Investiture of Mr. Raymond Akalonu, FRMN as 6th President, Risk Managers Society of Nigeria (RIMSON)
1. Nigeria, with a total surface area of approximately 923,768km2 was home to nearly 200 million people in 2018. It is the most populated country in Africa with a density of 212 inhabitants/km2 and is the 7th largest country, population wise, in the world.
2. At independence in 1960, our population stood at a little over 45 million people but with a steadily rising population growth rate of 2.5%, within 30 years it had more than doubled to 95 million in 1990. By another 25 years in 2015, that number again almost doubled to 181 million, an increase by 268% in 55 years!
3. There are no reliable data to show what policies were put in place to manage such population growth and it is projected that it will grow to almost 330 million people by 2040 and over 400 million people in 2050. This will move Nigeria from 7th to the 3rd most populous nation in the world.
4. Demographically, the female/male ratio is approximately 50/50 with a slight advantage in numbers of the male sex. However, our country is a youthful nation with 60% of the population below 24 years and of this number 42.5% are below 14 years. This has several implications, both negative and positive which we will address later in this paper.
5. What do these trends in our population growth entail? In the time that I have, we will briefly examine a few sectors to see how the nation has fared since the period of our independence. Our lives today, the trends in society be they social, economic or political, are greatly influenced by the environment in which we live. The Climate Crisis is real and its impact goes beyond geographical boarders and so are its consequences on weather patterns and the movement of populations. We will would wish to discuss the trends in our population growth within the backdrop of climate change. To explore other supra-earthly perspectives in order to understand the environment in which we live, not only our earthly environment but also the finer ethereal environment, the “Beyond”, the larger dimension of Creation which may better explain our population trends? Is our lack of this knowledge not a greater risk than the ones upon which we focus all our energies? Food for thought, worth an in-depth study! But perhaps not for today.
Effects on selected sectors
6. How well have we coped with the demands attendant to a quadrupling of our population within six decades in such areas as infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, economy and finance, employment and other services? Looking into the future, what are the challenges, risks and opportunities associated with them?
7. Infrastructure - Roads: In 1990, Nigeria had a road network of 145, 180 km and by 2015 the national road network barely expanded to just over 200,000km. This represents 655 users per kilometre of road in 1990 versus 905 users per km of road in 2015. Local government roads (about 150,000km), constitute over 65% of all roads and most are unpaved. Of the many shortcomings of the poor administration of our road transport system, I will mention just two.
- Road infrastructure maintenance is not our strength. We prioritise new road construction over maintaining existing roads further worsening the deterioration of existing road infrastructure.
- The road sector today accounts for about 90 per cent of all freight and passenger movements in the country. This shift from rail and waterways to inland road transportation has increased the burden on roads. For example, the high volumes of petroleum products transported on the national roadways, which are meant to be transported via pipelines, further diminish the already limited lifespan of the roads, resulting in higher maintenance needs.
8. Our failure to recognise the important role that transport infrastructure plays as a critical enabler increases the impact on nearly all other sectors of the economy. Transport is what gives life to development. Bad roads and traffic congestion result in negative consequences which include drainage of foreign exchange, increased medical costs, loss in manpower resources and labour productivity, inability to fulfil social obligations, and as a result of increased road accidents, destabilization of families The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) in 2017 estimated that Nigeria would need to spend between $22 and $31 billion over six years to provide quality road and rail infrastructure in the country.
9. Infrastructure – Energy sector: As it is with transport infrastructure, electricity consumption significantly impacts on economic growth. Just as it is for roads, an effective and efficient electricity or power supply requires periodic replacement of equipment and tools for reducing power losses. In 2012, Nigeria with a population of 150 million, generated only 5000MW (mega-watts) of electricity while South Africa with only 62 million generated 400,000MW. Nigeria is not one of the seven African countries —Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Namibia, Senegal and South Africa—whose electricity access rates exceeds 50%. Most electricity is generated by individual homes or businesses and depend on diesel generators thus increasing both health hazards and emissions and at very high cost to users.
10. But the energy generating potential for Nigeria, as it is for most Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is enormous. The region has rich primary-energy resources, with sufficient coal, gas, geothermal, hydro, solar, and wind resources to deliver more than 12 terawatts of capacity. The vast majority of this is solar potential, which can deliver about 11 terawatts. Nigeria ranks 7th among the identified countries with high potential (McKinsey and Company, “Brighter Africa”, 2015). However, this report has ignored the value, ease of installation and use and the environmental benefits of biogas technology for energy generation as has been successfully done in rural China and parts of Eastern Africa.
11. Agriculture: Agriculture is the bedrock of development. From 17th and 18th Century England to Japan to India, China and Brazil in the 20th Century, an agrarian revolution was the precursor for an industrial revolution. Industrialisation, particularly the agro-industrial sector, depends on surpluses in production which drive agro-processing and value addition, creating jobs and diversifying the economy.
12. In the 1960s and 70s, agriculture (crops, livestock, fisheries, forestry) was the country’s largest industry making 70% of our export, contributing 64% of GDP and supplying 95% of our food needs. But by the 1990s, agriculture GDP had dropped to below 50% and today hovers in the low 20s. Inversely to meet the surge in population and growing middle class and change in diets, annual food imports rose from USD113M in the 70s to USD8B in 2012 and today is over USD9B. Wheat and rice imports alone stand at USD6B.
13. Additionally, we Nigerians waste a lot of food which has been conservatively put at 30% to 40% of total food produced. This in monetary terms is about $750 billion. Nigeria’s food waste almost doubles the world average particularly as it is due primarily to poor storage, poor market infrastructure and little or no value addition through processing and transformation.
14. What went wrong? We discovered oil and neglected agriculture! But oil does not feed hungry people; it enriches a few pockets leaving the majority angry and raising many challenges such as insecurity and insurgency. This is paradoxical because agriculture offers this nation the greatest opportunity for growth in all sectors.
15. We are endowed with a landmass of over 900km2 of which over 75% is arable and of which we cultivate less than 10% mostly by smallholders with little or no inputs, and still using the hand-hoe. Nature has been kind to us with abundant rainfall and sunshine; criss-crossed by inland waterways, not to mention the wealth of our underground natural resources. And yet we have a large and energetic youthful population that is mostly unemployed or underemployed.
16. The Health Sector: A health sector that does not evolve, both in terms of the quality of its manpower (medical doctors and nurses/population ratios) and medical infrastructure and services, with an increasing demand imposed by population growth, urbanisation and changes in rural-urban dynamics, transformation of peri-urban areas and greater economic leverage, increased disposable income and change in diets of a growing middle class would dramatically and negatively impact on the social and economic dimensions of our overall development. However, Nigeria demonstrated an efficient medical preparedness during the Ebola crisis, thanks to its rapid response unit to outbreaks in epidemics from years of fighting Polio and other similar diseases. This can not be said of our overall medical system.
17. None-the-less, in 1990 there were only two (2) physicians and five (5) nurses for every 10,000 people in a population of 95 million. By 2011, that ratio had slightly improved and was four (4) physicians and 16 nurses per 10,000 people. This number dropped back to two physicians per 10,000 in 2017. The comparative figures for India and Brazil in 2017 were six physicians/10,000 and 20 physicians/10,000 respectively. The Nigerian Medical Association attributed this reversal to a brain drain as qualified doctors migrated elsewhere for better conditions of service in Europe and the Americas.
18. Presently, most of the primary health care facilities in Nigeria lack the capacity to provide essential health-care services, in addition to having issues such as poor staffing, inadequate equipment, poor distribution of health workers, poor quality of health-care services, poor condition of infrastructure, and lack of essential drugs.
19. A study examined what has stunted, and probably retarded, the growth of health care delivery in Nigeria over the last 50 years and listed the five most devastating obstacles as follows:
- A population that is growing much faster than the growth of services
- Inequity in the distribution of health care facilities and manpower
- Poor execution and coordination of primary care services programs
- Inadequate financial allocation to health.
- An economy that is plagued by large scale corruption by custodians of the economy, a largely single export economy, huge inflation and ever widening gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots".
20. Unfortunately, the same devastating obstacles can equally apply to the state of the afore-going sectors discussed earlier.
21. Youth, Education and Employment: These are highly inter-related and inter-connected. Given the large percentage (60%) of our population below the age of 24, our youths are the nation’s future. If properly educated, mentored and guided they are our primary national dividend, otherwise, they could become the greatest threat to the nation’s future.
22. While it is true that today, there are more secondary and tertiary institutions in Nigeria than in the 80s and 90s, churning out thousands of secondary and university graduates into the nation’s workforce, it can be argued that educational standards have dropped, infrastructure is deplorable, teachers and professors are not incentivized by an unrealistic salary structure; they often go unpaid for months further exacerbating the decline in the quality and caliber of trained youth, and curricular and relevance of the certificates and diplomas obtained do not meet the needs of prospective employers.
23. Overall in Nigeria, almost 21 million persons were classified as unemployed as at Q3 2016 which was a little over 10% of the population and this rose further to 18.1% in Q3 of 2018 and 23.1% in Q3 of 2019. Consequently, the impact of this high unemployment rate has become a major problem bedeviling the lives of Nigerian youth, causing increased militancy, violent crimes, kidnappings, restiveness and socially delinquent behaviour.
24. Youth unemployment is devastating to both the individual and the society as a whole both psychologically and economically. We need to refocus our efforts away from conventional education to other interventions such as effective career guidance, technical and vocational education as well as entrepreneurship education. These will also include youths being trained to possess skills which are congruent with real labour market demand, developing a special focus on career guidance and counselling support in schools and introduction of entrepreneurship education into the school curriculum.
Implications,Risks and opportunities
25. The fore-going brief review of selected sectors clearly demonstrates that investments in the nation’s development by successive governments since Nigeria became independent in 1960 have not kept pace with population growth. The paradox of this situation is that on the contrary, Nigeria’s economic power grew exponentially with the discovery and exploitation of its rich oil wells. In fact, it is obvious that Nigeria’s wealth has been squandered to the extent that it dwarfs the exploitation of the country by its former colonial masters. In this section, we will distil the implications, risks and opportunities associated with this dichotomy as they relate to the sectors we examined earlier in this paper.
26. The state of a nation’s physical infrastructure has an implication on and is an obvious measure of the health of its economy and financial sector, its leadership and mode of governance. Nigeria’s road and energy infrastructures attest to a gradual decline and a distortion of our moral compass. A good network of inland roadways and a highly reliable electricity supply augur well for a vibrant and competitive business environment. Where this is not the case, an immediate risk is our market environment becomes less attractive to foreign direct investment and a reduced flow of foreign capital into our economy.
27. In a few more years, our oil resources would fetch less money into our national coffers as developed and emerging markets shift to renewal energy. Oil is not finite and even the Saudis know better. The growth in solar power is indicative of this shift and what other geographies would offer the most attractive location for investment? Nigeria has 2672 hours of sunlight per year out of a possible 4380 hours while China has an average of 2707 hours of sunlight per year. China generated over 118.2 TWh by solar power in 2017 and has a projection of 1,300 GW of solar capacity by 2050. Nigeria’s renewable energy is still in its nascent stage. A huge opportunity awaits Nigeria where sunshine is abundant and its teeming youth population is capitalizing on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the power of Digital Technology and Robotics. Nigeria could become a leading market in the production and supply of solar energy and we must start now to develop and adapt to a fast approaching future.
28. The impact of our neglect of agriculture after we discovered oil has taken and is still taking a big toll on our economy. We have spent money creating wealth for other countries to grow our food while unemployment continued to rise. Agriculture pays the highest dividends in opportunity costs – apart from feeding people, it reduces proneness to disease, it creates wealth along the whole food chain, it generates jobs and is the largest employer for millions, and it is the precursor of peaceful communities. Agriculture, when seen as an enterprise, could be the fastest route to solving the restiveness of youth.
29. Hand in hand with agriculture, a revamped health sector will greatly improve the wellbeing of populations. The risk of not doing so is obvious: poor diagnosis of common diseases; increased infant and maternal mortality; poor nutrition and loss of cognitive abilities in children; increased mortality from curable illnesses such as malaria and typhoid; resurgence of “defeated” diseases such as polio; absence from work and loss in productivity of workforce.
30. Risk is an uncertainty that something may go wrong within a particular context. The higher that uncertainty, the less likely the event will materialize. Every sector of government and business must have the inbuilt capacity including methodology and tools for the identification and management of risks; a dynamic risk register that is constantly reviewed and updated; a risk management profile and framework and a reporting schedule that keeps everyone informed – leaders, policy makers, managers and the population.
31. Risks and risk management are not limited to the financial sector nor to insurance companies alone. We are constantly engaged in developing risk profiles whether at work or at home and these help us to identify alternatives and opportunities. A farmer assesses when to plant his crop in order to maximize the duration of the rainy/crop season and his output just as he/she assesses the market for when to sell or not to sell. These are the same steps that we take in professional risk management situations: identification of the risk; analysing the risk; evaluating or ranking the risk; treating the risk; and monitoring and reviewing the risk.
32. But how well have we done so over the years and across sectors as our population soared? What policies and institutions did we put in place in order to adapt or mitigate attendant risks? You know better than I do and I presume these and other questions you must have addressed during these two days of your conference.
33. Today, we have professional bodies such as RIMSON that can advise governments and institutions appropriately. Here, I must recognise the expansion of the membership of RIMSON to include all other professions such as health, engineering etc thus giving us a holistic approach to risk identification, analysis and management.
34. The Climate Crisis: Climate Change, as it is popular known, this real and looming phenomenon which scientists believe they understand and man in his intellectual arrogance believes he can stop if not reverse, is larger than the climatic events and induced human damage that are increasing at an alarming speed. As I considered the nature of this keynote, I was tempted to make this unusual perspective the main theme, but this is not what the average Nigerian of today would relate to or perhaps what RIMSON expects from me. But ladies and gentlemen, what is the greatest risk of our failure as human beings? Isn’t every citizen of Nigeria duty bound to know the law of the land? Where law and order are paramount in a society is a flagrant disregard of it not punishable by law? And yet we are citizens of this earth, creatures in Creation and are we not duty bound to know and understand the Laws that govern this Creation in which we live? Do we know Creation of which the earth is but a tiny dot and we human creatures are but an infinitesimal tiny dust grain in that little dot?
35. What is the Climate Crisis? What is its relationship with our population explosion - beyond weather catastrophes, changes in human behaviour, decay in our moral values, forced migration, wars and many more? Is it possible to imagine, that as the cycle of our civilisation draws to a close, many are hurriedly urged, one more time, to relive their lives on earth? A far-fetched imagination? Perhaps not! Again, food for thought but let us return to our familiar earthly environment.
36. With current trends in population growth, the need for more hospitals, healthcare centres, recreational centres, schools, residential buildings and industrial parks would put a strain on available agricultural land. This is a potential weak spot in the national security agenda as is already the case in the farmers/herdsmen crisis. Similarly, as the job market becomes more competitive as a result of fewer jobs but more job seekers and an increasing demand for skills rather than diplomas, distressed and desperate youths are more likely to become victims of human traffickers out of frustration and helpless, that is if they do not end up in urban slums where they also can become victims of crime, drugs and extremism.
37. The consequence of these developments would be a diversion of our focus on bold and robust financial and institutional priorities and orientation of our fiscal policies to fighting man-made crises and emergencies. revamping of existing economic and monetary policies that recognise the shift in our demographic structure; policies that would provide for the needs of our youths through appropriate investments in infrastructure,, access to financial services and capacity building through centres for talent development and entrepreneurship. .
38. The cost of doing business is high in Nigeria. It takes an average of one month to register a limited liability company; whereas in Rwanda, a country that emerged from a devastating human crisis only a few decades ago, it takes less than half a day! A major constraint to doing business in Nigeria is corruption. Corruption pervades the whole fabric of our society whether in government and politics or business, large or SMEs; in the educational system; and even in religion itself. It is a blight to our nation. Corrupt practices within the tax sector alone reduced total tax revenue in 2017 to just 8% of GDP.
39. And the corruption of religion particularly in our country Nigeria by the thousands of fake pastors and lay preachers is a bane to our society. Our form of religion is a mockery of the Laws of Creation; religion as practised is the major culprit in our distorted perspectives of the purpose of life on earth. Religion should be an outward manifestation of an inward conviction. In the absence of knowledge, how does one identify and manage the risks associated with a situation that is leading millions of our fellow country men and women astray? The fabric of religion in Nigeria robs the individual of his responsibility and deprives him of the basic principles of managing the risks arising from a false conception of life. Does RIMSON have a toolkit that addresses this primordial risk?
40. Other challenges of doing business in Nigeria include insecurity, poor to lack of adequate infrastructure particularly power supply, inconsistent and inappropriate national policies, access to finance, and the paucity of competent/trustworthy employees.
41. What should Nigeria do to best address the challenges and risks of its fast-growing population? While for me the answer is obvious, agriculture, the key driver of development needs to be seen in the context of an overall national development. Focusing on agriculture alone will not save Nigeria. Yes, nature has provided us with abundant fertile land, all year-round sunshine and an abundance of rainfall, a youthful and energic manpower that should be harnessed to its fullest potential to drive a technology-driven agricultural transformation. Yes, but without a change in our mindset; without recognising that change does not just happen by itself but that it must be made to happen; that the right policies are in place, that appropriate institutions are in place; that we wipe out blatant corruption and indiscipline from top to bottom, and that we re-position our moral compass to where it was at independence, a holistic approach that recognises the value of the various parts of our society; that our strength is in our diversity, we will be all running around in circles.
42. The Risk Managers Society of Nigeria, RIMSON, a gathering of risk managers as individuals and as corporate entities, with its mission “To promote and entrench Risk Management practices among Governments, Corporate Bodies and individuals for the safety and betterment of all Stakeholders and the Community” is a very lofty ambition. It behoves on RIMSON to bring together committees of risk managers to address our common challenge – population explosion and its risk factors with a view to generate forward looking policies for the government to guide Nigeria forward in its path to development as an emerging world economy.
43. A primary goal should be in partnering with federal and state governments in building awareness of the role of risk management (frameworks, policies and institutions) at all levels. It has the uniqueness of its independence to lead the way towards making risk management to become a national ethos.
44. I thank you all for listening.