The Emir of Kano, Mohammed Lamido Sanusi II has warned that Nigeria, alongside the Democratic Republic of Congo, may account for 40 per cent of the world’s poor people if the leaders do not make the right investment decisions.
The Emir said this on Saturday after he was inducted as the 49th Honorary member at the Sigma Club at the Guest Luncheon held on at John Paul II Centre, University of Ibadan.
He said: “If every country continues its present trajectory by 2050, 80 per cent of all the poor people in the world will live on the African continent. But, that is not the frightening thing. One half of this 80 per cent will be in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Two countries will account for 40 per cent of all the poor people in the world and Nigeria will therefore remain the poverty capital of the world.”
The former CBN governor expressed the view that as the 2019 elections approach, political office seekers should talk about their plans to draw Nigeria out of poverty through meaningful investments in the country’s vast human resources.
“We call ourselves an oil rich country, but we are not an oil rich country. The earlier we realised that we are not an oil rich country but a country rich in human resources that can be turned into human capital, then we can change this sad trajectory,” he said.
He lamented that not many of those seeking political offices in the 2019 elections have talked about their plans for education and health.
His words: “We have elections in 2019. I read the papers, I look at the television, and listen to the discussions. Who is talking about education? Who is talking about nutrition? Who is talking about basic health? As a country, what are our priorities? We don’t have enough money for education. We don’t have enough money for health. We don’t have enough money for nutrition. But we have N1 trillion or N2 trillion to spend on petroleum subsidies. Where is our sense of what is important, and where is our investment in the future?
“So, for all Nigerians who care about this country, the real task before us is to know that we have 30 years on the outside in which we need to make sure that we do not become the poverty capital of the world, and the slum of the world.
“This is a country that has produced many great people. This is a country that has boasted of best professors, greatest intellectuals, and the most educated people.
Sanusi stressed that “the earlier we also realise that countries like Taiwan, Hong Kong in China, Singapore and Israel have become what they have become, not because they have found oil or diamond or gold, but because they have realised the values of human beings.
Using China as a case study, Sanusi said: “In 1960, the per capital income in Nigeria was higher than what it was in South Korea, and China. My father was the first ambassador of Nigeria to China in 1972. In 1972, he had to go to Hong Kong every two weeks to buy essential commodities because they were not available in Beijing. He could not find milk, sugar and cornflakes in Beijing; he had to go to Hong Kong in 1972, not 100 years ago.
“In 1974, when Deng Xiaoping started opening up in China, there were 700 million Chinese living in extreme poverty. Today, that number is down to only 30 million people in one generation. In 1974, China had only eight million university graduates. Today, China has more than 300 million university graduates, more than the entire population of the United States of America. Yet, China did not have direct foreign investments; in fact China stopped it.”
The Emir called on political office seekers and “those outside politics to exert the right pressure on those in government to give us these policies, these thinking because that is the future of this country.”
At the event on Saturday, the Sigma Club, which prides itself as the oldest surviving students’ organisation in sub-Saharan Africa, admitted 13 Loyal Sigmites who are undergraduates of the University of Ibadan. They also conferred merit awards n Chief Francis O. Kudayah and High Chief MKGeorge O. Onyung.
Sigma Club, founded in 1950, is a social and philanthropic student organisation with considerable focus on good character, discipline, integrity and virtues geared towards national development. The club is famous for the Havana Carnival, an annual musical concert, made popular by the likes of King Sunny Ade, Dr Victor Olaiya, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Sir Victor Uwaifo, among others.
The Sigma Guest Luncheon is an event where prominent men reputed to be of good character, discipline and high integrity, are inducted into the highly revered Sigma Roll of Honour as “HONORARY SIGMITES”.