To realise its development goals and attract investment, Nigeria needs leaders with vision and consistent policy decisions that foster public-private sectors partnerships.
These were some of the points made by participants on Monday at the 26th Nigeria Economic Summit (NES#26) which opened in Abuja on the theme “Building Partnerships for Resilience.”
The participants spoke in the opening plenary session on “Nigeria’s Turning Point.”
They said the leaders must also be committed to educational, technological and infrastructural development as well as national security for the country to achieve sustainable growth and their development goals.
The panelists include the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, his Sokoto state counterpart, Aminu Tambuwal, CEO of MainOne, Funke Opeke, and her counterpart in GIG Group, Chidi Ajaere.
The discussions moderated by Adesua Onyenokwe focused on making Nigeria an investors preferred destination.
Mr Ajaere, who represented the youth and business people on the panel, said no nation can thrive without a serious economic plan.
He said successive administrations in Nigeria have not pursued any plan with commitment from conception to implementation.
Six issues for sustainable development
Mr Ajaere identified six things Nigeria and Africa need if they are to achieve sustainable development.
They include a leadership that takes responsibility for their decisions, consistency in policy decisions, educated population; technological development; infrastructural development and national security.
“We need to urgently dialogue on issues of national development by bringing together people with the capacity to deliver what we need from all sectors of the economy.
“To achieve national development, there must be a fusion of policy making by the government and the private sector coming together to find the solution to the Nigerian problem. We cannot wait a day longer,” he said.
Mr Ajaere also advised the youth to participate in the process to influence policy and decision-making on issues that affect them.
Benefits of public-private sector partnerships
On how the private and public sector can cooperate to ensure development, Mr Ajaere cited the example of Delta State-owned transport company, Delta Line, which failed despite huge potential.
He said for over two years, the state government was paying the salaries of the workers with only 13 buses in the company’s fleet.
When the GIG Group, which runs the God Is Good Transport Company, was invited by the state government to partner in the management of the transport firm, Mr Ajaere said within a year of taking over, the company’s fleet grew from 13 buses to over 200.
Impact of policy somersaults
Mr Ajaere, who presides over a GIG Group that controls six businesses across different industries, narrated his personal experience and the impact of inconsistent government policies.
He said following the announcement of a policy encouraging local manufacturing of automobiles, the GIG Group three years ago decided to go into partnership with some foreign investors to build ‘Made in Nigeria’ vehicles.
He said the Group spent over N5 billion without taking loans from the banks to build the vehicle assembly plant.
He lamented that the government without consultations, recently cut duty on imported vehicles from 35 per cent to five per cent.
He said the government pronouncement has suddenly thrown GIG’s investment into a disarray.
“We have invested all that money. What is going to happen to us (the investors in that vehicle assembly plant) now with the policy somersault? Will the Federal Government come to our aid with incentives for the monies sunk already into the investment?” he lamented.
“What is going to happen now is that if the government tells people in another three to five years to come to Nigeria to build automobile assembly plants, or any other plant, they are going to become very skeptical, because they have seen that in Nigeria there is usually policy somersault,” he added.
He said rather than attract investment in the manufacturing of local vehicles, the reduction of import duty on imported vehicles will encourage importers of new vehicles into the country, thereby draining the country’s foreign exchange.
Mr Ajaere said if all the 36 state governors agree with the President for at least 80 per cent of the vehicles they use and other imported items are made in Nigeria, the economy will be better for it.
He said he believed local manufacturers can meet local demand if given support as obtained in Europe, America and other climes.
He said the government must consider constitutional reforms that encourage policy makers to be long term planners of development.
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