by David Lawal,
In the midst of what some analysts describe as the worst economic downturn in decades, Nigerians have spared no effort in making known their discomfort and disappointment at the present economic realities. The grave misdeed of too much dependence on the sale of crude oil for revenue generation cannot be overemphasized, this is why, when oil prices fell from more than $100 a barrel to about $40, the Naira lost more than a third of its value and is still falling.
For the foreseeable future, signs abound that the price of oil will remain low, not only because of oversupply in the market, but also as a result of several other indices, green technology is catching up both in cost and efficiency, also manufacturing, ICT, agriculture and other viable alternatives to oil are been embraced around the world as part of efforts to create a stable economy in order to withstand global uncertainty.
As a huge consumption economy, Nigeria is definitely paying a costly price of being unable to feed itself, resulting in undesirable economic growth, dwindling foreign reserves, stress in balance of payment and a constant mounting pressure on local currency exchange rate relative to major currencies. Commendably, discussions on diversification have been held at virtually all economic and business sessions in the last few years, with many conclusions on the need to consciously adopt the change in Nigeria alternative.
Speaking on the need to embrace the made in Nigeria initiative, Erudite economics scholar, Professor Gafar Ijaiya of the department of economics, University of Ilorin, describe the made in Nigeria initiative as long overdue, expressing that Nigeria enjoyed a rich and vibrant economy during the early days of deliberate localization “in the decades following Nigeria’s independence in 1960, before we fell into the trap of overdependence on oil, we had very vibrant industries that were producing for our local consumption, The manufacturing sector helped to stabilize the nation’s economic development in terms of employment, export and agriculture which serves as source of foreign exchange earnings, however, when the oil boom came, we abandoned all that worked for us and gave undue concentration to oil which contributed to the present economic realities”
Calling on delegates at the forth coming NESG 2016 summit to provide valuable recommendations that will lead the country in the right way out of the present economic recession, Ijaiya maintained that local production and consumption is a must for any economy facing recession “Any economy that wants to survive a recession must learn the strict culture of self-sufficiency, particularly as it concerns moribund industries, strengthening the agricultural sector and even empowering ICT, we must go back to the drawing board and embrace the spirit of growing, producing and buying our own if we are to experience success from the change agenda of the present administration”.
Interestingly, the 2016 and 22nd Nigerian Economic Summit has, as its theme, “Made in Nigeria” and experts are looking forward to leading discussions that will inform the structural and fiscal changes required to strengthen the Nigerian Economy, Setting an Agenda for the summit, Foremost business consultant, financial analyst and columnist Opeyemi Agbaje, CEO, RTC Advisory Services Limited,. Commended the choice of this year’s theme, describing it as a step in the right direction as long as the sentiments are objectively articulated.
Opeyemi Observed that the country still needs to work on getting its policies right “For me, we still have to get our policies right, for example, there should be discussions about attracting investors, which I would love to see addressed at the summit, secondly the foreign exchange conundrum needs to be fine-tuned,
“We have spoken extensively on oil dependence, but I say that, Nigeria’s economy is diversified, since the contribution of the oil sector is reducing drastically as we have seen non-oil sector make significant contributions to the country’s GDP. However, made in Made in Nigeria for me means a very strong domestic Non-oil sector, which comprises agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, education and other industries in Nigeria, exporting to the world, so in the end, we don’t just stop importation, but we ensure to sell our made in Nigeria product, services and ideas to the world,” he summed.
As the nation awaits recommendations from the 22nd Nigerian Economic Summit, in the approaching weeks, the made in Nigeria agenda will ultimately guide discussions and the overall direction of the summit especially at this time of pronounced economic recession.
The production and consumption of made in Nigeria goods and services will progressively help in maintaining a trade balance between imports and exports, conserve and even add to our foreign reserves while reducing the pressure on the Naira to other currencies, above all a wholehearted support of the made in Nigeria drive, will help to achieve self-sufficiency.