the required capacity to take over the public sector and make it work for the entire citizenry.
Saraki made the call while presenting the key note address at the inaugural National Chevening Alumni Leadership Summit organized by the Bristidh Hign Commission and the Nigeria Chevening Alumni Association in Lagos.
The Chevening scholarship is awarded annually by the UK Government to exceptional individuals who possess outstanding leadership potentials for them to pursue a one-year master’s degree in any university in the United Kingdom.
He said while the practice across the world is to allow the best brains to go into the public sector, Nigeria’s case is that the most qualified people struggle to join the private sector.
The situation, he said, must change such that whether through “the back door, that is by appointment or through the front door, by standing for election, the most educated and skilled people should take over governance and help to convert the numerous God-given resources to genuine development for Nigeria and Nigerians”.
“…I wholeheartedly invite you to work with us in productive partnership so that we can journey together in this difficult but necessary task to build the Nigeria that we all wish for, for us and for our children,” Saraki said. “We are here today to explore ‘The Economic prosperity of Nigeria and the role of alumni in contributing to economic growth’.
“As we continue to partner with the private sector, we in the 8th Senate believe that you have a significant role to play in contributing to economic growth largely by engaging with us in government; either at the Executive or Legislative level.
“We have seen from our partnership with the National Economic Summit Group (NESG), the benefits and we believe that with the caliber of alumni here, more can be achieved. Let me reassure you that we remain focused on achieving economic prosperity for all Nigerians,” he said.
While describing the summit as the “illustrious gathering of some of the best minds in our country,” the Senate President said it is time for the best brains in the country to be put in positions where they could contribute effectively to the development of the country.
“As we continue to grapple with the challenge of how best to manage our natural resources, here yet is another dimension. We must urgently begin to develop a system that puts our human assets to best use.
“We must urgently begin to create a system that enables us to put our best brains and minds in positions that they can contribute effectively to the development of our country. As we continue to struggle to find new solutions to the old problems that we face, people like you must be at the forefront, you must bring your expertise and experience to bear,” he added.
He noted that while the economy is in recession with inflation at 18 per cent, “Chevening Alumni in Nigeria must get involved in this quest for solutions to what has effectively become the greatest challenge of our time.”
He stated that the 8th Senate saw very early on that the major challenge before the country is the economy and remains convinced that the only economy that can serve Nigeria at this point in her history is that which is inclusive and is able to protect the weakest among us.
“Our approach therefore is to create the legislative framework for inclusive economic prosperity to all our citizens. We believe that the kind of economy we must build as we face the grim prospect of a post-oil world; is that which is able to tap on the best of our human capital, the creative energy of our youth and the diverse resources of our land.
“Even as we try to embrace this new thinking and solutions, we recognize the institutional challenges. This is why one of the first legislative initiatives we undertook as early as six months from resumption of office was to review all the laws that have made it difficult for people to do business in our country and frustrated investors willing to come into our economy.
“The 8th Senate is confident that these bills, once passed into law, would lay a solid legislative and policy foundation for the broad-based reforms that are so urgently needed to set our country on the path of inclusive economic growth,” he stated.