Osinbajo fingers oil, banking sectors for worsening socio-economic inequalities

Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has fingered Nigeria’s most lucrative sectors for aggravating socioeconomic inequalities between the working class in society.

Osinbajo said this during his keynote address at the hybrid Fourth IIF Annual Convening on Impact Investing, organised by the Impact Investors Foundation (IIF) in Lagos.

According to the VP, the oil and gas sector, along with the Banking and Finance industry, have failed to provide job offers in proportion to their huge profit margins.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the gathering had as its title: “Showcasing Investment Opportunities in Nigeria”.

The Vice President said that liberal economies are assumed that growth, including a decent standard of living for the people, would be driven largely by commercial entities, motivated by profits who create jobs and pay taxes but too many were left behind and inequalities continue to grow.

“It is also evident that some of the most lucrative sectors in the economy such as oil and gas, banking and finance simply do not produce jobs commensurate with the profits they make.

“The sharp drop in the standard of living caused by the COVID-19 induced shock on the country’s economy and global economies has not only further deepened existing inequalities, but also pushed many more into extreme poverty.

“Neither government nor businesses can afford to ignore the huge social disparities and environmental deterioration but because the logic of profit motive has been a driver of innovation, wealth and growth is unassailable,” he said.

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The VP, however, commended some private companies who are already in the business of deploying investments that are meaningfully impacting farmers and investors.

He reiterated that government is keen on structural funds, citing the green bond of the Federal Government in 2017, first in Africa and fourth in the world, adding that proceeds of the bond could only be used to finance climate or environmentally-friendly projects approved by SEC.

The Chairperson of the 4th IIF Annual Convening, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, in her welcome address, stressed the need for impact investment to turn the fortunes of the economy through public and private sector participation.

Awosika said: “Impact investing is not about government but with government, because it is investments that is after profits for investors but have that ability to have a more patient wait in return in a way that it changes lives and social systems, impacting the lives of people and communities.

“To do that, there are roles government will play and the role the private sector (both local and international) will play. All the things we need to fill the gaps of where our needs are as a country, we cannot afford them as a country.

“We need a combination of capital from outside that has good at heart intentions, which is not just about coming to make profit but to create positive change in the lives of our people and yet get value and old return for their money,” she said.

The Chairman, Board of Trustees, IIF, Mr Afolabi Oladele, said that every bit of policy that will make it easier to access financing and make infrastructure available for people to move, communicate and reduce cost of energy are key focus areas that need to be dealt with to ensure that impact investing thrives.

The Projects Lead/Head of Secretariat, IIF, Ms Etemore Glover, explained that the gathering had opened conversations across the public and private sectors to understand the importance of channeling investments to priority sectors of the economy for sustainable growth.

The UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Mohamed Yahya, spoke on catalysing Nigeria’s post COVID-19 recovery with impact capital, saying opportunities and challenges had highlighted the institutional bottlenecks, policy and regulatory environment inadequacies of impact investment.

NAN reports that panel sessions on catalysing Nigeria’s post COVID-19 recovery with impact capital; identifying and unlocking potentials in Nigerian enterprises; DFIs and the Nigerian impact investing Ecosystem – challenges and opportunities were held.

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