President Muhamadu Buhari says for Nigeria to generate enough employment opportunities for the youth, the country must of necessity produce enough goods and services to be consumed locally and for export.
Speaking at the opening of the 22nd Nigeria Economic Summit in Abuja on Monday, with the theme ‘Tough Choices: Achieving Competitiveness, Inclusive Growth and Sustainability,’ Buhari said organisers of the event, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) has over the years strengthened the relationship between the public and private sectors
“We need to diversify the economy so that we can produce the food we eat, make our own textiles, produce most of the things we use and create the right environment” for our youth to create jobs through ICT.
“My greatest desire is that Nigeria moves from import dependence to self-sufficiency in local production and become an export economy in goods and services.”
In the first panel discussion after the opening ceremony, Vice President Yemi Oshibajo observed that to diversify the economy has become a must especially with the present economic conditions.
“We have no choice,” he answers based on the condition we’ve found ourselves”, he declared while explaining that government was investing heavily in rice production in 12 major rice producing states.
While stating that the whole agro-allied value chain is one that is just waiting to happen, Oshibajo said Nigeria was in the process and export shea butter.
Our Strategic Implementation Plan is online and has clear objectives, Mr. Osinbajo said.
Responding to an observation that such efforts were not being felt by citizens, the Vice President agreed saying “you may not immediately be able to feel the impact of these polices.”
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah who was also member of the panel also expressed confidence that the administration would succeed in its course of action.
“For me I know the responsibilities we carry”, he declared while disclosing that Buhari has established a ministerial council headed by Oshinbajo to deal with complaints relating to ease of doing business.
While informing the audience that the inter-ministerial council met at least twice, Enelamah added “I think these polices will take time to work, but I have no doubt that they will come to fruition.
“We are not where we want to be, but we are not where we used to be”, noting “every single thing that we are doing is contained in the Strategic Implementation Plan of the 2016 budget.”
Also speaking, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma said government would insist that its agencies purchase made in Nigeria products.
He said with more patronage of Made-in Nigeria goods and services, producers would be encouraged to improve on quality and create jobs for the teeming youth.
“There is no doubt that one of the fastest routes to grow our economy and create jobs is by encouraging our people to produce more, and export more.
“This strategy will also generate foreign exchange that can help in stabilising and strengthening the Naira.’’
He however, urged the stakeholders to come up with practical roadmap that would contextualise “Made in Nigeria” as an economic growth and development strategy for our short, medium and long term development.
Earlier, an Economist, Doyin Salami had noted “one area where I think the government is doing itself a bad service is that it doesn’t communicate well.”
He observed that government needed a comprehensive development plan to encourage investors.
Meanwhile, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has commended the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) over its theme for this year’s summit which focusses on promoting Made in Nigeria goods, saying that the group and the Senate are on the same page on this.
Saraki, in a statement by his Media Adviser, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said the Senate, in recognition of the importance of local production had recently passed motions to boost the patronage of made in Nigeria goods.
The Senate President, who will be a special guest at the summit’s meeting on Tuesday (Today) also noted that the choice of theme was not only apt but would promote local manufacturers and service providers while also helping to revive the economy.
He stated that the Senate had in recognition of the need to boost local production passed a 20-point recommendation adding: “we must reduce our imports tremendously and increase our exports to earn more dollars and the best way to do that is for us to patronize locally made goods.”
The statement read: “We have therefore amended the Public Procurement Act to ensure that all government agencies compul orily patronize local manufacturers and service producers in all their procurement.
They can only resort to foreign options when there is no local alternative. With this new law, a huge portion of the national budget
will go into the pockets of our people and generate employment, improve our GDP and help us to be self-sufficient.
“Other amendments in the Procurement Act reduces the period of award of contract, make the procurement process more transparent and increased mobilization fee to up to 25 percent, all in a bid to help our people just as it is being done in other countries.
“I commend the NESG for their choice of theme and urge them to discuss how to improve on quality and packaging of locally produced goods, helping local producers get into foreign markets and sourcing start-up capitals for small and medium scale entrepreneurs at rock-bottom interest rates.”