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El-Rufai, Obaseki, Inuwa Others Demand Subsidy Removal, Restructuring

With pressing national economic challenges, accentuated by what is best described as structural failure and emerging local and global trends, some governors and other stakeholders say there is a strong sense of urgency for the authorities to save the nation from sinking, Leadership reports.

Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai, Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki and his Gombe State counterpart, Inuwa Yahaya, led the call for the federal government to urgently discontinue the unsustainable fuel subsidy regime, improve power supply and restructure the country, especially the economy.

The governors were among other captains of industry who spoke at the ongoing 28th Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja.

While Governor El-Rufai emphatically said “remove subsidy now,” Obaseki said there is immediate need to ensure improved and stable power supply to drive production in line with the needed industrialisation of the nation.

The Edo State governor said the economy would have been better if the revenues were coming from the states, with the centre relying on the component states for funding.

On his part, Inuwa stressed the need to restructure the nation’s economy in such a way that each state takes priority in areas of comparative advantage.

“What is required is restructuring in whatever form, especially the economy,” he said.

On his part, El-Rufai said the Nigerian story would have been better if recommendations of the National Executive Council (NEC) on federal and state governments’ engagement were implemented, adding that Nigeria needs a framework for engagement and enforcement.

“The only way things can work is when you have collaboration between federal and sub-nationals,” he stated.

Speaking at the event, chairman of Stanbic IBTC Bank, Atedo Peterside, lamented what he described as rigged prosperity, saying one of the biggest problems of Nigeria is a combination of criminals and government.

“The intersection of a few criminals in government is the cause of Nigeria’s many problems,” he said. “Oil theft and petrol subsidy are some of the intersecting points of criminals and people in government.”

‘Use of public funds to sponsor people on religious pilgrims is illegal’

Pioneer chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Pascal Dozie, in a keynote address entitled: ‘The Nigeria we Need,’ said in a plural, multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic Nigeria, if the state (nation-state and its federating units) act in a way that promotes any religious above others, that would be sowing seeds of discord.

“This deters cohesion, progress and development,” he stated.

Mr Dozie said the use of public funds to sponsor persons on religious events, to build places of worship and the like, contradicts the secular nature of Nigeria as agreed by the founding fathers at independence. “Ours is a secular state – and must be seen to be so – in normative, positive and practical terms,” he added.

The former NESG chairman said Nigeria must strive to shape legislative lists and powers to make laws – such as to have relevant tiers of government to be responsible for those issues that are best suited for.

Former president of the Nigeran Bar Association, Olumide Akpata, said power is the first thing that should be dealt with in repositing the Nigerian economy besides security. He said if elected as Nigerian president and “I’m not able to deal with the issue of power, shut me out.”

Dozie said Nigeria’s economy is one that urgently needs a positive regulatory environment that is private sector and business enhancing. “It therefore behooves on governments (FGN, states, LGAs) to de-personalise institutions by leveling the playing field and making it attractive to investments, both local and foreign,” he stated.

Nigeria needs to grow $9trn economy in 25 years – NESG

Meanwhile, chairman of the NESG, Mr. Asue Ighodalo, has said for Nigeria to build a resilient economy, it must grow its Gross Domestic Product to $9 trillion within the next 25 years.

He said the theme of this year’s summit,  “2023 and Beyond: Priorities for Shared Prosperity,” is a summation of Nigeria’s challenges as the country can only share prosperity if it is prosperous.

“Governments at all levels must identify new innovations in their determination to leave a much better country, especially for a teeming population. We must succeed in transforming the economy within a time frame in our Agenda 2050 which has a time frame of 25 years.

“However, Nigeria must have specified target of increasing GDP per capital in line with OECD countries and innovate different ways of thinking about economic development.

“Also, we will need to grow our GDP between $4.5trn dollars to $9 trillion in the next 25 years,  as such we need to build an economy of growing at about 15 per or more,” he said.

Ighodalo decried Nigeria’s low domestic production, noting that improvement in domestic production and macroeconomic stability will improve the country’s global competitiveness.

The NESG boss said as Nigeria creates prosperity, she must share the prosperity amongst her people fairly, equitably and justly even as he advised the government to think of and design its inclusion policies and programmes to be prosperity enhancing.

“These policies must result in productive contribution and full economic participation by all Nigerian states, and all able-bodied Nigerians, towards a prosperous Nigerian State.

On her part, the minister of finance, budget and national planning, Zainab Ahmed said although challenged by a shortfall in revenues, government kept its pact by prioritising capital releases in favour of critical ongoing infrastructure projects in the power, roads, rail, agriculture, health and education sectors, with a view to strengthening the Nigerian economy post-Covid-19 pandemic.

 Our Exchange Rate Regime A Concern  – PMB

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the summit, President Muhammadu Buhari said the current situation in Nigeria calls for better management of the nation’s exchange rate.

“Our exchange rate regime remains of concern,” the President who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said.”

According to him, the discussion should be how best to manage the situation by finding a mechanism for increasing supply and moderating demand which will be transparent and will boost confidence.

He said there should be some element of price discovery “in our policy regime.”  This, he said, will boost confidence and increase inflows of foreign exchange.

Osinbajo said there is also the need to take urgent action to bring inflation down because it is both a tax on the poor and disrupts long term growth.  Inflation in Nigeria is partly structural arising from infrastructural deficiencies and others but there is also an aspect that is caused by increased money supply, imported inflation and depreciation of the naira.

In addition, therefore, to the monetary measures being taken by the Central Bank of Nigeria, we would need to increase domestic production of food and make sure that it gets to the market,” he stated.

The president underscored the need for a just transition to net-zero emissions, debt-for-climate swap deal for African countries, and the launch of the African Carbon Market Initiative at the ongoing COP-27 in Egypt.

According to the VP, there is the need for more intentional and focused investment on our youths, especially in globally marketable skills, access to credit, protection of intellectual property rights of innovators and inventors and access to global markets.

“I trust that some of these issues will be given deeper attention in your discussions at this summit. The task ahead requires partnership, innovative thinking; but, most importantly, disciplined implementation,” he said

Similarly, Prof. Osinbajo emphasized that Nigeria must also press its advantage in renewable energy, saying that the future are the jobs and opportunities from the green economy.

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Copyright 2022 SIGNAL. Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to  www.signalng.com and other relevant sources.

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