Dr. Terhimba Wuam of History Department, Kaduna State University (KASU), on Wednesday urged the federal and state governments to strengthen citizens engagement in development process, as part of strategies to address insecurity.
Wuam, an Associate Professor of Economic History and the Dean of Student Affairs, KASU, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna.
He said the disconnect between the government and the people was among factors responsible for the poor state of the nation’s economy, which contributes to the protracted insecurity in the country.
According to him, the lingering insecurity will significantly reduce if citizens participate in decision making and development process.
He added that governments must also be more inclusive and responsive to citizens’ needs.
“Government must make the development process and institutions more inclusive and give citizens the opportunity to co-design and co-implement programmes in partnership with governments.
“The Governments must also find a way to promote development in every part of the country to keep the people busy and engaged in economic activities.
“To ensure inclusive development, the citizen’s must be engaged at every level so that they can own the process and protect development projects in their various communities from vandals,’’ Wuam said.
He added that federal and state governments must also strengthen the social contract between them and the citizens, particularly in the area of tax payment.
Wuam said that people must be encouraged to pay tax, for the government to raise the needed revenue and resources to provide basic amenities and social services that would engender development.
He stressed that the tax would be used to provide healthcare, education, infrastructure, security among other basic social services that would improve people’s standard of living.
Wuam noted that Nigeria’s
economic growth in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was not commensurate with its growing population, which was rising at about 3.2 per cent annually.
He said the country must consciously increase its GDP growth rate from between 1.0 and 2.0 per cent to between 6.0 and 10 per cent annually to keep the economy afloat.
“China in spite of its population was able to maintain a 10 per cent GDP growth rate for about 40 years and today, China is one of the strongest economies of the world.
“We have all that it takes to achieve a 6.0 to 10 per cent annual GDP growth rate.
“But to do this, the country must move away from the current practice where the federal and the state governments are the exclusive drivers of the economy.
“The governments must decentralise the economy and empower the local government areas to drive the economy at the community level,” he said.
The historian pointed out that currently, economic activities thrive mostly at the state capitals and few semi-urban areas across the country, with little happening at the community level.
According to him, this has left majority of the population idle, thereby, contributing little or nothing to the GDP.
He said that local government areas should be empowered to drive economic development, with specific annual targets.
“Nigeria would not only attain 10 per cent annual GDP growth rate but even more.
“The federal and state governments must transform every local government area and community into an economy agent for robust and sustainable economic growth and development,’’ he said. (NAN)