Professor of Industrial Economics at the University of Lagos, Margaret Abiola Loto, has called on the Nigerian government to focus on developing the manufacturing sector of the country’s economy to facilitate development in other sectors of the economy.
She made this call on Wednesday, August 9, 2023 while delivering the twenty-third Inaugural Lecture in the 2021/2022 Academic Session of the University of Lagos titled: “MANUFACTURING: THE ROADMAP TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (THE MISSING LINK)”.
Professor Loto posited that if policymakers could focus on righting the wrong policies, target these right policies at the right aspects of the economy and improve upon aiming for the right timing for such policies, there would be considerable improvement in Nigeria’s sustainable development.
During her lecture, she scrutinized the reasons behind the failure of the manufacturing industry to perform its role as the bedrock to economic growth and sustainable development in Nigeria. Her queries revealed that the manufacturing sector of the Nigerian economy was not exposed to the manufacture of intermediate and capital goods that can produce other goods.
She further delved into examining the structure and weak points of the origins of manufacturing, focusing her research on how this important sector can come out of the abyss.
Professor Margaret Loto made several notable recommendations, some of which are:
- Investments should be made in core manufacturing industry. According to her, if Nigeria can invest in just one of the core manufacturing industries (e.g., iron & steel industry, petrochemical, rolling mills etc.) and successfully develop it to operate at full capacity, Nigeria will never lack. With vivid descriptions she expatiated on how Nigeria can benefit from investing in the iron & steel industry.
- Nigeria should adopt a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based) productivity strategy. According to her, creating a simple, focused plan with clear steps and outcomes will help individuals (workers and consumers), business leaders, and analysts (e.g., policymakers and government statisticians) know exactly what to do, stay on task and set them up for success.
- Research and development must originate from universities through funding and conducive environment.
- Waste should be prevented and recycling encouraged.
- Local sourcing of raw materials must be strongly encouraged.
- Education must be respected. Professor Loto reiterated that “education is key, education is power, and education is knowledge” and that for public policy to be meaningful and properly interpreted, education must be strengthened.
Professor Loto firmly believed that once the recommendations she made are put in place, “even though they did not address the root cause of the manufacturing (that is, the origin of inefficiencies in the sector), at least to an extent, there will be room for productivity improvement in manufacturing. With productivity improvement, there will be room for more employment of labour and capital, an increase in capacity utilisation, a healthy balance of payment position, a better competitive edge in the international market and reasonable foreign exchange earnings that can cater for the import bill of the sector.
Upon completion of her inaugural lecture delivery, Professor Ayodele V. Atsenuwa, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development Services) who represented the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Professor Folasade T. Ogunsola, OON, FAS, recognised Professor Margaret Abiola Loto’s immense contribution to knowledge and improving the world; thus in the parlance of learned academics, discharged and acquitted her on behalf of the University of Lagos Senate for paying her academic debt to the University.
Subsequently, Professor Margaret Loto was warmly welcomed to the Committee of Professors that have paid their debts.
Professor Margaret Abiola Loto is the 20th child out of 21 children, consequently, she had some gaps in her early childhood education after losing her father at the age of four (4). She also took a break from studying later on for marital and maternal reasons. Notwithstanding all these factors, Professor Margaret Loto’s love for education prevailed and she was able to obtain her PhD, become a Professor and impart knowledge on generations of students. Of these, she supervised over 200 undergraduate students’ research projects, over 100 masters’ students’ research work and 5 research thesis dissertations in MPhil and Ph.D. level.
Professor Loto was married to Late Professor Cleophas Akintoye Loto and is blessed with children, and grandchildren.