Prof. Fidelis Okafor
Social Scientists have been described as the panacea to Nigeria's socio-economic quagmire, especially in the country's current economic recession.
This was the major thrust at the 3rd International Conference tagged, "Contending with the Challenges of Development in an Era of Recession", put together by the Faculty of Social Sciences, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Anambra State.
The Keynote Speaker at the 2-day International Conference and Dean Faculty of Social Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Chinyere Stella Okunna, described social scientists as very core in formulating and implementing strategies that would solve the nation's socio-economic problems.
Okunna who advocated for the diversification of Nigeria's economy, said that emphasis was no longer on crude oil, but agriculture, tourism, film industry and other sectors that would contribute to the growth of the nation's economy.
She said that the small and medium scale enterprises were the soul of growing the economy because according to her, they had the capacities to create jobs, especially for the teeming unemployed youths in the country.
Okunna posited that the nation's power sector must be revived to grow the economy, stressing that there was no way SMEs would thrive in the country without the power sector being functional and dependable to enable small businesses to survive.
The keynote speaker was of the opinion that Nigeria must get the power sector right immediately if she must wriggle out of her current economic recession, adding that there was need also to correct the battered image of the country in the international community as the outside world perceived Nigeria as a country plagued by terrorism, kidnapping, gangsterism and a host of other social vices.
She said also that the media was vital in helping the nation to get out of her socio-economic problems, even as she regretted that the media had been pocketed by the government, a situation, she observed, led to people no longer criticising government.
According to her, the watchdog role of the media was diminishing and journalists on the other hand were neck-deep in propaganda journalism. She said that the recommendations of the conference would go a long way to addressing the Nigeria's socio-economic maladies.
The lead paper presenter, Prof. Alloyius, who was represented by Prof Gerald of the Political Science Department, University of Nigeria Nsukka, noted that Nigeria, as a developing economy, always used foreign development models to approach domestic issues without recourse to developing a home-grown initiative.
He explained that a foreign template would be based on the socio-economic realities of the country from whence the template was borrowed, stressing that such development initiative could not hold water as it was not in tandem with the peculiarities on ground.
According to him, the lead paper advocated that the Nigerian state should stop forthwith, the continuous adoption and adaptation of foreign development models in tackling her socio-economic problems and should develop a home-grown model in consonance with the realities on ground.
Meanwhile, chairman of the occasion Prof. Jude Udenta of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, pointed out that the biggest culprit of the current recession in the country was corruption. Udenta also said that structural issues in the country should be addressed as the level of separatist movements had become alarming.
The professor of government and public administration who described the international conference as timely, noted that the bone of contention was how well policy makers in the country were willing and able to implement policy recommendations from the conference.
He said it was important to have a positive view for the country and not the current hatred for one another, emphasizing that the conference sought to address the nation's socio-economic problems, as well as hoping that the leaders would find the political will to get things right, even as he hoped that the followership too should accept things when they were done right.
Also Dean of Social Sciences, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Prof. Okechukwu Nwankwo corroborated other speakers, stressing that the International Conference was a veritable process of getting out of the current recession.
Nwankwo also said that over dependence on foreign models that were formulated without considering the context of the country would not engender requisite development.
He pointed out that if the leaders looked inwards, they would find lasting solutions to problems in the country, noting that for the country to come out of the current economic recession, she should eschew dependence on external factors in solving her domestic issues.
The Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Fidelis Okafor, who was represented by Prof. Emman Owuamalam of the Mass Communication Department, said the conference was apt, especially as the issue of restructuring the Nigerian State was at the front burner of public discourse.
Okafor however stated that the International Conference had become a yearly ritual in Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University and expressed the hope that policy makers would find the resolutions and recommendations of the conference worthy of implementation to address her domestic problems.