The need for collaborative efforts in ensuring an enabling environment and the support for economic diversification in the face of the dwindling fortunes of the crude oil has been reiterated at the quarterly luncheon of the Institute of Directors (IoD).
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, who made the observation, assured that the Federal Government is determined to create enabling environment for investment to thrive and improve trade, export and regulations, as part of efforts to diversify the nation’s economy.
The minister noted that with the slide in the price of crude oil and the ensuing foreign exchange crisis, it also provides opportunity to diversify the nation’s economy from oil and gas to a sustainable non-oil economy.
According to him, Federal Government would champion the cause of Nigeria’s Medium and Small Enterprises (MSMEs), as a means of creating jobs and achieving inclusive growth, which would attract proactive long-term local and foreign investment in the country.
“As part of the Federal Government’s N500 billion Social Protection programme for 2016, over two million traders, farmers and artisans will receive micro-credit, through a fund to be managed by the Bank of Industry,” he said.
He noted that the key priority is to partner with other ministries to raise appropriate funds to improve the nation’s infrastructure, adding that the country needs to deliberately seek investors, especially for sectors that would benefit from technical know-how, capital and access to markets.
“We are currently looking at creating a dedicated infrastructure fund and other ‘Public Private Partnership’arrangements which will focus on Petroleum, Transport, Power, Works and Housing,” he said.
As part of government’s industrialisation plan, he disclosed, it would begin the implementation of Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP), launched by the previous government in 2014.
“We have seen success in our backward integration policies in the cement industry and sugar is currently trying to replicate that success. Discussions are ongoing for automotive and Cotton, Textile and Garments (CTG),” he said.
Meanwhile, IoD Nigeria has expressed optimism towards diversification of the economy away from oil.The President/Chairman of Council, IoD Nigeria, Samuel Akeju, said the institute is identifying with the initiatives of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to resolve the current crisis bedeviling the economy.
“Many years past, agriculture offered over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s teaming population job opportunities and contributed significantly to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But since the discovery crude oil in commercial quantity in 1956 and from 1970 when its price was on the upward trend, oil became the dominant commodity in our economy and paralyzed other sectors. It is a known fact across the globe that for a country to attain growth and development, its economy has to be diversified,” Akeju added.
“Our mono-economy therefore, needs to give way to the productive development of other sectors of the economy,” Akeju said.
He stated that the return of civilian democracy in 1999 and the successful conduct of the 2015 general elections in Nigeria had heralded and affirmed a stable polity where business can thrive.