The director-general of the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB), Engr. Akin Olateru has emphasised the urgent need for comprehensive reforms across Nigeria’s socio-economic sectors.
Speaking at the Nigerian Service Award organised by COA Media in Abuja, Olateru stressed the importance of these reforms in enhancing the well-being of citizens and fostering overall growth and development in the country.
In his keynote address titled “Breaking Barriers to National Development,” Olateru outlined key areas for reform, including engagement in agribusiness, job creation, strengthening public services and implementing fiscal and monetary measures to stimulate the economy and achieve rapid recovery. He also emphasised the necessity of improving working conditions for civil servants in both the private and public sectors to ensure optimal performance.
Despite Nigeria being the largest economy and having the largest population in Africa, Olateru highlighted that the nation still faces multiple socio-economic barriers, leading to low and fragile economic growth, poor infrastructure, inadequate electricity supply, primary product dependency, foreign currency gaps, capital flight, human capital inadequacies, poverty, corruption, insecurity, illiteracy and unemployment, among other challenges.
He noted that these barriers have compelled many Nigerians to seek opportunities abroad, resulting in a massive emigration of the country’s talents in search of better living conditions and opportunities.
Olateru specifically pointed to inadequate infrastructure, such as a lack of a stable power supply and a deficient road network, hindering economic activities and affecting local manufacturing and production. This reliance on imported products has further impacted the volume of the country’s exports.
The director-general, honoured as the ‘Most Outstanding Public Servant’ at the event for his transformative efforts at NSIB, highlighted that approximately 3.5 million Nigerians enter the labour market annually, but their prospects for gainful employment are weakened due to insufficient job creation and the an absence of entrepreneurial skills.
Quoting World Bank statistics, Olateru expressed concern about the rising poverty rate in Nigeria, expected to reach 37 per cent in 2023, with an estimated 84 million Nigerians living below the poverty line. He acknowledged the government’s ongoing reforms and predicted the Nigerian economy’s growth at an average of 3.4 per cent between 2023 to 2025.
In a statement by the bureau’s director of public affairs and consumer protection, Dr. James Odaudu, Olateru called on all Nigerians to support President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s socio-economic reform programs aimed at repositioning the country for the benefit of all.