In a bid to promote a vibrant regional economy through public and private sector collaboration, Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu, who is the national president, Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and also the president of Federation of West Africa Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI) as well as chairman of Nigeria’s Organised Private Sector of Nigeria (OPS), led a delegation of the three bodies on a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari. ENE OSANG writes
The National President of the Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu, recently led a high powered delegation of economic team to President Muhammadu Buhari for a meeting at the State House, Abuja.
Aliyu, who is also the President of Federation of West Africa Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI) and chairman of Nigeria’s Organised Private Sector of Nigeria (OPS) articulated a 16-point programme to President Buhari and his team on how to grow the economy in order to promote a vibrant regional economy through public and private sector collaboration.
Speaking at the meeting, Aliyu disclosed that NACCIMA would engage the federal government on a 16-point agenda for Nigeria’s business growth and socio-economic advancement through public and private sector collaboration.
She said the agenda covers issues around security, adherence to law and ethics, proactive policy engagement, trade capacity building, efficient taxation, government intervention programmes, creative industry, agribusiness, solid minerals and metals, micro and medium scale development, technology and infrastructure, industrial parks, regional integration, multiplicity of private sector organizations, as well as Women and Youth empowerment.
According to her, the challenges faced by businesses in Nigeria such as infrastructure deficit, multiple-taxation, elimination of obstacles to exports cannot be overemphasised, stressing the need for government to patronize local banks and more interventions to support women and youth empowerment.
However, she maintained that even with all these challenges which continues to hinder the nation’s economic growth, the three bodies are committed to bring the much desired change.
“We prefer to look at the brighter side especially when the issues appear seasonal and with the current efforts of the federal government in setting up the Economic Advisory Team, NACCIMA, FEWACCI and indeed the Organised Private Sector in Nigeria are full of hope that a new era is on the horizon.
“The calibre of persons on the economic advisory team reassures the Organised Private Sector that government is ready to turn around the story of Nigeria,” she said.
Aliyu commended the government on maximization of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and requested for a property within Abuja for the location of a Headquarters and Secretariat for FEWACCI befitting of Nigeria’s position as the leading economic powerhouse in Africa.
She emphasised her role in three capacities leading the three bodies of NACCIMA, the OPS and FEWACCI to meet the president to solicit support and assistance in the provision of logistics necessary to realize the FEWACCI Headquarters in Nigeria.
She said, “our colleagues from other ECOWAS countries are here and will appreciate your Excellency’s kind magnanimity to our requests especially on Nigeria’s commitment as host country obligations for FEWACCI secretariat and support”
AfCFTA as next frontier for businesses
Responding, President Mohammadu Buhari acknowledged Aliyu’s request, assuring that the request be formally submit in writing to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment to enable the government review and act accordingly.
Buhari commended NACCIMA for its role in the AfCFTA, stating that it would encourage the growth of Nigeria businesses.
He said, “I am aware that your association actively participated and made valuable contributions during the consultation process of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. We valued, accepted and adopted your contributions and want to acknowledge NACCIMA and other government consult key stakeholders are developing policies.
“The implementation of the AfCFTA agreement is the next frontier for Nigerian businesses and it is our collective duty to ensure we get it right, that the interest of the various sectors of the Nigerian economy is safeguarded.”
The President emphasised that trade is central to Nigeria’s economy, while assuring of government commitment to ensuring vibrant job creating sector continues to flourish.
He, however, lamented on how some Nigerians allowed Nigeria to be used as a dumping ground at the detriment of all Nigerians.
“Unfortunately in recent times, many traders simply do not play by the rules. Our markets are flooded with smuggled and counterfeit goods. By these selfish practices we help keep foreign factories working while closing ours.
“From medicines to electronics to food items, our potential to manufacture and create jobs locally is severely hindered by a handful of Nigerians who choose profits over patriotism,” he said.
President Buhari lamented on dangerous and sometimes, fatal impact of fake drugs and foods on our citizens and how fake electrical items have led to fires in homes and markets thereby destroying lives and properties.
According to the President, most of these substandard and illegal items are smuggled through the land borders, noting that after many years of diplomacy and aggressive regulatory oversight which yielded few results, Nigeria decided to close the land borders for a limited time to assess the impact of this measure.
“I am happy to say that within a few short weeks, Nigeria is already seeing a decline in the volumes of counterfeit smuggled goods in some of our major markets across the country.
President Buhari told the 3-fold delegation that the implementation validates Nigeria’s action as a Government in insisting that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement must not only promote free trade, but legal trade of quality made in Africa goods and services.
He solicited support of NACCIMA, OPS and FEWACCI in Nigeria and across West Africa “to ensure an end to the dumping of substandard items in Nigeria’s region and on the continent.”
He further charged NACCIMA in achieving a free trade area that employs Africans to produce quality made in Africa products.
“We will soon finalise the National Action Committee on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. Your Association is a member of this committee. I expect you to continue your positive and patriotic contribution to support us in achieving a free trade area that employs Africans to produce quality made in Africa products,” he said.
FG achievements lauded
NACCIMA President applauded President Buhari’s administration for some significant accomplishments recorded in all sectors of the economy including the reduction of corruption, foreign exchange stability, bottom of the pyramid programmes, increased ease of doing business, increased capital expenditure; focus on agro value chains and support of local industries through intervention funds.
Aliyu made a formal presentation of a 16-point Agenda to engage the federal government in Unleashing the Giant for Nigeria and requested his directives to the appropriate Bodies of Government to engage with NACCIMA towards ensuring that government policy formulation, implementation and most importantly, policy monitoring have broad the private sector input.
Nigeria at 59
Similarly, NACCIMA President in a press statement to commemorate Nigeria’s 59th anniversary celebrations maintained that over the years Nigeria has evolved to become an economic and diplomatic powerhouse on the African continent.
Aliyu noted that Nigeria’s problems have remained the same, she called on government and all other stakeholders to join hands in finding lasting solutions.
“The Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, industry, Mines and Agriculture joins the rest of the nation in celebrating the 59th Independence Anniversary of our country.
“Despite the challenges faced, Nigeria has emerged as the leading economy on the African continent, and as a people, we have displayed resilience, in our tireless efforts to attain the Nigeria of our dreams. We therefore have cause to celebrate some of our achievements as a nation.
“Since the last Independence Anniversary, our country has experienced a peaceful transition of government as we work to consolidate our democracy. There has also been improved relationship between the Public and Private Sector, and greater engagement by the citizenry in governance,” the statement said.
“However, the issues and public discuss have remained largely the same; namely, internal security, corruption, infrastructure, diversification of the economy, ease of doing businesses, macroeconomic stability, youth empowerment, social welfare, environmental degradation, climate change and regional economic integration; just as they have been in the past few years. We need determined action to deal with these issues,” it added.
The statement further explained that the Nigeria’s economy was slowing down; adding that inflation on the other hand is on the increase just as unemployment is also on the rise.
“On the economic front, Economic growth appears to be slowing down (down to 1.94 per cent as at the second quarter of 2019). Inflation remains in double-digits, at 11.02 per cent as at August 2019, fuelled by high food prices at 13.17 per cent, also as at August 2019.
“The unemployment rate has been rising, standing at 23.1per cent as at the third quarter of 2018, signifying that 20.9million people are unemployed.
“Industrialization also appears to be progressing at a slow rate, with industries contributing about 23% to Gross Domestic Product. We should, and can of course, do better, and should work towards that goal.
“While Our Association applauds the gains made by the Federal Government in its fight against corruption, foreign exchange stability, focus on improving ease of doing business, increased capital expenditure, and a focus on Agro value chains. There is still more work to be done, to achieve inclusive economic growth, co-prosperity, and sustainable development with the potentials to “unleash the Giant” Nigeria truly is,” the statement stressed.
“As we celebrate the 59th Anniversary of our Independence and for the realization of the Nigeria of our economic and developmental goals, NACCIMA stresses the need for us as a Nation to consolidate on the gains of this administration,” it added.
The statement also urged the federal government to and all stakeholders to focus on ensuring an adherence to the Rule of Law; the promotion of an efficient tax system geared towards expanding the tax net; and focus on sustainable energy.
It further stressed the need for harnessing the creative industry, agribusiness, solid minerals and metals, and manufacturing; the promotion of women and youth through micro and medium scale development; and a coordinated approached towards regional economic integration.
“As we approach the last year of implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP 2017-2020), we are also presented with an opportunity for introspection, to assess our policy stance as a country for the benefit of the generations unborn.
“The federal government will always find in NACCIMA a veritable partner in ensuring an enabling environment, conducive for the pursuit of commerce, industry and all other forms of economic activity of interest to the private sector, in the endeavour to fully unleash the economic giant we truly have the potential to be.