Following its dwindling oil revenue, Nigeria is set to commence comprehensive implementation of import substitution programmes, to enhance local production of goods and services, President Goodluck Jonathan said Tuesday.
The president disclosed this while speaking at the Top 100 Businesses Award Dinner held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Monday.
The president said the policy will finally make Nigeria self-sufficient.
He further disclosed that he has directed the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment to work with other ministries and agencies, including the Central Bank of Nigeria to execute a comprehensive investment and trade agenda that will increase the production of goods and services, that has so far been imported into the country.
The president also disclosed that the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the CBN are already working with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to cut down on the importation of finished petroleum products.
According to him, “We can no longer continue to export raw materials. We must produce what we consumer and consume what we produce. We must diversify our economy, even though we know no one nation is an island”.
The project, he said will involve the Ministry of Agriculture cutting down the import of food products, and the Ministry of Mines and Steel, cutting down imports of metal related products.
“In pursuit of this noble objective, I have directed the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment to work with the Central Bank of Nigeria in execution of a comprehensive investment and trade agenda to create local production to substitute unnecessary imports with our local goods,” he said.
The president, in obvious reference to the current over reliance on oil as the country’s major source of foreign exchange, warned that Nigeria can no longer rely on one commodity.
“This is to ensure our country becomes self-reliant and to cut down on imports which drain foreign exchange. This is a game changer because it will re-position us globally and rapidly boost our foreign reserves.
“I’m confident that if we are able to produce in Nigeria most of what we consume today, the bulk of investments required to make this happen will surely come from the top 100 companies,” he said.
Mr. Jonathan, who before his speech observed a one-minute silence for victims of the last terrorist attacks in Yobe and Borno states, commended the 100 listed companies for having faith in Nigeria despite the security challenges. He assured that Nigeria will overcome her challenges.
ExxonMobil had emerged the leading company of the top 10 amongst the unveiled top 100 companies.
This was closely followed by Shell Petroleum, followed by Chevron, then NigeriaNLG, Total Nig, MTN, Dangote Group, OandO, Eni Agip, while First Bank Nigeria PLC was cited as the tenth best operating company in Nigeria
Commending the companies, the president described them as Nigeria’s shining stars, adding that their significant contributions have created employment opportunities for millions of Nigerians.
He disclosed that government will soon host high performing micro, small, and medium enterprises, MSMEs, for their contributions, adding that the millions of MSMEs provide the supply chains, operational logistics and distribution networks to the country’s larger enterprises.
“We celebrate you today because your investments in Nigeria is an investment in the Nigerian people. Every naira you spent locally is one more Nigerian to drive this economy,” he said. “Each job you create is one more job to support a family. Each expansion plan you approve is one more project to support future generations of Nigerians.”
The Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, in his welcome address noted that the companies honoured, currently contributes 20 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
“Over the last three years Nigeria has emerged as a giant and is clear to the world that this is where to do business,” he said.
He disclosed that about 3.6 million companies are currently operating in Nigeria.
“The 100 are the ones that have sustained the country’s economy by creating jobs and keeping the economy going,” he said.
He described the process of selecting the 100 companies as cumbersome but declared that government was meticulous and creative in the criteria used to arrive at the top 100.
“You pay taxes which funds the government and it shows where we are coming from and where we are going. It revealed the linkages we have in the country,” he said.
Oba Otundeko of Honeywell, while speaking on behalf of the awardees, commended the federal government for the initiatives despite the challenging times in the country.
He also commended President Jonathan for delivering on his promises made to the organized business sector in 2011, declaring that” together we have been working to strengthen our economy.
“You promised us tax incentives, physical and financial support to enhance profitability of businesses in Nigeria and you have not failed us, we thank you for this” he said.
Also speaking, Tunji Oyebanji of Exxon-Mobil, commended President Jonathan for the honour, adding that the award given to the companies will spur them to greater performance.
“We have been operating for 107 years, we have progressed to be one of the largest oil companies in Nigeria. The oil industry will continue to support Nigeria for the next 100 years”.
The event, which was attended by the former Head of the Interim National Government, Ernest Shonekan and top government functionaries, featured the unveiling of a publication containing the top 100 companies by the president.