The Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC),…
By Abdulkabir Olatunji
Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy is tethering on the verge of economic depression and you could probably fill a library with the quantity of material that has been written on this issue. Despite these numerous submissions ranging from the brilliant to the ridiculous, the country has failed to get out of recession occasioned by wasteful spending and outright looting of the treasury at the height of its income generation under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan and the tentative approach to managing the economy of current President Muhammadu Buhari.
The challenges are enormous but there are clear opportunities that exist for us to exit this economic debacle in the not-so-distant future if we take the required steps.
First, is the need to effectively curb the militancy in the Nigerdelta to ensure that the country has a stable export schedule for its largest income source in the short term. Without mincing words, people under any name they choose to call themselves blowing-up pipelines are criminal and unwise. The government should in clear terms let the leaders of the Nigerdelta know this has to stop –no ifs, buts or whys.
A comprehensive review of the petroleum industry and laws governing it should be done to ensure that there is justice and a better life for people living in oil-producing communities in Nigeria. Militants ready for peace should be pardoned while those that her recalcitrant should be apprehended and made to face justice.
While there is a need to diversify our economy and not rely solely on exporting crude oil for income, it is also important to meet our local demand internally by getting our 3 refineries to work and increasing our local refining capacity. A transparent and fair sale of the refineries should be done to allow competent private investors run them. The expected completion of Dangote refinery in Lagos by December 2017 is welcome but it is better that we have 4 or more refineries working at full capacity meeting our local demand and exporting the excess to neighbouring countries thereby increasing our revenue.
President Buhari has prioritized agriculture and the funding provided to farmers by the Central Bank of Nigeria through its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), for self-sufficiency in rice, wheat and other grains is commendable and should be scaled-up to ensure that we can buy food at lower costs while saving foreign exchange we currently spend on food imports we ought to produce locally. An added advantage is the millions of jobs this scheme can create with the positive multiplier effect diffusing throughout the country.
Increased social intervention outside of the N-power programme which is laudable in itself is also required especially in terms of providing soft-loans to SMEs with proven track record productive output for at least 2 years to boost economic activity across the country.
In terms of infrastructure, the government has its priorities right by seeking loans to finance improvements across the country. Regardless of the skepticism by some Nigerians, like any other country or institution that lacks funds, borrowing is a major option to consider. The caveat is to ensure transparency in the process of obtaining the loans and in spending. The best terms possible from diversified sources should be gotten and the projects to be done clearly identified with clear completion periods stated and adhered to. The $30 billion expected to be borrowed over 3 years should relieve the liquidity squeeze in the country, spur increased consumer spending, boost manufacturing and get Nigeria back into economic growth.
Finally, corruption remains a malaise to be tackled decisively if Nigeria is going to achieve sustained economic growth and development in order to achieve its immense potential. The president is right when he says: ‘we must kill corruption before it kills us’ as it perpetuates poverty which is something we should stop with the greatest of urgency.
Abdulkabir Olatunji is the Head of Strategy at Jarus & JAN Internet Group and an Associate Member of the Nigerian Institute of Management (AMNIM). His interests include writing, blogging, all-things-tech and analysis of current affairs and sports. You can follow him on LinkedIn and on Twitter @maclatunji