President Muhammadu Buhari said on Saturday that the elite are responsible for what Nigeria is and what it can become.
He also declared the fast growing young and dynamic population that feels alienated and disempowered as a threat to national stability.
The President, who stated these at the graduation ceremony of 78 participants of the Senior Executive Course 42 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) on Saturday, said it was based on this premise that his administration set its sights on lifting 100 million people out of poverty over the next decade.
He said the country has come a long way from the era in which the government was the principal actor in the economy, adding that the administration has come to recognise that prosperity and growth lie in unleashing the Nigerian genius for enterprise and industry that is domiciled in her private sector.
He said: “The role of the government is now primarily that of facilitators. The old dichotomies between the state and the market no longer apply. We recognised that the path to the future will be paved by consolidating the independence of these sectors.”
President Buhari, who was represented by Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State, said that was why the government was building a new ethic of collaboration in which the public sector sees its role as enabling the private sector to perform optimally.
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He said: “This is why we are building a new ethic of collaboration in which the public sector sees its role as enabling the private sector to perform optimally.
“Job creation and youth empowerment can be undertaken at scale by the private sector, but it requires government officials to encourage enterprise by promoting the ease of doing business. “For many Nigerian entrepreneurs, the government is perceived more as a hindrance than a help whether in terms of taxation, infrastructural deficits and the general lack of an enabling environment.”
According to him, while the administration will continue to pursue the course of digitization of governance processes, it is important to point out that neither laws nor technology can totally eliminate the role of discretion in bureaucracies.
He said as people of authority, a measure of discretion is inherent in official capacities.
“This too is part of your unique privilege. Your high station affords you the license to make choices based on your preferences and perceptions as well as to register dissent with directives that conflict with your values through official channels.
“This institution and this course in particular were established to enrich the exercise of official discretion with sound judgment and strategic discernment.
“The bureaucracies to which you belong will either rise or fall on how ably you wield your discretionary powers.”
In his address, the Director General of the institute, Prof. Habu Galadima, said participants conducted their studies vigorously under a menacing shadow of Covid-19, adding that the participants were completely locked down on the NIPSS campus for several months, during which they utilised virtual means to interact with experts.
Galadima pointed out that the intellectual focus of the participants has been sharpened and their conceptual capacities substantially expanded to better appreciate issues of national significance.
He appealed for support to strengthen the capacity of the National Institute for enhanced productivity, adding that the elite institution is heavily burdened by the huge bills of utilities and also the challenge of accommodation for staff and participants.