By Rotimi Fadeyi
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that Nigeria’s desire and pursuit of economic growth and sustainable development is best achieved through the adoption of merit as a national value.
This was contained in a statement issued on Sunday by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande.
The statement said that Osinbajo spoke when he delivered a keynote address at the Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI) webinar series with the theme, “A National Conversation on Rebuilding our National Values System”.
“Meritocracy is crucial in an economically viable value system because it rewards talent and enterprise.
And it is talent and enterprise that would drive sustainable growth,” Osinbajo affirmed.
Stressing the point about the importance of merit to sustainable growth, the Vice President said, “Economic growth rests upon the substructure of values.
The basis of the entire credit system as we know it, is trust. Indeed, the word credit is derived from the Latin word “credere” —to believe or to trust.
For a credit facility to be extended to a person, trust is placed in the borrower and his or her willingness and ability to repay.
“When we say that there is a credit crunch, we are referring to a lack of trust. This has significant implications for the economy.
Banks cannot lend to people when fraud is widespread, and enterprise and industry cannot flourish without credit.
According to him, “financial institutions may also be reluctant to lend because they cannot trust that the government will remain consistent with regulatory policies.
For the same reason, investors may be discouraged from investing. When we speak of investor confidence, we are merely describing the level of trust investors are willing to place in an environment.
“Citizens who do not trust that their taxes will be embezzled due to official corruption are unlikely to see any value in paying their taxes.
If people stop trusting the media, they are more likely to fall prey to merchants of fake news which can have a destabilizing effect on a nation.
Where everyone is self-seeking there can be no trust and without trust, it is impossible to sustain an open society.
The significance of trust for the workings of the economy and society are farreaching.”
In a speech that clearly proposes that merit can also be worked into the implementation of the Federal Character Principles, the Vice President submitted that stakeholders must focus their attention on merit as a crucial factor for society’s economic survival, social justice and in having an economically viable value system.
He said, “Meritocracy is crucial as a value in and of itself.
The moment that we depart from meritocracy, we cannot tie our value system to development in any meaningful way.
Our public institutions must be equipped to provide opportunities, regardless of tribe, religion or gender, but the primary criterion must be merit.”
The Vice President noted that the nation’s value system must provide “a causal connection with our economic development.
In other words, we must be able to say that these sets of values conduce to economic development in a particular way.
And it must also be one that is capable of showing us or the individual, that a happy society, a community of people that are prepared to live and work together, is possible on account of this value system.”
“While inequalities may be addressed by affirmative provisions such as Federal Character, the primary consideration should be merit,” Osinbajo noted.