By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
The Emir of Kano, Mohammadu Sanusi (II) on Monday, bemoaned Nigeria's huge population saying it was a liability to the country. The monarch stated this during a panel session at the 25th Nigerian Economic Summit currently holding in Abuja. The session was attended by the Founder of the Kukah Centre, Bishop Mathew Kukah and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi. The session focussed on how demographic realities can be transformed into social and business opportunities and what the implications are on internal migration, sustainable peace and security.The Emir said that the potentials of the country's huge population had yet to be tapped as the right policies to harness the future of the young people are still lacking. Sanusi attributed the rate of kidnapping, armed robbery, insurgency, farmers-herders crisis to the level of population growth. He said, "People talk that our population is an asset but we are yet to get there. "Nigeria's population is currently a liability because most of the root cause of problems such as kidnapping, armed robbery, Boko Haram, drug addiction are all tied to the population that we have and the question is how do you turn that into a productive one."This population problem is perhaps the most important developmental challenge we have to face. If we don't have a demographic transition, we will never have economic transition." Kukah said that the rate of population growth in other countries provided them with an opportunity to boost economic output, such is not the case in Nigeria. "Everything that becomes an opportunity in other countries become a liability in Nigeria. How is it the a country that is so resource endowed with all the opportunities that are available to us, things still turn liabilities to us in Nigeria. "I don't want to speculate how other nations have turned population into positive. It is that there must be something in the Nigerian water that makes it impossible for us to lack the capacity and the sense o understanding of even opportunities." He suggested that the government needed to do more to make the country a better place for all. Meanwhile, in another session on how Nigeria can prioritize industrialization and education to compete with developed countries in 2050, stakeholders called on the government to increase education investments. Those that attended the session were the President Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Mansur Ahmed, the Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria Plc Mrs Ibukun Awosika and the Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council Dr Doyin Salami. Awosika said for the government to harnes the potentials of its human resources, there is need for an emergency in the education sector. She said , "We need to articulate our position and strategy to achieve our objectives.Every young person wants an opportunity to be educated and have a job. "We must have a political system that serves the interest of the nation rather than individuals. "We need to declare an emergency in the education sector and redefine the universities to close the gap from what is being taught and what the industry needed." Salami said that said as a country , Nigeria needed to face a unified direction that would enable the federal and state governments to work according to a defined plan. He said with potential population of 400 million by 2050, the country cannot afford to build a society of imbalance. When asked what government needed to do to achieve inclusive economic growth, he said there is need to stimulate investments in job creating sectors. He also called on the government to boost the level of basic education through massive investments in the sector.