Speaking at the 5th Edition of Future Investment Initiative Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, President Muhammadu Buhari attributed growing social unrest to inequalities and unfair policies that exclude majority from opportunities for participation in how they are governed.
“Investing in Humanity is the right thing to do,” he said. “I strongly believe the historical under investments in “humane projects” is the genesis of most of the insecurity and socio-economic challenges the world is experiencing today.”
Touching on the theme of the summit: “Investing in Humanity,” Buhari said that the Nigerian perspective remains a focus on people oriented development policies, with diversification from oil to more inclusive sectors such as agriculture, ICT and mining; tackling corruption, insecurity and climate change and introducing Social Investment Programmes.
Thus, the President admonished world leaders and global investors to prioritise on inclusive and humane related policies.
The President said his administration will keep encouraging public and private initiatives that increase investments in health, education, capacity building, youth empowerment, gender equality, poverty eradication, climate change and food security.
“By so doing, it will go a long way in reenergising the global economy in a post COVID-19 era,” he said. “Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation. Our economic reforms which focus on “humane” investments are ideal for investors looking to have profitable returns while positively impacting the citizenry.”
With his submission, of course, the President could not have said better, as far as situating governance within the context of the need for leaders to be of service to the greatest number of their people.
In fact, peace and stability, as both enablers for and outcomes of development, can find its origin directly from the UN Millennium Declaration of 2000. The Declaration reaffirmed global leaders’ commitment to promoting the three pillars of the United Nations mandates: peace and security, development and human rights, although MDGs, which were derived from the Declaration, are mainly focused on the goals and targets in the area of development.
In the course of achieving the MDGs, the international community has further realised the importance of the intrinsic links among these three pillars.
For example, five years after the launch of the MDGs, the report of the Secretary-General to the 59th General Assembly of the United Nations, In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all, made it clear that “not only are development, security and human rights all imperative; they also reinforce each other”
As the report pointed out, while poverty and denial of human rights may not be said to “cause” civil war, terrorism or organised crime, they all greatly increase the risk of instability and violence.
Similarly, war and atrocities are far from the only reasons that countries are trapped in poverty, but they, undoubtedly, set back development. Countries which are well governed and respect the human rights of their citizens are better placed to avoid the horrors of conflict and to overcome obstacles to development.
Indeed, like the President has stressed, conflict entails enormous and multifaceted costs, including direct human suffering and catastrophic socio-economic disruptions, and thus significantly impeding the achievement of some countries and their development goals.
For instance, there has been a conspicuous divergence in poverty reduction between the countries in peace and stability and those mired in conflicts, with the former managing to reduce poverty in a steady pace, while the latter seeing their poverty rates stagnating or even rising.
On the average, poverty reduction rate in conflict-affected countries is likely to be lower than in other countries and, over time, the cumulative gap between these two groups will expand significantly, if not addressed.
Generally, people in the conflict-affected countries are deprived of their rights to live in dignity and their opportunities to develop: they are more likely to be impoverished, unable to attend schools and denied of access to basic health services and other public goods.
No doubt, countries afflicted by conflicts account for nearly 80 per cent of school-age children not enrolled in primary school, 60 per cent of the poverty and 70 percent of infant mortality.
Compared with countries without major conflicts, children born in conflict-affected countries are twice as likely to be undernourished and nearly twice as likely to lack access to improved water.
Moreover, the effects of conflict can be protracted. According to some studies, it would take an average of 14 years for a country to recover to its original GDP growth paths after a conflict.
Conflicts also have substantial spill-over effects across borders, hampering progress in achieving development goals of the neighbouring countries.
For example, it is estimated that countries in Africa, on the average, would lose 0.7 per cent of GDP for each neighbouring country involved in a civil war.
Another heavy spill-over effect of conflicts is associated with refugees. Worldwide, total number of people displaced as a consequence of conflicts and violence have reached tens of millions and about 75 percent of the refugees are hosted by neighbouring countries.
The large number of refugees are hosted by neighbouring countries.
The large number of refugees has not only entailed huge amount of financial costs on neighbouring countries, but also heightened risks of infectious diseases and intensified tensions in the hosting countries.
All is not gloom about the situation, however, for, as the President tends to imply, once a conflict-affected country restores peace and stability, breaking the vicious cycle between conflict and sustainable development, it can make significant progress in achieving its development goals.
In the end, it should be noted by all leaders, especially in Africa, that investing in humanity, as President Buhari said, is “investing in our collective survival…this is why we, in Nigeria, believe that public and private partnership should focus on increasing investments in health, education, capacity building, youth empowerment, gender equality, poverty eradication, climate change and food security.”
eNaira and Nigeria’s GDP
The adoption of the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) and the underlying technology, called block chain, can increase Nigeria’s GDP by $29 billion over the next 10 years. This statement came from President Muhammadu Buhari, this week, in Abuja, when he led the official ceremony to launch the eNaira.
A central bank digital currency (CBDC) is a digital currency that is issued and overseen by a country’s central bank.
According to the President, the introduction of the eNaira would enable the government to send direct payments to citizens eligible for specific welfare programmes as well as foster cross border trade.
The CBDCs, he said, can foster economic growth through better economic activities, increase remittances, improve financial inclusion and make monetary policy more effective.
”Let me note that aside from the global trend to create Digital Currencies, we believe that there are Nigeria-specific benefits that cut across different sectors of, and concerns of the economy,” he said. “The use of CBDCs can help move many more people and businesses from the informal into the formal sector, thereby increasing the tax base of the country.”
It should be noted that with the launch of eNaira, Nigeria has become the first country in Africa and one of the first in the world to introduce a Digital Currency to their citizens.
However, while little is known by Nigerians about digital currency, it should be pointed out that digital currency is any currency that is available, exclusively, in electronic form.
Electronic versions of currency already predominate most countries’ financial systems. In the U.S., for instance, the physical U.S. currency in circulation is only about one-tenth of the overall money supply. The remainder is held in various bank deposits in electronic form.
What differentiates digital currency from the electronic currency currently in most Americans’ bank accounts is that it never takes physical form. Citizens can, however, go to an ATM and turn an electronic record of their currency holdings into physical cash.
Digital currency, however, in most cases, does not take physical form. It always remains on a computer network and is exchanged via digital means.
For example, instead of using physical Naira notes, someone can make purchases by transferring digital currency to retailers using mobile device. Functionally, this may be no different than how people treat their money using payment applications.
Following the successful launch of decentralised cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, which store value but are not managed by any central authorities, governments and central banks around the world are researching the possibility of creating their own digital currencies, commonly known as central bank digital currencies.
Advantageously, digital currency enables faster payments, it is less expensive and the unbanked individuals could access their money and pay their bills without extra charges.
Through the CBDC, government could send payments like tax refunds, child benefits and food stamps to people instantly.
Yet, CBDC has its disadvantages such as the fact that the user must learn how to perform fundamental tasks, like how to open a digital wallet and properly store digital assets securely. In Nigeria, with penchant of some people to be fraudulent, this could be a huge challenge for especially the financial crimes authorities.