Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has said that he is always up at night due to the thought of extreme poverty ravaging the country.
He stated this at a question and answer session of a dinner and Interactive Session with Faculty Members, Harvard Business School (HBS), an event that held in Lagos on Tuesday.
The question and answer session was moderated by Hakeem Bello-Osagie, chairman of Metis Capital Partners, while Srikant Datar, Professor of Business Administration (HBS), and Bayo Ogunlesi, a Nigerian investment banker, featured alongside Osinbajo at the session.
Osinbajo said, “I think what keeps me up at night has to do with extreme poverty; the issue is that the largest number of those who vote for us are the very poor.
“The promises that government makes to them is that their lives will be better and obviously they are looking at their lives being better in the shortest possible time.
“I will like to see Nigeria being an industrialised nation in the next 10 years; a very strong middle class and most people living above poverty line.”
On what government is doing to address the issue of poverty, Osinbajo said several government policies targeting people at the bottom of the pyramid with a focus on agriculture and getting credit facilities to farmers in order to achieve self sufficiency are currently in place.
He added that not a few farmers in Nigeria had already been lifted out of poverty by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
One of the programmes used in achieving that he said, was the Social Intervention Programmes (SIPs) which factored the provision of cheap credit to petty traders at the bottom of the pyramid.
While he told HBS that Nigeria was open to business with its various potentials, Osinbajo also called on Nigerian investors abroad to look homewards.
He said, “If you are going to do business anywhere in Africa, it has to be Nigeria. This is where you have the energy; you have the drive.
“We are already seeing that kind of activity; business people will always be driven by profit. Talent will always go in the direction where it is best rewarded; one can’t afford to be sentimental about that.
“As people see that the environment is getting better for business, they will come back; the opportunities for making huge profits are here.
“Practically everything we are doing in to ensure that there is environment for business to thrive. People are leaving but people are coming back.”