Obasanjo urges improved trade to ease recession

Sekinat Salam-Opebiyi, Abeokuta

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo

Nigeria needs to establish viable and active coastal shipping system which links with other African Countries to boost her economic growth as part of measures to get out of the current economic recession.

The government has also been urged to set up external and internal commodity market to help farmers as well as make their income stable and predictable.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said this at the 8th National Council on Industry, Trade and Investment summit in Abeokuta, Ogun state capital.

Obasanjo also said that for African countries to get through the present economic recession, trade among the countries on the continent must improve.

According to him, nations on the continent must emulate European countries that trade amongst themselves though they provide similar products.

Obasanjo said that “when an economy is in recession like our economy today, one of the things that can move that economy out of recession is for us to trade among ourselves and to trade vigorously and actively with the rest of the world.”

He stressed that “as I have said, trading must be encouraged; internally and externally’’, adding that “we have been told that we in ‎Africa, are the least in terms of inter-African trading compared with Asia, Europe which has as much as 65%, Africans have only 12%.’’

 Obasanjo further said “I want us also to disabuse people’s mind. They say the reason why we can’t trade among ourselves is because we produce the same commodity, its absolute nonsense. Europe and France produce the same material, commodity, equipment and they trade between themselves; Germany and France produce the same thing, they trade amongst themselves; Europe and America produce the same thing, they trade among themselves, these are just examples.’’

Similarly, the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo said the 2017 budget will focus on infrastructure development.

Professor Osinbajo said that Nigeria can achieve 7,000 megawatts of electricity next year if peace is restored in the Niger Delta region.

The Vice President reiterated that the 2017 budget will focus more on infrastructural development, especially power, saying vandalisation of gas facilities must also be stopped before the nation’s desire to achieve stable electricity supply for industrial development, can be achieved.

Osinbajo said the theme of the meeting, “Diversification of the Nigerian Economy from Over Dependence on Oil Exports”, could not have come at a better time when Nigeria was working on ways to refocus its economy to weather the storm of the economic recession, necessitated by over dependence on oil.

He explained that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government is working round the clock to ensure that at least, nine electricity transmission stations are completed in 2017 to boost power supply to revive the non- oil sector of the economy.

He further explained that substantial budget allocation will be provided for the rehabilitation of the Lagos-Kano standard gauge rail project and other infrastructure to ease transportation of goods and services in Nigeria, with a view to enhance diversification of the economy.

‎The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah also explained that the strategic focus of the ministry’s master plan for diversification and growth of the Nigerian economy is partnering with private and development capital to leverage and catalyse resources for diversification and growth.

According to the Minister, the challenge in every economy is that of infinite demands and finite resources. With limited resources therefore, the Diversification and Growth plan, otherwise known as the MITI Plan is based on a partnership with the private sector.

He emphasized that based on resource constraints and low price of commodities, including oil, it is an urgent necessity to partner with the private sector so as to leverage and catalyse resources and development capital.

The minister identified three pillars in the policy framework of the MITI Plan to include: Creating a business-friendly environment; Ensuring coherence between monetary, fiscal and structural reform policies so that the economic policies of government are coordinated and targeted at the common purpose of structural transformation to diversify, elimination of distortions and sustained growth; and‎ Provision of hard and soft infrastructure for growth.

He said the theme of partnering with private and development capital with the three policy framework pillars are being implemented through specific initiatives, programmes and projects.

“Some of the priority areas of the MITI plan include:  Creating an enabling environment to improve the ease-of-doing business; implementing the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan, providing support for Micro- Small and Medium Enterprises to enhance job creation; promoting Trade and investment as engines for growth; and promoting a digital economy,” he said.

The Minister further stated that the global perception is that Nigeria is a tough environment business relationship.  He said there is a need to change this negative perception, adding that positive perceptions will attract investors, capital, technology and best practices.

The host, Governor Ibikunle Amosun said that the state has been transformed from being a partial civil service state to Nigeria’s industrial hub centre.

The governor said the achievement was made possible through the introduction of a policy to rebuild the state through its five cardinal programmes on affordable quantitative education, efficient health care delivery, Agricultural production, affordable housing and urban renewal and lastly the rural infrastructural development.

Amosun urged the private sector to support the government in building a vibrant economy, adding that the government alone cannot do it.

The four-day summit will come to an end on Thursday.