The 23rd Nigerian Economic Forum, tailored at enhancing the nation’s economic performances and local productivity, has just ended in Abuja. KEHINDE OSASONA looks at possible implementation of policies cum communiqué arrived at while it lasted, and how expectations reached could trickle down to salvage current economic challenges.
Undeniably, Nigeria’s economy as dissected by array of economic analysts and stakeholders’-alike has fallen into un-competitiveness which has culminated in ’Chronic Trade Deficit’ being experienced over the years.
Not only that, the power generation which hovers around 6,803MW and 7,000 MW which has not matched the conservative need of the country which is put at 40,000 MW. Epileptic power supply has reportedly remained at abysmal low level with its trailing implication on the performances of manufacturing, industries and even some private companies who are rumoured to be on the verge of closing shop. Sadly too, the country’s Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) that depend largely on power to galvanize profit risk economic losses. The question is; did the just concluded NESG dialogue capture their interest too?
Lately, doubts have also been raised on whether or not the outcome of the summit with the theme; ‘Opportunities, Productivity and Employment: Actualizing the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan’ would go the way others did without holistic implementation of articulated views and policy statements issued at the end of the business gathering.
The gathering, it would be recalled brought together captains of industries, policy makers, corporate leaders, academia, civil society representatives, technocrats from the public and the private sectors all under a roof to chart a way forward for a nation just exiting recession. Another question to ask at this juncture is; will the dialogue breed a policy framework capable of enhancing national development? Also, as proposed; will it trigger vistas of hope for Africa’s most vibrant yet fledging economy?
Shortly after he was appointed as Head of the Interim Government in January 1993, Chief Ernest Shonekan convened the first Nigerian Economic Summit (NES1) which bothered on the urgent need to tackle the problems headlong.
23 years after, in apparent discontent with the performance of the economy, indications have emerged that expectant Nigerians are beginning to question the integrity and ability of core group of participants to proffer solution to our myriad economic problems. Economic analysts have argued that the yearly gathering has turned to an avenue to merely generate discourse; more or less a ‘Jamboree’ without due follow up at the end of the day on how to articulate policies thereof to better the lots of Nigerians’.
As the nation emerges from acute recession, it was speculated that spill – over effect of 23rd NESG outcome or communiqué as the case may be would help in rail–roading Nigeria’s economy to a destination such that activities of key players vis a’ viz innovators, entrepreneurs, financial institutions and other stakeholders in the economic sector would remain bullish in their quest to save Nigeria from imminent economic gloom. Keen followers of the session also expected that vital sectors of the economy must enjoy utmost priority when policy implementation commences.
Times without numbers, questions have re-echoed in the media on whether or not Nigeria can compete with other vibrant economies in the globe, considering her inability to leverage comparatively in diverse sectors like agriculture, mining, energy and manufacturing for instance rather than relying solely on the now un-fancied oil sector.
“Ordinarily, if well implemented, the outcome of the 23rd NESG could within months fortify our economy fully against further recession or any form of economic retardation at that,” a public commentator, Abdulkadir Mohammed told Blueprint.
It is believed in some quarters that agriculture through which over $3 billion could be unlocked via full diversification ought to be the economy’s driver. They anchored their submissions on the report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which showed that Nigeria exited recession owing to 1.86 per cent and 3.3 per cent growth respectively posted by agriculture along -side manufacturing and trade. The agriculture and manufacturing sectors, according to experts has helped in gradually narrowing the gap between oil and non- oil Gross Domestic Product (GDP) because non-oil contributed 99.1 per cent to GDP.
The Central Bank of Nigeria reportedly sold $9 billion to forex dealers through the interbank market between February and August 2017 when recession was at its peak coupled with plummeted government revenues.
For an agricultural economist, Musa Aliu, Nigeria’s defiant attitude towards the implementation of the Maputo accord of which she was a signatory, was the bane of under-development being recorded if not at present, he said ordinarily, agriculture should have by now been playing pivotal role on our path to economic recovery.
‘’Imagine a paltry N92 billion (Less than 1.5 per cent) of the total budget of over N7 trillion allocated to the agricultural sector. Considering our aspiration and diversification plans, the N92 billion 2017 agriculture benchmark was grossly inadequate and has further relegated the sector to the background, tell me, it have augured well for Nigeria’s economy if we had respected the Maputo agreement and accrued yearly the 10 per cent stipulated to agriculture in our annual budget but unfortunately what do we have here; defiance attitude.’’ he querried.
Before the summit kick-off, a financial analyst Mukhtar Muhammed had during an interactive session enjoined participants at the summit on the need to properly document, articulate and ensure implementation of policies and statements generated.
He said: ‘’The summit is apt considering the Nation’s pursuit of global competitiveness and the launching the elaborate 149 pages documents ‘The economic recovery and Goals Plan’ aim at recovering from recession and put our economy back on the path of growth in three years. The outcome of this 23rd NES should be a clear departure from what we used to have. It is only through that that Nigerians would take government serious on issues.’’
Nnaemeka Obhiarere, another analyst equally cautioned the crop of technocrats that converged on Abuja for the dialogue not to allow lack of political will to implement distorts good thinking.
“I hope this time, we would be transparent enough and operate in the best governance system buoyed in timely and proper implementation of policies reeled out and that we will also guide against a situation where we would be gathering again to do same thing all over else, we would not get any commensurable result.
Meanwhile, the Kyari Bukar – led 23rd NESG have identified among other things; skills, competencies and capacity, access to capital, legislations and economic inclusion as key focus as the conference rounded – off.
Skills, Competencies & Capacity
Skills, competencies and capacities has been identified as key ingredients to be able to explore linkages between economic opportunities and right policies that will deliver them for the betterment of our growing economy.
Access to capital
They also identified strategic investment options, frameworks, models and business cases as very germane in order to unlock the type of capital flows that will create opportunities and jobs for Nigerians.
They hinged their believe on the fact that Nigeria’s socio-economic context makes it clear that reforms in the legislative, regulatory and institutional environment is needed to improve economic competitiveness. The reforms according to them are expected to focus needs of large and formal businesses and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and more importantly in enhancing our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
23 rd NESG also believed that driving economic and inclusive growth goes beyond addressing the basic needs of the poor and vulnerable populations. They assumed that it will strengthen the sustainability of market development by building buy – in for economic reforms. Not only that, they are of the view that it would build a fairer and stronger economy.
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