Economists, top industry players and the National Economics Students Association (NESA) have said that the country’s development and economic prosperity is tied to strategic investment of subsidy funds in critical infrastructure and social security.
They acknowledged that development of any economy involves a painstaking process, stressing that the subsidy fund would find better use if it is invested in developing infrastructure across the country.
The experts, who attended NESA’s Fuel Subsidy Debate organised by The Peter Bauer Foundation, also known as The Liberal Forum (TLF) in Lagos, agreed that investments in fuel subsidy amounts to wastage and lopsided distribution of wealth in the country.
Among them are, Director of Research and Advocacy, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Vincent Nwani, Founder of Joy Incorporated, Chude Jideonwo, Senior Tax Accountant, Seven Energy, Suraj Oyewale and Kunle Ajiboye of Simplialpha, compliance and anti-money laundering experts.
In a communiqué made available to The Guardian yesterday, the TFL explained that the yearly debate is a forum for Nigerian economists and policy experts to engage university students on discussions of policy reforms and development.
The debate between NESA of the University of Illorin and University of Lagos (UNILAG), was however, won by UNILAG’s Padonu Lois and Ibrahim Lasisi.
Padonu argued that removal of subsidy would reduce the country’s debt profile, adding: “Infrastructure, health and education are key indicators for development in a country, so investing in these sectors would only make for development”.
Lasisi, who won the best speaker at the event, linked investment in infrastructure to poverty eradication and prevention of accidents on Nigerian roads.
“By diverting subsidy funds into road and other infrastructure repairs, accidents would be reduced on our roads,” he said.
Linking his points to the mass exodus of healthcare workers from the country, Lasisi added: “Also, Nigerian doctors want to stay. If the subsidy fund is used to improve the health sector, the 1,500 doctors graduating annually will stay in the country.”
Secretary of TLF’s Governing Board, Dr. Abimbola Agboluaje, said young Nigerians have a special stake in whether trillions of Naira is invested in providing them a sound education and in infrastructure or used to subsidise consumption of fuel by richer Nigerians.